Los Angeles, USA

·

Miami, USA

·

Dubai, UAE

·

Cebu, PH

REQUEST A CALLBACK +1 (305) 894-0742

Portugal Golden Visa: Residency & Citizenship Investment Guide in 2024

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: February 21, 2024

The Portugal Golden Visa: Complete Guide for 2024

The Portuguese Golden Visa provides a pathway to long-term EU residency and citizenship through strategic investment. The Golden Visa program launched in 2012 and is consistently a top performer in the investment migration industry. 

The Portuguese program is the only golden visa program that can lead to EU citizenship without physical presence over a five-year residency period. The alternative is the citizenship program of Malta, a very different program because of its €700,000 donation requirement, amongst other investment criteria.

From my perspective, 2023 has been a turbulent time for the program and advising clients on the Portuguese Golden Visa. The Portuguese government had several parliamentary sessions to determine the program’s future. I was relieved when clarity and some might say sanity prevailed, as the continuation of the Portuguese Golden Visa legislation passed and is effective from 7th October 2023.

In this guide, I will outline the Portuguese Golden Visa program as approved by the President of Portugal in October 2023, which applies here in 2024.

 

The Portugal Golden Visa Guide – Changes and Opening Doors to New Investments

The most significant change is removing any investment into real estate to be eligible for the Golden Visa. Investors will need to look into alternative options for the Golden Visa, as real estate investments were over 90% of all applicants until 2021. However, 2022 and 2023 have seen a change towards moving away from real estate and into investment funds. 

I will share some of the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years to avoid common pitfalls and ensure you make an informed investment that leads to strong returns and a clear pathway to Portuguese citizenship. The new legislation allows for exciting and yield-bearing investments, stimulating the local economy and awarding its investors residence in Portugal. The Golden Visa fund option is a top choice for investors and our clients enjoy the simplicity of the investment while allowing for a varied level of risk to reward. 

Obtaining the Portuguese Golden Visa requires expertise to navigate bureaucratic complexities. When the company first assisted clients with their applications, our team members realized how daunting the process can be.

After years of success stories, the team has honed a proven method to streamline our advisory service to establish the right strategy for clients and complete their Golden Visa applications for Portugal. We remain dedicated to simplifying the process while helping clients diversify assets and unlock new opportunities.

 

Portuguese Golden Visa Investment Options

The loss of the real estate option is a continuing debate amongst professionals in the industry. Some argue that removing it will stifle the applicants, and they will opt for other Golden Visa programs in Greece, Cyprus, or Spain. Others believe there will be innovation in the investment options, and investors will see better returns on their investments outside of real estate. 

 

What are the new Portuguese Golden Visa investment options as of 2024?

  1. The creation of a business that employs at least ten Portuguese residents;
  2. Transfer of €500,000 into applied research conducted by a public or private institution which is integrated into the scientific and technology national system;
  3. Transfer of €250,000 into cultural, artistic, and heritage projects that a municipal and public cultural association has approved; 
  4. Transfer €500,000 into an Golden Visa investment fund incorporated under Portuguese Law, and at least 60% of the fund’s value must be made into entities based in Portugal. The maturity of the fund must have a length of at least five years and 
  5. Transfer of €500,000 into the establishment of a business registered in Portugal which will further employ at least five Portuguese residents, OR for the reinforcement of the share capital of a commercial company already established and registered in Portugal, with the creation of five employees or the maintenance of at least ten employment positions, or which five must be permanent for three years.

 

The first three investment criteria are allowed to be reduced by 20% if the location of the activity is in a low-density jurisdiction. Low density is classified as a location with less than 100 inhabitants per km2 or less than 75% of the national average. 

Seeking expert immigration guidance?

Navigating through immigration programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.

During our call, we will:

  • Address any specific questions: We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.
  • Detail every step: We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.
  • Evaluate program suitability: We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.
  • Connect you with local professionals: Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers in the respective country, as well as trusted providers of eligible investment options.

 

 
 

Investment Analysis

Our team’s analysis for each client largely depends on the client’s goals and circumstances. The new legislation and criteria allow investors to participate actively or passively in their investments. The investment capital is also a significant consideration. The routes essentially allow for zero upfront capital investment requirement but up to €500,000.

Active Investor with No Major Capital Outlay

The Golden Visa allows applicants to start a business and employ eight to ten employees. The applicant must submit a business plan, register a company in Portugal, and begin to employ eight to ten people in the first year of being awarded the Golden Visa. An annual submission shows records of employment for the Golden Visa to be continued. This option is for companies to open service operations in Portugal. 

Although the route does not require any major upfront investment, there will be some investment into setting up an office or infrastructure to operate a functional business. The employment route will not be passive and involve some active participation from the investor. 

Lower Investment Capital with Limited Project Exposure

The Portuguese government allows investors to participate in providing capital for cultural, artistic, and heritage projects that a municipal and public cultural association has approved. To date, there has been very little project exposure in this route, and to the team’s knowledge, there have been philanthropic donations from Golden Visa holders. 

The investment bracket is €250,000 but can be €200,000 if the project is in a low-density area. 

This option is an “if” statement for investors. Please note my ears are close to the ground to identify viable and secure investments that are approved for Culture, Arts, and Heritage. 

Golden Visa Investment Funds

The Golden Visa fund option for the Portuguese Golden Visa is a familiar and popular option for hopeful applicants. This is a top choice for my firm in its advisory service to clients for the Golden Visa.

The capital investment into the Golden Visa funds opened in 2019 but had only seven investors in its first year of operation according to SEF statistics. The investment fund option saw growth to forty-eight applicants in 2020 and eighty-one in 2021. 

From 1st January, the fund option increased its ticket size to €500,000. One would have thought that the increase would slow applicants. Nothing is further from the truth, as there were 235 Golden Visas issued in 2022 and 302 issued up to September 2023. 

Process to Obtain a Golden Visa in Portugal

  1. Consultation and Legal Representation: To embark on this journey, you will need the guidance of a lawyer and a fiscal representative, both of whom will be provided by Global Residence Index. The legal team ensures all necessary paperwork is in order and expertly navigates you through the Golden Visa application process. Simultaneously, your fiscal representative, connected with our firm, will play a crucial role in tax preparation for your remote consultation;
  2. Bank Account and Tax Number: Your NIF (Numero de Identificacao Fiscal), essentially your tax ID number, will be facilitated by our advisors. This essential identifier will allow you to establish a Portuguese bank account, a service we offer to streamline your journey. This account will serve as the destination for your investment funds from abroad, ensuring a seamless financial transition;
  3. Invest & Submit GV Application: Once you’ve conducted thorough research and chosen the Golden Visa investment option that aligns with your goals, you will proceed with the investment process. Subsequently, our team will initiate and oversee your Golden Visa application, ensuring a smooth and efficient process, even for remote clients.
  4. Interview & Biometrics: After submitting your application and all the requisite documents, the SEF will extend an invitation for an interview and biometric data collection, including photographs and fingerprints. This appointment is typically scheduled 10-14 months after applying, and while it requires you to travel to Portugal, rest assured that we ensure you’re well-prepared for this important step; and
  5. Receive the Golden Visa: Following your appointment with SEF, it takes approximately 2-3 months for the authorities to review all the information and issue your Golden Visa. Global Residence Index will stay in close communication with you throughout this period. The initial Golden Visa is valid for two years before a renewal is necessary.

Golden Visa Renewal One and Two

At the end of the year two (Initial Renewal):

  1. Application Submission: At the end of year two, as a Golden Visa holder, you must apply for the initial renewal of your residence permit. We will initiate this process well before your initial permit expires; around ninety days is sufficient;
  2. Physical Presence: Applicants need to have shown that they were physically present for at least seven days in Portugal during the first year of their Golden Visa; 
  3. Documentation: Prepare the required documents, which usually include a valid passport, proof of legal entry into Portugal, proof of accommodation, and evidence of your investment, among others. You may also need to show that you have maintained your investment during the first year; and
  4. Application Submission: Submit your renewal application to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).

End of the Year Four (Second Renewal):

  1. Application Submission: After year four of holding the Golden Visa, you will need to renew your residence permit for the second time; 
  2. Physical Presence: Applicants need to have shown that they were physically present for at least fourteen days in Portugal between years two and three; 
  3. Documentation: Similar to the initial renewal, you will need to provide updated documentation demonstrating that you have continued to meet the investment requirements, maintained your legal status in Portugal, and have been residing in the country; 
  4. Application Submission: Submit your second renewal application to SEF.
  • Processing and Approval: SEF will review your renewal applications, verifying that you have met the requirements and complied with the investment conditions. If everything is in order, they will renew your residence permit.

Pathway to Permanent Residence and Citizenship

After the second renewal of the Golden Visa, applicants must spend another fourteen days in Portugal during year four or five of their residence period. At the end of five years, applicants can apply for permanent residence. The end of five years effectively ends the investment criteria, and investors may withdraw their investment and still maintain residence in Portugal as a permanent residence. 

At the same time as applying for permanent residence, applicants can also apply for citizenship. The following criteria will assist the applicant to be successful in their application and naturalization as a Portuguese citizen. 

  • Financial Stability: You should be able to demonstrate financial stability, meaning you have a stable income and can support yourself without relying on social assistance;
  • Criminal Record: You must not have a criminal record with certain convictions that would disqualify you from citizenship;
  • Knowledge of Portuguese Language and Culture: You will need to prove your proficiency in the Portuguese language and demonstrate an understanding of Portuguese culture and history. Ability is shown through language tests at an authorized school or institution at a Ciple A2 level; and
  • Integration into Portuguese Society: You should demonstrate your integration into Portuguese society, including community involvement and adherence to Portuguese values.

 

Golden Visa Costs and Fees 

There are three additional costs that investors and their dependents need to pay for the Golden Visa. There is an initial €533 processing fee for a primary applicant and €83 for each dependent applicant. The application and Golden Visa fee is €5,325 for each applicant and €2,663 for each renewal. 

There are professional and legal fees when going through the Golden Visa application process. These fees are necessary to ensure that the applicant’s investment is placed into a safe and secure investment. 

Secondly, Global Residence Index places incredible importance on case management for clients. Our team follows a clear and strategic plan that has been tried and tested with hundreds of clients. We work only with the best products in the investment industry and partners with a similar mindset to client efficiency.

 

Next Steps

You are more than welcome to book a consultation with one of our global advisors. 

Our advisory team will walk through each process step, highlight potential investment opportunities, and provide direct access to our partners.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the timeline for the Golden Visa process?

The process can take between 10 to 14 months to complete.

Are there tax implications of holding a Golden Visa?

No, you must spend over 183 days in Portugal during a fiscal year or maintain a permanent residence solely in Portugal without any other country in consideration to be a tax resident.

Which family members can apply on the primary application?

Your eligible dependents for the Golden Visa program in Portugal include your spouse or partner, children below the age of 18, adult children over 18 who rely on you financially, provided they are enrolled in full-time education and unmarried, as well as siblings under 18 of either you or your spouse/partner, granted you or your partner have legal custody of them. 

Dependent parents who are over 55 years old or older than 65 without the need for additional documentation can also be considered as qualifying dependents.

Am I guaranteed citizenship after five years of residence?

Golden Visa holders can apply for citizenship after completing the physical presence requirements and holding the initial investment over five years.

What are the benefits that I obtain as a Portuguese citizen?

Becoming a Portuguese citizen provides instant advantages like EU citizenship, a powerful passport for visa-free travel, access to social services, voting rights, unrestricted property ownership, and more accessible business prospects. It also offers inheritance rights, increased mobility within the EU, and a richer cultural immersion experience. As local citizens, children can study across Europe, granting free tuition or significantly reduced rates. 

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.

GET PERSONALIZED GUIDANCE

During our call, we will:

Here is what to expect from a call with our advisory team:

1

We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.

2

We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.

3

We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.

4

Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers in the respective country, as well as trusted providers of eligible investment options.