Portugal and its Golden Visa: Citizenship by Investment

Sep 14, 2022 | Business Insights, Trending

Written by Naomi Peng

Beautiful and low-density countries in Europe, such as Portugal, are increasingly devising smarter ways to capture foreign capital and increase the economic welfare of their states. These opportunities present a win-win solution because it allows foreigners to partake in attractive investment opportunities outside of their home region. Portugal’s golden visa even allows foreign investors to gain citizenship by investing.

Specifically, for Americans, Portugal’s golden visa opens a door to opportunities. It provides entry points to travel freely within the EU, and better yet, access tax benefits for operating companies and funds. Many start-ups are incentivized to start companies in Portugal because of the low tax rates and access to the booming employment sector.

Portugal’s golden visa program

The Portugal Golden Visa Program is one of the popular opportunities that allow foreigners to gain Portugal citizenship by investment. With residency comes the ability to travel visa-free to 188 countries, access to education and health services, and allowance to work, study or live in Portugal. The buy-in time is relatively short, within five years you and your family can be eligible for residency.

Although the most popular form of investment is real estate, there are plenty of other investment methods one can partake in to earn residency. Investors only need to meet one of the minimum requirements to qualify. These include fund subscriptions, donations, company investment, and formation.

An Attractive Investment for Non-EU Foreigners

Why are American investors attracted by Portugal’s Tax Incentives?

Tax benefits and incentives make Portugal’s golden visa very attractive for high-net-worth Americans due to the Non-Habitual tax regime. These include certain tax exemptions from income tax for the first ten years of residence.

As well, Americans looking to expand their companies may look towards Portugal as a great opportunity to minimize taxation and take advantage of the young and dense workforce of cities like Porto or Lisbon.

Why are UK Citizens attracted by the Golden Portugal Visa Program?

Following Brexit, UK citizens lost the right to move freely around the EU.

On Jan 1, 2021, UK citizens became eligible to partake in the Golden Portugal Visa Program, allowing them to travel visa-free throughout the EU and become Portugal investors. 

Portugal Investment by Residency

Real Estate

Around 93% of investments made from the Portugal Visa Program were in real estate. You may buy a house in Portugal and get citizenship after five years. Here are the main rules to keep in mind.

The investment must surpass €500,000 in Portugal. Investing in low-density areas will drop the minimum investment by 20%, to €400,000. Or you can acquire real estate that’s older than 30 years old, in an urban rehabilitation area and renovate it for a minimum of €300,000. You can partner with multiple people to purchase a higher-value asset, and both investors could apply for the Portugal golden visa as long as per person it amounts to at least €500,000.

Proof required would be a deed or promissory sale agreement with proof of deposit payment.

Outside of the densely populated cities, Portugal provides great opportunities when it comes to rural land. You can find plots for less than €200 per square meter, and as the country moves towards urbanizing more rural areas, property development can also yield great long-term investments.

Build or Invest in a Company

Company formation is one of the investment methods you can utilize to qualify for the program. The requirements are you must create a minimum of ten full-time jobs, that are owned by yourself as the main applicant (and eight employees if in a low-density area).

Or you may invest a minimum of €500,000 in an existing business and create a minimum of 5 jobs in three years.

Fund Investing

You may invest in a venture fund with a minimum investment of €500,000. Proof required is a fund subscription from the fund issuer.

Capital Transfer

You must have a minimum of €1,500,000 in capital transfers through Portugal.


You must donate a minimum of €250,000 in preserving national heritage in Portugal. Keep in mind, that this option is the lowest cost bearing, however, you cannot liquidate donations in the future.

Scientific Research & Development

You must invest a minimum of €500,000 into research & development activity in Portugal.

Most Important Changes (in 2022)

  • Starting from Jan 2022, real estate investments that qualify for the program will no longer include areas in Porto, Lisbon, and along the coast of the Algarve region. This action was taken by the government to prevent forcing people to move outwards because of the increasing costs of housing. The changes will only allow purchases in the interior or autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira.
  • The minimum investment fund increased from €350,000 to €500,000
  • The capital transfer option increased from €1 million to €1.5 million
  • Company option: minimum incorporation investment increased from €350,000 to €500,000
  • Science and research activities increased from €350,000 to €500,000

Conclusion: Why Should I Invest in the Portugal Golden Visa Program?

If you are looking to get more from your investments than just additional income, the Golden Visa Portugal Program might be a good option to explore. Investing in Portugal grants you the ability to live or spend vacations in a beautiful, sea-bordered country that’s safe, culturally rich, and quite affordable. Quality of life, business opportunities, and visa-free access to the EU Schengen area are among some of the considerations.


1. Do I have to maintain my investment property once my visa is approved?

No, you only need to maintain the property for 5 years until you get your permanent residency. After you are a citizen of Portugal, you are free to liquidate your real estate or other investments.

2. Can I use a loan or mortgage to obtain a Golden Portugal Visa?

Portugal expects you to bring the minimum required amount from outside Portugal into the country. This means the minimum amount cannot be lent out from a Portuguese institution.

3. What are some of the tax incentives if I invest in Portugal?

Citizens through this program are exempt from taxation if they do not surpass staying 183 days in the country. However, there was a slight change in 2020, that exempted foreign pension holders from obtaining tax breaks on their pension income.

4. What are the other requirements for citizenship in Portugal?

The individual must not have any outstanding tax payments in Portugal. They will have clean criminal records from Portugal and their home countries. Finally, they must enter and pass the basic language exam in Portuguese.

5. What are the additional fees involved in the application process?

Processing –  €533 (+€83 for each dependant)

Application €5325 per person

Renewal – €2663 per person

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