Pam Golding International

The Portugal Golden Visa Programme

For many of our clients looking to secure foreign residency for their families and start a new chapter in Portugal or Europe, Pam Golding International acknowledges that the hugely successful Portugal Golden Visa programme is by far the most sought-after European Residency programme. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that you can apply for Portuguese Citizenship after an initial five year residency period.

The first step in achieving this goal is a minimum investment of €280 000. As a residence permit holder, you are able to live, work and move about freely within the Schengen area in Portugal.

The Golden Visa programme is a viable option for many Pam Golding International clients for a number of reasons. Amongst them is the affordability of property, the cost of education, easier travel opportunities, a more secure and stable lifestyle, and a liberal political climate and social culture.

It should be noted that applying for the Golden Visa does not automatically grant applicants Portuguese citizenship. The process comprises undergoing an intensive vetting process regarding money laundering, criminal records, and contributions in Portugal. Any legal adult with a clean criminal record who is not a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can apply for the Golden Visa.

Golden Visa Programme Benefits

  • Registration with the Schengen Area central system, with access to 26 European countries with no need for an additional visa.
  • The opportunity to apply for Portuguese citizenship after only 5 years, with certain family dependants also qualifying for Portuguese residency.
  • Admission to free healthcare in Portugal, as well as access to the European education system.
  • Peace-of-mind that comes with residence in one of the safest European countries.
  • The advantage of a second passport, which can be used on departure from your home country when travelling.
  • Portuguese visa or citizenship is not dependent on full time residence in the country.
  • The choice to become a non-habitual Portuguese resident and pay minimal or no tax for 10 years.

Non-Habitual Resident

Golden Visa holders are eligible for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR), which permits qualifying individuals the option of becoming a tax resident of a white-listed jurisdiction. This legally minimises income tax on certain categories of non-Portuguese income for 10 years. The benefits include IRS exemptions on foreign sources of income, as well as limited 20% taxation of income from employment and independent personal services.

To acquire a taxed residence, you must reside in Portugal for more than 183 days, (consecutive or non) over any 12-month period beginning or ending in a tax year. It is compulsory to register as a taxed resident. This includes registering as a non-resident taxpayer; obtaining residence permits and registering as taxable residents. During this period annual tax returns must be filed in Portugal, stating your worldwide income and expenses. After 10 years, taxation reverts to the normal IRS regime.

Golden Visa Family

  • Main applicants’ spouse or legal partner.
  • Main applicants’ Children under 18 years.
  • Dependent children under 26 years (unmarried & full-time students).
  • Parents of either spouse over 66 years old.

Requirements for main applicant

  • Over 18 years.
  • No criminal record.
  • No previous visa application or EU entrance refusal.
  • If living in Portugal, adequate medical insurance.
  • Need to visit Portugal for 14 days during the first two years of the Golden Visa period; another 14 days during years three and four and seven days during year five.
  • At least a 5 year investment period or until the investor secures either Permanent Residency or Citizenship.

Investment Options

Current rules in place to meet the criteria for citizenship by investment:

  • Purchase of property for at least €280 000 in Portugal.
  • Investment in Portuguese Capital markets to minimum value of €1.5 Million.
  • Establishing a company in Portugal and creating at least 10 job opportunities.
  • Investment of minimum €500 000 in certain areas: scientific research, culture, the arts or heritage.
  • Invest in private equity funds for €500 000.

Important to note:

  • Both the transfers to buy real estate and the deposit money in Portugal must come from accounts in your name.
  • Transferring money or making a purchase cannot be done via another person’s or company’s accounts.
  • You do not have the option of getting a bank loan or mortgage to buy property in Portugal - the investment has to be made in cash.
  • Proof that you are bringing in 100% of the capital required to invest in the country is needed.

Real Estate Investment - The Preferred Choice

With 95% of Golden Visa applications opting to invest in real estate, this avenue continues to be the preferred choice due to market competitiveness and profitable value.

Here are some of the major reasons that Pam Golding International advocates investing in real estate in Portugal.

  • Growth Rate
    Portugal remains one of the most affordable real estate markets in Europe.
  • Profitability
    Annual capital growth rates come in at around 3/4%, with short term rentals enjoying rates of up to 15%. However, return rates on funds are not guaranteed.
  • Stable investment
    It is a fact that real estate gains value over time. Property investment is not reliant on venture capital managers, and it should be noted that fund investors only realise gains after 5 to 10 years.
  • Safe & Secure
    If safety in your country of origin is a concern, students of parents can study in Europe, having secured a place to live.

Application Process

Pam Golding International recommends skilled and professional guidance throughout this in-depth process. The application could take up to 24 months to be approved.

Make Your Investment

Investing in real estate needs to be done first and can take up to three months to finalise. This needs to be done before you can apply for this visa.

Prepare and Compile Your Documents

Obtaining documents for your Golden Visa application can take time. It is recommended that this should be done at the same time as you begin your real estate investment journey.

Obtain a Tax Number (NIF) and Bank Account

This can be done online or assisted by a lawyer --- Pam Golding International will assist with appointing a suitable lawyer. Both a Portuguese tax number (NIF) and bank account opened in your name are required.

Finalise Your Investment

Once you have invested in and transferred the funds to your Portuguese bank account the lawyer responsible for the application should be able to move forward and finalise the process.

Application to SEF

For a seamless and successful application, Pam Golding International would advise that this step be handled by a lawyer. However, the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has an online portal where you can submit your application digitally.

Interview on Pre-Approval

You will be able to book an interview once you have been pre-approved. The pre-approval process currently takes up to 8 weeks. To book an appointment, applicants can log in to the ARI (Golden Visa) portal. The site has a calendar option to reserve the most suitable day and time for you and your family. However, the lawyers normally secure an appointment.

Appointment Day

All family members included in the application should attend in order to submit applications simultaneously. An immigration official does the interview and collects the biometric data. Ensure you have a copy of all updated documents that have been digitally attached to the ARI portal as the SEF’s inspector may need the documents to be validated.

Final Approval

An authorization fee of €5 325 per applicant is payable on approval. Thereafter, you will receive your residence card within 30 days. Final approval can be expected between 22 months and 24 months after pre-approval.

Residence Card

The Portuguese residence card is renewable every two years and costs 532.70 EUR for the main applicant and 83,10 EUR for each additional family member. In the 2nd, 4th and 5th years your biometric data, current criminal record, and 2.662,30 EUR per applicant is payable.

Portuguese Citizenship

If you’ve maintained your investment and minimum residency requirements, you have the option to apply for a permanent residence permit, citizenship or Golden Visa renewal after the expiry of the 5 year period.

Documents for Application

  • Portuguese Tax Identification Number
  • A full copy of your passport
  • Proof of your Portuguese bank account
  • Health Insurance with International coverage
  • Criminal record certificate of the country of origin
  • Proof of tax number of the country of origin/residence (tax return)
  • Declaration signature for consultation with the Criminal Record in Portugal
  • Declaration of investment compliance
  • Declaration by the Portuguese Tax Authority confirming no debts
  • Portuguese Social Security Declaration confirming no debts

Investment Documents

  • Promissory Purchase and Sale Agreement
  • Property Purchase Deed
  • Bank statement attesting to the transfer of €280,000
  • Certificate from the Registry with the registration of property
  • Tax Authority’s Land Booklet

The following certified documents from a Portuguese consulate, or the embassy of your country translated into Portuguese, are required: Criminal record certificate from the country of origin/residence ( issued within the last 3 months); Marriage certificate (if married), Children’s Birth certificates (if applicable).

Furthermore, a commitment of your investment for at least five years, as well as proof of your investment should be provided. For example, the deeds of purchase for real estate investments and an employment contract for jobs that you created in Portuguese territory can be submitted.

Once all personal and investment documents have been collated the application can progress. This is done via The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) website.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Log in to the ARI Portal and upload the documents according to the investment type.
  • Documents need to be submitted in a single PDF format with a maximum of 4MB.
  • The Single Collection Document (in Portuguese DUC) with the respective analysis rate needs to be printed.
  • Proceed with the payment of the DUC. This document and a copy of the payment receipt must be taken to the interview.

The Cost of Applying

All applications may be done simultaneously. The first applicant’s processing fee is €532 , and each additional family member costing €83.

After the Investment

You are free to live, study, or work in Portugal while waiting for the Foreigner and Border Service (SEF) to analyse the investment and application. Please note that applicants for the Golden Visa need to adhere to the tax regime, even when not residing in Portugal. However, with this visa categorising you as a non-habitual resident, you will be exempted from most of the country’s taxes.

Golden Visa Q & A (PDF)

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Theresa Fernandez