Launched in 2012 https://www.sef.pt/en/pages/conteudo-detalhe.aspx?nID=21, the Golden Visa or ARI is one of Portugal’s most well-known and popular visas. It offers residency, or the right to live in Portugal, to non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens (and potentially citizenship) in return for making an investment in Portugal.
Of course, one of the selling points of Portugal’s golden visa is that even though you’re technically resident in Portugal, you don’t need to spend a lot of time there: just 7 days per year (14 days in the first two years technically). You can spend more time if you wish, but this flexibility makes the golden visa perfect for at least two groups of people:
- Those that want a pathway to citizenship but don’t want to move to Portugal (at least right now)
- Those that do want to move to Portugal but want more flexibility to travel and leave rather than having to spend the typical 6-8 months here
And there are other benefits of course, such as:
- Being able to apply for citizenship after just 5-6 years (or just permanent residency if you prefer)
- Once you have Portuguese citizenship, you can easily live, work, and study anywhere else in the EU
- Investment options start from just €280,000 (excluding other costs) and donation options start from €250,000
- There are no language requirements at the application stage. However, if you want to apply for permanent residency or citizenship after five years, there is a language requirement, but this is only the A2-level of Portuguese https://www.athenaadvisers.com/buying-guides/portugal/golden-visa/ (which is the upper-beginner level)
- Portugal recognises dual citizenship (unlike Spain, which only recognises it in certain cases)
- Golden visa residents are eligible for Portugal’s Non Habitual Residency (NHR) tax regime
- Gives you the freedom to travel within the Schengen Area (and to enter and leave the Schengen Area without needing to get a Schengen Visa each time)
- Allows residency for multiple family members across several generations
- Gives you access to Portuguese healthcare, education, and the right to work in Portugal
- Requirements (e.g. purchase a property worth €500k or more) are more black and white than other visas like the D7 or the D2, so you have a better idea of where you stand when you apply
Finally, another great benefit of obtaining Portuguese citizenship through investing in the golden visa is that you investment doesn’t have to be something complicated like starting a company or investing in a bunch of startups (although that is an option)– it can be as simple as purchasing a property here.
With all of that in mind, here are 8 ways that you could invest in Portugal’s golden visa.
Option #1: Buy A Residential Property
Typically €500,000 but can be as cheap as €280,000
Unsurprisingly, the most popular way to invest in the golden visa is by purchasing an eligible property. To be eligible, the first factor you need to consider is price: a property needs to be valued at €500k or more, but there are cases where it can be lower:
- €400k if it’s in a low-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
For those on a budget, and who’ve always wanted to renovate a house, the €350k and €280k options could be perfect for making that dream a reality. There are a lot of do-er uppers in Portugal, particularly rural Portugal, that could meet the golden visa requirements. This property could be somewhere that you live in year-round, somewhere you visit for a few weeks of the year, or somewhere that you use as a rental.
There’s also one more thing to make it eligible: location.
As of January 2022https://www.portugalist.com/golden-visa-changes-2022/, there have been some changes to the golden visa scheme and residential properties purchased in some parts of Portugal no longer qualify. This, unfortunately, includes places like Lisbon, Porto, large parts of the Algarve, and the Silver Coast. There are, however, still plenty of areas that qualify, most of which are inland but a selection of which are on the coast.
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Option #2: Invest in Commercial Property
Owning a property may not be ideal for you, particularly if your goal isn’t to spend the majority of your time in Portugal. In fact, if you’re really only applying for the golden visa in order to obtain Portuguese citizenship, owning a vacant property in another country may be a costly and time-consuming burden.
If that’s the case, investing in commercial property such as in a hotel redevelopment scheme may be a better option. These schemes allow you to buy a share, room, or apartment in a hotel, which you hold for five or six years until you qualify for citizenship and then, depending on the project’s terms, typically sell your share back to the developer.
The terms for each project varies considerably – and it’s recommended that you have an independent lawyer read the terms – but most are at the affordable end of the golden visa scale and start from €280,000. Most offer you rental income for the period, and some even pay this up front, reducing your initial investment. And it’s not just hotel redevelopment programs, but there’s also the opportunity to invest in other forms of commercial real estate like restaurants or offices.
- Investing in a hotel for Portugal’s golden visa
- Investing in commercial property for Portugal’s golden visa
Option #3: Invest in Funds
Another hands-off option is to invest in a fund, such as a private equity or venture capital fund. There are a number of different qualifying funds, such as in agriculture, property, startups, and healthcare.
Prior to January 2022, the minimum investment for this route was €350,000, which made it a compelling option. However, now that the minimum investment amount has increased to €500,000, it isn’t as appealing as it once was, particularly when the commercial property route starts from €280,000. Although all golden visa options require you to hold the investment for the duration of the period, which is a disadvantage if you had other investment ideas, the funds in particular can be quite restrictive as many require you to hold your investment for 7-10 years.
However, there is potentially more opportunity for growth in this route. Most of the hotel development programs offer a fixed return of around 3%, whereas there is typically no cap with these funds. However, there is also the possibility that your investment could decline in value.
Option #4: Transfer Capital to a Portuguese Account
The capital transfer option is the most expensive option on this list as it requires you to transfer €1.5 million to a Portuguese account and hold it there for the duration of the period.
The downside of this route is obviously that it requires such a significant amount of money. However, the upside is that this is an incredibly easy option: there’s no need to pick a fund or buy a property, both of which can be time-consuming. Another downside is that there is less potential for growth when compared with almost all of the other investment options.
Option #5: Invest in Portugal’s Arts & Culture Sector
The cultural investment option isn’t particularly popular as it’s a donation rather than an investment, and for €30,000 more you could invest in property, whether that’s a residential property or commercial real estate. However, it’s worth mentioning as it is the cheapest option. If you’re a philanthropist who’s looking to do some good while also earning his European citizenship, this option (along with others like the investment in scientific research) is worth considering.
Option #6: Create 10 Jobs
No minimum amount
Arguably one of the best ways to contribute to the Portuguese economy is through job creation. Portugal has a talented and well-educated workforce, many of whom not only speak Portuguese but also speak English to a high level. Spanish is also spoken well too.
Aside from the societal benefit that this route offers, another selling point might be that there is no minimum investment amount. However, even with Portugal’s low minimum wage of around €700 per month, and even excluding other costs like social security, paying 10 salaries isn’t going to work out particularly cheap – and that’s without considering the time needed.
Option #7: Incorporate a Company + Create 5 Jobs
If creating 10 jobs sounds like too difficult a challenge, there is a simpler option which is to create 5 jobs and also transfer capital of at least €500,000 to a newly incorporated company or increase the share capital of an existing company. The company must have a registered office in Portugal.
Option #8: Invest in Research
If you’re feeling generous but would rather your money went to a research facility, such as a scientific research institution, rather than Portugal’s arts and culture sector, this golden visa route might be a better option for you. At €500,000, it’s double the cost, but you may feel that it’s an area you would rather invest in.