European Residence By Investment: Golden Visa Greece or Golden Visa Portugal?

Please note: Residence and Citizenship by Investment programs are subject to frequent changes. Be sure to contact us for the latest information. 

Greece vs Portugal. In which EU member state should you submit your application for the European residence by investment? 

Let us compare the two most popular options: the Golden Visa Portugal and the Golden Visa Greece. This article will help you make the most informed choice. 

Should you need a one-on-one professional consultation, you are welcome to book a FREE online session with our experts. Please send your questions today (and tell us about yourself) by writing to our e-mail address given above. 

Residence permit by investment

Are you looking for updates on the European Golden Visa programs? Do you regularly read our articles in the topical section of the InternationalWealth portal? Are you subscribed to the newsletter and never miss releases of special offers?

If your answers are yes-yes-yes, it must be no news to you that Portugal and Greece offer the most popular and best economic residence options in Europe.

Their programs have helped these host countries successfully attract direct foreign investments worth billions of euros. These funds have been invested mostly in the real estate sector.

Which is the easiest way to obtain European residence permits and citizenship: the Golden Visa Portugal or the Golden Visa Greece?

The Golden Visa Portugal is a unique immigration program. It offers the following advantages.

  • If you have the Golden Visa Portugal as an investor, you can travel without visas to on your existing passport to many countries, including all the EU states. 
  • The Golden Visa leads to a permanent residence permit in 5 years. Actual physical residence is not required, though spending some time there is of course recommended (i.e. one does not need to abandon one’s social milieu for Portugal during these 5 years)
  • You can also apply for your EU passport after 5 years. One does not need to get a permanent resident permit first to be able to apply for citizenship. Portuguese Nationality Law allows the Ministry of Justice to grant Portuguese citizenship to anyone who has obtained a Golden Visa no later than five years ago and has spent at least one week a year in Portugal. 

Other European jurisdictions (including Greece) running the Golden Visa program require physical relocation and continuous or regular stay in the host country for most of each year during the naturalization period.

The Golden Visa programs in Portugal and Greece do not grant European citizenship through naturalization without a special language test. However, while in Portugal the naturalization period takes five years, as mentioned above, it takes seven years in Greece. For most people, Portuguese is an easier language to learn than Greek.

In other words, if you want to acquire the citizenship of a European Union member state in the future and get access to the benefits available to you as a European passport holder, you should choose Portugal. 

If citizenship is not important, and the EU residence is sufficient to you, you might prefer Greece.

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Portugal vs Greece:  compare costs, wait time, taxes, citizenship prospects, and other aspects of the two European residence options

The table below shows the key differences between the two options of obtaining the European Golden Visa. 

Golden Visa Program PortugalGreece
Launch date20122014
Minimum investment is required  (Golden Visa through real estate investment) EUR 280,000 €EUR 250,000
Time to the Golden Visa after the application 3-5 months4-6 months
Costs of the real estate acquisition transaction Purchase tax IMT (Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis) at the rate of 6 %;The stamp duty at  0,8 %
The title transfer tax, legal fees, fees for the land registry, fees for notary services. This all will add-on about 7 % to the transaction baseline price. 
Time to the permanent residence permit after obtaining the Golden Visa5 years5 years 
Time to the EU citizenship after obtaining the Golden Visa5 years (no permanent residence required)7 years (the candidate must reside in the Greek territory for most of each year)   
Minimum duration of stay in the jurisdiction7 days annuallyThere are no requirements, but to obtain citizenship, you will have to spend annually more than 6 months in Greece and become its fiscal resident
Residence type Temporary residence permitTemporary residence permit
Golden Visa validity period1-2 years (extendable)5 years (extendable)
Price of the Golden Visa in terms of a bank deposit/government bondsEUR 1,000,000EUR 400,000
Price of the temporary residence permit in terms of the purchase of shares in a private companyEUR 500,000EUR 800,000
Commission for filing an application with the governmentEUR 5,324EUR 2,000
Tax residencyassigned if you spend more than six months in the countryassigned if you spend more than six months in the country
Inheritance tax 0% (abolished since 2004), but stamp duty is charged at a 10% rate (exception – immediate family: spouse, child)20%
Wealth Tax 0.7% if the taxpayer has assets (including real estate) with a total value above EUR 600,000or 1% for assets valued at EUR 1,000,000 and above  (charged from the excess amount)0%
Language proficiency test for citizenshipyesyes
Availability of non-standard tax regime RNH status is granted for 10 years and entitles new Portuguese tax residents to the personal income tax exemption if the income is derived from a high-income highly-qualified qualified professional activityA special fiscal regime is provided by Greek Bill 4646/2019, implying a fixed tax of EUR 100,000 on fiscal residents in exchange for an exemption from personal income tax on worldwide income 
CryptocurrenciesExempt from taxationTaxed

Golden Visa Portugal vs Golden Visa Greece:  compare the dynamics of real estate prices in Greece vs Portugal

Golden Visa Portugal and Golden Visa Greece are most often issued based on investments in real estate. To ensure the maximum return on such investments, it is necessary to study price trends.

Global real estate prices in the second quarter of 2020 (the most recent data) were subject to the negative impact of Covid-19. Nevertheless, the latest analysis published by the Knight Frank consulting company shows: the dynamics of home prices in Portugal and Greece have largely resisted the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Jurisdiction / territoryAnnual dynamics in % (Q2 2019 — Q2 2020)Semi-annual dynamics in % (Q4 2019 — Q2 2020)Quarterly dynamics in % (Q1 2020 — Q2 2020)
1Turkey25.7%17.4%11.2%
2Luxemburg *13.9%6.0 %3.8 %
3Lithuania12.4%— 1.6%— 6.6 %
4Estonia *11.5%7.8 %4.8 %
5Poland *11.3%6.6 %3.6 %
6Slovakia11.2%8.4 %3.6 %
7Ukraine11.2%2.4%0.0 %
8Czech Republic *9.5 %4.7%2.6%
9Latvia *9.1 %1.2%1.1%
10Croatia *9.1 %5.7%2.7%
11New Zealand9.1 %1.6%— 4.1 %
12Portugal8.3 %2.2%0.5 %
13Romania *8.1 %4.9 %3.3 %
14Russia8.1 %5.8 %1.4%
15Netherlands7.6 %4.5 %1.9%
16Greece *6.9 %2.5%2.0%
17Germany *6.8 %2.7%0.3 %
18Iceland6.7%3.4 %1.5%
19Australia6.1 %— 0.4%— 2.0%
20Canada5.9 %4.3 %3.2 %
21Mexico5.8 %2.9%1.2%
22Slovenia *5.5 %1.0%1.1%
23Austria5.2 %4.8 %3.0 %
24Sweden *5.2 %1.8%1.5%
25France *5.0 %3.2 %1.9%
26Colombia *5.0 %2.7%1.3%
27China4.9 %1.9%1.5%
28Bulgaria *4.7%2.7%1.2%
29Hungary *4.5 %— 0.1 %1.4%
30USA *4.5 %1.5%1.3%
31Jersey4.3 %— 0.4%0.9 %
32Peru4.1 %5.1 %3.7%
33Japan *3.7%4.8 %4.1 %
34Taiwan *3.6 %1.1%0.6 %
35Belgium *3.6 %— 0.4%— 0.1 %
36United Kingdom3.5 %0.6 %1.4%
37Israel *3.1 %1.7%0.5 %
38Denmark *2.5%— 0.4%0.1 %
39Norway2.3%5.3 %3.2 %
40Switzerland2.0%0.8 %1.1%
41Cyprus *1.8%0.6 %0.4 %
42Malaysia **1.8%0.6 %— 0.3%
43Italy *1.7%0.6 %0.9 %
44Indonesia1.6%0.8 %0.3 %
45South Korea1.3%1.1%0.5 %
46Brazil0.8 %1.1%0.6 %
47South Africa0.7%— 0.2%0.7%
48Singapore0.4 %— 0.6%0.4 %
49Chile *0.3 %— 2.6%— 0.9%
50Spain *0.3 %0.1 %— 0.8%
51Ireland0.2 %0.1 %0.1 %
52Morocco *
— 0.5%0.7%— 0.4%
53Finland *— 1.1%— 1.4%0.6 %
54India— 1.9%— 2.3 %— 1.6%
55Malta— 2.6%— 0.7%— 3.8%
56Hong Kong— 2.8%0.6 %1.6%

*Data for Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the USA are for Q1 2020

**Data for Malaysia and Morocco refer to Q4 2019

Compare the current demand for the Golden Visa Portugal and Golden Visa Greece

In 2020, the number of Golden Visa approvals dropped by almost 90% in Greece and by 5%. in Portugal. Thus, according to statistics released in early January 2021, the administration of the Greek program approved 403 primary applicants and 635 dependents during 2020.

The numbers fluctuated throughout the year due to the adjustments made to the historical approval data by the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy. As of the July report, 375 major applicants were approved during the first seven months of 2020, but by September the figure had decreased to 368. The paragraph above is the most current data as of January 5, 2021. In other words, in the last four months of 2020, only 35 additional Gold Visas were issued to principal applicants.

The number of approved principal applicants decreased by 88% in 2020 compared to 2019, when Greece approved 3,504 principal applicants. The figure declined despite the Greek government’s introduction of a series of streamlining measures in response to the crisis, including the permissions to submit biometric data at a later stage, to waive the former requirement to apply in person, to allow applications by a proxy, and several other measures (including various tax incentives) aimed at reducing red tape to restart the program after the pandemic.

Both the Greek and Portuguese migration officers were working throughout 2020 in the thick of the global pandemic and the lockdown of borders and public service offices. Unfortunately, they have failed to maintain their previous level of efficiency in Greece. However, in Portugal, they manifested much more efficient performance.

Golden Visa Portugal during the crisis period has continued to enjoy high demand. Although the total investment made through the program decreased by 13% (EUR 647 million against EUR 742 million in 2019), the number of approved applications during the past year (1182) decreased by only 5% compared to the previous year.

Do you need Golden Visa Portugal or Golden Visa Greece? You are welcome to take advantage of the current terms and conditions (before they change in 2022). 

Neither Portugal nor Greece offers instant permanent residence permits or immediate citizenship through investment. In both cases, successful applicants receive only a temporary residence permit for one/two/five years with the possibility of its extension. Both options are interesting and worth considering.

Are you still hesitating, which of the two programs to choose? Go through this article once again, compare the two options, think about your objectives.  If you are likely to need European citizenship in the future, we recommend the Golden Visa of Portugal. 

However, please note, that the terms described in this article are valid for the current year. 

The Portuguese government has recently announced the changes in the Golden Visa program to come into force from January 1, 2022. Until then, all applications will be processed under the current terms.

What will it be like next year?  The program in Portugal will encourage urban development and cultural heritage investment in the inland territories. Acquisition of housing in the most popular areas like the Azores and Madeira Islands will be allowed only with the residency card. The minimum investment amount will be raised from the current EUR 350,000 to EUR 500,000. Similarly, the requirements for the minimum bank deposit/purchase of company shares (currently EUR 1mln) will grow to EUR 1.5 mln.

The forthcoming changes may prompt many potential applicants to hurry up to file their applications later this year. Before this new hike of the Golden Visa Portugal popularity, we recommend that you should not postpone your decision and start acting now.  

If you need additional information or unbiased professional advice on the Golden Visa programs, you are welcome to book a FREE one-on-one session with our experts. 

You can do so by sending us your written request to the e-mail address given above this article.

Who can get the Golden Visa Portugal or the Golden Visa Greece?

Any individual who is not a citizen of Portugal or another EU member state can apply for a temporary residence permit under the Golden Visa program in Portugal or Greece. The only financial requirement is to invest a certain amount of money in the host country’s real estate/securities market / local business / other assets.

In what cases can the Golden Visa Portugal or the Golden Visa Greece be revoked?

There can be several reasons for this (for example, in case of premature exit from the investment). The applicant takes over to retain ownership of the assets for the purchase of which the Golden Visa was issued. Additionally, in the case of a residence permit in Portugal, a resident must spend in the jurisdiction at least 7 days during the first year of residence, and at least 14 days in subsequent two-year periods. There is no such residency requirement in Greece.

In what kinds of Portuguese or Greek projects can applicants invest funds to get the economic European residence?

In addition to the standard real estate investments for obtaining EU residence, other financial options are available under the Golden Visa programs in Portugal and Greece. For example, applicants can deposit the minimum required amount with a local bank, or invest in some local private business. Such projects need to be discussed with professional experts so that you could be sure that this sort of investment can qualify for participation in the European residence programs.

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