Residence permit and citizenship in Portugal by investments

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 30 June 2023 23 minutes read
Flags symbolizing the citizenship or residence permit of Portugal, a European state

Residence permit in Portugal can be obtained by investment in the economy of the country under the Golden Visa program or the purchase of real estate. A Portuguese resident status allows to conduct business on favorable terms, safely preserve and increase the capital. The program of preferential residence permit in exchange for foreign investments Golden Visa Portugal has been operating for eight years, and the total volume of investments in Portugal amounted to 5,638.7 million EUR.  The amount of funding for a residence card for a period of 1-3 months ranges from 250,000 to 1 million EUR.

Residence permit by investment allows to freely cross the borders of the countries, that are members of the Schengen Agreement. In addition to the investors themselves, their spouses, children and parents have the right to apply for a residence permit. Foreigners are entitled to apply for permanent residency after 5 years of holding the invested capital, and after another year – the Portuguese citizenship. Golden Visa Portugal program is relatively simple and available against the background of investment projects in other European countries, in addition, there are no requirements for the level of proficiency in the local language. To maintain the status, a foreigner only needs to come to the country for 7 days a year.

The benefits of residence permit in Portugal

Golden Visa allows a foreign investor to:

  • Live in any country in the world. The program for obtaining a residence permit by investment in Portugal does not include requirements for permanent residence in the country. The holder of a Golden visa can stay in any other state in order to maintain their status, the requirement is for them only to stay on Portuguese territory for 7 days per year.
  • Travel within the Schengen Area without a visa. Status as of a Portuguese resident entitles you to cross the borders of European states that have signed the Schengen Agreement, without a visa.
  • No language requirements for becoming a resident of a EU country. The requirements for obtaining a Golden visa do not include passing language or any other exams. There is no need for investors to know the Portuguese language, history and constitutional norms to obtain a residence permit.
  • Reduced payment of taxes. Holders of a Golden visa can claim a tax regime Non-Habitual Resident, according to which the foreign income of individuals who apply for tax residency, are not subject to tax in Portugal for 10 years.
  • Residence permit in Portugal for the whole family. Golden Visa entitles spouses or civil partners, children and parents of the principal applicant to a residence permit.
  • Obtain EU citizenship after 6 years. After fulfilling the requirements of the Portuguese immigration law, the foreign investor can apply for citizenship by naturalization, according to Law No. 37/81 on Citizenship.
  • Maintain your status in your native country. The legislation does not require the revocation of the previous passport upon obtaining the Portuguese citizenship.

Conditions for participation in the investment program

The basis for granting a residence permit is an investment activity that is carried out personally or through a company by investing for five years into the Portuguese economy. Investment options for obtaining a residence permit:

  • direct investment in the economy;
  • purchase of real estate;
  • business investments;
  • investments in non-profit organizations.

Golden visa is issued for a period of one year and is extended for 2 consecutive two-year periods, with the right to obtain a permanent residence permit in 5 years from the date of issuance of the temporary residence card. To maintain the status, investors do not need to be permanently on Portuguese territory, a 7-day stay in the first year and 14 days in the following 365 days is the only requirement.

It is possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship by investment one year after receiving the permanent residence card. There is no need to renounce the previous status, as residence or passport of another state is allowed in the Portuguese jurisdiction.

Requirements for the investor

Citizens of countries that are not members of the Schengen Agreement and not in the EU or the Eurozone are entitled to be granted temporary residence status, provided they meet the following general requirements:

  • the ability to invest in the economy of the Portuguese Republic at least 250,000 EUR;
  • no criminal record for an offence, punishable in Portugal by a prison sentence of more than one year;
  • having sufficient funds to prived for themselves, as defined by the Ministry of Internal Administration for work and social activities (from 740,83 EUR);
  • valid Schengen visa;
  • no bans on entry into the Schengen countries;
  • no infectious and parasitic diseases;
  • willingness to apply for a residence permit within 90 days of the first entry into Portuguese territory.

More detailed conditions depend on each specific investment option.

The required documents

The full list of required documents depends on the method of investment, and the basic list includes the following proof of grounds for the issuance of a residence permit:

  • 2 recent photos, in color with a blank background, easily identifiable;
  • passport or any other valid travel document;
  • proof of having sufficient means for a living in accordance with the provisions of Government Decree No. 1563/2007;
  • proof of the applicant’s acquired or rented accommodation in Portugal;
  • certificate of no criminal record;
  • health insurance;
  • application for a residence permit.

A Portuguese passport attests to the citizenship that follows a Portuguese residence permit through investment

Investment options for the Portuguese residence permit

The table shows all valid options to obtain Portugal Golden visa by investment.

Investment option Min. amount, EUR Time to obtain a residence permit
Direct investment in the economy 1 MM (1,5 MM since 01.01.2022) 30-90 days
Creating 10 jobs
Purchase of real estate 500 M
Purchase of real estate for restoration 350 M (280 M in regions with low population densities)
Non-commercial investments in research activities 350 M (от 500 M since 01.01.2022)
Investments in national cultural heritage 250 M
Purchase of units for participation in investment funds or venture capital funds 350 M (от 500 M since 01.01.2022)
Opening a company headquartered in Portugal 350 M (от 500 M since 01.01.2022)

Purchase of real estate

The purchase of real estate in Portugal for an amount of 500 thousand euros or more allows you to get a Golden visa. Investment can be made in one or more objects, and purchased real estate is allowed to use for commercial purposes. Also, the property can be purchased in joint ownership, but the amount of investment cannot be less than the legally prescribed.

Another option for obtaining a residence permit by investment in real estate is to buy an object older than 30 years, worth 350,000 EUR or property for the restoration (the cost of restoration work is included in the required amount for obtaining a residence permit). This method also involves investing in one part of a large restoration facility or the purchase of worth 280,000 EUR in regions with low population density.

The advantages of investing in Portuguese real estate:

  • a wide range of real estate objects for personal and commercial purposes;
  • return on investment of 10% per annum when renting the property;
  • opportunity to reduce the required amount of investment when buying property in sparsely populated areas.

The disadvantages of this method – the additional cost of the purchase registration and the payment of annual property tax, which is approximately 0.4% of the total value of the object. Since July 2021, investments in real estate in Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve will not allow to get a Golden Visa.

Steps of obtaining a residence permit by the purchase of real estate

  1. Selecting a property for purchase. A foreigner with the help of real estate agencies or independently selects an object for investment and concludes a preliminary agreement to purchase.
  2. Opening a bank account in a financial institution registered by the Portuguese Central Bank. To make the investment a foreigner, having drawn up a Tax ID number, personally or remotely, opens a bank account at a Portuguese bank.
  3. Purchase of real estate. Applicant for residence permit transfers the funds for the purchase of the property to a deposit account in the bank, and receives a declaration that the money is credited for making an investment and obtaining a residence permit. Having signed the real estate purchase contract, the foreigner receives a certificate from the land registry, confirming the ownership of the purchased property.
  4. Submitting an application for a residence permit. Having prepared all the necessary documents, including proof of personal information and proof of investment, the candidate submits an application and an electronic copy of the dossier for temporary resident status on the official website Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF).
  5. Obtaining a residence permit. After pre-approval, the investor receives an email with travel schedule details to the SEF to submit the original required documents and collect biometric data. After submitting the dossier, the foreigner is interviewed, fingerprinted and given a temporary residence card.

In order to obtain a residence permit in Portugal when purchasing a property from the state’s restoration fund, the investor completes the above steps of the ID-card application, additionally providing the SEF with a contract for the restoration work and a receipt for the payment of the restoration process.

For the subsequent renewal of residence status, the investor must hold the property for 5 years, confirming their intentions with the Declaração sob Compromisso de Honra (Declaration of Commitment of Honor).

Direct investments

In order to make an investment through a capital transfer in an amount equal to or greater than 1 million EUR, the applicant must provide proof of the transfer of funds from outside of Portugal. In order to obtain a residence permit, a capital transfer is allowed in several ways:

  • an international deposit in a banking institution, registered with the Banco de Portugal, with ownership of the deposit account;
  • the purchase of public debt instruments from the Portuguese State, including treasury bonds or savings certificates;
  • the purchase of certificated or uncertificated securities;
  • the purchase of a block of shares in a state-owned enterprise.

Direct investment is considered by wealthy applicants for a residence permit in Portugal as the easiest but most expensive way to obtain residency. Long-term investment in the state has little market risk related to the country’s economy, as well as liquidity risk, when it is impossible to use or transfer capital at will. At the same time, during the crisis period, a capital transfer to the Portuguese economy was considered the safest investment option.

As of 2021, conservative investment funds offer similar reliability, risk and a less expensive residence process.

The investor concludes a deal to obtain a residence permit in Portugal by investment

Steps for obtaining a residence permit by direct investment

  1. Selection of the investment type. A foreigner, applying for a Portuguese ID-card, analyzes his/her investment options and chooses the most appropriate way of investment for their activity.
  2. Opening a bank account. To make an international financial transaction, the foreigner, personally or remotely, opens a bank account in a Portuguese bank, accredited by the Central Bank of Portugal and transfers the deposited funds into the opened account.
  3. Application for a residence permit. After receiving approval from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), the investor transfers capital from their Portuguese deposit to a government escrow account.
  4. Making an investment. After receiving the approval of the Foreigners Service, the investor transfers the capital from their Portuguese deposit to a government escrow account.
  5. Obtaining a temporary resident card. After confirming the investment, the foreigner is interviewed, submits a biometric data and receives a temporary resident card.

The investor is required to document the withholding of the investment and to prove a seven-day stay on Portuguese territory for one year in order to extend the residence status thereafter. The foreigner can apply for a permanent residence permit 5 years after obtaining the temporary residence permit.

Investments in funds

The Portuguese authorities grant a Golden visa to foreigners, who make stock investments in the following ways:

  • by transferring funds in the amount of 350 thousand EUR or more for the purchase of units of investment funds;
  • investment in venture capital funds, used to capitalize companies, whose maturity at the time of investment is at least five years and at least 60% of the investment is realized in commercial companies headquartered in the country.

Funds are a type of financial instrument, which holds money from investors for the purpose of investing these financial resources in a predetermined strategy. The coordination of the fund is the responsibility of an organization, accredited by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM).

Venture capital is an investment in small and medium-sized companies with high growth potential and risks. The investor transfers their capital to an investment fund, and this investment is managed by administrators. Investment funds buy a stake in a company, making a temporary investment, with the goal of selling it for a high return. Investing in funds does not require additional expenses for high fees and taxes, and this is a significant advantage of this type of investment over the option of the purchase of real estate.

Steps for obtaining a residence permit by investing in funds

In addition to the basic package of documents for obtaining a residence permit, the applicant must provide proof of the minimum capital investment made in:

  • a declaration by a registered institution in Portugal of compliance with the investment requirements;
  • proof of the applicant’s ownership of the equity interests, without any obligations or fees;
  • a report prepared by the investment fund’s management organization, which contains information on the business plan, the maturity (minimum 5 years), and the realization of at least 60% of the fund’s portfolio on Portuguese territory.

The procedure an applicant must follow to apply for a Golden visa by investment funds:

  1. Selection of the fund. The applicant personally or through a law firm analyzes the best option to invest in a fund in Portugal.
  2. Tax registration. The applicant for a residence permit should obtain a tax identification number (NIF) and then open a bank account in a Portuguese bank.
  3. Approval as an investor. The foreigner completes all the documents required to purchase fund units. After evaluation by the fund manager, the applicant is approved as an investor.
  4. Making the investment. After transferring necessary amount from own bank account to fund account, the candidate for residence gets confirmation of the investment from fund manager.
  5. Obtaining residence permit. Investor submits all documents and residence permit application to SEF, pays enrollment fee and makes an appointment for the submission of biometrics. On the appointed date, the foreigner undergoes fingerprinting procedure and receives an ID-card, valid for 2 years.

Investments in non-profit institutions

Obtaining a residence permit in Portugal through long-term investments in public research, art or culture. The investment options are as follows:

  • capital transfer of 350,000 EUR or more to invest in research activities, carried out by public or private research institutions, participating in the national scientific or technological system;
  • capital transfer of 250 thousand EUR or higher for investments in the pieces of art or support of art, for reconstruction or renovation of national heritage through local and central authorities, public institutions, public corporate sector, public and private foundations of public interest, local and public cultural associations engaged in creative activities, and reconstruction or maintenance of national heritage.

Steps for obtaining a residence permit by investing in non-profit institutions

Procedure for obtaining a residence permit:

  1. Choosing a fund. Having determined a convenient investment option, the candidate for a residence permit chooses a state fund and begins preparing documents.
  2. Opening an account. After registering the Número de Identificação Fiscal (TIN), the foreigner makes a deposit in a Portuguese bank.
  3. Confirmation of the possibility of investment. After preparing the documents for the transfer of finances, the candidate for a residence permit submits them to the fund manager for evaluation, after which they are approved as an investor.
  4. After making a capital transfer from his/her bank account to the fund’s account, the investor gets a confirmation of the investment from the manager.
  5. Getting an ID-card. After submitting an application for a residence permit and a set of documents to the SEF, the investor pays the state fee and books a date for biometric data submission. After undergoing the fingerprinting procedure, the foreigner receives a residence permit.

Creation of 10 jobs

The creation of 10 new full-time jobs in a single-owner Portuguese company allows a foreigner to obtain a residence permit in Portugal. This requirement is reduced to eight positions if the company is established in an area with low population density.

Portuguese companies contribute 23.75% of gross wages to the social security fund, and employees pay 11% of their wages for this purpose. The applicant for a residence permit should control the regular payment of social contributions.

Steps in obtaining a residence permit by the creation of 10 jobs

  1. Opening an account in a Portuguese bank. The investor gets a TIN and registers a bank account.
  2. Incorporation of a company. To open a company, the foreigner must determine the type of activity, sign an agreement with the Portuguese representative of the investor’s interests in the tax authorities of the country. Having opened a corporate bank account, the applicant for a residence permit registers a company.
  3. Submission of reports. Having carried out the search of personnel, the investor signs contracts with employees and submits the relevant documents to the Portuguese tax authorities, where they receive approval of the grounds for obtaining a residence permit.
  4. SEF registration. After filling out the application form on the website of the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service, the foreigner sends a request and copies of documents for consideration.
  5. Obtaining a residence permit. After receiving an invitation from the SEF, the investor submits original documents and biometrics, and then receives a residence permit.

Investing in a Portuguese-headquartered company

Persons, who have transferred capital of 350 thousand EUR for the establishment or purchase of a commercial company, with headquarters in Portugal and the creation or maintenance of five permanent jobs for at least three years, can apply for a residence permit. The line of business of the company does not matter.

Steps for obtaining a residence permit by investing in a Portuguese company

  1. Preparation of documents. In order to start an investment activity, the applicant for a residence permit must establish a company or become the owner of a ready-made business. By registering a NIF number and a bank account, and by identifying a Portuguese accountant at the Chamber of Chartered Accountants Câmara dos Técnicos Oficiais de Contas (CTOC), the foreigner can be registered as a Portuguese entrepreneur.
  2. Establishment or purchase of a business. After paying taxes and government charges, an investor registers a company with a registered capital of 350,000 EUR or buys a Portuguese company for the same amount. Funds should be paid into a corporate account within 5 days since the purchase or establishment of a business.
  3. Obtaining a residence permit. After submitting the appropriate copies of documents and application to the SEF, the investor books a date to submit the original dossier. At the appointed time, the applicant for a temporary residence permit goes to the Immigration and Borders Service, undergoes fingerprinting and receives a temporary residence permit.

Other ways of obtaining a residence permit in Portugal

A residence permit on other grounds is granted to an immigrant who intends to work, study, undergo medical treatment or reside in Portugal, if they meet the specific requirements set out in Article 91 of the Law on Migration. After obtaining this type of residence permit, the foreigner undergoes a registration process, which consists of civil identification, biographical and biometric data for the assignment of a National Migration Register number (RNM) and a National Migration Register card (CRNM).

Flag symbolizing Portuguese citizenship that an investor can obtain through a Portuguese residence permit for investment

A temporary residence permit autorizaçãode residência temporária (ART), except for investors, is granted to persons of the following categories:

  • Minor children of foreign citizens, holding a residence permit, who were born on Portuguese territory;
  • Children of residence permit holders, who have reached the age of majority and have resided permanently in the territory since the age of 10;
  • Foreigners, who require long-term medical care, that prevents them from returning to their country to avoid risks to their own health;
  • Persons who have completed their military service in the Portuguese armed forces;
  • Foreigners who have minor children of Portuguese nationality;
  • Diplomatic and consular agents, who have been accredited in Portugal for at least 3 years and their spouses in the ascendant and dependent descendants;
  • Persons with secondary education, who intend to continue their studies in Portuguese universities;
  • 1st cycle higher education students (bachelors), who intend to continue their studies or professional activities in Portuguese territory;
  • Persons who carry out research or teaching activities in a higher education institution in Portugal;
  • Foreigners who intend to conduct a professional or business activity on Portuguese territory;
  • Foreigners under the Portuguese residence permit program;
  • Portugal residence permit for financially independent persons, who have confirmed a stable regular income and do not intend to work in the country.

Residence permit for family reunification

Close relatives of Portuguese residents have the right to apply for an ART (temporary residence permit). Family immigration is available to the spouses, children and parents of investors and diplomats, holding a Portuguese residence permit. Dependents of Portuguese citizens can also obtain a residence permit.

Residence permit by study

Students, enrolled in a Portuguese university, are granted a residence permit on condition that they prove admission to the institution of higher education and payment of tuition fees (if applicable). Proof of means of subsistence and health insurance is also required. After the completion of studies, the residence permit can be extended, if the immigrant is officially employed in Portugal.

Residence permit by employment

The following persons can apply for a residence permit by employment:

  • Highly skilled workers, who perform activities, that require special technical skills of an exceptional nature (an employment contract and social security registration are required);
  • Independent professional workers, who carry out activities personally, within the framework of a service contract;
  • persons who carry out professional activities of a temporary nature (seasonal or short-term work not exceeding 6 months, unless such activities are carried out in accordance with an investment contract).

Residence permit by business

This option is for foreigners, who have set up a company in accordance with the provisions of the law, declared the start of activities to the tax administration or entered into a service contract with a legal entity. Temporary resident status is also granted to owners of start-ups, who have managed to convince the Portuguese authorities of the feasibility and effectiveness of their project.

Residence permit for medical treatment

Non-EU citizens who are undergoing long-term treatment in a private or public hospital or who have a medical certificate on their health status, and can prove the need to stay in the country, get a residence permit. The period of residence permit in this case is limited to the period of treatment or rehabilitation.

In all cases of collecting and preparing documents to obtain a residence permit, it is necessary to provide strong evidence of the grounds for a long-term stay in the country. In comparison to the holders of “golden visa”, temporary residents of the above categories are obliged to actually live in Portugal. Residence permit by investment has a number of other advantages:

  • A residence permit by investment is the fastest and easiest way to immigrate to Portugal;
  • Golden Visa holders have access to a simplified family reunification program;
  • A residence permit by investment offers the possibility of rapid naturalization in the EU.

Investment programs in other countries

Greece

It is possible to obtain a temporary residence permit in Greece by investing at least 400,000 EUR in the purchase of shares in Greek companies or government bonds. An alternative solution for obtaining the status of temporary resident of Greece can be the purchase of real estate worth 250,000 EUR and it is mandatory to be the sole owner of the property or have the full right to manage the property through a wholly owned subsidiary.

Spain

According to the state law 14/2013, foreigners can invest from 500 thousand EUR in commercial or residential real estate in Spain and get a residence permit. The Golden Visa program allows investors to obtain a Spanish residence permit for up to 2 years with the right to work and the possibility of renewal for 5 years. Along with the main applicant, a residence permit can be granted to his/her spouse, minor children or parents.

Italy

Immigration to Italy is available to foreigners through an investor visa, with the right to obtain a residence permit in the future. There are 4 options for investing in the Italian economy: at least 500,000 EUR in one of the companies from the approved list of start-ups, at least 100,000 EUR into shares of the company registered in Italy, at least 2 million EUR into purchase of government bonds, at least 100,000 EUR donation to the project of public interest in the development of education, scientific research, preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Portugal offers a number of viable investment options, starting with capital investments in real estate to transfers into venture capital funds and job creation in the country. Investment amounts are well below the average for similar programs in other countries. In addition, the Portuguese residence permit program is one of the most convenient in Europe in terms of short timeframes for obtaining a temporary residence permit and the possibility of obtaining citizenship.

Citizenship in Portugal

Temporary residents, who are engaged in investment activities, can apply for Portuguese citizenship, having maintained their investment in the country for 5 years, provided that the legal requirements are met:

  • provide proof of knowing the Portuguese language well enough;
  • confirm no conviction for more than three years of imprisonment and no suspicion of involvement in terrorist acts that could pose a risk to the national community.

Steps for obtaining Portuguese citizenship by naturalization through investment:

  1. Making an investment. Foreigner makes a capital transfer under one of the permissible options of the state program “Golden Visa” and receives a residence permit. ART card is valid for 1 year, with possibility of extension for 2 years.
  2. Obtaining a permanent residence permit. After 5 years of temporary residence permit, investor applies for permanent residence card.
  3. Obtaining citizenship. 1 year after receiving the permanent residence permit, the foreigner submits documents to obtain the status of a Portuguese citizen. Consideration of the application may take from 2 months to 2 years, after which the investor registers internal documents and obtains a Portuguese passport.
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FAQs

The easiest and fastest way to obtain a residence permit in Portugal is to invest in funds.

Yes. Temporary residence permit is issued for a period of 1 year, then it can be extended for 2 years, and at the end of this period for the same term.

The minimum investment in Portugal is 250,000 EUR. When creating 10 jobs, there is no certain amount of investment, but it is obligatory to make contributions to the state social fund in the amount of 23.75% of the salaries of all employees.

Spouses or civil partners of investors, dependent children and parents over the age of 65 are eligible for the residence permit.

No. Proof of origin of invested funds is not required. The residence permit program in Portugal is one of the most popular in the world for obtaining a Golden Visa, as it gives the investor the right to obtain European citizenship after having maintained their investment for 5 years. The Portuguese passport is the 6th in the index ranking, which means that the holder of this document receives visa-free access to 188 countries. Investing in the Portuguese economy and obtaining the right to naturalization in the country is not only for billionaires, as there are quite affordable options for capital investment, the amount of which does not exceed 250,000 EUR. A professional approach to the immigration process and knowledge of the legal regulations allows you to quickly and without additional costs obtain a residence permit in Portugal, so in this process it is extremely important to have the legal support of experienced migration specialists.

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