THE GOLDEN VISA PROGRAMME
With the aim of attracting foreign investors to live and invest in Portugal, the Portuguese government has created a special residence card (Golden Visa) for foreign (non-EU/EEE national) investors.
For the purposes of obtaining the Golden Visa, the applicant should meet at least one of the following conditions:
- A transfer of capital to Portugal of at least EUR 1m
- Creation of at least 10 new jobs in Portugal
- Acquisition of real estate in Portugal with a value of, at least, EUR 500,000.
- Acquisition of real estate in Portugal, where construction ended at least 30 years ago, or is located in an urban regeneration area and carry out renovation works on the purchased real estate, amounting to a global value equal to, or greater than, EUR 350,000; or
- A transfer of capital equal to, or greater than, EUR 350,000, that is aimed at developing and enhancing research activities developed by public or private
scientific institutions, integrated into the national scientific and technological system; or
- A transfer of capital equal to, or greater than, EUR 250,000, that is aimed at the investment or support of artistic production, recovery or maintenance of
national cultural heritage, through certain recognised institutions; or
- A transfer of capital equal to, or greater than, EUR 500,000, aimed at buying into investment funds or venture capital geared to the capitalisation of small
and medium enterprises who, for this purpose, present the respective viable capitalisation plan.
The individual may invest directly or through a company with its registered head office in Portugal, provided that it meets one of the above requirements. However, when the investment is made through a company, the investment amount considered for the purposes of granting a Golden Visa will be proportional to the share capital held by the applicant.
For the purposes of meeting the criteria relating to the acquisition of real estate, the following situations are also admissible:
- Co-ownership of the real estate, with each co-owner making an investment of a minim of € 500,000;
- Making only promissory contracts of purchase before the initial application for the Golden Visa, provided that a deposit of a minimum of € 500.000 is paid. However, at renewal stage (i.e. after one year), the purchase of the property must have been completed;
- (Bank) financing of the acquisition of the property for the purchase price in excess of € 500,000;
- Rental or letting of the property for commercial, agricultural and tourism purposes.
The requirements should be met throughout a minimum period of five years, counting from the date the residence card is issued for the first time.
The first residence card (Golden Visa) is valid for one year and should be applied for with the Portuguese Foreign Services during the first 90 days of presence in Portugal. This residence card may then be renewed for successive periods of two years, provided that the conditions are maintained.
To be able to renew the Golden Visa, its holder should stay at least seven days in Portugal during the first year of validity and at least 14 days during each of the subsequent two-year renewal periods.
The investor’s family members are also allowed to enter and live in Portugal, based on the investor’s Golden Visa, through a family reunion application, which should be made as from the moment the Golden Visa for the investor is approved.
Once in possession of the Golden Visa, investors are allowed to travel within the Schengen countries without the need to apply for a visa for each country to be visited. It is possible to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days in each period of 180 days.
It is now almost four years since the Golden Visa programme was launched. According to recent information released, from October 2012 to 30 April 2016, 3,295, Golden Visas where issued. The Golden Visas were granted to nationals from China (around 80% of the Golden Visas issued), Russia, Brazil, Lebanon and South Africa. The regime has already generated an investment in Portugal of more than EUR 2 billion. There were also issued 5,034 residence permits to Golden Visa holders’ family members.
From the alternative ways of investment chosen by investors to obtain the Golden Visa, the acquisition of real estate has been the preferred way and the most requested areas to invest are in Lisbon (e.g. Parque das Nações) and its neighbourhood areas of Estoril, Cascais and in the Algarve.
The investors who obtain the Golden Visa may also qualify as potential beneficiaries of the Non-Habitual Residents tax residence regime.
Through the beneficial tax regime for Non-Habitual Residents and the Golden Visa regime, Portugal is a very attractive country to live and invest in, both for European and non-European nationals.