Acquire Legal Residence in Portugal by Investment: a Complete Guide

What is a ‘golden visa’ to Portugal? What benefits would you acquire if you invested in legal residence in the country? How much does it cost to obtain a legal residence permit in Portugal if you take all the administrative costs into account? Please find the answers to these and other related questions in the text below.

An investment in legal residence in Portugal is one of the most popular methods of acquiring the right of abode in Europe in 2021. The Portuguese golden visa program is aimed at wealthy foreign investors. The program was launched in October 2012 and it has been gathering pace ever since. As of today, nearly ten thousand families have acquired legal residence permits in Portugal.

Porugal image

What is a golden visa to Portugal?

The Portuguese residence-by-investment program is called Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento (ARI). It is also often referred to as the ‘golden visa’ program. As the name of the program suggests, it provides an opportunity to acquire the right of abode in Europe in exchange for a large investment.

The Portuguese authorities started issuing legal residence permits to foreign investors in 2012 when the country wanted foreign direct investments badly. Portugal had suffered from the 2007/2008 global financial crisis more severely than some other European states. The golden visa program has proved quite successful: over the eight years, 5.5 billion euros has come to Portugal in the form of foreign direct investments.

Portugal offers breathtaking views, a wide coastline, sunny weather, hospitable people, and fantastic cuisine. The high quality of life in the country comes at a comparatively low price. These characteristics make Portugal a very attractive country where you can acquire a legal residence permit in 2021 if you have some idle money at your disposal.

sign
RESIDENCY & CITIZENSHIP
FREE EXPERT CONSULTATION

on how to choose the jurisdiction
and the economic residence
or citizenship programs.

on how to choose the jurisdiction and the economic residence or citizenship programs.

We’ll contact you in 10 minutes

Advantages of investing in Portugal and acquiring legal residence there in 2021

The main advantages of the Portuguese golden visa include the following ones:

  • Visa-free entry to all Schengen zone countries;
  • The minimum required investment amount is 280,000 euros;
  • The application processing takes between three and six months;
  • Acquiring full citizenship of Portugal is possible after holding the golden visa for five years;
  • The golden visa holder has to spend only seven days per year in Portugal to keep the residence permit.

Visa-free travel

When you acquire a golden visa to Portugal, you are registered with the SIS (Schengen Information System). This means that you can visit any country that has signed the Schengen agreement without applying for a visa.

After five years of holding the golden visa, the foreign investor becomes eligible to apply for full citizenship of Portugal. Now the Portuguese passport is the sixth most powerful travel document in the world (as of 2021). It allows entering 186 national states without visas.

Living, working, and studying in Portugal

An investment in legal residence in Portugal in 2021 will let you live, work, start a business venture, study, and rest in the country all year round. The golden visa holder gets access to the full range of social services in Portugal including the healthcare and education systems. You should bear in mind that state schools in the country use the Portuguese language as the language of instruction. However, there are many private British, American and international schools in Portugal where the language of instruction is English.

Family applications for Portuguese residence

The main applicant for legal residence in Portugal is entitled to apply for residence permits for his/ her family members as well. A family application for Portuguese residence can be filed that includes the foreign investor’s dependent family members.

The following family members can be included in the application for Portuguese residence:

The spouse;

Children below 18;

Children of up to 26 years of age if they are full-time students and unmarried;

Dependent parents of the main applicant if they are older than 65.

Portuguese citizenship and a European passport

If the golden visa holder meets all the requirements (which are not tough at all), he or she is entitled to apply for full residence of Portugal after five years. The following conditions have to be satisfied if the foreign investor is to qualify for Portuguese citizenship:

  • The foreign investor shall have no unpaid taxes nor other unpaid duties in Portugal.
  • The investor shall have a clean criminal record.
  • The investor shall pass a simple test of the Portuguese language.

Tax benefits to foreign investors in Portugal

If you make an investment in Portuguese legal residence in 2021 via the ARI program, you are not going to have to pay any taxes in Portugal. If you spend more than 183 days in the country per year, however, you will become a tax resident of Portugal and consequently, you will have to pay taxes to the state budget.

At the same time, some tax benefits are available to foreign investors in Portugal who become tax residents of the country. In particular, the non-habitual residence program (Residente Não Habitual) provides for a cut on the personal income tax during your first ten years of living in Portugal.

The target audience of the Portuguese residence-by-investment program

The foreign investor wishing to obtain a legal residence permit in Portugal has to meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the golden visa:

  • Citizenship: The foreign investor shall be a citizen of a non-EU, non-EEA country and not a Swiss citizen to be eligible to apply for a golden visa to Portugal.
  • Age: The main applicant for Portuguese residence shall be of age (above 18).
  • Source of investment capital: The investment capital shall come from legal sources and from a foreign country.
  • Family members: If a family application for Portuguese residence is filed, dependent family members can be added including the spouse, underage children, adult children if they are students, and dependent parents. There are no restrictions as to same-sex couples: the Portuguese legislation allows same-sex couples to apply for legal residence in the country.
  • Clean criminal record: The main applicant as well as adult dependent family members shall submit police clearances from their home country’s police authorities.

Required investment amounts to obtain legal residence in Portugal on 2021

To become eligible for a Portuguese golden visa the foreign national shall choose one of the following investment options:

Purchase of real estate in Portugal

  • Purchase of any real property anywhere in Portugal that is worth more than 500,000 €.
  • Purchase of real property in an underdeveloped (sparsely populated) area in Portugal that is worth 400,000 €.
  • Purchase of real property in a Portuguese city that is more than 30 years old and that requires repairs with the obligation to have it repaired. In this case, the required investment amount is 350,000 €.
  • Purchase of real property in an underdeveloped (sparsely populated) area in Portugal that is more than 30 years old. In this case, the required investment amount is 280,000 €. (This is the minimum returnable investment amount that can make you qualified for a legal residence permit in Portugal.)

If you invest in a piece of property that needs repairing, the cost of the repairs is included in the required investment amount.

You do not have to buy a single piece of property that is worth more than the minimum required investment amount. You can buy several pieces of property in Portugal provided that their total worth comes up to the required amount.

In case two foreign investors purchase a piece of property that is worth more than 1 million € each of them contributing a half of the sum, both of them will qualify for legal residence in Portugal as each will make an investment of 500,000 €.

A bank deposit in Portugal

Another option is to make a fixed-term bank deposit in Portugal. The minimum required investment amount is 1 million € in this case.

Investment in a Portuguese fund

You can also invest at least 350,000 € in one of the Portuguese funds approved by the country’s authorities.

Investment in a business venture in Portugal

  • You can start or purchase a business company in Portugal while giving employment to at least ten local residents.
  • If you start or purchase a company in an underdeveloped (sparsely populated) area in Portugal, the number of employees is lowered to eight people.  
  • If you invest at least 350,000 € in an existing company in Portugal, you can give employment to five local people only.

Donation

One more option is to make a non-returnable donation to a national heritage fund or an organization engaged with cultural projects.

Financing R&D or eco-projects

The candidate for Portuguese residence can also invest at least 350,000 € in research and development or 500,000 € in an eco-project (alternative energy sources, sustainable agriculture, etc.).

Administrative costs and other additional expenditures

Apart from making the investment in the required amount, the foreign national seeking legal residence in Portugal has to cover the application processing costs and the legal support costs. Besides, real estate agent’s commissions will be involved if you choose to purchase a piece of real property in Portugal.

Administrative costs

FrequencyAmount
Application processing feeWhen applying for the first golden visa and every time when extending it533 € per main applicant
Residence card issuance feeOnce5,325 € per each family member included in the application
Golden visa extension feeEvery time the visa is extended2,663 € per each golden visa holder

Immigration agent’s fees

The investment that you have to make in order to qualify for a golden visa to Portugal is a considerable one. Therefore, hiring an experienced immigration agent would be a very good idea. The agent will help you choose the investment object, prepare the application documents, ensure that the application process is smooth and everything is done in accordance with the requirements, and so on. The immigration agent’s fee will depend on the agency that you hire, the investment option that you choose, the number of the family members applying for Portuguese residence, and some other factors.  

Please contact the InternationalWealth team and acquire full legal support in obtaining legal residence in Portugal!

Aggregate amount of investment required for obtaining a legal residence permit in Portugal in 2021

The table below lists the types of expenditures that are involved in acquiring Portuguese residence via three most popular routes: purchase of real estate, investment in a fund, and a bank deposit.

Purchase of real estateBank depositInvestment in a fund
Minimum required investment amount350,000 €500,000 €1,000,000 €350,000 €
Taxes
— Property rights transfer tax (IMI)4.58%6.50%0%0%
— Stamp duty0.80%0.80%0%0%
— Notary services1,000 €1,000 €0%0%
Disinvestment fee5% + VAT5% + VAT0%0%
— Commission5% + VAT5% + VAT0%0%
— Efficient (result-based) property management fee0%0%0%35% of the profit *
Property management fee0%0%0.50%1.5% per year **
Immigration agent’s fee ***Amounts differAmounts differAmounts differAmounts differ
Total (without including disinvestment fee, property management fee, and immigration agent fee)369,840 €537,500 €1,000,000 €350,000 €

* The fee will be different with different property management agencies. It can be anywhere between 20% and 50% of the annual profit that the property makes.

** The fee will depend on the management company. Usually, it is between 1% and 2% of the property cost.

*** The fee will be different with different immigration agents. The immigration route that you choose will not considerably affect the fee amount.

Bank account in Portugal and a NIF

Anyone applying for legal residence in Portugal by investment has to open a bank account in the country. In addition to that, the candidate for Portuguese residence has to acquire a Fiscal Identification Number (Numero de Indentificacao Fiscal; NIF). It is impossible to open a bank account in Portugal without this number. The good news, however, is that both of these tasks can be completed within one day.  

How to acquire a NIF

You have to do the following to acquire a NIF in Portugal:

  • Bring proof of residential address in your home country;
  • Submit the proof of address and your national ID (passport) to an office of the Portuguese Ministry of Finance (Finanças).
  • Acquire a NIF within one hour.

You can also issue a Power of Attorney in the name of a local representative who will perform these tasks on your behalf. This would spare you the need to visit Portugal in order to acquire the NIF.

How to open a bank account in Portugal

Portuguese banks allow foreign nationals to open accounts with them. The banking commissions are comparatively low in Portugal. The candidate for Portuguese residence by investment needs to take the following steps in order to set up a bank account in the country:

  • Step 1: Collect the application document package that includes the following documents:
    • Passport/ equivalent ID;
    • The NIF;
    • A Portuguese telephone number;
    • Proof of address from the country of residence;
    • Proof of the legality of the sources of the investment capital.
  • Step 2: Pay a personal visit to the bank and open an account there.

Please apply for a consultation with an InternationalWealth expert before opening a bank account in Portugal.

Application documents for a Portuguese golden visa

You have to submit the following application documents when applying for legal residence in Portugal by investment:

  • A copy of your passport/ equivalent ID.
  • A document confirming that you have made an investment in the required amount. If you have purchased a piece of real property, you have to submit the purchase agreement. If you have made an investment in a Portuguese fund, you have to submit a confirmation from the fund managers, and so on.  
  • A statement from a Portuguese bank confirming the transfer of capital.
  • A medical insurance policy. A Portuguese insurance policy or an international insurance policy covering Portugal will do.
  • A police clearance from the country of your citizenship/ residence. The police clearance must be not more than three months old.
  • A completed form that authorizes the officers of the Portuguese Foreigner and Frontier Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras; SEF) to gain access to the applicant’s data that the law enforcement agencies in the country possess.
  • A declaration of intention to keep the investment object in your possession for the required period (five years).
  • An approval from the customs office and the social security service (not more than six weeks old).
  • A slip confirming payment of the application processing fee.

Document legalization

All the documents issued outside Portugal shall be legalized. The legalization shall be accompanied with an apostille if the country issuing the documents is a member of the Hague Convention.

Document translation

Any document written in a language other than Portuguese shall be translated in Portuguese. The translations shall normally be notarized.

Using a bank loan to acquire legal residence in Portugal by investment

Our clients often ask us if they can use a bank loan to finance their purchase of property in Portugal that will make them qualified for a golden visa to the country. The Portuguese legislation requires that the investment come from abroad. In other words, you cannot take a loan from a Portuguese bank to invest the required amount of money in the Portuguese residence.

On the other hand, you are free to obtain a loan from a bank outside Portugal and transfer the money to your account with the Portuguese bank. Besides, if the house or the apartment that you want to buy costs more than the required investment amount, you are welcome to apply for a loan to a Portuguese bank that would cover the outstanding portion of the price.

The procedure of acquiring a golden visa to Portugal in exchange for an investment in 2021

The procedure of acquiring a legal residence permit in Portugal by investment is rather simple and transparent. Below please find the list of the steps that you have to take in order to obtain the golden visa:

Step 1: Decide on the preferred investment option

You have to analyze the available investment options and decide which one suits you best. More than 90% of foreign investors opt for buying real property in Portugal in 2021. However, the popularity of investments into Portuguese funds has been growing over the recent years.

Step 2: Collect the application documents

You have to assemble the application document package that is going to be especially large if you are applying for Portuguese residence with dependent family members. The task can be quite burdensome if you take the need to translate, notarize, and legalize multiple documents. The InternationalWealth team will be happy to take care of this task for you.

Step 3: Acquire a NIF and open a bank account in Portugal

It takes only one day to acquire a NIF and open a bank account in Portugal. What is more, you can authorize a local attorney to perform this task on your behalf thus saving time and money on a visit to Portugal.  

Step 4: Make the investment

When you have chosen the financial route to Portuguese residence, you have to invest the required amount of money.

Step 5: File an application for legal residence in Portugal by investment

When you have made the investment and obtained a confirmation document, you have to file an online application for Portuguese residence to the SEF. In most cases, the immigration agent will do it on behalf of the foreign investor. The agent will also inform the investor if certain documents are missing or if certain forms are not completed correctly.

Step 6: Schedule an interview with SEF officials

When the SEF officers analyze your application for residence, they will give you a choice of dates when you can turn up for a personal interview and leave your biometric data. You have to select a suitable date when you and your dependent family members can pay a visit to a SEF office and leave your fingerprints.

There are multiple SEF offices in Portugal and you can choose any of them regardless of the region of the country where you investment object is located. We recommend that you try to avoid scheduling a meeting at the Lisbon office as the queue there is long and you may have to wait for six months or so before you can meet with a SEF official. The queues in other SEF offices in Portugal are much shorter so you can have an interview much sooner.

Step 7: Acquire a residence permit and then extend it

When your residence cards are ready, the immigration agent will pick them up and send with a courier to any place that you wish. The residence cards are valid for two years and they have to be extended afterwards.

Step 8: Become a full citizen of Portugal

After five years have passed and you have extended your legal residence permit twice, you become eligible to apply for full citizenship of Portugal (if you have been spending enough time in the country every year). The processing of the application for citizenship usually takes between six and twelve months. When you acquire the passport of Portugal, you will not have the obligation to keep the investment property in your possession any longer.  

Extending the Portuguese residence permit

You have to spend some time in Portugal in order to keep your legal residence permit in the country. On average, you have to stay in Portugal for seven days per year (not that much, is it?).

Term of validityStay requirement
First residence permitTwo (2) yearsFourteen (14) days over the two-year period
Extended residence permitThree (3) yearsTwenty-one (21) days over the three-year period

In addition to that, you will have to submit proof of investment property possession when you apply for an extension of your legal residence permit in Portugal. If you sell your property in the country before the five-year period expires, you will lose your residence permit.  

Residence by investment in Portugal: some statistics

Below please find some statistical data for the period between October 8, 2021 (when the program was started) and May 31, 2021. The total number of main applicants for Portuguese residence has reached 9.76 thousand people and the number of dependent family members is 16.61 thousand. The foreign investors brought 5.84 billion € to the Portuguese economy. The most popular investment options were the following ones:

  • Purchase of real property: 9,170 applications including 8,311 applications for residence by investing in new property (500,000 €) and 859 applications for residence by investing in property that needs repairing (350,000 €).
  • Bank deposit (1 million €): 489 applications.
  • Investment in a Portuguese fund (350,000 €): 83 applications.
  • Investment in a business venture and creation of jobs (350,000 € + 5 jobs): 6 applications.
  • Creation of ten full-time jobs: 19 applications.

The largest number of applicants have come from the following countries:

  • China – 4,923
  • Brazil – 1,021
  • Turkey – 464
  • South Africa – 403
  • Russia – 375

Changes to the Portuguese residence by investment program becoming effective in 2022

In February 2021, the Portuguese Parliament made some amendments to the golden visa program. These amendments are aimed at redirecting the flows of foreign capital to underdeveloped (sparsely populated) territories and stimulating the creation of new jobs in these territories.

The amendments are going into force on January 1, 2022!

The following two regulations have been changed:

  • Some required investment amounts have been raised:
    • The amount of the required investment in a Portuguese fund has been raised from 350,000 € to 500,000 €.
    •  The required amount of the bank deposit has been raised from 1 million € до 1.5 million €.
  • Only the property located in sparsely populated regions (the Azores, Madeira, and some parts of continental Portugal) will qualify for the golden visa program. Purchase of real property in Lisbon, Porto, and the region of Algarve will not make you qualified for Portuguese residence any longer.  

Lisbon and Porto are the two cities in Portugal that are the most popular ones with foreign investors. Currently, an increasing number of foreigners are buying houses and apartments in these cities to qualify for legal residence in Portugal before the rules change on January 1, 2022.

Who can help you acquire a legal residence permit in Portugal?

The InternationalWealth team provides the full range of services to investment migrants. We offer complex solutions and efficient assistance in application documents submission. With our help, you can quickly become a citizen or a legal resident of a foreign country!

We have reliable partners in Lisbon and Porto so we can put you through to the best lawyers and real estate agents in Portugal.

Please request a personal consultation with an InternationalWealth expert on the issues related to acquiring legal residence in Portugal in 2021!

What are the requirements to foreign investors applying for a legal residence permit in Portugal?

The main applicant for Portuguese residence shall be a citizen of a non-EU and non-EEA country. Citizens of Switzerland are also not eligible to apply. The candidate for Portuguese residence shall be above 18 years old and have a clean criminal record. The candidate shall make the investment in the required amount depending on the investment option that he/ she chooses.

What are the main advantages of a Portuguese golden visa?

The main advantages of the Portuguese golden visa are visa-free access to the Schengen zone countries, the right to live and work in Portugal, the opportunity to include the family members in the application for legal residence in the country, and the opportunity to apply for full citizenship of Portugal after holding the golden visa for five years.

What are the advantages of the Portuguese golden visa over the golden visas offered by Spain and Greece?

Some people may find the Spanish and Greek golden visa programs more attractive than the Portuguese one. Everything depends on personal preferences and financial opportunities. The Portuguese golden visa allows acquiring full citizenship of the country after only five years (as compared to 7 and 10 years in Greece and Spain, respectively). Besides, you have to spend only seven days per year in Portugal in order to keep your legal residence permit.

Tags:

Please read other interesting articles at InternationalWealth.info portal:

Please help us make the portal even more informative, up-to-date, and valuable for you and your business.

Your email address will not be published.