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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Portugal’s Golden Visa

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Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Portugal’s golden visa is one of the most popular European golden visas and for good reason too. It offers residency in return for an investment for as little as €250,000 and only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal.

Moreover, golden visa applicants are able to apply for both permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship after living in Portugal for just five years, which is a much shorter time-frame than other European countries like Spain and Greece. And let’s not forget the access to the Portuguese healthcare system and the ability to travel more easily within the borderless Schengen Area.

But those are the advantages and upsides. What are the disadvantages and downsides of Portugal’s golden visa, both in comparison to other European golden visas and of the other residency visas that Portugal offers.

The Advantages

Flexibility

The biggest advantage of the golden visa is flexibility. Unlike other residency visas, like the D7 or D8, the golden visa only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal. Compare that to most other visas which require you to spend 6 months uninterrupted or 8 months with gaps.

If you’re planning on spending the majority of the year in Portugal, another visa like the D7 or D8 might be a better option. If, however, you want more flexibility or want to continue living elsewhere, the golden visa could be a better option for you.

An option for savers

Another advantage of the golden visa is that it allows you to invest a lump sum, which is great for those that have savings but don’t have an income. The D7, in comparison, requires you to have a regular passive income, such as income from a pension or rental property. The D8, or digital nomad visa, requires you to have a regular income from a salary or freelancing.

The Disadvantages

Costs

The biggest downside of the golden visa when compared to other Portuguese residency visas like the D7 is the cost. This isn’t necessarily the investment cost (e.g. investing in funds) which obviously is expensive, but the application fees that go with this particular visa. The government fees, which are paid to AIMA (previously known as SEF), amount to just over €5,000 per person for the initial application and then have to be renewed at a cost of 50% of that. Then there are lawyer fees on top.

The D7 (often called the passive income or retirement visa) or D8 (often called the digital nomad visa), in comparison, cost much less. The government fees are in the low hundreds and lawyer fees are around €1,000-2,000.

However, even though the golden visa has a premium price tag, it offers big benefits in terms of flexibility.

Money Tied Up For 5+ Years

The Portuguese golden visa offers a number of investment options, from investing in funds to starting a company, but you might have investment ideas that are better for your money for example, property investment elsewhere, a more diversified or global index fund, or maybe taking a gamble on some hot new cryptocurrencies. You can still invest in all of those things, of course, but that assumes you have money left over after you’re paid for your golden visa investment.

Whatever you invest in, the Portuguese golden visa offers an excellent ROI: it offers citizenship in an EU country and in just a few years. That’s more than any other investment can offer, but that doesn’t get rid of the frustration you might feel when your money is locked away and can’t be used for any other investments.

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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.