Your Guide to the Golden Visa Program in Portugal – Information for Expatriates

Portugal’s Golden Visa Program has been immensely popular since 2012 when it was first made available to non-EU/EFTA (European Free Trade Association) nationals. Applicants for this program who want to move to Portugal and make a certain amount of investment in the country’s real estate are eligible to obtain a residence permit.

To date, over 6,500 people from around the world have received residence permits in the country, with their investments totaling over €4 billion. Until recently, most of the beneficiaries of Portugal’s Golden Visa Program were Chinese; however, other nationals have started catching up too. Our firm is talking to more and more expats moving to this beautiful country through the Golden Visa plan because they require international health insurance.

What is the Golden Visa Program? What’s This Program All About?

At present, Portugal’s real estate market has dipped to about 20-30% of its peak reach in 2015. This has made an already affordable ‘golden’ residence permit even more affordable for people from around the world. The rule book states that anyone making an investment of at least €500,000 in Portugal’s real estate can get a residence permit. This includes the spouse as well as the dependent children. However, there’s another option that requires a reduced investment of €350,000 (in properties that are at least 30 years old) to qualify for the residence permit. Those who create at least 10 jobs in Portugal and can also sustain them qualify for the residence permit.

The idea behind the program is to boost the Portuguese economy by attracting foreign investment, as well as to renovate older buildings to their former glory. The investment made for obtaining the golden visa has to be further maintained for at least 5 years from the date when the visa is established. The first visa is issued for 1 year, while the next 2 visas are issued for 2 years each. After these 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency, followed by citizenship.

Note that our firm doesn’t provide investment or visa advice and this blog article is just a general overview of the Golden Visa scheme. However, we can provide international insurance for expats in Portugal and Europe who want to take advantage of the benefits of this immigrant investment system. To learn more about healthcare in Portugal you can check our Portugal healthcare system page.

Available Investment Options for Portugal

  • Transfer at least €1,000,000 of capital to Portugal
  • Create at least 10 jobs in the country
  • Acquire a real estate property worth €500,000 or more
  • Acquire an older estate, built at least 30 years ago for €350,000 or more
  • Invest €350,000 or more in the country’s scientific research program
  • Invest €250,000 or more in Portugal’s arts, culture, and heritage
  • Invest €500,000 or more in the country’s small and medium businesses
  • Invest €350,000 or more in capital funds to finance certain Portuguese companies

A 2018 report suggests that since being introduced in 2012, over 6,500 investors and over 11,000 family members have received their residence permits.

What Makes This Program Special

  • The program puts you on track to qualify for the world’s fourth-best passport for global citizens, in due course of time.
  • There are many options to invest beyond real estate and employment, including scientific research, arts and culture, and small and medium businesses.
  • Investors can opt to live in the very homes they invest in, or rent them out at their convenience.
  • You can live and work anywhere in Portugal.
  • It has been reported that nationals who hold Portuguese passports can travel to 158 countries
  • You just need to stay in the country for 7 days a year to qualify for the residence permit.
  • One can enjoy an excellent yet affordable quality of life, as well as avail good healthcare services and education.
  • You get to lead your life in the best climatic conditions of continental Europe.
  • Those who don’t stay in the country besides the mandatory 7 days can rent out their properties with an assured annual rent of 4% of the property’s value.
  • Those who continue to qualify for 5 years in a stretch can apply for permanent residency followed by citizenship.

Travelling in Portugal

How to Prepare for Portugal’s Golden Visa

  • Obtain a NIP (Portuguese fiscal number) and a local bank account.
  • Identify where you intend to invest.
  • Collect all required documentation from your own country.
  • Prepare all the essential documentation through a lawyer in Portugal.
  • Fill the Golden Visa application.
  • Pay the appropriate fees.
  • Pick a time and date and place for a meeting for an interview upon approval from SEF.
  • Wait for the final approval for the residence card.
  • Repeat almost everything for the next stages at the end of the 1st and 3rd year.

But that’s not all. Investors also need to clear a test of the basic Portuguese language to qualify. This isn’t much of a hurdle at all and shouldn’t take long to clear. Stay patient, keep everything in order, and soon you will be on your way to receiving your residency card.

Changes to the Golden Visa Program

Note that in 2022, the Prime Minister of Portugal made a speech at the Web Summit in Lisbon. António Costa hinted that the Golden Visa might be terminated. Some changed have been made, such as investment amounts increased from €350,000 to €500,000. The capital transfer option increased from €1 million to €1.5 million. There are also now some real estate restrictions. Also note that the above rules are subject to change by the Portugal government at any time and this is just a general summary.

Global Healthcare Coverage is Critical for Portugal Visa Program

If you are wanting to move to Portugal for the golden visa program, it is vital that you also obtain global healthcare coverage through Expat Financial. We can offer a variety of excellent and cost-effective health insurance plans that can cover you locally in Portugal, but also back home and regionally. A high-quality expat health plan will give you the freedom to obtain private and public medical treatment for you and your family members. Our most popular plan for expats in Portugal is the Cigna Global Health plan.

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