Golden Visa basics
What is the Golden Visa?
The Golden Residence Permit Programme (Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento), launched by Portuguese authorities in October 2012, is a fast-track for foreign investors from non-EU countries to obtain a fully valid residence permit in Portugal (otherwise known as a Golden Visa).
Under the Golden Residence Permit Programme, non-EU citizens must carry out one of the investments set out in the law to qualify for a residency permit in Portugal. This permit allows the investor to enter and/or live in Portugal and to travel freely within the vast majority of European countries (Schengen Area).
Aimed at attracting foreign investment in Portugal, the Golden Visa is a straightforward, flexible programme with transparent legal requirements. By reducing the country's minimum stay requirements, the Portuguese government has made the Golden Visa one of the most attractive residency programmes in the world.
How long is the Golden Visa valid for?
Once issued, the Golden Visa will be valid for an initial period of one year and can be renewed for subsequent periods of two years.
What are the main advantages of the Golden Visa?
- It removes the need for a visa to enter Portugal or travel through Europe (Schengen Area)
- You can live and work in Portugal, even with residency in a different country
- Portuguese residency can extend to dependant family members
- It has extremely low minimum stay periods
- You can attain permanent residency after five years
- It is possible to attain EU citizenship after six years if all requirements have been met
What are the costs involved?
The Golden Visa has the following fees, payable directly to the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF):
- Processing fee (application and renewal): €513,75 (plus €80.20 per family member)
- Initial Golden Visa: €5,137.50
- Initial Golden Visa for family members: €5,137.50
- Renewal of Golden Visa: €2,568.75
What countries are included in the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. As long as you have a resident permit for Portugal, you are entitled to enter and travel freely through all countries in the Schengen area.
The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
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Can the Golden Visa be extended to family members?
Yes. Under the Golden Residence Permit Programme, the investor's family members can obtain a Portuguese resident permit by applying for a “family reunion”. The Golden visa can then be extended to dependant family members (children, spouse and dependant family members).
Like the primary investor, these family members may then be eligible for permanent residency after five years and Portuguese citizenship after six years.
Which dependants qualify for the Golden Visa?
The following dependants may apply for the Golden Visa at the same time as the investor:
- Your spouse (same-sex spouses are recognised)
- Minor children*
- Adult dependant children (this includes full-time university students)
- Parents (over 66) who are dependant on the main applicant
- Minor siblings under the main applicant or spouse custody
*Children under the age of 18 years.
How does the investor and his/her family obtain permanent residency after five years?
Permanent residency may be granted to those who have successfully renewed their residence permit for a full five-year period. Adult dependants will need to be free of any convictions and show basic knowledge of the Portuguese language.
The investor and family members will need to meet the following criteria in order to apply for residency:
- Proof of income/financial independence
- Proof of accommodation in Portugal
- Basic knowledge of the Portuguese language
- Have no relevant criminal convictions during the last five years
How can the investor and his/her family obtain Portuguese citizenship?
Portuguese legislation stipulates that any person who has been resident in Portugal for at least six years (either under a temporary or permanent residency title) is eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. In order to gain citizenship, the investor and their family members need to meet the following requirements:
- They must have no relevant criminal convictions
- Pass a simple Portuguese language test
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What types of investments are permitted under the Golden Visa rules?
The following investments qualify for the Golden Residence Permit Programme:
- Acquire property valued at €500,000 or more
- Transfer of funds above €1 million
- Creation of at least 10 jobs in Portugal
Note: Only investments effectively made after 8 October 2012 are eligible for the Golden Residence Permit Programme.
Which requirements do investors have to comply with?
In general, all investors have to meet the following requirements:
- Keep the investment for a minimum of five years
- Make sure the funds for investment come from abroad
- Enter Portugal using a valid Schengen Visa
- No breach of immigration control in the Portugal and Schengen Area
- Absence of conviction of relevant crimes
- Minimum stay in Portugal: Seven days during the first year and 14 days during each subsequent year, for a period of two years
What are the specific requirements for each type of qualifying investment?
Each type of investment has specific characteristics; these are:
- Minimum investment of €500,000
- Purchase one or multiple properties
- All property types qualify
- Possibility of co-ownership
- Freedom to use, rent or lease
Transfer of funds
- Minimum investment of €1 million
- Funds transferred from abroad to a bank in Portugal
- Total freedom to invest the funds
- Possibility of using the funds to invest in shares of companies
- Create a minimum of 10 jobs
- No minimum investment value
- No limitation on areas/activities
- Compliance with Social Security obligations
- Possibility of grants/incentives/benefits
What happens to the investment after five years? Can it be sold, transferred etc?
Yes, as the investor, you only need to hold the investment during the Golden Visa’s validity period of five years. After this, the investor can sell the property, transfer the money to another country or close the job positions. We recommend that you keep the investment until citizenship is granted.
Can the investor sell the investment at any time if he/she no longer needs the Golden Visa?
Yes, however, without proof that the investment has been kept, the investor will not be able to renew the Golden Visa.
Does the investor need to live in/use the property he/she is purchasing or can it be rented out?
No, the investor does not need to occupy the property; it can be rented out to obtain income.
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The application process and documentation
How long does the application process take?
Once the application is submitted at SEF, it can take up to a year for the application to be processed (please note that this is just an estimate based on our recent experience).
Note: In some cases, the investor will be able to go straight to the immigration services to submit their biometrics required for the application, shortly before the investment and/or submission of the required documents.
We strongly recommend obtaining legal advice from an experienced law firm before taking any of the steps in the Golden Residence Permit Programme, especially those that require you to make an investment or submit applications or documents.
Are there any grounds for refusing the Golden Visa or its renewal?
The investor (or any family member) will only be refused the Golden Visa (or its renewal) if:
- He/she has not maintained the investment for the minimum period of five years
- He/she has not complied with the minimum periods of stay in Portugal
- He/she has been convicted of a crime punishable with a prison sentence of more than one year
- The investor is in a period where he/she has been banned entry into Portuguese territory following a removal measure of the country
- On the grounds of public health (this may only be based on diseases that have been defined by the World Health Organisation or other infectious or parasitic contagious diseases which are the object of protection measures in Portuguese territory)
Please note: A Golden Visa may be refused on the grounds of public order, public security or public health.
What is a fiscal number? Why does the investor need one and how does he/she get it?
A fiscal number is an identification number for the Portuguese Tax Authority (also known as the tax number). This number is required to carry out the investments.
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Other financial information
What are the taxes and costs for property acquisitions and ownership?
There are three taxes in Portugal related to property:
Taxes payable upon the property’s acquisition:
- IMT or Property Transfer Tax, which is the tax on transfer of ownership of property
- Stamp duty
Please note: The exact amount of taxes to be paid varies according to the actual value of the acquisition.
Taxes payable on an annual basis:
- IMI or Council Tax, which is the annual municipal property tax, is levied between 0.3% and 0.5% on the property’s tax value.
Does the investor have to pay taxes in Portugal on his/her worldwide income?
No, If the holder of the Golden Visa does not stay in Portugal for more than 183 consecutive days, he/she will not be required to pay taxes for income generated outside of Portugal.
What taxes apply to income generated in Portugal?
Rental income and income arising from capital (eg interest, dividends etc) will be taxed at a rate of 28%.
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