Portugal’s golden residence visa—officially Residence Permit for Investment (ARI/Golden Visa)—grants temporary residency in Portugal to qualified applicants based on property purchase, capital investment or job creation. By far the most popular method, residency through property ownership requires a purchase of property valued at 350,000 € or 500,000 €, depending on location, and grants residency to the primary applicant and immediate family members. Portugal’s Golden Visa has proven quite popular due to its property investment method, relaxed residency requirements and the travel access it provides to all 26 European countries that make up the Schengen Zone—and like other international investment immigration programs, is mostly utilized by Chinese investors.
Residency under this permit can be renewed after the first year for two-year periods and visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residence after five years, and citizenship after six. Portuguese residency grants not only the right to live and work in Portugal, but also provides visa-free travel access to most European countries.
Other methods to attain Portuguese residency though the Golden Visa require a capital investment of at least 1 million € or the creation of at least 10 jobs through a business project, but these two options are rarely pursued. New options introduced in 2015 include a minimum investment of 350,000 € in science and research activities, 250,000 € in artistic or cultural preservation projects or 500,000 € in small businesses. Because the overwhelming majority of participants invest through property ownership, this page focuses on that method of investment.
History and Statistics
The Golden Visa program was first established in 2012 by to help Portugal recover from economic crisis by encouraging investment within its borders. Since the program was established, it has brought nearly 1.5 billion € in investment to Portugal and has been utilized by over 6,000 immigrants, including principal investors and their family members. Of those investors, the vast majority have come from China (80 percent), followed by Brazil (3.5 percent) and Russia (3.2 percent). Nearly 95 percent of the total visas granted were approved based on property purchase. The program was temporarily suspended in July 2015, but was quickly reinstated within a matter of days and the Portuguese government has continued encouraging investment.
Eligibility and Requirements
In order to apply for the Golden Visa, applicants must be able to document the purchase of a real estate property valued at at least 500,000 € and must be non-European. If investors wish to qualify for the 350,000 € investment amount, the property must be over 30 years old or located in an area designated for urban renewal. The purchase can be made either as an individual or as the owner of a single-member limited company. Following high-profile scandal, regulations were recently modified to require applicants to document a clean criminal record and history of regular tax payments in their home country. Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) is the governing body in Portugal responsible for processing applications and verifying eligibility. There are various other investment options available, and further information can be found on the SEF website.
There is no language requirement for the residency permit and investors only need to reside in Portugal a minimum of seven days in the first year of residency and a minimum of 14 days in each subsequent two-year period. Furthermore, investors do not need to occupy the property purchased in order to qualify for the permit, and may choose to rent it out for additional income. Investors must maintain their investment in order to renew their visa. Once investors become permanent residents—after five years—they are free to sell their property, though many advisors recommend keeping the property until the acquisition of citizenship one year later.
In order to apply for the Golden Visa in this category, applicants must be prepared to document the purchase of property valued at 500,000 € (or 350,000 € or a promissory contract and initial deposit. Applicants can qualify for a lower investment amount—as low as 400,000 € or 280,000 € for an urban renewal property— if the property is located in a sparsely populated territory. In order to properly document property ownership, Portuguese authorities will expect to see:
- Deed of purchase or promissory contract
- Confirmation of transfer of funds from abroad
- Certificate from the Land Registry Office proving ownership
- Tax description of the property
In addition to proof of purchase, applicants must be prepared to provide:
- Completed application form
- Valid passport or travel document
- Proof of legal entry and stay in Portugal
- Evidence of health insurance coverage
- Documentation of criminal record, translated to Portuguese
- Affidavit declaring intention to fulfill requirements of the program and maintain the investment for a minimum of five years
- Account history with Portuguese tax and social security authorities
- Receipt for payment of processing fees
Applicants can submit their completed application online through SEF’s portal, but must have previously been pre-registered online. After submitting online, applicants must also submit their application to the closest regional directorate or local SEF branch.
The Golden Visa is valid for an initial period of one year and can be renewed thereafter every two years, provided the original investment is maintained. With a Golden Visa, residents can petition for family reunification and extend residency to their immediate family members, including: spouse, minor children, dependent adult children and dependent parents. After holding temporary residence for five years, the visa holder and any family members can apply for permanent residency in Portugal. After six years (one year past permanent residency), Golden Visa residents can apply for Portuguese citizenship. After becoming a citizen the investor can sell their investment property without jeopardizing their immigration status.
Fees (as of Dec. 2015)
- Application processing fee: 514,80 €
- Visa granting fee: 5147,80 €
- Visa renewal fee: 2573,90 €
More information on the capital investment, job creation and other investment methods can be found on the SEF website.
Applicants may choose to prepare the application and documentation on their own, or may find that it is easier to work with a Portuguese professional to guide them. Applicants are strongly recommended to seek out a qualified attorney familiar with the program prior to any property purchase. Furthermore, various full-service companies exist that can educate investors about the program, direct them to realtors and attorneys and guide them through the application process.
 "Golden Residence Permit Program Data." SEF.pt. November 30, 2015. Accessed December 29, 2015. http://www.sef.pt/documentos/56/Mapa_ARI_EN_till30november2015.pdf.
 Va Leijen, Marjorie. "European Residency for €350,000." Emirates 24|7. July 4, 2015. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://www.emirates247.com/news/european-residency-for-350-000-2015-07-04-1.595765.
 “Golden Residence Permit Program Data.”
 Carron, Pierre-Louis. "Portugal Brings Back 'Golden Visas' For Wealthy Foreign Investors." VICE News. July 17, 2015. Accessed December 30, 2015. https://news.vice.com/article/portugal-brings-back-golden-visas-for-wealthy-foreign-investors.
 Unless otherwise noted, all program details taken from "Golden Residence Permit Programme." SEF.pt. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://www.sef.pt/portal/V10/EN/aspx/apoiocliente/detalheApoio.aspx?fromIndex=0&id_Linha=6269.
 Carron, Pierre-Louis.
 "FAQs about Golden Visa Portugal." Sable. Accessed December 30, 2015. http://www.sable-group.com/Nationality/golden-visa-portugal/faqs-about-golden-visa-portugal.