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Portugal’s Golden Visa Vs. Other Residency Options: What Sets It Apart?

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Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 23/05/2024, 23:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Situated in the southwestern part of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is your ideal destination for a change of scenery, lifestyle, and investment opportunities. Among its many other popular residency options, like the HQA Visa and D7 Visa, the Golden Visa is something that stands out.

This program lets non-EU nationals invest in Portugal and get Portuguese citizenship after five years. Since its launch in 2012, as many as 12,497 main applicants have been granted this Golden Visa, accompanied by 20,169 family members.

Going forward, we’ll explore this amazing visa program in detail, including its top benefits and application process.

Portugal’s Golden Visa at a Glance

Portugal’s Golden Visa is a type of residency-by-investment (RBI) program launched in 2012. It’s also called the Portugal Golden Residence Permit program, which any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national can apply to.

The country came up with the program to boost its economy post the 2007-08 financial crisis by attracting foreign investment. As a result, over €7 billion has so far been invested in Portugal’s economy via the Golden Visa route.

Unlike other means to get permanent citizenship in Portugal or any EU country, the Golden Visa takes the least time of 5 years.

Benefits of Portugal’s Golden Visa Program Over Other Residency Options

Here’s the list of key benefits of Portugal’s Golden Visa program:

Most Affordable Visa Program

Affordability is the main highlight of Portugal’s Golden Visa, with a minimum investment requirement starting from €200,000 in arts, culture, and research. This is significantly lower than Spain’s €500,000 and Malta’s €300,000 minimum investment requirements.

Portugal Citizenship For Your Family Members

Not just you but your dependent family members can also join you in Portugal as permanent residents after 5 years.

These include:

  • Your spouse
  • Biological or adopted children (under 18 years)
  • Dependent children (under 26, single, and enrolled full-time in any Portugal school)
  • Parents of either spouse (66 years or older)
  • Parents of either spouse (55 years or older)
  • Legally responsible siblings of either spouse (18 years or younger)

Note: The process and other benefits of the Golden Visa are the same for all these members.

Tax Benefits

Having a Golden Visa means you don’t have any tax responsibility until your stay in the country exceeds 183 days, and even if you do, you’ll appreciate its favorable tax regime that’s different from the rest of Europe.

For example, let’s discuss Portugal’s Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) Program. Developed in 2009, it’s a government initiative to support foreign nationals who plan to live or work in the country, letting them reduce the 20% tax on their income in Portugal.

Visa-Free Travel

Visa-free travel within Europe’s Schengen Area for 90 days every 180 days is another advantage of Portugal’s Golden Visa. Thus, neither you nor your other family members need to apply for additional visas to travel to countries like Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, and many others.

You don’t get this visa-free travel with other Portugal residency options.

No Basic Proficiency in Portuguese is Required

While proficiency in Portuguese is one of the main requirements while applying for a Portugal residency permit through other ways, it’s not the case with the Golden Visa. You can obtain the same even if you don’t speak any Portuguese at all, courtesy of the Golden Visa.

Minimum Stay Requirement

According to the Golden Visa stay requirements, you only need to stay in the country for 7 days in the first year to maintain your residency permit, then at least 14 days for every subsequent 2-year period.

In other words, you just need to stay for merely 35 days in the country to obtain your permanent residency permit.

If we talk about other PR permit routes, say the D7 Visa, you must live in Portugal for a minimum of 183 uninterrupted days per year.

How to Apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa?

Let’s now understand how to apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa, starting off with the eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Be a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national
  • A clean criminal record in your home country and Portugal
  • Be at least 18 years old at the time of Golden Visa application
  • Invest a minimum of €250,000 in any of the available investment options
  • Spend an average of 7 days/year in Portugal, or a total of 14 days during the validity of each residence card (valid for 2 years)

Available Investment Options

  • Invest a minimum of €500,000 in an investment fund for at least 5 years
  • Invest at least €200,000 in arts, culture, and research investment for 5 years or more
  • Invest €500,000 in a business that creates at least 5 jobs within Portugal

Important: On 19 July 2023, the Portuguese parliament voted to restructure the Golden Visa program, thus excluding real estate investments and associated funds from the list of eligible investment options for the program.

Documents Required

  • Portugal Golden Visa application form + payment receipt
  • Valid passport (and other travel documents)
  • 2 passport-size photographs in accordance with Portugal’s visa photo requirements
  • Document stating that your health insurance is valid in Portugal
  • Declaration from your Portuguese bank to confirm fund transfer from abroad
  • Declaration of honor promising to stay invested in Portugal for at least 5 years
  • Criminal Record Certificate/Certificate of No Criminal Record from your home country (issued in the last 3 months)
  • Valid proof showing good standing with the Portuguese Tax Authority
  • Proof of non-enrollment or good standing with Social Security

Application Process

  • Choose any of the investment options listed above or other
  • Set up a Portuguese bank account and tax (or NIF) number
  • Complete your investment
  • Apply for the Portugal Golden Visa
  • Get your temporary residence permit
  • Apply for Portuguese citizenship or Permanent Residence (PR)

Cost

The whole Portugal Golden Visa application can cost anything between €5,000 to €6,000/person, including processing fees. In addition, the renewal costs are between €2,000 to €3,000/person.

Conclusion

For those planning to relocate to Portugal, the sunniest country in Europe, its Golden Visa program is worth enlisting in.

Its unique blend of benefits, including eligibility for the most sought-after EU citizenship and visa-free travel to Schengen Area countries, makes it a hot choice among investors and entrepreneurs alike. Add to this the country’s welcoming Mediterranean climate and tax benefits for new residents!

Apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa now and unlock a bright future for you and your family.