The Portugal Golden Visa - an insider's perspective

The Portugal Golden Visa - an insider's perspective

The Portugal 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. 

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 being 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.  We speak to our very experienced partner in Portugal for an insiders view.

Q: Portugal’s Golden Visa 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: If you are looking for a stable investment with the bonus of getting a residency card that allows you to travel freely in 28 countries and a future with one of the best passports there is, Portugal is the right programme for you.

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 (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 Spain or Malta schemes, you will find that the Portuguese option is very attractive.

To award citizenship, the Spanish regime demands that a person lives in the country for 10 years and if we compare with the Malta scheme, we are much more competitive in terms of costs.

On top of that, we have a great country with a high possibility of growth.

Q: How long does the average application take?

A: The government has identified a problem with the approval time. The Government officials have created an online fast track system so that most of the process is online, 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, 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 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:

  1. Secure investment
  2. Current low-value of properties
  3. 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. These numbers show the clear preference of the investors for this type of investments.

Q: Any other interesting things about the Golden Visa/Portugal immigration?

A: It is important to stress the effort of the Portuguese Government to solve some of the downsides of the programme that have been identified by many, namely 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 after the issue of their visa?

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 which means that all applicants will visit Portugal.

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 which 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 the 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, and 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.

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 click here to connect to them.

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Alison Johnson

Alison is a travel junkie, digital nomad and the co-founder of She has lived in 7 countries on 4 continents and is passionate about opening the world up for others.

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