Portugal Citizenship By Investment

Portugal Citizenship By Investment

Portugal offers a dream home and a laid back lifestyle for expats willing to take the plunge and make an investment to get Portugal citizenship potentially. Read more about whatPortugal Golden Visa’s are and alternative investment options.

British expats can apply for a golden visa to stay in Portugal as settlers outside the European Union by investing around €250,000.

Portugal is in the top 10 expat destinations in Europe for Brits. This is because Britain and Portugal have long been allies, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

Portugal can offer the best of both worlds – beautiful historic cities steeped in history and culture or wide open, sandy beaches with world-class golf courses.

Since the ARI – Residence Permit for Investment Purposes launched in 2012, around 10,000 families have secured a golden visa and enjoy a new life in the sun.

Seafood cuisine, affordable living costs, relaxed pace of life and incredible landscape are all great reasons to move to Portugal – but how easy is getting a golden visa?

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know, including:

  • Minimum donation values
  • Residency requirements
  • Alternative investment options

Portugal Citizenship: What Does Portugal Golden Visa Offer?

With so many different ways to invest, it’s essential to work out which investment route works best for you – now and in the long term.

Once you’ve made a qualifying investment and meet the golden visa residency requirements, there are several benefits to having Portugal citizenship and passport.

  • The investment thresholds (from €280,000 in real estate) are among the lowest in Europe.
  • Successful applicants need to stay in the country for seven days a year on average and don’t need to live permanently in Portugal if they don’t wish to.
  • After five years, applicants may apply for citizenship or permanent residence and collect their second passport – one of the shortest timescales in the EU.
  • Portuguese citizens have visa-free travel access to 188 countries.
  • Full-time residents have access to all public services, including healthcare and education, although medical insurance is required.
  • Golden visa holders can work anywhere in the EU or start a new business in Portugal.

For UK expats, particularly those with European businesses, the significant advantage of Portuguese residency is that you can travel throughout the Schengen Zone without requiring a visa.

After holding the visa for five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship.

You can enjoy ten years of favourable tax rates if you relocate to Portugal through the Non-Habitual Residency Programme (NHR). In short, you are exempt from paying income tax for the first decade living in the country.

However, that excludes retirees, who pay standard tax on pension income.

Please read our guide on healthcare in Portugal before you make a move to the country.

Investing in a Portugal Golden Visa

There is no fixed amount you need to invest in qualifying for citizenship.

Portugal real estate investment

The first and perhaps preferable golden visa investment for many expats is buying a home.

Generally, the expected outlay is around €500,000 – but that can reduce considerably in certain circumstances:

  • The minimum property investment in low population area drops by 20 per cent to €400,000
  • Homes requiring renovation and over 30 years old in urban redevelopment regions are eligible for investment of €350,000
  • The same renovation project in a low-density population area qualifies if it costs €280,000 or above.

Property investment regulations are reasonably flexible, so an expat might invest in several smaller properties to reach the minimum value – and still be eligible.

Foreign nationals can also split the cost of a property purchase between them.

For example, if an unmarried couple bought a home together worth €1 million, they would both qualify, having invested €500,000 each.

For Portuguese citizens thinking about getting permanent residency in the UK, look at the Tier 1 Investor Visa guide.

Alternative Portuguese Golden Visa Investments

Investing in real estate isn’t the only way to qualify for a golden visa, and here are some routes expats have followed:

  • Move €1 million to Portugal.
  • Invest in a Portuguese fund for €350,000 or more.
  • Create ten full-time new jobs by starting a business.
  • Create eight new full-time roles in a Portuguese business in a sparsely populated area
  • Invest €350,000 in an existing Portuguese company, creating five new full-time jobs for three years or more.
  • Donate €250,000 towards preserving Portuguese national heritage.
  • Invest €350,000 in a research and development business.

Don’t forget to have the money to invest in the bank and not borrow from a Portuguese bank to top up your cash pile.

Qualifying For The Portugal Citizenship By Investment Program

To qualify for citizenship, you’ll need to retain your residence permit for five years after obtaining your golden visa.

Applicants must:

  • Not owe tax in Portugal.
  • Have a clean criminal record both in Portugal and the UK.
  • Pass a basic Portuguese language test.
  • Be aged at least 18
  • Invest funds originating from outside Portugal.

The Future Of Portugal Golden Visas

While the golden visa programme offers a raft of benefits, the Portuguese government has signalled the program will change soon.

The amendments to minimum real estate investments, for example, were designed to attract foreign investment in less popular areas, support cultural heritage and help create new jobs.

Most investors have opted to buy property in Lisbon and Porto, but from 1st January 2022, the government will exclude both locations.

The changes mean:

  • Expats can only buy property in the Azores or Madeira.
  • The minimum investment will rise to €500,000
  • Cash investment will rise from €1 million to €1.5 million.

Expats have until the end of 2021 to take advantage of the lower thresholds and the time-sensitive opportunity to buy a qualifying property.

How much does a Portuguese golden visa cost?

Golden visa applications carry processing and application fees as follows:

ChargeFrequencyValue €Value £
Processing feeOn initial application and each renewal after that€533 plus €83.30 per dependent£455 plus £71 per dependent
Application chargeOnce on initial application€5,325 per applicant£4,545 per applicant
Renewal chargeEvery renewal€2,663 per applicant£2,273 per applicant

Other costs to be aware of include in getting Portugal Citizenship

  • Legal fees, typically between €10,000 and up to €30,000 for larger families
  • Stamp Duty and IMI Transfer Tax, charged at 0.8 per cent and 4.58 per cent respectively on a real estate investment.
  • Notary costs of approximately €1,000

Concerned about cost, check out the cost of living in Portugal guide.

Portugal Citizenship by Investment FAQ

Also, how long does getting a Portuguese second passport to take?

The process has several steps before getting a Portuguese second passport, but the process isn’t particularly complex if you’re methodical.

• Submit your application with supporting documents to the Serviço de Fronteiras e Estrangeiros (SEF), the immigration service in Portugal.

• If your initial application is approved, they may request you for an interview. Expats can apply to any SEF office. However, avoid the Lisbon office since it has the most extended waiting times.

• Appointments usually take up to six months to arrange in other locations, as the SEF needs to create a biometric verification profile.

• Following the interview, applicants receive a Golden Visa residency card
Golden visas are valid for two years, and you need to spend at least seven days in Portugal each year. You’ll need to renew between 30 and 90 days before expiry.

The second residence permit is valid for three years, with a 21-day requirement to stay in Portugal.

After year five, you can apply for permanent residence, citizenship or decide to remain a temporary resident with a golden visa.

Do I pay taxes in Portugal if I become a citizen?

Residency and tax residency are two different things, and you don’t automatically become a tax-paying resident because you have a golden visa.

However, you will pay taxes against your Portuguese investment income if your contribution generates returns.

If you wish to live in Portugal and become a tax resident, you’ll need to live in the country for 183 days of the year.

Please read our guide to paying tax in Portugal.

Can we apply for Portugal Citizenship as a family?

Portugal golden visa applicants can include family members and dependents on their documentation, including:

• A spouse.
• Children under 18.
• Dependent children under 26, as long as they aren’t married and are in full-time education.
• Parents aged over 65.

How long do I need to live in Portugal to claim citizenship?

For the first two years of golden visa residency, you’ll need to spend seven days on average in the country. Then, in years three to five, that drops to 21 days total.

Citizenship or permanent residency becomes available after five years.

Below is a list of some related articles, guides and insights that you may find of interest.

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