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Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa

The Golden Visa not only allows the holder to live and work in Portugal, but residency also affords you the right to visa-free travel throughout the European Schengen Area.

Through this Portuguese residency programme, you can qualify for permanent residency and apply for citizenship after five years. Portuguese citizenship gives you the right to live, work and study in the EU.

This solution has proven very popular with clients who are looking to achieve:

Dual residency (or nationality) for you and your family

Visa-free travel throughout Europe and the Schengen area

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Low physical presence requirement – only spend 35 days in Portugal over five years

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Consistently voted one of the safest countries in the world

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Low-cost, high standard of living in a Mediterranean climate

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No government contribution – 100% of the funds go into your investment

Overseas property ownership

A foreign currency asset that earns rental income

The Portugal Golden Visa functions similarly to a Schengen Visa.

Travel throughout the countries of the Schengen Area for 90 days visa-free within a six-month period:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland*
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein*
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway*
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland*

    *Not a European Union Member State

Golden Visa Portugal: Qualifying criteria

There are four routes to qualify for in the Golden Residence Permit Programme. Our experts can help pick the right one for you depending on your unique circumstances.

The three most popular routes to Golden Visa residency are:

What Sable International can do for you

Since the Golden Visa programme's inception, we've helped over 220 families to gain their Portuguese residency – over half of all the South Africans who've been through the programme. 

We have a dedicated team on the ground in Portugal who work closely with our select network of local partners who are specialists within their field.  We are up to date with the current trends and dynamics within Portugal and are able to offer clients solid advice in terms of investments, processes as well as manage our clients investment expectations.

Sable International can assist with everything from opening your bank accounts, to tax advice and clearance, forex, fiscal applications, investment selection and management, residency applications and renewals and even your eventual application for Portuguese citizenship.

Our key criteria when evaluating possible investment opportunities are the following:

  • The initial cost of the investment should be reasonable and not artificially inflated
  • The investment must be able to generate a return
  • Exit strategy – who are your secondary buyers?

Our team in Portugal is made up of South African expats who have made the move themselves. We understand the South African perspective and are able to offer contextualised advice and recommendations to make your transition as smooth as possible. 

Golden Visa Portugal: Requirements

To maintain your Golden Visa, you'll need to hold your investment for the duration of the visa period, spend some time in Portugal and have a clear criminal record.

How present must you be in Portugal?

The residency requirements are not onerous. You're only require to spend an average of seven days a year in Portugal. 

Portuguese language test for permanent residency and citizenship

A key aspect of applying for Portuguese permanent residency and citizenship is proving your knowledge of the language. This is done by taking a level A2 exam (also called CIPLE), which will test your understanding of the language and your ability to communicate in Portuguese.

The exam can be written at any point after you’ve successfully obtained a Golden Visa. Since this aspect of the application process involves quite a bit of preparation, we advise that you start learning the language soon after obtaining your Golden Visa.

Many of our clients have had success with online courses that have helped them and their families prepare for the test. It is possible to sit the test in South Africa, Portugal and many other global locations.

Golden Visa statistics

Since its inception in October 2012, the Golden Residence Permit Programme (GRPP), also known as the Golden Visa programme, has been a great success.

  • Over €5.6 billion has been invested into the Portuguese economy by non-EU investors who have secured EU residency in return for their investments.
  • Sable International has processed over 600 applications (amounting to over €140 million).
  • We've had a 100% success rate with those applications.
  • Early entrants to the programme have already become eligible for full EU citizenship.
  • South Africa is one of the top five countries investors hail from.
  • The most popular investment option since 2012 is the €500,000 real estate option (86%), but investment funds are the new trend since 2019.
  • Over 16,000 family members have been given visas as part of the Golden Visa programme.

Frequently asked questions about the Portugal Golden Visa

In the years we’ve been helping citizens from around the world take part in the Golden Residence Permit Programme, we’ve gained a lot of experience. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions we get asked by prospective clients.

Will my family be able to join me on the programme?

Can I include my partner on my application?

Yes, partners may be included as a dependant of the main applicant. Proof of a minimum of two years co-habitation will be necessary if you are unmarried.

Can I include my children on my application?

Yes. An adult child (aged 18 years and above) must be a full-time student attending a tertiary institution, remain unmarried and be financially dependent on the main applicant for the duration of the Golden Visa process.

Can I include my parents on my application?

Yes, parents/in-laws may be included on the application. For parents under 65 years of age, proof of dependency will need to be submitted. No proof of dependency needs to be submitted for parents/in-laws aged 65 years and above.

All applicants who are on the programme need to fulfil all minimum stay requirements and present themselves in Portugal for biometrics at every submission/renewal.

I do not know Portugal very well, how will I know where to invest?

We partner with a number of reputable local agents throughout Portugal. Before your investment trip, one of our consultants will give you a call to fully brief you on the various areas and types of investments available. Once a suitable time to travel has been agreed with your consultant, they will prepare and forward through an itinerary for your trip. Your consultant will meet with you on the ground in Portugal, accompany you to your various appointments and continue to advise you until an investment decision has been made.

When can I apply for permanent residency and citizenship?

An applicant may apply for permanent residency after the completion of five years of temporary residency. Permanent residency has a separate set of requirements, which currently includes demonstrating an elementary level of Portuguese (A2 level) in the form of a diploma or certificate issued by a recognised institution.

Citizenship can be applied for in tandem with permanent residency after the completion of five years of temporary residency. Citizenship, as with permanent residency, is based on own merit and does not hinge on the main applicant.

When does my five-year temporary residency start?

Residency begins once the investment has been made, your documents have been submitted to the Portuguese immigration office in support of your Golden Visa application and you have received your initial application approval. The issue date on the first temporary residency card is the date that your five years commence.

When will I receive my temporary residence card card? Does it need to be renewed?

It can take up to 12 months from the date of your initial investment trip before you receive your first temporary residency card. Once you hold a residency card, you have visa-free access to Schengen states and are allowed to legally live and work in Portugal for as long as that residency card is valid.

There are two renewal points during the five-year period. These fall at the end of Year 1 and Year 3. Before each renewal, the minimum stay requirements need to be fulfilled, a total of 35 days over the five-year period and averaging seven days per year. Renewals can be submitted between 30 – 90 days before the expiry of the card.

How will I know which documents are required?

Once you engage with us, you will receive personal guidance based on the number and age of the applicants in your family. In most cases, applicants will need to secure documents from their home country which will have to be applied for in person. Your dedicated caseworker will talk you through the necessary documents and when to apply for them, arrange to have them legalised for use abroad and then organise for them to be couriered to Portugal.

Can I buy multiple properties?

Yes, investors are able to purchase multiple properties. However, it is not always possible in all locations as some areas are more prime than others and may have a different demand. There is no maximum limit on what you can spend provided that you meet the investment threshold of the specific category in which you choose to invest.

Can I buy off-plan?

Yes, and no. While off-plan properties have always been more attractive to property investors in terms of capital appreciation, they are not always right for Golden Visa investors. There are many factors to consider when looking at off-plan properties, especially if your goal is to gain residency through investment fairly soon.

Can my investment be financed?

For all investments to qualify for the Golden Visa programme, the full sum of investment funds need to first enter a Portuguese bank account, set up in the name of the main applicant. The investment must then be paid from this bank account. Investments cannot be financed within Portugal.

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 acquisition:

  1. IMT or Property Transfer Tax, which is the tax on transfer of ownership of property
  2. 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:

   3. 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.

Can I take on the renovation of a property in order for it to qualify for €350,000 rehabilitation?

The immigration office has a specific set of requirements when it comes to these types of properties. Works contracts need to be put in place with registered builders. It is therefore recommended that clients interested in this option work with smaller developers who specialise in these types of properties throughout Portugal. Sable International is able to offer these types of investments.

What is the minimum investment amount for a private equity investment?

The minimum investment amount is currently €350,000, but it is set to change. The most attractive benefit of an investment fund is that it is completely hands-off as it is classified as a financial instrument and not the same as owning bricks and mortar. Although all property owners do contract the service of a property manager, owning a share is less onerous.

Do all investment funds qualify for the Golden Visa?

No, not all funds comply with the requirements set out by the immigration office. Funds need to meet many criteria and need to be registered and approved by the Portuguese Securities Market Division (CMVM).

I would like to go to Portugal to get a feel of the country before I engage with Sable International. Can you arrange appointments for me to see properties?

We strongly advise clients to engage with our services before leaving for their trip to Portugal. There are many formalities involved before the investment can be made. If the necessary paperwork has not been correctly completed prior to finding a property, this could result in you being unable to submit your Golden Visa application to the immigration office. This in turn can cause unnecessary stress and pressure as the paperwork will then have to be completed remotely once you have returned home. It is also highly likely that you risk losing a property if you do not secure the property with a formal reservation. We do not recommend transferring any money for any property until you have all the legal work and necessary facilities prepared to be able to transact on the property.

What do the Sable International fees cover and when do I pay them?

Our fees cover the legal expenses for the main applicant and their dependants, along with all Sable International services received throughout the five- to six-year period. Fees are paid as each milestone is reached rather than paid up front and in full for all services. Fees are invoiced in Euros.

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Disclaimer: Please do not act in reliance on information published or advised without consulting a suitably qualified independent legal or other professional advisor of your own choosing. Sable International will not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of their use or reliance on any of the advice provided by any one or all of the professional advisors identified by Sable International. Sable International will not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of the Portuguese Government changing the legislation and or rules around immigration and nationality. Obtaining Portuguese residency and citizenship is at the sole discretion of the Portuguese Government. Sable International will not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of the Portuguese Government not granting an applicant residency or citizenship.