The Golden Visa has been one of the primary vehicles for Portugal to attract foreign investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to invest and live in the country with an easy and burdenless path to acquire Portuguese Citizenship. In early 2021, the Portuguese government announced a few changes to its Golden Visa program, which prevails as one of the most attractive Citizenship by investment programs worldwide. This article will help you understand how the Portugal Golden Visa program works and the necessary steps to acquire Portuguese Citizenship through the Golden Visa Program.
WHAT IS THE GOLDEN VISA IN PORTUGAL?
Golden Visa, officially called “Residence Permit for Investment Activity,” is one of the most popular programs for obtaining residency through investments in Portugal. This visa category grants the authorization to live in Portugal to foreigners who can prove that they have made certain investment types within the country. Golden Visa allows that, by keeping the investment for at least five years, these foreigners have the right to apply for Portuguese citizenship. The Portuguese Golden Visa Program began in October 2012, and nearly ten thousand families have received their Golden Visas since the program’s inception.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF THE GOLDEN VISA PROGRAM?
There are numerous benefits and advantages associated with the Portuguese Golden Visa Program. One of the most sought-after outcomes is acquiring Portuguese Citizenship through the Golden Visa Program. The Golden Visa affords the investors that are part of the program further advantages such as:
- Flexibility: The Golden Visa caters to more than just a single investment option;
- Convenience: The Golden Visa holders must only spend seven days a year in Portugal;
- Perspectives: The Golden Visa Program is a direct path to Portuguese Citizenship that one can acquire after five years;
- Mobility: The Golden Visa Program enables visa-free access and movement within the entire European Union and countries within the Schengen Area;
- Transparency: The Portuguese Golden Visa Program has a solid legal background. Hence, it’s not on any blacklist of residency programs or Citizenship by investment programs;
- Safety: Portugal is a safe and accessible country, number 3 out of 163 countries on the 2020 Global Peace Index, with high quality and low cost of living, solid infrastructure, excellent climate, and good health and education systems.
- Borderless: Once you become a Portuguese citizen, you can live and work anywhere in the EU/EEA and get the fourth-best passport in the world for nomads and global citizens.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT OPTIONS AND PATHWAYS TO THE GOLDEN VISA?
Citizens of non-EU countries who make an eligible investment can obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa. Due to the changes introduced by the Portuguese Law-Decree 14/2021 of February 12th, which will come into force on January 1st of 2022, the applicable regime to obtain Portugal’s Golden Visa will be as follows:
- OPTION 1: TRANSFER OF A CAPITAL AMOUNT EQUAL OR GREATER THAN 1.5 MILLION EUROS (Under the regime in force until December 31st of 2021, the investment value is 1 million euros)
In this first option, the investor who would like to obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa shall make an investment that equals the amount set by the law through one out of three possible ways, as explained below. In all three cases, the investor will have to own proof of the investment that meets that surpasses the threshold. The investor can obtain the Golden Visa by one of the following three investment vehicles:
- Bank Deposits: The investor must hold a statement either from an authorized credit institution or a registered one in the national territory by the Bank of Portugal, attesting the ownership, free of encumbrances and charges, of deposit accounts with a balance equal to or higher than €1,500,000.00, resulting from an international transfer, or a share with the same value in the case of collective or joint accounts;
- Public Debt Securities of the Portuguese State: The investor can invest, namely through acquiring treasury bonds, savings certificates, or treasury certificates. For this purpose, the IGCP, E.P.E., and relevant authorities must certify the ownership, free of encumbrances or charges, of one of those instruments with a value that equals or exceeds €1,500,000.00;
- Acquisition of Securities, and Acquisition of Shares in Commercial Companies: The investor can acquire book-entry securities, bearer, or registered securities (whether or not integrated into a centralized system) for an amount that equals or is higher than €1,500,000.00.
It will always be mandatory to have a certificate attesting to ownership in any of these three cases, free of impediments or charges, issued by the registering or depositary entity, by its issuer, or by the financial intermediary respectively.
- OPTION 2: CREATION OF AT LEAST 10 JOBS (This requirement can be reduced to 8 jobs in low-density regions such as The Algarve)
The applicant must demonstrate that he has created at least ten jobs or a minimum of eight in the case of low-density regions such as the Algarve. In this case, the investor must first incorporate a company in Portugal and then hire the required number of employees as per the Portuguese employment and labor law. Later on, and to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa, the investor must demonstrate that the employees are registered with social security and are under legally binding employment contracts.
- OPTION 3: ACQUISITION OF REAL ESTATE
The applicant must acquire, or promise to purchase, immovable property with a value that equals or is higher than €500,000.00, even if under joint ownership (provided that each of the joint owners invests at least €500,000.00). In the case of a promise to purchase a property, the down payment paid as an advance on the price must be at least €500,000.00.
The investor doesn’t have to use the property only to apply and obtain the Golden Visa. Hence, the investor can also lease and exploit the property for commercial, agricultural, or tourism purposes. Furthermore, the applicant doesn’t have to acquire the real estate as an individual and can also purchase the property by incorporating a sole proprietorship company of which he is the partner.
Starting in the January 1st of 2022, investments in real estate for housing, located in places in the Portuguese territory other than those contained in the Ordinance number 208/2017, of July 13th, are no longer admitted (thus excluded big cities like Lisbon (including Cascais), Porto, and part of the coastline).
- OPTION 4: ACQUISITION AND REHABILITATION OF REAL ESTATE
In this scenario, the investor can obtain the Golden Visa in Portugal by acquiring real estate to rehabilitate it. The type of properties that fall under this category must have been older than 30 years or located in an urban rehabilitation area. In this case, the investor shall purchase a property worth at least € 350,000.00 and commit to rehabilitating it after its acquisition.
It’s possible that the investor purchases the property under a co-ownership regime, provided that each co-owner invests at least an amount of €350,000.00. Furthermore, the investor can also buy the real estate by incorporating a sole proprietorship company, of which he is the partner. Moreover, the investor can fully exploit the property through, for instance, leasing it.
The applicant must deposit the difference between the purchase price of the property and the minimum investment amount required – to be used to pay the contract price – in a bank account opened in a banking institution in Portugal and of which he is the owner.
The applicant is still required to prove that he kept the deposit of the contract price in a banking institution in Portugal and, whenever possible, to present the receipts for the total or partial payment of the contract.
There are associated tax benefits, which allow the investor to be exempt or subject to a reduced rate. The applicant may thus: be exempt from IMT in the context of the acquisition of the aforementioned immovable property and from IMI, after acquiring them, for a period of three years and benefit from a reduced rate of VAT, in relation to the contracts.
On January 1st of 2022, investments in real estate for housing, located in places in the Portuguese territory other than those contained in the Ordinance number 208/2017, of July 13th, are no longer admitted (thus excluded big cities like Lisbon (including Cascais), Porto, and part of the coastline).
- OPTION 5: INVESTMENT IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ACTIVITIES
Transfer of capital in an equal or greater amount than €500,000.00 (five hundred thousand euros), for use in scientific research activities carried out by public or private institutions, integrated within the framework of the national scientific and technological system.
(Under the regime in force until December 31st of 2021, the investment value is 350 thousand euros)
- OPTION 6: INVESTING IN ARTISTIC PRODUCTION, PRESERVATION OR CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE
Transfer of capital in an equal or greater amount than € 250,000.00 (two hundred and fifty thousand euros), for investment in or support artistic production, or for the maintenance or recovery of cultural heritage.
The value of this investment can also be reduced by 20% (200 thousand euros) when made in low density territory.
- OPTION 7: TRANSFER OF CAPITAL INTENDED FOR THE ACQUISITION OF PARTICIPATION UNITS IN INVESTMENT FUNDS OR VENTURE CAPITAL
Transfer of capital in an equal or greater amount than €500,000.00 (five hundred thousand euros), intended for the acquisition of participation units in investment or venture capital funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies, which are established under the Portuguese law, whose maturity at the time of investment is at least five years and that at least 60% of the value of the investments is carried out in commercial companies headquartered in the national territory.
(Until December 21th of 2021 the investment value is €350,000.00)
- OPTION 8: TRANSFER OF CAPITAL FOR THE INCORPORATION OF A COMMERCIAL SOCIETY OR TO REINFORCE THE SHARE CAPITAL OF A EXISTENT ONE
Transfer of capital in an equal or greater amount than €500,000.00 (five hundred thousand euros), intended for the constitution of a commercial company headquartered in the national territory, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a commercial company headquartered in national territory, already incorporated, with the creation or maintenance of jobs, with a minimum of five permanent ones, and for a minimum period of three years.
(Until December 21th of 2021 the investment value is €350,000.00)
Now that you have made yourself familiar with the different options and routes towards the Portuguese Golden Visa, you may want to book a consulting session with an Immigration Lawyer who will be able to answer all questions you might have about the Golden Visa and Citizenship by Investment in Portugal through our Services Marketplace.
In case you don’t fulfill the Golden Visa Requirements, then you may want to take a look into other residency programs in Portugal to which you might be eligible such as the Startup Visa and the Tech Visa which are rather for entrepreneurs with innovation potential and tech talent with a job offer in Portugal.