The Golden Visa scheme is one of the most successful and in-demand ‘residence by investment’ programs in the world. It commenced at the end of 2012 and has allowed thousands of families to benefit.

 

Background

During the crisis ridden years of the early 2010’s, when Europe faced mounting pressures of increasing debt and complicated cross-border bail-out programs many European countries had to decide how they would ride the storm and plan an economic future and recovery. As well as making economic changes at home there would need to be a way to invite outside investment into the country, to ignite a stagnant property market and to increase tax revenues and fees. What could Portugal offer to worldwide citizens to entice them to invest into Portugal? With no financial strength to back any government bonds and with no ability to promise an attractive headline interest rate, Portugal couldn’t offer a financial return that would justify anyone’s investment.

Portugal had to look closer to its soul. What were the real riches it had to offer? Were the mega rich, the well-off, the affluent after more income, more ‘return on investment’ or could they be charmed into realising that all this wealth has a purpose and a destination. Would investors put aside their spreadsheets and instead open the patio doors, feel the sun warm their skin, breathe some Atlantic air and suck in the best quality of life that this country has to offer? The answer to this can be put very objectively in terms of figures;

Since 2012 the following has happened;

Six billion Euros of investment – €6,000,000,000

9,000 Residency Permits Issued (ARI)

16,000 Residency Permits Issued for Family Members

To put that into perspective, on average, that is an annual investment of around €700 million, or monthly of €55 million, or daily of €2m into Portugal (mainly the property market) since 2012.

The Golden Visa Scheme became one of the most successful and in-demand ‘residence by investment’ programs in the world due to the attributes of Portugal (clean, safe, beautiful), the acceptable entry level of €500,000 and not overly demanding ‘occupation rules’.

 

Some Facts on Application

  • Any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national can apply for the Golden Visa. This includes British clients following Brexit.
  • There are a variety of investment options available.
  • The time you have to spend in Portugal is not overly long. You need to spend only 7 days in Portugal in the first 2-year period and 14 days over each of the following 2-year periods. 
  • It allows access and travel to all the Schengen areas. This is the majority of Europe although it excludes the UK.
  • At the end of the five-year residence visa you can renew or apply for to become a Portuguese citizen.
  • The Golden Visa allows you to live, work and study in Portugal.
  • You can regroup your family, such as spouse and dependent children.
  • Simple application. At least 18 years old, clean criminal record and the investment using funds from abroad.
  • Portugal is a wonderful country in terms of its lifestyle. The climate, safety, education systems, health and infrastructure are first class.

 

What is the Real Estate investment amount?

Purchase real estate worth more than 500,000 euros. However, if it is in a low-density area, the minimum amount drops 20% to 400,000 euros. The Algarve is considered low density and will remain so in 2022 and onwards. 

Acquire real estate that is older than 30 years old, in an urban rehabilitation area, and renovate it for a minimum of 350,000 euros. However, if it is in a low-density area the minimum amount drops 20% to 280,000 euros.

The minimum amount is the total of both the renovation works and original property investment. Also, these amounts can be spread across more than one property. Two individuals (or more) can invest higher amounts in total as long the total investment covers the number of applicants. I.e. Dual ownership of a 1 million apartment.

 

Minimum period of stay in Portugal / Renewal Options

There is a requirement that each applicant comes to Portugal for at least 7 days in the first 2-year period and 14 days in Portugal over each of the following 2-year periods. At the end of the 5-year period you can apply for citizenship or permanent residency. Both of these options require a Portuguese test (specific training courses are now available). If you cannot go through the Portuguese test then you can keep renewing the temporary 2-year residency. With citizenship and permanent residency you are able to sell the investment. 

 

Paperwork Required

You need to provide the following documents in order to apply for the Golden Visa;

  • Copy of a passport or other government-issued travel document.
  • Proof of evidence of the qualifying investment made by the main applicant individually.
  • Declaration from Portuguese financial institution confirming the transfer of funds.
  • Proof of healthcare coverage: If in Portugal, from the National Health System and outside of Portugal, from an internationally covered insurance company.
  • Criminal record of current country of residence and country of origin, if different. Not dated longer than 3 months.
  • A completed form authorising SEF to access criminal record in Portugal.
  • A sworn declaration on compliance with the minimum investment requirements for the necessary time period of five years.
  • Documents outlining good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority & Social Security system. Within 45 days.
  • Receipt of application payment.

 

The Re-think 2021

There were discussions at parliament regarding the Golden Visa. One option for the Government was to remove it all together before they decided to make the changes detailed below. It is now expected to stay in this format for the foreseeable future.

The reasons for the launch back in 2012 are no longer here. The property market is currently buoyant – and has been for some time - and Portugal has repaid much of its debts and stands in a far healthier position. The Golden Visa triggered a renewed appreciation of Portugal among many parts of the world not familiar with it. With nearly 10,000 successful applicants and 17,000 family members it proves how popular and desirable the scheme has been.

 

Current Position following the changes in 2022

With effect from January 2022 only certain areas within Portugal will qualify if you wish to purchase residential property. Highly populated areas and the majority of coastal areas will not be accepted. This is due to demand out-stripping supply in popular areas such as Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve. The government were concerned about providing affordable housing to the local population and as such the Golden Visa scheme will continue in more 'interior' areas (albeit some parts of the Algarve still qualify). Commercial and touristic property can still be bought throughout Portugal. 

What this means is that if you wish to purchase a residential property (one that you can live in all year without restrictions) then the areas are now very specific. However, an alternative option is a touristic property. This is usually a property within a dedicated resort that is geared up for tourism - as such you would be expected to allow your property to be rented at certain times of the year - normally the summer - and you would have a reduced amount of time to use it yourself. You would benefit from rental income and usually there is minimal maintenance for you as the property is managed on site.

 

Our Current Recommendation (Two Steps)

Following the changes you can either invest €500,000 in less-proven areas (for residential) - which are often far from the coast or in areas that lack infrastructure, or you can invest in a touristic property and, if it is in the Algarve (low density), then you would need to invest only €400,000 euros, as you benefit from the 20% discount. With this investment (step one) you can obtain the Golden Visa and use the benefits of the visa for the six years. After the fifth year, you can apply for citizenship and, once granted, you are free to purchase wherever you wish (step two). We believe investing in the best location is crucial and wise. Thankfully we usually have touristic property for sale in very desirable locations and it's a hassle-free way to obtain the Golden Visa. 

 

If you are interested in the Golden Visa then let us help. Feel free to contact us and we will be delighted to help.

 

 

 

 

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