The Golden Visa Programme launched by the Portuguese government in 2009, but adapted to include retirees or pensioners in October 2012, only saw its first approved candidates in the second half of 2013. It is a fast track method for foreign investors from non-EU countries to obtain an authorisation to reside in Portugal (“Golden Visa”). It is also being advertised by some law firms as a guaranteed way for British nationals, who wish to protect themselves from the UK’s imminent exit from the EU, to guarantee European residence and in the future, nationality should they so wish.

To meet the conditions of the Golden Visa programme, applicants need to make an investment in one of three categories: real estate acquisition, investment or business/job creation, and meet general conditions as stipulated within the law.

This Golden Visa will allow the investor to enter and/or live in Portugal and to travel freely within most of the 26 countries within the Schengen space.

The Golden Visa aimed to attract and accelerate investment into Portugal at a time when the country needed to recapture the confidence of both investors and the foreign market. Although several Golden Visas exist within Europe, Portugal’s programme has earned a very favourable reputation due to the combination of low minimum stay requirements, the ease of aggregating direct family members to the main application and the balance between cost and benefit. With the closure of residency visa programmes in countries such as Canada, the Portugal Golden Visa programme has become not only the preferred European residency programme, but is staking a claim as one of the preferred options globally.

In general, all investors have to comply with the following requirements:

  1. Bring funds from outside Portugal
  2. Maintain investment for a minimum of 5 years
  3. Not flagged up by either Portuguese Borders Agency or Schengen services
  4. No criminal record
  5. Entry into Portugal with a valid Schengen visa
  6. Minimum stay in Portugal: 7 (seven) days during the first year and 14 (fourteen) days during each subsequent period of two years

Within each of the specific Golden visa routes, the following rules apply.

Real estate

  • Minimum investment of €500,000 with no recourse to debt. In regeneration areas this amount reduces to €350,000. There is a lower limit for areas deemed as having lower population densities but these tend not, in the main, to be attractive to foreign buyers of retirement age as they are precisely in areas which have suffered a population reduction with the exodus of people, and thus do not offer good conditions for social integration at advanced ages. Debt finance may be used for amounts in excess of these limits
  • Any real estate type qualifies
  • Shared or co-ownership qualifies
  • May use for personal use or rent or lease for profit

Investment

  • Minimum investment of €1 million
  • Funds deposited in bank in Portugal or used for purchase of equities listed on the national stock exchange
  • Deposits may be released for other investments and a number of interesting possibilities exist with national financial institutions

Business and job creation

  • Creation of at least 10 jobs
  • Compliance with Social Security obligations
  • No minimum investment
  • No sector restrictions
  • Possibility of applying for EU and Portuguese grants

The Portuguese Golden Visa offers all successful applicants and the direct family members the right to enter, live and work in Portugal (even if resident elsewhere) and to travel within the Schengen space. With its minimal permanence requirements, the Golden Visa offers permanent residency after 5 years and citizenship after 6.

Where clients want to make a purchase, we encourage investors to analyse the possibilities and advantages of combining the Golden Visa with the Non Habitual Residency. If not, we suggest clients seriously consider the NHR route as a qualifying resident pensioner, as a cheaper and practical alternative.

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