The Golden Visa has become an absolute success model for investors that seek - next to a good investment - a save and stable future for them and their family. Launched in 2012 the Golden Visa program has been actively promoted internationally by the Portuguese government.
We summarise everything you need to know about the Golden Visa program in Portugal into the most comprehensive guide in the market. We also dedicated a whole section to the local real estate market in Portugal, investment funds or the best way to start a company in Portugal. If you have questions or remarks just let us know!
Update 22th April 2020:
In February 2020 the government announced that there will be changes regarding the purchase of real estate in the cities Porto and Lisbon. The idea was to stop golden visa real estate purchases in the two cities. These changes were planned be valid in the beginning of 2021.
Due to the corona crisis this changes have been suspended. So you can purchase real estate for the golden visa in Porto and Lisbon for the golden visa application without worries.
An official source of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told "Dinheiro Vivo" that the legislative change "is not a priority at this moment". The sector, moreover, continues to ask for caution when reviewing the regime. The president of APEMIP, Luís Lima, considers that, even after the end of the year, the Government “should think twice” before changing this regime. “Nobody is going to get out of this crisis unscathed and the country would be very grateful that these millions of euros would come in”, says the official in charge of the same publication.
An opinion shared by the general director of CBRE, Francisco Horta e Costa, for whom these instruments “could be fundamental again in the recovery of the post-pandemic market”,
SEF and the Portuguese government remain open for business and applications for the ARI program can proceed as normal. The only exception right now applies to biometric interviews, which require a physical presence and have been postponed to 1 July 2020. The issuance of the NIF – Portuguese Individual tax number has also been digitized.
There are many benefits for the Golden Visa program in Portugal. The main benefits are listed below:
The Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime grants qualifying individuals the possibility of becoming tax residents of a white-listed jurisdiction whilst legally minimizing income tax on certain categories of non-Portugal income for a period of 10 years. Golden Visa holders automatically qualify for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR).
The Golden Visa in Portugal is extendable to family members like:
Any grown up who is not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland can apply for the Golden Visa. The applicants have to make an respective investment in Portugal and also have a clean criminal record. Currently the Golden Visa applications from Iran are suspended. The SEF does not accept the application for safety reasons which where not explained in more detail to the public. The Portuguese embassy in Pakistan is currently closed.
The requirements for the Golden Visa in Portugal are:
The following options meet the criteria for the citizenship by investment in Portugal:
A low-density area which gives you a 20% reduced investment complies to the NUT3 level with fewer than 100 inhabitants per squared kilometer or GDP per capita less than 75% of the national average.
Note that you can not get a bank loan or mortgage in Portugal to buy a property. You have to prove that you bring the capital 100% to Portugal. Of course you can apply for a mortgage in your own country.
The transfers to purchase the property as well as to deposit money in Portugal have to come from accounts in your name. You can not transfer money or make purchases from other peoples or company accounts
Along with the Portuguese Golden Visa application, several documents are needed
to obtain the Golden Visa:
The applicants need to show commitment to maintain their investment for a minimum of five years, plus evidence of their investment
The Portuguese Golden Visa application can be submitted online via the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service’s (SEF) website. The application takes up to 6 months for approval.
You need the following certified documents from a Portuguese consulate or the embassy of your country translated into Portuguese
On top of those documents, you have to prove that you are committed to maintaining your investment for at least five years, as well as proof of your investment. Some examples of proof you can provide are:
First you have to realized the investment in Portugal. After the investment you can start to apply for the Golden Visa Portugal. The application is made by your lawyer and it takes up to 3-6 months for approval. If you also want to apply for your family members, it will be done at the same time. The first applicant pays 532,70 EUR processing fee, each additional family member pays 83,10 EUR.
You can find a cost simulation for the 350k and the 500k real estate solution for a family of four here. The general costs for a family of four without the investments costs a simulated below:
The application for the Golden Visa in Portugal follows a stricts process that has to be considered. Your lawyer will guide you through the enire process.
1. Decide how you want to make the investment - Before you apply for this visa, you need to have already made your investment. Investing in real estate can take anywhere between one to three months to finalize.Some options also include the renovation of a property. You do not need to wait until the renovations are finished as long as you can prove that you have already deposited the necessary funds in a Portuguese bank.
2. Start preparing and compiling your documents - You should start gathering documents for your application as it can take a few months to obtain them all. This can be done in parallel to finding the object in your investment category.
3. Get the Portuguese tax number and open a bank account in Portugal - You’ll need to get a Portuguese NIF and open a Portuguese bank account, as well.Both task can be done by you fast when you are in Portugal or remotely if you give somebody like Pearls of Portugal or a lawyer a power of attorney.
4. Finalize the investment - You have to decide on a concrete investment and transfer the funds needed to complete your investment to your Portuguese bank account. Please not that the money has to be transferred from an account in your name. Then you can do the investment. In the real estate option the final call should be done by the lawyer that is responsible for the application process.
5. Translate the necessary documents into Portuguese - The translation has to be certified by a Portuguese notary or a Portuguese consulate in the country of origin to meet SEF’s requirements.
6. File the initial application to the SEF - This steps should be done by a lawyer but you can also take this step by yourself. The Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) has an online portal where you can submit your application. You have to pre-register before you can apply.
7. Book your interview - Once you are pre-approved, you can then make your appointment. In bigger Portuguese cities like Lisbon and Faro, it can take up to three months to get an interview. If you schedule your interview in a less populated district, you might be able to reduce your waiting time.
8. Attend your appointment and a biometrics collection session - In your appointment, an immigration official will interview you, and they will collect your biometric data. If you are applying with your family, be sure to bring them along so that you can submit all of the applications simultaneously.
9. Wait for the final approval - Once your application has been approved, you will pay an authorization fee of 5324,60 EUR per applicant. After 10 days you will receive your residence card, which is valid for 1 year.
10. Use and renew the application - The residence card is renewable for two-year periods. In the second year you must submit your biometric data (fingerprints, etc.), present a current criminal record and pay a fee of 2662,30 EUR per applicant. In addition, the cost of the renewal process is 532.70 EUR for the main applicant and 83,10 EUR for each additional family member.
For the final application for the 4th and 5th year, you must submit your biometric data, present a current criminal record and pay a fee of 266,30 EUR per applicant. In addition, the cost of the renewal process is 532, 70 EUR for the main applicant and 83,10 EUR for each additional family member.
11. Become a Portuguese Citizen - After the last renewal process, you can renew your Golden Visa in Portugal or apply for a permanent residence permit, if you’ve maintained your investment and your minimum residency requirements.
1 - What is the NHR regime?
The non-habitual tax resident (NHR) status is a tax regime created to improve Portuguese international competitiveness. This regime targets non-resident individuals who are likely to establish a permanent or a temporary residence in Portugal. Golden Visa holders automatically qualify for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR).
2 - What are the benefits of the NHR regime?
The NHR regime establishes, under certain conditions, IRS exemptions on foreign source income, as well as a limited 20% taxation of income from employment and independent personal services, in both cases if deriving from listed of high value added activities.
3- How do you acquire tax residence in Portugal?
Staying for more than 183 days in the Portuguese territory, whether these days are consecutive or not, in any 12-month period beginning or ending in a given tax year;
If staying for a shorter period in the Portuguese territory, on any day of the period referred above, a dwelling under circumstances that lead to the presumption of an intention to hold and occupy it as a place of habitual abode;
4- What is the procedure to register as tax resident in Portugal?
Registering as a tax resident in Portugal is a requirement to obtain the non-habitual resident status, which means that those wishing to apply for the regime generally must:
5 - For how long may you enjoy the NHR status?
Non-habitual resident individuals may enjoy the status for a ten-year period. After this period they will be taxed under the normal IRS tax regime.
6- Once you have the NHR status, what are the tax requirements?
After obtaining the non-habitual resident status it will be necessary to file annual tax returns in Portugal, stating your worldwide income and expenses.
7- For how long are the benefits of the regime granted?
The NHR status is granted for a ten-year period.
8 - What types of income are eligible for exemption under NHR regime?
Foreign-sourced passive income (interests, dividends, certain royalties, other income from capital, capital gains and income from immovable real estate) derived by NHR is exempt (without progression except in the case of capital gains on real estate) in Portugal, provided that it is potentially liable to taxation in the source State (i) under the rules of an existing Double Tax Treaty (DTT) or (ii) in the absence thereof, under the rules of the OECD Model Tax Convention if such income is not deemed to arise from a State, region or territory included in the Portuguese tax havens’ blacklist nor from a Portuguese source under the IRS Code territoriality rules.
Foreign-sourced income from pensions falls under the IRS exempt (with progression) if not deemed to arise from a Portuguese source under the IRS Code territoriality rules.
Foreign-sourced employment income is IRS exempt (with progression), provided that it is effectively taxed in the source State (i) under the rules of a DTT or in, the absence thereof, (ii) of the OECD Model Tax Convention, as long as such income is not deemed to arise from a Portuguese source under the IRS Code territoriality rules.
Foreign-sourced employment income is IRS exempt (without progression) in Portugal, provided that it is income derived from high value added activities of a scientific, artistic or technical nature and it is effectively taxed in the source State (i) under the rules of a DTT or in, the absence thereof, (ii) of the OECD Model Tax Convention, as long as such income is not deemed to arise from a Portuguese source under the IRS Code territoriality rules.
Foreign-sourced income from independent personal services is IRS exempt (without progression) in Portugal, provided that it derives from high value added activities of a scientific, artistic or technical nature, as defined by Ministerial Order, and is potentially liable to taxation in the source State (i) under the rules of an existing DTT or (ii) in the absence thereof, under the rules of the OECD Model Tax Convention, if such income is not deemed to arise from a State, region or territory included in the Portuguese tax havens’ blacklist nor from a Portuguese source under the IRS Code territoriality rules.
9 - What types of income are eligible for reduced rates under NHR regime?
Income deriving from employment or independent personal services of a domestic or foreign source but not qualifying for the mentioned exemptions will be liable to autonomous taxation at a special 20% flat rate and not to the general and progressive IRS rates (currently of up to 53% for yearly taxable income above € 250.000), provided that it derives from high value added activities of a scientific, artistic or technical nature.
Now it is time to put all your documents together and enjoy Portugal while the Foreigner and Border Service (SEF) analyze it. Yes! If you want, you can from the time of the application live, study, or work in Portugal.
Is important to pay attention to:
Tip 1: Check your NIF regimentation: Why? You have to check this because the visa applicant becomes a tax resident in Portugal. For that reason, the foreign applicants for the Golden Visa who go for the interview step become bound to the tax regime, even those who do not intend to live in Portugal. However, there is good news, with this visa you are categorized as a non-habitual resident, which guarantees you do not have to pay most kind of taxes here.
Consult your Golden Visa Lawyer and make sure that you are categorized as a resident in Portuguese territory. If you are still registered as a non-resident, you must request a change of address and status for resident, with any Finance Service or Citizen's Shop.
Tip 2: It is important to make sure that you have all the needed documents for applying for a Golden Visa before starting the application process. Below you can check the list of the papers that are usually requested for you and your family members. We recommend that the documents are translated into the Portuguese Language.
Attention - About the proof of investment: All the investment models listed above to obtain a Gold Visa have a discount for application in low-density areas, which reduces the investment value by 20 percent.
Purchase of 500.000 EUR property in Portugal
Purchase of an old property in urban regeneration areas (ARU) or in a low-density area
Important: The construction of the property must have been completed at least 30 years ago, or the property must be located in an Urban Rehabilitation Area - ARU so it may be less than 30 years old. In addition to the individual documents mentioned above, you must provide the following documents:
Funds Investment of capital at least 350.000 EUR
After gathering all the personal and investment documents, it's time to apply. The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) provides a website for it. There you can also indicate the e-mail address of your golden visa lawyer there. See below the step by step after receiving the login and password:
The documentation analysis takes an average of three (3) to six (6) months, for this reason we recommend that the family reunification process be carried out together with the of the investor, this option it is valid for family members whose process analysis fee has already been paid. Check below the step by step indicated by SEF in the case of family reunification:
During this estimated time of document analysis, it is important to wait for the SEF contact to inform you if your application has been accepted and if you can proceed with the interview scheduling. If the application contains irregularities, SEF itself will indicate, in which case it will be necessary to make the correction and apply for the gold visa. Only after this documentary approval is it possible to schedule your interview at SEF. Once approved, you can now make an appointment. To do so, log in to the ARI (Golden Visa) portal and on the Application page, proceed to the “Calendar” option, select the most convenient day and time.
Tip 3: Because it is a long process, we recommend that for the interview you have a copy of all documents that have been digitally attached to the ARI portal (golden visa) updated, even if there has been no change, the SEF’s inspector may require that the documents are valid.
THE INTERVIEW: At this stage, your biometric data will be collected. This occurs since 2006 have become mandatory for visas. At the service station, photos of each visa applicant will be taken and the 10 fingerprints collected. If biometric data have already been collected, in the context of a previous visa application, less than four and a half years ago, the data may be copied. Children under the age of 12 and people unable to provide fingerprints do not need do this collection.
Pearls of Portugal recommends that the entire process should be done by a Golden Visa lawyer. The lawyer will be able categorize correctly and attach the documents more assurance, aiming at more efficiency and less waiting time.
In this time of uncertainty due to COVID-19, many questions arise regarding the future and better conditions for living, health, safety, jobs, and education systems. The search for a better quality of life and access to an efficient health system is one of the main reasons to apply for the golden visa and move even to Portugal.
Who can use the public and private services in Portugal?
Do you know how the Portuguese health system works? Below we will talk a little about the Portuguese public and private health system and because it has become a reference in the world especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
The National Health System - SNS was created 41 years ago, a government agency that seeks to guarantee the right and protection of health. It consists of all services and public entities providing care, such as hospital establishments, health centers, and local units focused on primary health care.
To have the right to this public health system, it is necessary to be registered in the National Registry of Users - RNU at the health unit closest to your place of residence. With this number, you will be referred to the general practitioner, your family doctor who will be responsible for monitoring your health.
The Portuguese Public Health Service is not free. For each consultation or procedure, an amount called a "moderating" fee is charged. If there is a need to consult a specialist, your family doctor will provide you with a referral, which can be used to perform the consultation or examination in the public or private system. Below the values practiced from 2006 to 2019:
As of the beginning of this year, 2020, fees in the health centers and all acts prescribed by family doctors and professionals of the national health service are no longer charged. In pharmacies there is a big discount on the medicines indicated by the family doctor, these health expenses are deductible from the annual income tax return.
The network of hospitals and private health centers in Portugal is also extensive and has well-equipped hospitals, to purchase an extra private health insurance or request unique consultations.
The amounts vary widely depending on the coverage, companies and the age of the insured, varying from ten to seventy euros per month. These categories of health insurance are reimbursed, that is, in addition to the amount paid monthly, it will be necessary to pay a usage fee or a moderating fee at the time of the procedure, for example, a consultation ranging from fifteen to fifty euros depending on the doctor's specialty.
In Portugal, there is also a grace period that varies according to the contract established between you and the insurance, on average ranging from 60 days to one year. Anyone who legally resides in the country can purchase health insurance, just have the tax identification number and look for the insurance that best suits your needs. Below the average values practiced for some services by the private network, which may vary:
Public versus Private what is the best option?
Regarding the quality of care, it is very similar, because most health professionals work in both the public and private sectors. The main difference is the speed of scheduling appointments and carrying out procedures. While in the public sector to carry out a blood test it takes - depending on the urgency - an average of one month. In the private network it is possible to schedule appointments and tests for the same day. Another advantage is the value of specific tests, for example, a blood test that costs around 30 euros, when purchasing health insurance can cost up to 5 euros.
Portugal currently has a literacy rate of 95 percent. Focused on good structuring, teaching in foreign languages, and sport, the child who spends his entire school term in Portugal can count on quality and complete education. Divided into three stages, the child is 12 years old in his literacy process from kindergarten through basic education and secondary school.
The academic year here is different from some countries, it starts in September and ends around January of the following year. After a brief pause, classes are resumed from February until June.
The most up-to-date data we have are from the last ranking made in 2018 by the Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics (DGEEC), which showed the best private schools in descending order:
Private schools in Portugal have a relatively high cost compared to the costs of public schools, which, like the health system, are not free. These costs vary according to the monthly income of parents or guardians, the lower the income, the lower the cost, and vice versa. To register your child in a public school, you should look for a parish council, the body responsible for the school administration. When arriving in Portugal, parents should look for the Parish Council closest to their residence and find out about which school can receive their child. In the case of private schools, just go to the school with the requested documentation.
The Universities of Portugal are considered good in the world ranking. Among the best are the University of Lisbon, University of Nova de Lisboa, university of Coimbra, University of Aveiro and University of Minho.
In the second half of 2019, Portugal moved from fourth to third place in the Global Peace Index. This ranking is produced by the Institute of Economics and Peace, which analyzes and classifies 163 countries (99.7% of the world population) according to 23 qualitative and quantitative peace indicators including indicators in the aspects of public security, management of external and internal conflicts in addition to combating terrorism.
So Portugal has become one of the top three most peaceful and safe cities in the world to live in. Standing out even from the neighbors, Spain and France, and being below only Iceland.
Besides, as it is a country of not very extensive dimensions and has broad support and social services, there is a great decrease in crime rates compared to neighboring countries, also contributing to an effective response by the police and intelligence services.
CEO Frederik Pohl
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