The UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 has left many Britons desperately searching for ways to re-obtain an EU passport. Many were lucky enough to have an ancestor from an EU country–most commonly a grandparent from Ireland–but, unfortunately, it isn’t that easy for everyone.
There are a few different ways that Britons can obtain an EU passport. Getting a job and moving to another EU country is one option, but uprooting your life isn’t always that appealing – particularly if you have a high-paying job in the UK. Another option is marrying someone from the EU, but this is perhaps even less practical. There is another option which may appeal, however, and that’s investing in Portugal’s golden visa program.
The Portuguese golden visa program offers residency in Portugal in return for investing in the country. Here’s why it’s perfect for Britons searching for a new “EU passport” who have at least €250,000 to invest:
- Investing can be as simple and practical as buying a property in Portugal (although you can invest in a business or fund if you prefer)
- Property investment options start from €280,000
- The golden visa only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal (although you can spend more if you wish)
- Getting to Portugal to meet those visa requirements is just a cheap and quick flight from most airports in the UK
- A citizenship application can be made after 5 years, which is much faster than golden visa programs in other countries
- Portugal recognises dual citizenship so you won’t have to give up your UK passport
- A Portuguese passport allows you to live, work, retire, and study in any EU country – not just Portugal
The following are a few of the most popular investment options.
Investing in Commercial Property
If you’ve owned a property before, you’ll know how much work (and money) goes into owning one, and the idea of owning a property in another country may not be particularly appealing. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a more hands-off investment such as investing in a commercial property project like a hotel redevelopment scheme.
There are a number of these projects that you can invest in and although the small print differs from project to project, they have a few things in common. They typically allow you to buy a room, apartment, or share in a hotel or resort with a buyback option after five or six years (once you’re eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship). Most are priced at around €280,000, but some offer rental income paid upfront or guaranteed, which means the price can work out slightly cheaper.
There are other hands-off investment options such as investing in a fund or Portuguese company, but both of these require you to invest €500,000 or more. As this particular area of the golden visa starts from €280,000, it’s more appealing to most people.
A Second (or main) Home
The most appealing option for most Brits is to purchase an eligible property in Portugal. This typically needs to cost €500k or more, but in some cases this can be reduced to €350k or even €280k.
- €400k if it’s in a low population density area
- €350k if the property is at least 30 years old or in a designated urban rehabilitation area
- €280k if the property meets the criteria for the €350k price and is also in a low-density area
As of January 2022, residential properties purchased in places like Lisbon, Porto, and most of coastal Portugal (including the Algarve) are no longer eligible for the golden visa. This will come as a blow to those that were dreaming of owning an apartment in Lisbon or Porto, but all is not lost: there are still some parts of the Algarve that qualify and the interior regions of Portugal are definitely worth considering.
Buying a property or investing in commercial property aren’t the only golden visa options. However, they are two of the most appealing options.
Other options include:
- Invest €500k in a qualifying fund (e.g. venture capital fund)
- Transfer €1.5 million to a Portuguese bank account
- Donate €250k to the Portuguese arts, culture, and heritage sector
- Invest €500k in a Portuguese company (new or existing) and create at least 5 full-time jobs
- Invest €500k in a qualifying public of private research institute
The D7: An Alternative Option For Retirees & Remote Workers
The golden visa, as mentioned, is perfect for those that want to continue living and working in the UK. As it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days in Portugal, it’s also ideal for those that want to spend a few months of the year in Portugal–perhaps to escape that bleak British winter–but who want the freedom to either spend the rest of the year in the UK or travelling elsewhere.
For those that don’t have a few hundred thousand to invest or that are willing to spend the majority of the year in Portugal, there is another option: the D7. This visa is aimed at those that have their own income which they can use to support themselves in Portugal. Most commonly this is income from a pension or a rental property, but it could be a salary from a remote job or even income from a freelance job.
For pensioners who want to spend the majority of the year in Portugal, it’s a very appealing choice. For those that can work remotely or as a freelancer, it could also be an option, particularly as many jobs now allow remote working. However, it’s important to clarify with your employer whether that includes working remotely from another country: while many jobs now say the job can be done remotely or with only one day in the office, this often means remotely from another location in the UK.