Editor’s Note: This article is out of date. Portugal considered closing its Golden Visa program in 2023 but ultimately decided to retain the program. The Portuguese government did make significant changes to the program, however. You can learn more about the changes and current requirements for investors on our Portuguese Residency by Investment page.

There was concern yesterday as it was revealed that Portugal is considering ending its popular Residency by Investment Program, which could spark an upsurge in enquiries from investors keen to gain a second residency and potential citizenship in Portugal.

The news agency Lusa reported on 2 November that the decision to consider withdrawing the scheme had been revealed by Prime Minister Antonio Costa while
attending the Web Summit.

Mr Costa said “There are programs that we are currently re-evaluating and one of them is the Golden Visa program, which has probably already fulfilled its function and for which there might at this point no longer be any justification for maintaining it.”

The scheme, which has been running successfully since 2012 when it was started in order to encourage inward investment in Portuguese industry and innovation, has proved popular with investors in its ten years of existence, particularly from such countries as the USA, Australia and China who are keen to secure EU residency for themselves and their families.

Investment Options

At present, under the Portuguese Golden Visa program, investors can gain residency by choosing from a variety of options.

  • The minimum investment is €280,000 in property, going up to €500,000 depending on whether it is in a low or high-population-density area and on when the property was built. The investment must be kept for a minimum of five years but can be let during this period and sold after the five years.
  • A second option is to start a business in the country, employing at least ten Portuguese people
  • A third option is to invest €500,000 into a fund or venture capital fund units connected to Portuguese companies
  • An option of a minimum capital investment of €1,500,000

Benefits for Investors

Portuguese residency offers a number of important benefits that have proved attractive to investors:

  • Visa-free travel within the 27 member states of the EU Schengen Zone, for 90 days within any six-month period;
  • The right to live, study and work within Portugal;
  • Warm climate and high standard of living;
  • Good medical facilities;
  • Good educational facilities with access to highly regarded universities, plus the advantage of lower EU tuition fees;
  • Inclusion of the main applicant’s family, including spouse (or partner of more than three years duration), dependent children and dependent parents;
  • Low minimum stay requirements of 14 days during the every two years;
  • Beneficial tax arrangements for NHRs (non-habitual residents);
  • Option to get a return on their property investment by letting the property and the option of selling at a profit after five years;
  • Ability for the residency application and the property acquisition to take place remotely;
  • Option of gaining Portuguese (and therefore EU) citizenship after the required five-year period of residency and subject to a language test. However, even without the language test, the resident can still renew their residency every two years after the required five years.

The Future of the Program

Investors are rightly concerned at the possible scrapping of the Golden Visa program.

The news comes after Portugal received criticism from the European Commission and European Parliament who have for some time expressed their disapproval of Golden Visa and passport schemes, deeming it unethical to offer fast-track routes to EU citizenship based on the applicant’s ability to invest.

The European Commission opened a case against Malta’s Citizen by Investment program earlier this year, commenting, “Investor citizenship schemes undermine the essence of EU citizenship and have implications for the Union as a whole”.

Such statements have led to fears that this type of scheme might fall out of favour, making it especially important that investors who may be interested in taking out a second residency or citizenship investigate the opportunities while they are still available.

If Portugal does decide to abolish its Golden Visa program there will be no further opportunity for investors to gain residency in the country through investment, making it difficult to consider a second residency there.

If the program is cancelled, there will be a short window of opportunity of a few months to a year, during which the process may be started. It is therefore vital that if investors are considering residency by investment in the country, they take advice immediately.

Our team of trusted expert advisers have years of experience in the Residency and Citizenship by Investment programs and are on hand to guide and advise you at every stage of the process, which is carried out speedily and with absolute discretion and due diligence. Contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.