- Overview of the Portuguese Golden Visa Program
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa?
- What Are the Minimum Residency Requirements?
- What Type of Investments Are Needed for the Golden Visa?
- What Are NIF Numbers and How Do I Apply For One?
- How Do I Open a Portuguese Bank Account?
- What Documents Are Required for the Portuguese Golden Visa?
- How Do I Apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa?
- What Are the Fees and Processing Times for the Portuguese Golden Visa?
- What Are the Benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa?
- What Are the Tax Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa Program?
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of the Portuguese Golden Visa Program
The Portuguese Golden Visa program, also known as the residence permit for investment activity (ARI), is a scheme for non-European Union citizens to obtain permanent residency in Portugal through investments.
There are a range of investment options available under the Portugal Golden Visa, such as property, capital, business and national heritage.
The scheme is popular due to its low investment thresholds and its low minimum residency requirement. Investments start at €250,000, and participants in the scheme only need to spend an equivalent of seven days a year in Portugal to be eligible.
Obtaining permanent residency in Portugal also grants free travel within the 26 countries in the Schengen Area.
Participants in Portugal’s Golden Visa program may apply for Portuguese citizenship after five to six years.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa?
In order to be eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa program, you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Intend to make a significant investment that is beneficial to the Portuguese economy
- Have a clean criminal record
- Own the money you wish to invest
- Commit to maintaining the investment for at least another five years
You must also be covered by a healthcare plan while you’re under the Portugal Golden Visa, either through Portugal’s national health service (the Servico Nacional de Saude, or SNS), or a private healthcare plan.
Not also that European Union, EEA or Swiss nationals cannot apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa.
As part of the Portuguese Golden Visa requirements, you must present sufficient supporting evidence that you have made the minimum investment required as stated in the guidelines.
You must also commit to maintaining the investment for as long as you and your dependents hold permanent residency status in Portugal.
This will apply up until the point where you may decide to become a Portuguese permanent resident or citizen. After this point, you have no obligation to maintain the investment and you will be free to liquidate, sell, or part with the investment as you wish.
What Are the Minimum Residency Requirements?
In order to ensure that your Portugal Golden Visa remains valid, you must fulfil the minimum residency requirements by spending a certain number of days every year in Portugal.
However, the residency requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa are relatively low compared to other comparable investment schemes, which makes it an attractive proposition for those who may not initially want to commit to long stays abroad.
The minimum residency requirements are as follows:
|Validity Period||Stay Requirement|
|Initial Residence Permit||2 years||14 days within 2 years|
|Subsequent Residence Permits||3 years||21 days within 3 years|
Real Estate Investment
To obtain a Golden Visa through real estate investment, you must invest a minimum of €500,000.
The threshold lowers to €350,000 if you invest in property that is more than 30 years old in an urban rehabilitation area, and you commit to renovating it.
In addition to this, you may receive a 20% discount on the minimum threshold if you purchase property that is in a low-density area of the country.
The real estate investment may be for a single property or for multiple properties. In addition, two or more people may be eligible for a Golden Visa if they are pooling their resources and purchasing a single property. For example, if two people both purchase a property for €1 million they will be eligible for the visa as they have both each spent €500,000.
Note that residential real estate in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve and coastal towns on the mainland do not qualify as viable investments under the Golden Visa scheme. However, commercial properties in these areas are eligible.
You will also be able to invest in residential real estate on the islands of Madeira and Azores to qualify for a Golden Visa.
For this investment option, you must transfer a minimum of €1.5 million to Portugal.
For this investment option, you must make a contribution in an investment qualified fund or venture capital fund worth at least €500,000.
For this investment option, you must incorporate a business in Portugal that is primarily owned by yourself and creates 10 new jobs worth at least €500,000.
This threshold drops to eight jobs if you’re incorporating a business located in a low-density area.
Alternatively, you may invest a minimum of €500,000 in an existing Portuguese business, where the business must create a minimum of five new full-time jobs for at least three years.
For this investment option, you must either donate or make a capital transfer of €500,000 for science or technology research or donate €250,000 to the arts or local heritage.
Overview of NIF Numbers
There are a number of additional requirements and stipulations that need to be adhered to in order for the Golden Visa investment to be valid.
One of these is obtaining a Portuguese tax identification number (also known as a Número de Identificação Fiscal, or NIF number). NIF numbers are necessary to engage in any legal or fiscal activities in Portugal, and are used by residents, non-residents and citizens.
You will need an NIF number to open a Portuguese bank account, which must be used to make the investment for the Golden Visa.
It’s possible to apply for an NIF number even if you’re outside of Portugal and you’re not yet a legal resident. In this instance, you may appoint a legal representative to act on your behalf as a proxy to obtain a temporary NIF number for you.
This temporary NIF number will be replaced by a permanent one once you obtain a permanent residence permit in Portugal.
If you’re already a resident of Portugal, you can either visit a branch of a local Portuguese tax office (Finanças) yourself to apply for a NIF number, or use a legal representative to do so as outlined above.
How Do I Apply for an NIF Number?
The process for applying for an NIF number is relatively simple.
Firstly, you must ensure that you have a valid passport to prove your identity. If you don’t have a valid passport or other verifiable piece of photo ID, a birth certificate may be accepted in some situations.
You must also obtain proof of your residency in Portugal, such as through a rental agreement, title deed or utility bill.
Note that if you’re applying from abroad, a bank statement stating your non-Portuguese address issued within three months of the application date may also be acceptable. This document must be legalised, translated to Portuguese and submitted to your legal representative.
Once you have the required documents, you must then visit your local Finanças and apply for your NIF number from within. The process of receiving an NIF number should only take a couple of minutes.
You may also receive a Portuguese tax card with your NIF printed on it once you receive your permanent NIF.
How Do I Open a Portuguese Bank Account?
Once you have your NIF number, you will need to use it to open a Portuguese bank account.
It’s essential that you have your own bank account in Portugal, as the investment for the Portugal Golden Visa must be made from a Portuguese account.
The documents you will need to open a Portuguese bank account will vary depending on the specific bank. However, you will generally need the following:
- Proof of Identification, such as valid passport or government-issued travel document
- Proof of address, such as a rental agreement or utility bills
- Portuguese NIF number
- Proof of income or employment, such as a recent payslip or employment contract
- You may still open a bank account if you’re not in employment, as long as you have proof of registration with the Portuguese employment centre (Centro de Emprego) or you have a work contract assurance
- A Portuguese Phone Number
- This will be needed to activate the bank account by text message
- A starting deposit for the new account
- This will generally be around €250 to €300
In most cases, you will have to visit a physical branch of a bank in Portugal to open an account there. However, some branches may allow you to open an account online without having to visit them physically. Alternatively, you may use a legal representative to carry out the process on your behalf.
It’s recommended that you carry out research into the different banks in Portugal to ensure that you find the one that best fits your needs.
List of Required Documents
To be eligible for the scheme, you must provide the following documents with your Portugal Golden Visa application:
- A copy of a valid passport or other government-issued travel document
- Proof of evidence that the qualifying investment has been made:
- For real estate, this may be in the form of a deed or promissory sale agreement with proof that a deposit has been paid
- For investment funds, this may be in the form of proof of fund subscription from fund management
- Proof of healthcare coverage:
- If you’re in Portugal, this may be under Portugal’s national health service (the Servico Nacional de Saude, or SNS)
- If you’re outside of Portugal, this may be from an internationally covered private insurance company
- Details of your criminal record of the current country of residence, such as through a police certificate
- This must be issued within three months of the application date for the Golden Visa
- A completed form authorising the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (or Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, or SEF) to access criminal records in Portugal
- A declaration that you will comply with the minimum investment requirements for the required five year period
- Documents demonstrating good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and Social Security system
- This must be issued within 45 days of the application date
- A receipt showing that the application processing fee has been made
Additional Document Guidelines
It’s generally recommended that documents are dated within three months of the application date for a Portugal Golden Visa, unless stated otherwise in the guidance.
Any documents that are issued outside of Portugal must also be legalised. This is a process in which the signatures, stamps or seals on an official document are verified as genuine.
The documents are verified by having a stamped official certificate known as an apostille attached to them. All documents originating from countries part of the Hague convention must have apostilles in order to be accepted by the Portuguese government.
Documents must generally be legalised in the country that issued them.
In addition to this, documents that are not in the Portuguese language are required to be translated into Portuguese by a verified translator and certified. The certification will normally be carried out by a notary or other comparable public official.
You may also need to provide additional supporting documents to demonstrate that the investment has been successfully made and transferred. These may include:
- A declaration from a registered Portuguese institution stating that the minimum investment amount has been successfully transferred
- Supporting documents outlining your sole ownership of the investment, free of any obligations or charges
- A declaration issued by the managing company of the investment fund stating the business plan, maturity dates is of at least five years, and that at least 60 percent of the fund portfolio is being invested in Portugal
1) Choose Your Investment Type
The very first step is to determine which type of investment would best fit your aims and ideals. Note that the most popular investment option for the Portuguese Golden Visa is investing in residential and commercial property.
2) Assemble Your Supporting Documents
The Portugal Golden Visa requires a fairly significant collection of supporting documents and evidence to be submitted. These will pertain to both yourself and any dependents you may wish to include in the application.
It’s important to ensure that in addition to collecting all the documents needed for the application, any documents that require legalisation or translating into Portuguese are done so before you submit your application.
3) Obtain an NIF Number and Open a Bank Account
As mentioned in the steps outlined above, the process for obtaining an NIF number and opening a bank account are relatively simple, quick processes. However, they are both essential steps in the process of obtaining a Golden Visa.
4) Secure Your Investment
In this step, you will then invest in your chosen form of investment. You will need to ensure that you retain proof of the investment and all of the relevant supporting documents for the application process.
Note also that the investment must be made from this bank account.
5) Submit Your Application Online
After making your investment, you will then need to submit your Portuguese Golden Visa application to SEF’s online portal, which is known as the ARI Portal. Here, you or your legal representative will need to fill in the application form and upload your supporting documents in PDF form.
Once the form has been completed and the documents have been uploaded, you will then need to pay the application fees. The fees can all be paid in one go using what’s known as a Single Collection Document (DUC).
6) Schedule and Attend Your Appointment With SEF
Once SEF has confirmed receipt of your application, you will be able to schedule an appointment with them at one of their offices in Portugal.
You will use the ARI Portal again to schedule the time, date and location of your appointment. At your appointment, you will attend an SEF office where you and your dependents will give your biometrics information in the form of your fingerprints and also present physical copies of your official documents.
Note that it may take up to six months for SEF to approve and confirm an appointment date.
7) Get Your Golden Visa
After you’ve applied to SEF and given them your information, you and your dependents will receive your Portugal Golden Visa residence cards. It usually takes around four months from your biometrics appointment to receive your cards.
The cards will be valid for two year increments, after which you will need to keep on renewing them in order to keep them valid.
8) Apply For Permanent Residency or Citizenship (Optional)
Once you’ve held your Portugal Golden Visa for five years, you will become eligible to apply for Portuguese permanent residence or citizenship. Once you obtain permanent residence status or citizenship, you will no longer be obligated to hold onto your investment.
Note that obtaining Portuguese citizenship comes with its own specific requirements and eligibility criteria, such as having to take a Portuguese language test and having a clean criminal record.
Overview of Fees
The Portuguese Golden Visa cost, including the initial application fee and all subsequent renewal fees, are listed below:
|Processing Fee||Once upon initial application and then again for each renewal||€533 per applicant (plus €83 per dependent)|
|Initial Application Fee||Once upon initial application||€5,325 per person|
|Application Renewal Fee||At each and every renewal||€2,663 per person|
You may also have to pay certain legal fees if you decide to use a legal representative from a legal firm to act on your behalf. A legal representative will assist you with the application process and assembling documents, as well as renewing your Golden Visa and ensuring that your investment aligns with the eligibility criteria for the Golden Visa.
Legal fees for the Golden Visa vary greatly, but may be within the range of €10,000 to €30,000. It’s recommended that you research the legal options available to you to ensure that your investment in the Golden Visa goes smoothly and according to plan.
Overview of Processing Times
The time it takes for Portuguese Golden Visa applications to be processed may take anything up to nine or ten months.
However, this will vary greatly depending on how busy the Portuguese Border and Immigration Service (SEF) is, the volume of applications they would be dealing with at any one time, and if there are any delays in your application, such as if you need to respond to any questions or queries about the information or documents you’ve provided.
In addition to this, SEF offices located in high-density areas such as Lisbon or Porto may be slower to process your application. If you’re concerned about waiting a long time to have your application processed, it may be advisable to apply to an SEF office in a sparsely-populated or rural area.
What Are the Benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa?
There are numerous benefits to participating in the Portugal Golden Visa program.
One of these is visa-free access to the Schengen Area and its 26 countries. Many countries that aren’t in the Schengen Area will also allow you to travel to them with just a Portuguese residency permit.
The ability to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a Portuguese passport is also a significant benefit of the Golden Visa. Applicants can apply for citizenship after five years, which is a relatively short period of time compared to many other EU countries.
Once you have a Portuguese passport, you will be entitled to live, work and travel anywhere within the EU. You will also be able to travel visa-free to over 180 countries internationally.
The minimum investment threshold of €250,000 is also one of the lowest in Europe, which means that obtaining a Portuguese residence permit is one of the most accessible routes to EU citizenship for investors. The minimum residency requirements are also a strong draw, with participants initially only needing to spend seven days a year in Portugal to keep the Golden Visa.
These residency requirements are also removed once you obtain a Portuguese passport and become a citizen.
Portugal also boasts a very low cost of living, with food, healthcare, amenities and property being some of the cheapest in western Europe. Holding a Golden Visa also means full access to Portugal’s state education and healthcare system, which is known as the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS).
What Are the Tax Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa Program?
A significant benefit of the Portuguese Golden Visa program for investors is the lack of income tax liability involved.
If you spend more than 183 days in the fiscal year in Portugal, you will become a Portuguese tax resident.
After this, you may apply for the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) scheme, which offers benefits such as a tax exemption for almost all income sourced abroad, and a 20% flat rate of income tax on qualifying employment and self-employment income.
These benefits apply for the first 10 years of residency in Portugal.
Additionally, the NHR scheme means that Portugal will not tax qualifying income from other countries as long as the country in question is also able to tax that income.
These benefits mean that Portugal’s Golden Visa poses a significantly attractive package for those looking to make a long-term investment in conjunction with relocating to Portugal and making it their primary country of residency.
Even if you do not become a tax resident, legal residents only need to pay tax on their Portuguese investment, as long as it generates income.
How Can IAS Help?
The Portuguese Golden Visa program is one of the most attractive and accessible investment to residency schemes in the whole of Europe. The low barrier to entry and lenient residency requirements means that thousands of investors from all over the world have applied for the scheme and attained residency status in Portugal.
If you’re also considering applying for the Portugal Golden Visa scheme and investing in the Portuguese economy, IAS can help.
We are expert immigration lawyers and legal advisers who are highly experienced in helping investors and expats obtain international visas such as the Portugal Golden Visa.
We can assist you every step of the way through the process to ensure that things go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We can help to secure your chosen investment route in Portugal, liaise with Portuguese immigration authorities and financial services on your behalf, and take care of the application process and ensure all necessary pieces of documentation are legalised, translated and submitted in a timely manner.
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Under the Portugal Golden Visa, certain family members will be able to join you in Portugal under the family reunification residency permit scheme.
Under Portuguese law, the following are considered to be family members:
- Spouse of the applicant
- Minor children of the couple or of one of the members of the couple
- Adopted children by an unmarried applicant or by his/her spouse
- Adult children who are financially dependent on one or both parents, provided they are single and studying
- Dependent parents of the couple
- Minor siblings (as long as they are legally under the responsibility of the resident in their country of origin)
The Portugal Golden Visa investment must be actioned by the main visa applicant as an individual and not through a limited company.
However, the exception to this is if the visa applicant establishes a company in Portugal and invests at least €1.5 million worth of capital into the company. The company will then be eligible to make investments on behalf of the visa applicant with that capital.
There are a few different taxes that property investors will need to be aware of for Portugal’s Golden Visa.
Firstly, you will need to pay Property Transfer Tax (Imposto Municipal sobre Transmissôes Onerosas de Imóveis, or IMT) when you purchase a property. The rate for this is on a sliding scale based on the purchase price, but will normally sit at around 5% to 6%.
You will also need to pay stamp duty on the property, which is normally 0.8% of the property price.
After the purchase, you will then need to pay the annual municipal property tax (Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis, or IMI), which is levied between 0.3% and 0.5% on the property’s tax value.
If you decide to rent out any property you own in Portugal, it will be subjected to a flat rate of tax of 28%. Any real estate that you own or have invested in that is not rented out or generating income will not be subjected to any income tax.