Portugal’s Golden Visa is a hugely popular Residency by Investment (RBI) programme in the Europe Union. In fact, as at the beginning of 2018, over 5700 families had received the Golden visa since the programme’s inception in 2012. This residency permit is a pathway to Portugal Citizenship by investment.
We love this particular programme not only because Portugal has a rapidly improving economy, excellent quality of life but because of the programme’s flexibility. You are only required to stay in Portugal for a period of 7 or more days in the first year, and 14 or more days in the subsequent years. After 5 years you can become a naturalised citizen and get a Portuguese passport. If fulltime residency is what you want, you can live and work in Portugal and get visa-free access to all Schengen countries.
In case you don’t know much about this programme, there are many ways to qualify. The most popular way is to purchase Real Estate for €350k or more or by investing in local shares also for the value of €350k or more. For further details, take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Page.
Recently the programme has received bad press about processing times. To investigate we speak to our very experienced partner in Portugal for an insiders view.
Q: The Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment programme gets a lot of press. In your opinion, why is the Portugal Golden Visa a good option for those wanting to live in Europe or get a second passport?
A: It is the combination of a stable investment with the bonus of getting a residency card that allows you to travel freely in 28 countries. Add to that a future with one of the best passports there is. That combination makes the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment program one of the best available.
Our great quality of life and low living costs are definitely a plus.
Q: Are many people applying for this visa and what is the success rate from your perspective?
A: From our experience, and from what we hear from the rest of the market players and partners, if you meet all of the requirements for the Portugal Citizenship and Residency program (and we keep track of the changes in procedure rules of SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) the approval is almost guaranteed.
We are proud to say we have a 100% approval rate.
Q: In your opinion, how does it compare, favourably or not, to other Residency By Investment (RBI) options?
A: If you compare it with two other popular RBI options, like the Spanish or Maltese schemes, you will find that the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment option is very attractive.
To award citizenship, the Spanish regime demands that a person lives in the country for 10 years. If we compare with the Malta scheme, we are much more competitive in terms of costs.
Additionally, we have a great country with a high possibility of growth.
Q: How long does the average application for the Portugal Citizenship and Residency program take?
A: The government has identified a problem with the approval time. To solve this, Government officials have created an online fast track system so that most of the process is online. This includes from the submission of paperwork for the application until the final payment.
In our experience, when making the application appointment outside of Lisbon the average application may take around 3-4 months. This is very close to the deadline imposed by law of 90 days.
Q: What is the most popular investment class – do you have any information on why this is?
A: The preferred investment for the Golden Visa (Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento – ARI) is an investment in a property.
Originally the location for the investment was exclusively in Lisbon/Cascais, but now investors are spreading all over Portugal. Mostly the three main reasons for the investment in real estate are:
- Secure investment
- Current low-value of properties
- Possibility of an excellent return on your investment.
Up to January 2018, of a total of 5717 Golden Visa approvals, 5397 were for property investments. Clearly, these numbers show a clear preference of investors for this type of investment under the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment program.
Q: Any other interesting things about the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment process?
A: It is important to stress the effort of the government to solve some of the downsides of the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment programme that have been identified by many. Most important is a focus on the long approval times. However, in our recent experience, these problems are definitely improving all the time.
Also, we can assure you that Portugal is one of the most attractive countries in the world to establish an online business, company, raise a family, retire or simply make a safe and good investment.
Q: Do most people move to Portugal as part of their Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment journey?
A: We witness different cases; many people just want a secure investment abroad with the plus of having a residency card and a possibility of European citizenship and a passport. However, many retirees come to Portugal to enjoy their “golden years”. There is the key issue of spending a minimum of 7 days in Portugal in the first year and 14 days in the next 2 years. This means that all applicants will visit Portugal as a part of the Portugal Citizenship and Residency by Investment process.
RELATED POST: Read another insiders perspective on the United Kingdom Tier 1 Investor Visa
Q: Have there been any recent changes to any of the above trends?
A: Portugal has recently been discovered by many nationalities. This has been great for us as a country and for these investors who can find a safe harbour in Portugal. We are becoming less dependent on investors that come from traditional countries like China.
Q: Have you had many UK citizens interested in keeping an EU passport?
A: Portugal has always been a preferred market for the UK. Maybe because of our historical proximity (we are the oldest allies in the world, since 1373) British nationals were one of the first nationalities to discover Portugal to live or to own a second home.
Since the announcement of Brexit, Portugal has seen a lot of interest from United Kingdom nationals to acquire Portuguese nationality. Having a second Passport enables extra security and extra possibilities in the future. UK investors also see benefits in an EU investment as a positive part of the Portugal Citizenship and Residency program.
Additionally, we have a great tax regime for retirement pensions. The Non-Habitual Resident (“NHR”) regime enables in some specific cases that pensions get zero-taxation or a lower rate than most comparable programmes.
If you are interested in a confidential discussion with our partner about the Golden Visa, please book a consultation with them below.