Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Letícia Melo
If you’re an investor looking for a simple way to obtain a Residence Permit in Portugal, look no further. With a Golden Visa, you’ll be able to move to this beautiful and safe country in southern Europe with not that much effort.
But what do you have to do to obtain a Golden Visa and what benefits does it give you?
To answer these and many other common questions about the Golden Visa, we’ve come up with this complete article. Get to know all about the most famous way into Portugal and tips to make sure you get it. Follow up!
What is the Golden Visa?
The Golden Visa is one of the regimes that can grant foreign investors a Residence Permit in Portugal, allowing them to reside in this country.
Officially known as Residence Permit for Investment Activity, the Golden Visa must be applied through the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) system and is regulated by the Foreigners Law, No. 23/2007.
It was created in 2012 as an instrument aimed at attracting foreign citizens to invest in Portugal in different ways: real estate, capital, and so on.
Ever since then, it was the subject of much praise and criticism. The Golden Visa has also undergone many changes, the latest in 2022, making it a slightly less embracing regime than the one initially in force.
Even so, the gold visa is still a process that stands out, as it guarantees the expatriate more benefits and permissions than other types of visa, such as the Passive Income or Work Visa.
What are the Golden Visa benefits?
Due to the required amount to invest in a Golden Visa, the Residence Permit will provide the investor with many benefits that may even result in the acquisition of Portuguese nationality.
Therefore, we can highlight the following immediate benefits:
- Entry into Portugal with the exemption of a visa.
- Possibility of living and working in Portugal.
- Free movement through the Schengen area countries, without the need for a visa.
- Possibility of extending benefits to family members through the Family Reunification procedure.
- The possibility to apply for a Permanent Residence authorization after 5 years of investment.
- Possibility to apply for Portuguese nationality after 5 years in a regular situation in Portugal.
Therefore, the Golden Visa is a great option for people who intend to take advantage of investments opportunities in Portugal and want to enjoy the benefits of living in this country.
As long as you reside in Portugal, you can still develop a professional activity and visit the Schengen area without the need for a visa.
Finally, after 5 regular years in Portugal, you can apply for a Permanent Residence Permit or Portuguese nationality.
Who can apply for a Golden Visa?
The Residence Permit for Investment Activity, or Golden Visa, is aimed at investors from outside the European Union or European Economic Area states (EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway). In other words, you can apply for a Golden Visa if you are an investor without European citizenship.
To obtain a residence permit for investment activity, you may conduct your investment as an individual businessperson or through a company set up in an EU Member State.
But there are other requirements you need to meet in order to obtain the Golden Visa.
Golden Visa investment types
Despite being better known as a form of investment in Portugal through the acquisition of a property or the transfer of capital, the Golden Visa can also be obtained through other types of investment.
To be eligible for the Golden Visa, you must make one of the following types of investments:
- Capital transfer;
- Job creation in a company in Portugal;
- Purchase and or rehabilitation of real estate property in certain areas;
- Investment in scientific research or in the artistic community;
- Transfer of capital to investment funds.
You’ll find more details about the main types of investment below.
1. Acquisition of properties worth more than €500,000
The purchase of a property with a value equal to or greater than €500,000 is the most common procedure for obtaining a Golden Visa. It corresponds to more than 90% of the total of Golden Visas granted in Portugal.
It is important to highlight that you may apply for a Golden Visa through the acquisition of one or more properties, provided that the sum of the amounts is equal to or greater than €500,000.
The activity to be carried out on the property does not influence the purposes of the Golden Visa. Therefore, you can use the property for rental purposes, for example.
For this type of investment, you must prove that you have purchased the property (or, being unable to do so, present a Purchase Promise, with a payment signal equal to or greater than 500 thousand euros).
For the acquisition process, you will be able to:
- Acquire the property on a joint ownership basis, provided that each individual investment value is equal to or greater than €500,000;
- Acquire the property through a sole proprietorship company in which the investor is the partner;
- Finance the property acquisition, but only the amount that exceeds the minimum investment of €500,000;
- Rent or explore the property for commercial, industrial, agricultural or tourist purposes.
Regions where you may invest in real estate
It should be noted that the Portuguese Budget Law of 2021 was recently approved and, due to its terms, the rules for the acquisition of properties for the Golden Visa will undergo some changes. Starting in 2022, the following regions won’t be eligible for Golden Visa for property acquisition:
On the other hand, real estate investments in the following Portuguese regions are still valid for Golden Visa:
- Azores archipelago;
- Madeira island and archipelago;
- Interior territories, such as most of the Alentejo region and central Portugal.
The Portuguese government took these measures considering the need to favor the promotion of foreign investment in low-density regions.
2. Acquisition of old properties in areas of urban rehabilitation, worth more than 350,000€
If the property is (or properties are) old, that is, if it was built more than 30 years ago, or if it’s located in an urban rehabilitation area, the minimum investment amount will decrease to €350,000.
Urban rehabilitation areas (as defined in Decree-Law no. 307/2009) are less developed regions in Portugal.
According to Portal da Habitação, Urban Rehabilitation Areas are:
“delimited areas that, due to the insufficiency, degradation or obsolescence of buildings, of its infrastructure, collective use equipment and urban and green spaces for collective use, namely as regards its conditions of use, solidity, safety, aesthetics or wholesomeness, justifies an integrated intervention, through an urban rehabilitation operation, approved in a detailed urban rehabilitation plan”.
Also, this amount may also be reduced by 20% (to €280,000) if the property is located in low-density territories, as defined above.
To apply for a Golden Visa in this category, it is also mandatory to carry out rehabilitation activities at the acquired property.
In addition to proving to be the property owner, you must present:
- Request for information or of the license for rehabilitation, or
- Contract for the execution of the rehabilitation activities at the property.
To apply for the Golden Visa, you must have the authorization to carry out rehabilitation activities as well as the property purchase contract.
Also, whenever possible, you must provide the receipts for the payment of the rehabilitation contract.
3. Capital transfer of at least 1 million euros
This is the second most common procedure for obtaining a Golden Visa and can be performed through the following methods:
- By transferring capital to a Portuguese bank account for the acquisition of public debt securities of the Portuguese State;
- Through the acquisition of securities in a Portuguese banking institution.
The investment may be made through a company, provided that the investor owns a shareholding in the amount of the investment required for the purpose.
4. Creation of at least 10 jobs
This is the investment modality aimed at entrepreneurial investors. The Golden Visa can also be obtained by setting up a business in Portugal that creates, at least, 10 jobs.
The applicant must demonstrate this fact and the registration of workers at Social Security.
The procedure to create the 10 jobs is not simple. Let’s look at some of the demanded activities:
- Obtain the tax number (NIF);
- Obtain the Social Security registration;
- Incorporation of the company in Portugal;
- Contract of the accountant;
- Obtain the certificates to start the activity;
- Manage the process for selecting and hiring employees;
- Manage contracts and the development of activities by employees.
If the undertaking is carried out in low-density territory, this number can be reduced by 20% (create 8 jobs).
This Golden Visa type is similar to the Business Visa (D2) concerning the requirements for obtaining a visa, but it also has many differences, as will be discussed later on.
5. Investment in small and medium-sized enterprises
It is possible to obtain a Golden Visa through the direct investment in Portuguese companies that have already been created, either through investment funds or venture capital intended for the capitalization of companies.
Despite the risk inherent in this type of investment, the investor may benefit from the increase in the value of the company invested in the stock market.
The minimum investment for this investment until 2021 is €350,000, but in 2022 it will be €500,000.
6. Other investments
Based on the amendments to the law published in 2015, two forms of investment were introduced to obtain the Golden Visa, namely:
- Investment in scientific research;
- Investment in artistic production, preservation or conservation of cultural heritage.
These are investment modalities whose object is the development of activities related to strategic public sectors for the government.
Therefore, these investments are incorporated into the governmental structure and redirected to the activities covered by the application.
Despite the good intention, these types of investments don’t have much visibility.
Golden Visa process: how to apply and obtain it
Contrary to what the popular name implies, the Golden Visa is technically not a visa for Portugal, but a Residence Permit for Investment Activity also referred to as ARI. This means that it is not issued by the Portuguese consular authorities, but by the Immigration Service of Portugal, the SEF.
Therefore, the process of obtaining a Golden Visa is different from the more known visas, such as Passive Income and Work.
Once you fulfill all the requirements, the first step is to fill the mandatory online pre-registration available at the official Golden Visa website, Portal ARI.
Documents to present
Depending on the type of investment you intend to make in Portugal, you will need to present different documents that prove your activity and compliance with the requirements. But, in all cases, these are the mandatory documents:
- Valid passport;
- Evidence of entry and legal stay in Portugal;
- International health or travel insurance;
- Criminal record certificate (duly certified by Portuguese diplomatic or consular representation) from the country of origin, or from the country where you have lived for more than one year;
- Authorization to search for your background by the Portuguese Criminal Registry.
- Declaration of Commitment of Honor, through which you declare you will comply with the minimum investment time period (5 years) in Portugal;
- Tax and Social Security clearance records;
- Receipt of payment of the application fee.
The SEF will analyze your application and can agree or not to grant you a Golden Visa. If not accepted, you will not be refunded the analysis fee.
The fees related to Golden Visa since September 2020 are:
|Golden Visa SEF Process||Fees|
|Analysis of the application for the grant or renewal of a Golden Visa||€533|
|Issuance of Residence Permit for Investment Activity (for you and each family member)||€5,325|
|Renewal of Residence Permit for Investment Activity (for you and each family member)||€2,663|
Let us emphasize that, unlike the procedures for other types of visas, the initial stage for obtaining Golden Vista takes place in Portugal and not at the Consulate of Portugal located in the applicant’s country of origin.
This is therefore a somewhat complicated procedure that often requires professional legal advice. If you need help applying for a Golden Visa, do not hesitate to contact our team.
Golden Visa information
The Golden Visa has always been highly successful in Portugal, having surpassed the mark of 1,000 concessions for consecutive 5 years.
In the year 2014 Portugal granted incredible 1,526 authorizations, according to data provided by SEF.
The Golden Visa provided more than 5 billion euros for Portugal as revenues, becoming one of the most important Portuguese investment programs.
Just as the Non-Habitual Resident regime, the Golden Visa attracts not only capital, but also indirect investments due to the increase of money circulation, goods availability, and services provided, in addition, of course, to tax revenues.
By November 2020, among the countries that most invested in the Portuguese Golden Visa, we have:
- China: 4,728 concessions;
- Brazil: 977 concessions;
- Turkey: 466 concessions;
- South Africa: 386 concessions;
- Russia: 352 concessions.
It is important to highlight that people frequently use their properties as an investment. Either to generate income from rent or for further resale.
At the European level, as published by Portal Idealista in November 2019, we have the following data of countries that have granted Golden Visa to foreign investors:
- Spain: 24,755;
- Portugal: 17,521;
- Latvia: 17,342;
- United Kingdom: 10,445;
- Greece: 7,565;
- Cyprus: 3,336.
Despite its smaller territorial expression, Portugal is one of the European countries that most granted Golden Visa.
What makes the Golden Visa special? Comparison with other visas
The main difference between the Golden Visa and the other visas is centered on the required investment to obtain the first one.
We can also highlight that the entity that processes the Golden Visa is SEF (in Portugal). So there’s no need for a previous process at the Consulate of Portugal of your country of residence.
For this reason, the Golden Visa doesn’t correspond to a visa itself. So you won’t receive the visa stamped in your passport, which usually happens at the Consulate. But rather the document (title) granting the Residence Permit.
Regarding the rights and duties arising from the Golden Visa, when compared to other visas (e.g. Work Visa, Study Visa, Business Visa, Income Visa), we can draw the following parallel:
- Golden Visa: Need to remain in Portugal for a period of not less than 7 days in the first year and 14 days in subsequent years.
- Other Visas: Can’t be absent from Portugal for more than 6 continuous months or 8 non-continuous months during the residence permit period of validation.
We have verified, therefore, that the owner of the Golden Visa does not actually need to reside in Portugal, in contrast to other visas. But only to be in this country for the aforementioned period.
- Golden Visa: Possibility to carry out a professional activity, without restrictions.
- Other Visas: It is only possible to carry out the professional activity if applied for some types of visa (e.g., Work and Business Visa). However, as for the others types of visas, it may be possible to exercise professional activity only after being authorized by SEF.
Latest updates and trend for the future
During 2019, Golden Visa was the subject of many debates in the Assembly of the Republic. Notably, although it is undoubtedly an instrument of State capitalization, some deputies think that this visa can also cause losses.
In this sense, we can highlight the main arguments that were defended in parliament:
In favor of the Golden Visa
- Attract revenues to Portugal.
- Develop of commerce due to increased of consumption.
- Receipt of indirect revenue through fees and taxes.
- Incentive for the modernization of the invested regions.
- Immediate investment (very short term).
Against the Golden Visa
- Encourage Real Estate speculation.
- Increase in the value of the properties due to the reduction in the offer.
- Inflationary effect.
Portugal is not the only European country that has a Golden Visa as an instrument to attract foreign capital.
Countries like Spain, Greece, and Latvia are also looking for investment through this procedure, with the last two countries offering the Golden Visa under more attractive conditions (smaller investments).
However, Portugal remains one of the European countries that most grant Golden Visa to expats. And this is unlikely to change. Below are some reasons for this picture:
- Quality of life;
- Low cost of living;
- Pleasant weather throughout the year;
- Political stability;
- Strategic location;
- Incentives for entrepreneurship and startups;
- Excellent internal infrastructure;
- Touristic places;
Finally, Portugal managed to manage very well the crisis arising from COVID-19. For this reason, this country has once again gained the spotlight on the world stage.
Therefore, as expected, the number of Golden Visa applications has already increased significantly since May 2020 and keeps rising.
“The investment amount raised in May is, in fact, the highest monthly amount since March 2017, when 192.4 million euros were raised. In monthly terms, that is, compared to April, the investment raised more than quintupled (421%)”.
The Golden Visa remains one of the main ways for foreign investment in Portugal, considering the many benefits granted to the citizen who intends to invest in this country.
The fact that you don’t need to reside in Portugal during the Golden Visa period is also a distinctive point when choosing the type of visa to request.
Also, as Portugal managed to perform well in the fight against COVID-19 internally, it ended up taking the spotlight and, when the world returns to daily activities, this country shows itself as a potential place of residence for investors.
Finally, the information presented in this guide is for information purposes only and should not in any way be the main reason for the investor’s decision-making.
If you need any assistance with the Portuguese Golden Visa procedure, feel free to reach Viv Europe by clicking here.
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