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Portugal’s Golden Visa – How to obtain residency and EU vitizenship

  • 🏠 Real estate investment starting from €280,000
  • 💸 Alternative capital transfer options from €250,000
  • 👪 Includes family members and dependents
  • ✈️ Visa-free access to the Schengen area
  • 🇵🇹 Attractive tax rates in Portugal on foreign income
  • 🧑‍💼 No requirement to live in Portugal full-time
  • 💼 Freedom to work, study and conduct business
  • 🇪🇺 Pathway to EU citizenship in 5-6 years

Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Program (aka the Golden Visa) provides a straightforward path to full residency and eventual citizenship through real estate investment or capital contributions. Introduced in 2012, the scheme provides visa-free access to Portugal, the right to live, work and study there, and free movement within Europe’s Schengen visa countries.

Over 10,000 investors have used the program to gain residency rights, making it one of Europe’s most popular visa schemes. We break down everything you need to know about Portugal’s golden visa.

Eligibility criteria

The golden visa is open to non-EU nationals looking to invest in Portugal. While prime applicants must be 18+ years old, dependents including a spouse and children under 18 may be included in the application.

There is no requirement to live full-time in Portugal either before or after obtaining the golden visa. Investors just need to maintain ties and visit the country for a minimum of 7 days in the first year and 14 days every subsequent 2 year period.

Application and approval process

After selecting a suitable real estate purchase or funds investment, applicants can submit their golden visa application either directly or using a lawyer or accredited agent for assistance. Required documents include:

  1. Passport copies
  2. Proof of health insurance
  3. Records of your qualifying property purchase or capital transfer
  4. Background check/affidavit letter
  5. The initial temporary residence visa is issued within about 8 weeks if the investment funds are evidenced and background checks are clear. It provides a 2 year temporary residency period with multiple renewals possible up to 9 years in total.

Real estate investment requirements

The most popular route to acquiring the golden visa is through a Portuguese property purchase. There are no restrictions on the type of property – new construction, resale, commercial, or residential all qualify for the program. The minimum investment amounts depend on the location:

Properties located in low population density areas require €500,000. Places requiring refurbishment have a lower threshold of €350,000 purchase price regardless of location within Portugal. For property situated in major cities like Lisbon, Porto or the Algarve region, the minimum drops further to €280,000.

As the main applicant, you must retain ownership of the qualifying property for a 5 year period after issuance of your golden visa in order to maintain residency rights. It is permissible to utilize financing for a portion of the purchase price. However, at least €350,000-€500,000 must come from your own capital, again depending on the property’s location within Portugal and associated minimum price threshold.

Capital transfer options

If you prefer not to purchase real estate, Portugal’s golden visa allows capital transfers as the other route to residency rights. This requires investing:

  • €1 million into a Portuguese bank deposit account
  • €350,000 for research activities at accredited institutions
  • €250,000 towards arts/cultural initiatives, or the rehabilitation of historic properties
  • €500,000 in venture capital funds geared towards startups

The funds need to be transferred to/invested in Portugal and kept for 5 years from the date your golden visa is granted. So this path requires more upfront capital locked in.

Key benefits

Portugal’s golden visa program provides several advantages both within the country and Europe wide:

  1. Visa-free access to all 26 Schengen countries
  2. No requirement to live full-time in Portugal
  3. Residency rights for family dependents
  4. All travel, healthcare, housing and education rights as permanent residents
  5. No restrictions on working or starting businesses in Portugal
  6. Low 6-10% flat income tax rates in Portugal, even on foreign sourced income
  7. Path to apply for full Portuguese citizenship in 5-6 years

The residency rights, business freedom and low taxes make Portugal especially attractive for investors from outside the EU compared to golden visa schemes in other countries.

Cost beyond the qualifying investment

Outside of the real estate purchase price or capital transfer investment, you need to budget for:

  1. €5,274 per applicant in processing fees to the government
  2. €3,924 in first year renewal fees, €3,924 every 2 years after
  3. Plan for notaries, translators, document certification when applying
  4. If using a relocation/immigration firm, service fees range from €15,000-€30,000
  5. So an individual application to completion can cost €25,000-€40,000 depending on if you use an agency to handle the process.

Renewal and path to citizenship

The initial golden visa and temporary residence card is valid for 2 years, renewable for up to 9 years in 2-3 year intervals. Renewal only requires:

  • Ensuring your property or capital investment remains in place
  • Minimum 14 days of cumulative presence in Portugal during each 2 year visa period
  • Payment of the renewal fees
  • Once you’ve held temporary residency for at least 5 years, you become eligible to apply for permanent residence. This allows you to work/live in Portugal indefinitely. They also reduce the minimum presence days to just 7 per year.

After 6 years of residency including 1 year as a permanent resident, investors can apply for full Portuguese citizenship. This gives you an EU passport with rights to live/work anywhere in Europe. Children born to golden visa holders in Portugal can also claim citizenship after 6 years residence up to age 18.

Why work with a relocation expert like AptCitizenship?

While it’s possible to arrange Portugal’s golden visa independently, working with an established agency provides major benefits:

  1. Guidance on real estate investments with reliable developers
  2. Lawyers ensure proper contract terms on property purchases
  3. Liaising for building licenses/permits if renovating existing properties
  4. End-to-end application preparation and document submission
  5. Support securing tax IDs, opening bank accounts, getting schools or healthcare
  6. Assistance with citizenship applications and long-term relocation
  7. Good firms charge fees, but save clients countless hours navigating regulations and immigration processes. They maximize approvals success, ensure full compliance, and facilitate establishing your life in Portugal.

Common Golden visa questions

Do I need to live full time in Portugal?

No – the program requires just 7 days of presence in year 1 + 14 days every 2 years after to maintain temporary residency rights

Can I buy Portugal property with financing?

Yes, mortgages and fractional ownership are permitted. But at least €350-500k must come from your own capital.

What taxes apply to foreign nationals?

Non-habitual resident tax scheme provides 0% income tax on most foreign earnings for 10 years. Low 5-10% taxes apply if working in Portugal.

Can I get healthcare and education access?

Yes – you can use public healthcare in Portugal and resident rates at private clinics. Dependent children can attend public school tuition-free too.

Is dual citizenship allowed?

Yes – Portugal allows dual nationality once you naturalize as a citizen after 6 years. No need to renounce current passport.

Portugal’s golden visa offers the most cost effective permanent residency program in Europe. With strong application volume and renewal rates, the scheme provides a proven route to EU citizenship through property or business investment in the country.