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Comparing Portugal’s D7 Visa and The Golden Visa

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Last updated on March 6, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes

You might have heard of the golden visa and the D7. But what’s the difference between them? Are they the same as the retirement visa, the entrepreneur visa, and the passive income visa?

And most importantly, which one is right for you?

These visas are aimed at those from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, for example the UK, USA, Canada, or anywhere that isn’t the EU/EEA or Switzerland.

Residency in Portugal comes with numerous benefits including:

  • Access to Portuguese healthcare institutions.
  • Access to Portuguese education institutions.
  • The right to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of residency.

While there is a lot of crossover between the visas, The D7 and the golden visa are aimed at different types of people:

  1. Those that want to move to Portugal on a more or less full-time basis (D7).
  2. Those that want residency here, but want to have the freedom to spend more time outside of Portugal (golden visa).

Physical Stay Requirements

One of the best difference between the golden visa and other residency visas is the physical stay requirements.

  • The golden visa is aimed at those who want residency in Portugal, but don’t necessarily want to live here full-time. This visa only requires you to spend an average of seven days per year in Portugal.
  • The D7, in comparison, like most D-series visas, is aimed at those that want to move to Portugal on a more committed basis. It requires you to spend around six months per year in Portugal.

According to Lisbon-based lawyer, Sandra Gomes Pinto, “Within the first two-year period, you should not leave Portugal for more than six months in a row or eight months in total. [source]

Note: You can move to Portugal on the golden visa and spend as much time here as you want. You’re certainly not limited to just seven days per year. Most D-series visas, in comparison, expect you to make your home in Portugal, and spend around six months of the year here.

In fact, there are a number of reasons you might choose the golden visa, even if you plan to move to Portugal:

  • You have savings but don’t have a passive income.
  • You want to move to Portugal, but not just yet. However, you want to get your path to residency started.
  • You want to start a business or invest in a business in Portugal, and have decided the golden visa is a better option than the D2 visa.
  • You live in a country with political uncertainty and want to have a “just in case” backup plan.
  • You want to live in Portugal, but you want to have the freedom to travel or leave without worrying about physical stay requirements.
  • You want to stay longer than 90 days in Portugal, but less than the 183 days in which one often becomes a tax resident after.
Physical StayIncome Type
Golden Visa7 days p/year averageInvestment
D7 Visa6-8 months p/ residence periodPassive Income

Income Types

Another major difference between the two visas are the income types.

  • The Golden Visa requires a cash investment or donation, typically €500,000 or more. It doesn’t require you to have a passive income (e.g. pension) or an active income (i.e. salary or freelancing income).
  • The D7 requires you to have a passive income, which is an income you don’t actively work for. Examples of passive income include a pension or social security, income from investments, rental income, or royalties.

What happens if you have savings or work in a remote job?

While there are exceptions, savings aren’t normally accepted for the D7. In this instance, the golden visa may be your best option.

While a salary from a remote job or income from freelancing was accepted for the D7 in the past, it no longer is. There is now a new visa for freelancers or those with remote jobs called the D8 or digital nomad visa.

Costs

Another big difference is costs. While the golden visa comes with a lot of flexibility, that flexibility comes with a higher price tag.

Here are some of the costs to consider:

  • Investment e.g. €500,000 in a fund.
  • Government fees, which typically amount to around €8,000.
  • Lawyer fees, which typically amount to around €5,000 to €10,000 per person.
  • Cost of travel to Portugal for biometrics, which varies depending on where you’re travelling from.

In comparison, the government fees for the D7 are around €250 and legal fees are typically in the €2,000-3,000 per person range, although there are some cheaper services too. While there are other costs to consider, such as the cost of getting a NIF and Portuguese bank account, all in all it’s clear the D7 is much cheaper.

Detailed Comparison: Golden Visa VS the D7

The Golden Visa

The golden visa (or ARI) offers residency in Portugal in terms for making an investment here.

Currently, the most common form of investment is investing in a fund, such as a venture capital fund. However, investments can take other forms, such as investing in a Portuguese business, creating jobs, or donating to an institution in the Portuguese arts and culture sector.

The golden visa attracts higher fees than the other residency visas but, despite this, there are two main reasons to consider this option:

  1. You want the freedom that only comes with having to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal.
  2. You have cash to invest, but don’t have income that would qualify for one of the other visas (e.g. a passive income for the D7 or an income high enough for the D8).

There are a number of ways that you can invest in the golden visa. Some of the most common are:

  • Funds – Invest at least €500k in a qualifying private equity or venture capital fund.
  • Scientific Research – Invest in public or private scientific research amounting to at least €500k (€400k if in a low density area).
  • Job creation – Create at least 10 jobs (8 jobs if in a low density area).
  • Company incorporation – Transfer €500k and incorporate a company within Portugal.
  • Cultural Investment – Invest at least €250,000 in a qualifying arts, culture, or national heritage project.

Previously it was possible to purchase real estate and qualify but as of 2023, this option is no longer available.

Cons

  • Costs: The golden visa attracts higher fees than any of the other visas. This comes in the form of legal fees, government fees, and any missed opportunities from any investment being tied up for 5+ years.
  • Processing time: Currently, there is a large backlog of golden visa applications and the processing time is lower than some other residency visas.

The D7

The D7 (sometimes known as the passive income or retirement visa) is aimed at those with a passive income. As of 2024, the amount needed for a single applicant is €820 per month.

For a spouse or partner, add 50%, and for each dependent child, add an additional 30% of the main applicant’s amount.

Example types of passive income include:

  • A pension.
  • Social Security.
  • Income from a Rental Property.
  • Royalties.
  • Dividends.

You aren’t limited to these types of income. The main requirement is that it is passively earned.

The D7 could be right for you if:

  • You want to spend the majority of the year in Portugal.
  • You don’t have €500,000 to invest in the golden visa.
  • You have a regular form of passive income (e.g. a pension, income from a rental property, or income from a remote job).

Cons

  • Address Requirement: Applicants are typically requested to show that they have an address in Portugal before they apply for the visa. In practice, this usually means renting an apartment in advance, and often that means having to travel to Portugal to find somewhere suitable.
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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.