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The Definitive Guide to the Portugal Golden Visa – 2020 UPDATED2020-03-27T13:02:10+00:00

The Definitive Guide to the Portugal Golden Visa – 2020 UPDATED

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Getting a Golden Visa is a big decision – and not one you want to rush in without doing your homework properly. Equip yourself with the latest information on the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme here, or contact us now for a free consultation.

Programme history

 

What are the benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme?2020-03-27T12:50:16+00:00

The Portugal residency by investment programme is one of the most popular programmes of its kind in the world. Foreign investors choose the programme for the following benefits: 1) To obtain residency in Portugal 2) A range of investment options to choose from 3) Visa free access to 26 other Schengen countries 4) A clear path to eventual EU citizenship 5) High quality of life in a sun-drenched, Mediterranean setting 5) A proven, fast and reliable application process 6) A safe, stable and centrally situated country with excellent infrastructure for education, public transport and healthcare.

Are Portuguese citizens eligible to apply for the USA E2 Visa Program?2020-03-27T12:48:38+00:00

As of March 2020, Portuguese citizens are not yet eligible to apply for the E2 Visa, however Portugal is in talks with the USA about entering an E2 treaty agreement for commerce and navigation. A decision in this regard expected imminently, after which it is expected that the Portuguese Golden Visa will become even more popular among non-European investors.

Can having a Golden Visa lead to citizenship in Portugal?2020-03-27T12:47:08+00:00

Yes, it can, provided that the applicant has maintained residency in Portugal for an uninterrupted period of 5 years. After that, applicants are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship by regular naturalization. The first Portugal Golden Visa holders have recently started acquiring citizenship.

Which nationalities can apply for a Golden Visa in 2020?2020-03-27T12:57:49+00:00

Apart from citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, most countries in the world are eligible to apply for a Golden Visa, provided that they can meet the programme requirements. The bulk of applications, to date, have come from China, Turkey, Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

 

What are the 2020 investment options to obtain a Golden Visa?2020-03-27T13:19:56+00:00

As of March 2020, foreign investors have the following investment options for obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa:

1) Create 10 full time jobs through a substantial investment 2) Invest €500,000+ in real estate anywhere in Portugal, including in popular cities like Porto & Lisbon, or €400,000+ in less densely populated rural areas 3) Invest €350,000+ in a government approved real estate rehabilitation project, or €280,000 if the property is situated in a low density area 4) Make a capital transfer of €1 million or more to a Portuguese national bank 5) Invest €250,000+ in aid of growing Portuguese arts and culture, or maintaining the country’s national heritage. 6) Invest €500,000 or more into a green, carbon neutrality or renewables project 7) Invest €175,000 in a Research & Development project under the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity visa program 8) Acquire shares worth €350,000+ in a Portuguese investment fund 9) Invest €350,000+ as venture capital 10) A capitalisation of €350,000 in a Portuguese company or companies aged at least 5 years, with 60% of the total investment to be realized in Portuguese enterprises.

Founded in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa Programme (PGVP) is one of the most widely known immigrant investor programmes in the world. Portugal was several impacted by the economic recession of the late 2000s, and the programme has been credited for contributing significantly to the country’s economic recovery.

As the name suggests, these type of programmes seek to incentivise third country nationals to invest in exchange for residency or citizenship.

 While Portugal offers foreign investors a host of eligible investment options, the lion’s share of Golden Visa applications is made on the basis of a property investment. Since inception, the Portuguese programme has been credited with generating nearly €5 billion, resulting in over 20,000 foreign nationals obtaining Portuguese residency.

Of this number, around 8,000 were investors, with approximately 13,500 eligible family members obtaining Golden Visa residency as well.

According to statistics released in 2019, the countries with the greatest volume of applicants included China, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey. The political turmoil in Brazil, combined with the fact that Brazilians speak Portuguese, resulted in applications from this country climbing by over 40% year on year.

Yet around the world, it is the Chinese who receive the lion’s share of all golden visas being issued as of 2015 across the majority of schemes on offer.

While the Portuguese programme is widely regarded as one of the most reputable and established second residency schemes in the world, it has seen its fair share of controversy and bad publicity in recent years, with several EU watchdogs raising concerns regarding these types of programmes being exploited to facilitate money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism.

In addition, the Golden Visa scheme has also come under fire domestically from critics on both sides of the political spectrum. But with the Portuguese economy having grown for 22 consecutive quarters, and with the prospect of entering into an E2 Visa Treaty with the USA on the table, demand for the Portuguese Golden Visa is expected to grow significantly in 2020 and beyond.

Legal basis

The Portuguese Golden Visa Programme’s establishment was made possible thanks to amendments to Portugal’s immigration laws. Act 29/2012 and Order nr. 11820-A/2012 as amended by Order l66l -A/2013 “GOLDEN RESIDENCE PERMIT”, made provision for the program to start on October 8, 2012. This piece of legislation was revised through Act 63/2015, which made provision for several non real estate based investment paths to obtain residency in Portugal.

These amendments serve as the basis upon which third country nationals (aka non-EU nationals can apply for a Portuguese residency permit or “Golden Visa” on the basis of having made an eligible investment (typically in property).

Golden Visa Investment Options:

 

The Portuguese programme has expanded the number of qualifying investment paths available to foreign investors. As of the beginning of 2020, third country applicants can choose from the following investment options:

  • THE CAPITAL TRANSFER OPTION: Transfer €1 million in capital to a Portuguese national bank and maintain this deposit for a minimum period of 5 years.

  • THE REAL ESTATE OPTIONS:

  1. Acquire a property of your choice for no less than €500,000 (i.e. without any age, zone or location restrictions).

  2. Purchase property worth no less than €350,000, provided that the property in question is over 30 years old, or located in a government approved urban rehabilitation zone. In practice, however finding a property worth buying in the prime suburbs of popular cities such as Lisbon and Porto has become virtually impossible.

  3. Invest a minimum of €280,000 in a commercial or hotel focused property fund specialising in developments in rural areas and urban areas of secondary importance (urban rehabilitation zones).

  • THE INVESTMENT FUND OPTION: Invest a minimum of than €350,000 in a Portuguese regulated private equity fund. While most investors perceive the property based route as lower risk, the fact is that investing €350,000 in realty will result in a total cost of around €390,000, the difference being constituted by fees.

In addition, finding a suitable property in the popular neighbourhoods of Porto and Lisbon has become virtually impossible, even if you’re happy to buy a tiny apartment.

  • THE GREEN VISA OPTION: Obtain a Portuguese “green visa” by investing a minimum of €500,000 in the environmental sustainability space. Draft Law 1055 / XIII / 4 establishes the basis upon which such investments in projects eco-tourism, organic farming, renewables as well as carbon neutrality will be make foreign investors eligible to apply for a Golden Visa. More details can be found here.

  • THE JOB CREATION OPTION: Create at least 10 full time employment opportunities for Portuguese nationals. During late October 2019, the government of Portugal announced that they would be reviewing the programme with a view to channel more investments into projects leading to job creation in low density areas.

An unintended consequence of the Golden Visa scheme was that the property market has overheated, especially in popular tourist cities such as Porto and Lisbon. According to Eurostat figures published by Bloomberg, property prices in Lisbon jumped by 9.2%, year on year, in the first quarter of 2019.

If you are considering obtaining a Golden Visa by investing in property, therefore, making the decision sooner rather than later is probably advisable, both from a property pricing and application complexity perspective.

  • THE HIGHLY QUALIFIED ACTIVITY (HQA) OPTION (FORMERLY THE PORTUGAL ANGEL VISA): Make an investment of no less than €175,000 in a Highly Qualified Activity such as Research and Development (R&D) via your newly established Portuguese company.

  • COMPANY ESTABLISHMENT: Invest a minimum of €350,000 in the share capital of a company registered in Portugal.

Despite the availability of these investment options, the lion’s share of investors, and Chinese investors, in particular, prefer to opt for the property investment route.

Benefits of the Golden Visa

 

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  • QUALITY OF LIFE: Boasting exceedingly human-friendly cities, sunny weather all year round and a reputation as one of the world’s safest countries, Portugal offers quality living in beautiful surrounds. 

  • SETTLE OR RETIRE IN PORTUGAL: With a Golden Visa, you can live, work or study in Portugal – start building your family’s new life in one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations in 2020, or retire to the good life, whether you’re from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Brazil, Lebanon, Russia or further afield.

  • ULTIMATE PLAN B: For individuals and families seeking an effective back-up plan to hedge against the political and economic risks in their native countries, the Golden Visa scheme can be an excellent option. Offering a relatively simple, straightforward application process and a reasonable investment requirement, the PGVP has become one of the leading programmes of its kind in the world.

  • STRATEGIC LOCATION: Portugal is centrally situated in Southern Europe, with most of Europe’s key business destinations reachable by air in under 3 hours or less.

  • INCREASED INTERNATIONAL MOBILITY: For the investment migrant seeking easier travel, Portugal makes a lot of sense: enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen zone – that’s right, no more cumbersome Schengen visa applications, ever.

  • PATH TO EVENTUAL CITIZENSHIP: After maintaining your permanent residency status for a period of 5 years, you’ll be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport.

  • LOW MINIMUM STAY REQUIREMENT: For those seeking a back-up plan, this is a highly appealing feature of the programme: you only need to spend 35 days of every 5 year period in Portugal in order to maintain your Golden Visa residency status.

  • NO EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS: Beyond the investment requirement, no tertiary qualifications are required to apply for a Golden Visa, making it the ideal programme for entrepreneurs without any formal tertiary education.

  • FULLY REFUNDABLE INVESTMENT: Golden Visa investments are fully refundable after a period of 5 years.

  • NO TAX ON WORLDWIDE INCOME: Portugal doesn’t tax your worldwide income, and it offers an attractive taxation regime.

  • DEPENDENT FAMILY MEMBERS CAN BE INCLUDED: Your spouse and financially dependent children can be included under your residency application, provided that they remain financially dependent on you, enrolled full time at a learning institution, and remain legally single throughout the course of the residency period (5 years).

In addition, first-degree relatives of the primary applicant or his/her spouse can be included in the application as well, provided that they are dependent on the couple (primary applicant and spouse). Minor siblings of the primary applicant can be included also, provided that they are under the tutelage of the primary applicant.

 

What are the risks to be aware of?

 

DON’T OVER-PAY: As is the case with obtaining Turkish citizenship by investment by means of a real estate investment, one of the biggest risks when buying Portuguese property for the purposes of applying for a Golden Visa is being charged inflated prices.

Don’t be fooled; a great-sounding deal on your professional services fees can likely be linked to an over-priced property transaction. Using a bona fide property valuation company is highly advisable to ensure that you’re not over-paying for your Golden Visa property.

BEWARE LOW-QUALITY PROPERTY: You may be tempted to buy a larger property in further flung parts of Portugal due to more appealing prices. Be warned – both long and short term rental demand drops massively beyond the popular neighborhoods of Lisbon and Porto, so if you’re looking for a decent return on your investment the same rules pertaining to location and neighborhood quality will be applicable.

 

Additional Programme requirements

 

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Non-EU citizens in good international standing are eligible to apply for Golden Visa. In addition to the minimum investment requirement (or creating a minimum of 10 jobs for Portuguese nationals), applicants have to meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older (no age limit)

  • Be in possession of a valid passport, and legally in a country other the Portugal

  • Comply with the minimum stay requirements

  • Be in possession of the minimum level of prescribed health insurance coverage

  • Enter Portugal for the first time holding a valid Schengen Visitors Visa.

The application process

  1. Start your Golden Visa application process by having your service provider aid you in the compilation of your primary personal information and initiate the due diligence process (maximum 2 days).

  2. Review and sign your client mandate agreement and settle 50% of your professional service fees (approximately 2 days).

  3. More supporting information and personal documentation is required to prepare the application (time required will be variable based on your availability to compile said documentation).

  4. Choose a suitable area, city and neighborhood, and then source a suitable property. (In recent months, some of our clients have expressed interest in properties in areas such as Arcozelo near the Agud beachfront, as well as Porto Center, Estoril and areas closer to central Lisbon. (This process typically takes from 1 to 6 months, however for the hotel share option this can be quicker.)

  5. Payment for your Golden Visa property can be made into escrow account, or directly to the developer or seller, depending on whether the property has been completed or not.

  6. Transfer and registration of property can now take place. (This process typically takes 4 to 5 months to complete, however this step is far quicker for the hotel share based option, seeing as there is no registration required with a notary office.

  7. Next, your application is submitted, along with proof of your investment.

  8. The payment of the remaining 50% balance of your service fees become payable when the application is submitted for the main applicant.

  9. Nominal government application fees are payable at this point as well.

  10. As the main applicant, you are now required to travel to Portugal for the biometrics process to apply for your residence card. (The entire process, up to this point, typically takes around 6 months to complete.)

  11. Your family members can be added to your application and their applications can be submitted at this point. Nominal government applications will become payable at this point.

  12. Your family travels to Portugal for biometrics for their residence cards, after which their cards are issued.

  13. The first renewal of your residence permits is required after 12 months (Year 1).

  14. The second renewal interval takes place after Year 3.

After maintaining your permanent residency status for a period of 5 years, you can apply for citizenship, however it is important to note that a language proficiency test will have to be completed.

Frequently Asked Questions (Golden Visa FAQs).

 

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We’re continually adding to our FAQ section as new client queries arise and get answered by our specialist associates. Have a look at our FAQ section for any detailed queries not addressed by this definitive Golden Visa Guide.

DISCLAIMER

Any liability that could or would arise as a result of reliance or decision making based on the contents of this article or website is herewith excluded to the fullest extent allowed by law.

The above content is intended to serve as general information on the topic only. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, this is not guaranteed. No representation, express or implied, is made as to the completeness, correctness or accuracy of the information contained in this page, either at the time of its publication or otherwise

Furthermore, none of the information included above constitutes tax, legal or investment or any other professional advice on its subject matter. Neither the publishers of the Golden Visas site, nor its directors, offices, employees, agents, affiliates, advisers or associated companies shall be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of relying on this information, or as a result of any omission contained herein.

Accordingly, never rely on this information without consulting a suitably qualified independent legal or other independent professional advisor first. The publishers of this Golden Visas website shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damages suffered by any person or entity as a result of their use of or reliance on any of the advice provided by any one or all of the professional mentioned in this website.

Any and all information contained in this website and page is subject to change without notice and subject to currently laws adhered to in Portugal.

Furthermore, no information included in this website constitutes a solicitation to invest in, sell or buy any property or securities of any kind whatsoever.

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