Golden Visa

Portugal's Golden Visa in 2024 — The Essential Guide to Program Updates

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The Golden Visa program in Portugal, launched in 2012, is one of the easiest and most comprehensive ways for foreigners to invest in this country. Some changes related to investment options and other matters were made by the end of 2023 and at the beginning of this year. We will explain it step-by-step so you clearly understand what you can expect when coming to Portugal.

Does the Golden Visa Still Exist in Portugal?

As of 2024, the Golden Visa program in Portugal remains active but has undergone significant changes, particularly with respect to the investment options available. Notably, the option to invest in residential real estate in high-density areas such as Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve has been eliminated. Instead, investment options now focus on contributions to venture capital or private equity funds, donations to arts and research, or starting a business with substantial local employment.

The program still appeals to many investors due to its relatively minimal residency requirements, which allow applicants to maintain their visa with an average of just seven days per year spent in Portugal. This feature is particularly beneficial for those who may not wish to relocate permanently but still want the option of an EU residency that could lead to citizenship after five years.

What is the Golden Visa?

The Golden Visa is for anyone who is a non-EU (European Union), EEA (European Economic Area), or Swiss citizen who wants to invest in Portugal without having to move there. It is also a pathway to Portuguese residency and, eventually, citizenship.

This offers a significant advantage for individuals aiming for the convenience of visa-free access throughout Europe, enhancing the ease of navigating across the Schengen Area.

Golden Visa Portugal — Key benefits

The Golden Visa program provides several benefits:

  • Residency rights: Investors and their families gain the right to live, work and study in Portugal, enjoying access to high-quality healthcare and education.
  • Visa-Free Travel: Enjoy the privilege of travel in the Schengen Area, allowing for easy movement across 26 European countries, whether for business or leisure.
  • Path to citizenship: Five years later, you can qualify for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residency, providing an EU passport with the right to live, work, and study anywhere within the European Union.
  • Minimal physical stay requirements (around 7 days per year): This is an advantage compared to other countries, especially if you cannot stay in the country full-time.

Portugal Golden Visa requirements

To be considered for the Portugal Golden Visa program, there are some requirements you need to fulfil:

  • Have a clean criminal record (consult a lawyer if there are concerns).
  • Be a non-EU, non-Swiss, and non-EEA national.
  • Make a minimum investment of €250,000 in various eligible routes.
  • Spend about 7 days in Portugal each year, ensuring at least 14 days every two years with your residence card.

Portugal Golden Visa — main changes in 2024

There were some vital changes in this program in 2024.

The most recent revision of the Nationality Law provides that the period between submitting an application and issuing a temporary residency permit will count towards the necessary number of years for EU citizenship. Naturally, this amendment indicates that the speed of citizenship application is directly proportional to the speed of EU citizenship.

In addition, the Portugal Golden Visa program has redefined the investment requirements and eliminated the purchase of real estate and capital deposits for investment purposes.

These changes were made to:

  • improve the efficiency of the permit application process;
  • exclude investments of doubtful origin;
  • recognise and compensate for the time an individual spends on passing through administrative blocs, based on stipulated years, making citizenship a more dignified and straightforward path.

Investment options with Portugal Golden Visa

Are you wondering where to invest with the Golden Visa? You've got plenty of choices. Let's figure out which one suits you best.

  • Fund subscription: Invest a minimum of €500,000 in a qualified investment fund or a venture capital fund.
  • Donations to arts: Make a minimum investment of €250,000, to support art.
  • Donations to research activities: Contribute €500,000 for scientific and technological research.
  • Job creation: Establish a business that creates and maintains at least 10 jobs.
  • Existing or new companies: Invest a minimum of €500,000 in the share capital of an existing Portuguese company or establish a new one with at least 5 permanent employees.

Golden Visa application process

Before getting the Golden Visa in Portugal, you must go through a thorough process step-by-step.

Begin by selecting your investment and then ensure you gather all the necessary documentation, including your tax ID (NIF). Additionally, it's crucial to open a bank account. Consider engaging a lawyer to provide assistance and guidance throughout the entire process.

After submitting your application, a first visit to Portugal is required for biometric data collection. If successful, you will receive your Golden Visa and will be able to start taking advantage of all its benefits.

This process usually takes 10 to 14 months to complete.

Tax implications

A vital part of this process is knowing the taxes you may or may not have to pay. There are some considerations about investing in Portugal under this Golden Visa program:

  1. Tax Benefits:
    • There is no tax responsibility if you spend more than 183 days (of the same year) in Portugal.
    • One can qualify for the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax program, which offers favourable tax rates on foreign-source income for up to ten years. However, this program underwent some changes on January 1st, 2024, and anyone who has not been a tax resident of Portugal in the previous five years will no longer be eligible for the NHR tax benefits.
  2. Tax Obligations:
    • Income Tax: For tax residents, Portugal taxes worldwide income with rates between 13.25% and 48%. Non-residents only pay 25% of income sourced within Portugal.
    • Wealth Tax: Portugal does not levy a wealth tax, but property taxes are to be considered if a property's value exceeds €600,000.
    • Inheritance Tax: There is no inheritance tax in Portugal. However, if you pass on or gift properties and assets to someone outside your immediate family, a stamp duty of 10% applies to those transfers.

Golden Visa in Portugal — Comparison with other countries

Portugal's requirement to stay only 7 days per year is one of the most important factors that make it more attractive for those not looking for a permanent move.

For instance, Portugal’s Golden Visa has a clear advantage over Spain's regarding the amount of investment one needs to make: €250,000 in Portugal versus €500,000 in Spain.

And that is not everything. You need 5 years of residency to become eligible for citizenship in Portugal, while in Spain, you need 10 years.

In essence, the Golden Visa programme in Portugal is defined by its adaptability, accessible entry requirements, and the benefits of potential residency and citizenship within the European Union.