There are only six months left for investors who wish to secure property and EU residency through a property investment in Lisbon, Porto or on Portugal’s coast. Eligible investment locations for the popular Portuguese Golden Visa Programme (GVP) will change in July 2021.

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This article was originally published on The South African

Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Programme encourages foreign investment by offering Portuguese residency to an investor and their family in exchange for the purchase of property, creating jobs or making a large capital contribution to the country’s economy. Portuguese residency gives investors access to the EU and Schengen Area and can lead to European citizenship. 

The most popular investment option by far is the property purchase. While the capital contribution option requires an investment of minimum EUR 1 million, applicants are only required to invest EUR  350,000 or 500,000 in property (depending on where the property is situated).  As of November,  8,782 Golden Visas had been approved through the property route. However, the majority of these were for the urban and coastal areas, such as Lisbon and Porto. Only 761 were in “urban regeneration” classified areas.

The government now wishes to direct investment towards inland and low-density regions to encourage greater urban regeneration, the preservation of cultural heritage sites and activities of a high environmental or social value.

What's changing about the GVP

Previously, applicants could qualify for the GVP through investment in coastal regions, including the bustling cities of Porto and greater Lisbon. These areas will no longer qualify from July. Instead, focus will move to new investment opportunities in the interior and islands of Azores and Madeira (the details of which are yet to be announced).  

These changes have been a long time coming and were initially due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed due to the pandemic. However, on 22 December, the law changes were approved.

If you wish to invest in Portugal’s prime locations, there’s still time. The application process must be started by July, but the government has said a transition period will run until 2022 to allow investors to complete their applications. There’s likely to be a backlog, however, so it’s important to act soon or risk missing out.

If you’re already in the Golden Visa programme, you will not be impacted by the change. 

Benefits of the Golden Visa programme

What makes the GVP so popular over many other residency-by-investment programmes is that applicants obtain a sound EU property investment through the process. This foreign asset can be rented out and eventually sold.

Applicants do not have to live in Portugal while in the programme, but are able to travel visa-free throughout Europe and can eventually apply for Portuguese citizenship. 

Family members including your spouse, dependent children and parents over the age of 66 may also join the main applicant in the programme and qualify for residency and citizenship. 

How to qualify for the GVP through a property investment

You can currently qualify for the programme through a property purchase of EUR 500,000 (or EUR 350,000 in an urban regeneration area). You may purchase multiple properties to make up this amount and all of them can be rented out. 

Currently 350K private equity fund (PEF) option remains unaffected, however there has been talk that there may be an increase to the investment thresholds as of July 2021.

You need to hold these investments for five years, alongside your residency visa. To ensure the visa remains valid, you’re only required to spend on average a week a year in Portugal. 

The investment funds must come from abroad and you must have a clear criminal record.


To date, over half of all South African applications for the Golden Visa programme have been facilitated by the Sable International team. Our expert consultants will assist you with every aspect of Portugal’s Golden Visa programme and can assist you with choosing a property to invest in through our on-the-ground partners. Speak to a consultant on +27 (0) 21 657 1584 or by emailing goldenvisa@sableinternational.com.

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