Does Portugal Offer Citizenship By Investment?

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

It is not possible to get Portuguese citizenship by investment. However, it is possible to get residency in Portugal through investment, for example through the golden visa. And after five years of residency in Portugal, it’s then possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship by naturalisation.

So while citizenship and residency are two are separate things, investing in Portugal can ultimately lead to Portuguese citizenship.

Both investor programs will appeal to the following groups of people due to their low residency requirements:

  • Those that can’t or don’t want to move to Portugal but still want a pathway to Portuguese citizenship.
  • Those that want to move to Portugal but want more flexibility in the number of days they have to be physically in Portugal (~7 days per year versus the six months or so typically required by other residency visas).
  • Those that want to move to Portugal but that don’t qualify for another residency visa like the D7 or digital nomad visa

The Golden Visa: An Overview

The golden visa is aimed at those who want to obtain residency in return for investing in Portugal. Although there are several routes to residency, including starting a company and creating jobs in Portugal, most people are likely to opt for investing in funds now that the property options have been removed.

The following are some of the routes to consider:

  • Funds (such as a venture capital fund): €500,000
  • Donation to Portugal’s Arts & Culture sector: €250,000
  • Creation of 10 jobs: No minimum amount
  • Company Incorporation & Creation of 5 jobs: €500,000
  • Investment in research (such as scientific research): €500,000

In return for investing, the golden visa offers residency in Portugal and only requires investors to spend an average of 7 days per year physically in Portugal.

The HQA Visa: An Overview

While some advertise the HQA visa as an alternative to the golden visa, it isn’t. It does have many similarities, such as a cash investment element and low physical stay requirements, but ultimately the HQA is really for entrepreneurs and investors whereas anyone could invest in the golden visa.

The HQA visa is aimed at those that have a business or research idea that they want to develop in partnership with a Portuguese university. And it can’t just be any idea: you will need to find a university that feels your idea is working on and useful experience for the Masters and PHD students there.

At the end of the program, you’ll leave with an incredibly well-researched idea and possibly even a revenue-generating business, so it could be incredibly worthwhile – especially as it only costs €175,000 and this allows you to obtain residency in Portugal.

Obtaining Citizenship

After 5 years of residency, you will be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship (and permanent residency). The processing time varies depending on demand, but applicants should allow around 18-24 months.

For many, the most challenging part of obtaining Portuguese citizenship is the language requirement. Applicants are expected to show an A2 level or above, and most people achieve this by sitting the A2 language exam.

There are a number of European Portuguese courses and other resources (some of which are free) so learning basic Portuguese over the course of 5 years will be very achievable, especially considering you only need to achieve 55% or higher to pass.

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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.

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