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Tax-free EU citizenship by investment

You can move to Portugal on a retirement visa and live there six months a year, with a tax-free exemption for 10 years. That means no tax on your worldwide pension or company dividends.

The Non-Habitual Residence programme

The Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) programme offers people a 10-year tax break on qualifying foreign income if they move their residence to Portugal. Qualifying income includes pensions, dividends, royalties and interest. Also, Portugal doesn’t have an inheritance tax regime, so all your assets can be passed down to your family tax-free upon your death.

The definition of retirement is quite loose in that you only need to ensure you’re not being employed in Portugal. As a consequence, it’s possible to keep business interests in South Africa.

An alternative retirement plan for South Africans

For most wealthy South Africans, the original retirement plan was to finish up work in one of the major South African cities and then retire to the coast. The hope was to have the children bring the grandchildren down for holidays. The trajectory of South African politics (and the economy) are challenging those plans.

The good news is there is a way to re-create that original plan, but with a European twist to it. The opportunity is in Portugal, and it’s the NHR programme. Portugal is opening its arms to foreign “retirees” and offering attractive tax breaks to incentivise the move.

The opportunity for South Africans

At retirement age (when you’re no longer beholden to an employer), you can:

  • Live in the sun for six months a year
  • Not pay Portuguese tax on any pension, dividend or annuity income
  • Be close to your children and grandchildren in the UK
  • Get Portuguese nationality (and a passport) after six years for you and your spouse

Retirement visa and the requirements

You apply for a retirement visa that requires you to spend at least six months in Portugal. To benefit from the programme, you should become non-resident for tax purposes in South Africa.

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