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Portuguese residence permit for investment: how to get it and what opportunities does it open?

Portugal is the westernmost country in continental Europe, bordering Spain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. It is hard to believe that this quiet and agrarian land was once a mighty colonial empire that has existed almost unchanged for more than 600 years.

When talking about Portuguese history or Portuguese culture, the adjective “most” is often used. The oldest bookshop in the world has been in Lisbon for almost 300 years. The longest peace treaty was made with England in the 14th century and is still honoured, although it lapsed in the mid-20th century. One of the oldest universities in Europe was founded in 1290 in Coimbra (a city in Portugal). The Portuguese traveller Fernand Magellan was the first to circumnavigate the globe in the 16th century.

Nowadays, more and more wealthy people are choosing Portugal to obtain a European residence permit. The Golden Residence Permit Programme, a government programme for foreign investors launched in 2012, offers the opportunity to obtain a Portuguese residence card. By making a significant contribution to the economic development of the Portuguese Republic, enterprising foreigners from outside the European Union become Golden Visa holders.

7 benefits of Portugal’s immigration programme

  1. To obtain a residence permit in Portugal, an investor does not need to know the language, study Portuguese history and familiarise himself with the local culture;
  2. The investment programme has a relatively low participation threshold. You will need around €250,000 to become a Portuguese Golden Visa holder;
  3. Under this programme, a future investor can choose from several options the most suitable method of investing money in the national economy;
  4. Most ways of investing in a Portuguese residence permit assume that you will be able to get your money back after 5 years;
  5. The participant of the investment programme does not have to stay in the country permanently to maintain his/her immigration status. A foreign investor only needs to make one 7-day visit to Portugal during the year;
  6. The principal investor may issue a residence permit in the Portuguese Republic to his immediate family members:
    • Partner, husband or wife;
    • Under-age children and adult children not older than 26 years of age, as long as they are financially dependent on their parents;
    • Parents (if over 65 years of age).
  7. When your residence card is ready, you will not need to come to the country again. Your immigration lawyer can obtain the document for you and send it by courier.

What opportunities are available to the holder of a Portuguese Golden Visa?

A residence permit gives you the right to move to one of the oldest European countries with a prosperous economy and a mild subtropical climate, where you can work, do business or receive top-class education.

Your children will be able to study at prestigious universities in Europe without having to apply for a separate student visa.

With a Portuguese residence permit you can come and stay for up to 90 days in any Schengen state, which includes all EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, without any visa.

Investors who become residents are able to open companies and do business in all countries of the European Economic Area.

The Portuguese Golden Visa makes it easier for you to work with Europe’s leading financial institutions. You will be able to simplify settlements with foreign counterparties and have access to loans with low interest rates.

After spending 5 years in the country, you will be able to obtain a Portuguese permanent residence permit and after 1 year you will be able to obtain a European passport.

As a tax resident of Portugal, Golden Visa holders can benefit from a favourable tax regime for 10 years and significantly optimise their fiscal expenditure.

How to save on taxes with a Portuguese Golden Visa?

As already highlighted, tax optimisation is one of the key advantages for those wealthy foreigners seeking to maximise the return on their investment in the Portuguese Republic’s economy.

Firstly, in Portugal, the holder of a Golden Visa will not have to pay taxes on income generated abroad. At least as long as they remain in foreign bank accounts.

Secondly, with the Portuguese residence permit obtained for the investment, you will be able to register as a tax resident in order to benefit from the NHR (Non-Habitual Tax Regime), a favourable tax regime for 10 years. NHR allows the participant of the immigration programme to avoid paying taxes on several sources of income.


Tax rate



Income from real estate

Capital gain (from sale of real estate)

Labour part of pension

Royalty (royalties)

Income from labour activity in professions (fields) in demand in Portugal

Moreover, the Non-Habitual Tax Regime provides that all non-table sources of income in Portugal for such a resident will be taxed at a favourable rate of 20% for the first 10 years. The preferential tax regime allows you to transfer your wealth to a spouse or dependent family member without paying inheritance or gift taxes, which in this country are 10% of the value of the property.

When doing your tax planning, don’t forget that the Portuguese Republic has more than 78 international double tax treaty agreements.

Requirements for participants in the programme of obtaining a residence permit in Portugal for investment:

  • The primary applicant must be over 18 years of age;
  • Capital investments shall be made in cash only. The required amount of legal origin is transferred from abroad to the applicant’s investment account previously opened in Portugal;
  • The investor and the other applicants must be in good health and must have health insurance;
  • Applicants for a Portuguese residence permit through investment must have no criminal convictions or immigration offences;
  • Personal presence is required for the application, so a Schengen visa is mandatory for the investor and dependent family members.

What documents should I prepare to apply for a Golden Visa to Portugal?

For those who are applying for a residence permit for the first time in a European Union country, it is important to have the support of a qualified lawyer and translator to ensure that all the necessary documents are collected within a reasonable time and provided with a certified translation into Portuguese.

Here is a sample list of documents a foreign investor needs to obtain a Golden Visa to Portugal:

  • Completed official visa application form;
  • Copies of passport and travel documents of the main applicant and his/her dependents;
  • A document confirming the transfer of ownership of real estate in Portugal or a sales contract signed by the parties, if the applicant has invested in the property. A deposit agreement signed by the parties and confirming the transfer of the deposit to the seller is also suitable as proof of investment;
  • A document from your bank in Portugal confirming the transfer of funds to the special investment account;
  • Proof of Portuguese health insurance for the investor and his dependents (if you plan to move to Portugal with your family);
  • A police certificate showing that you have no criminal convictions or a certified copy of such a certificate. Whether you provide a copy or an original, the original document must be issued to you no more than 90 days before you apply for a visa;
  • An official form completed and signed by you authorising the Portuguese immigration authorities to request information about your offences in Portugal;
  • A declaration confirming the applicant’s full compliance with all requirements for an investment programme participant;
  • Documents from Portuguese tax, customs and social security authorities proving your good reputation and that you are debt free. You must obtain these no earlier than 45 days before applying for the Golden Visa. This requirement is relevant for those investors who are renewing their Golden Visa or transferring to it from another category;
  • Proof of payment of the registration fee.

Investment options for obtaining a residence permit in Portugal

There is perhaps no other country in Europe with such a large list of investment options for a Golden Visa.

Property acquisition

Until recently, this was the most simple and straightforward way of investing in order to obtain a residence permit in Portugal. But the activity of investors led to a significant increase in property prices in the Republic and the authorities were forced to introduce a number of restrictive measures:

  • Buying property in Lisbon and Porto, as well as on the coast in the country’s tourist region of Algarve can no longer be considered an investment for obtaining a Portuguese residence permit;
  • Those investors who intend to obtain a Golden Visa of Portugal by investing in residential property, will be offered to buy it in the interior of the Republic, as well as in administrative areas located outside the continental part of the country — in the Azores and Madeira archipelago;
  • All of the above restrictions do not apply to investments in commercial property.

The object acquired in this way must be owned by the investor for at least 5 years. The amount of investment required varies depending on the characteristics of the object.


Amount (€)

Property acquisition

500 000

Acquisition of old properties:

  • Commissioned over 30 years ago;
  • Located in areas of cultural and historical significance or in areas under reconstruction 

350 000

Under the new rules, an applicant for a Portuguese Golden Visa will spend 20 per cent less if he or she buys property in government-designated low-density areas of the country.

Even with the restrictions imposed on foreign investors, the value of houses and flats in Portugal continues to rise. On the one hand, this is good news for those participants of the immigration programme who, after the stipulated 5 years of ownership, will want to return their money and sell Portuguese housing. On the other hand, this situation does not suit the authorities of the country. Therefore, it can be assumed that the possibility to obtain a Portuguese residence permit for the purchase of immovable property will disappear after some time.

Capital investments in foundations and shares, philanthropy

This type of investment involves either the long-term placement of funds in a designated investment account in a Portuguese bank, or the purchase of various financial assets, or participation in promising research and development projects, or grant funding for non-profit projects.


Amount (€)

Acquisition of stakes and shares in existing Portuguese companies.

from 1,000,000

Funding for research and development studies.

from 500,000

Support and restoration of national cultural and natural heritage.

From 250,000 (non-repayable grant)

Mutual participation in investment and venture capital funds, provided that 60% or more of the funds raised by the fund are invested in small or medium-sized businesses in Portugal.

from 500,000

Long-term investment (from 3 years) in a new or existing Portuguese firm where at least 5 jobs will be created. 

from 500,000

Placing funds in an investment account with a Portuguese financial institution. 

from 1.5 million

Currently, the most promising way for an enterprising foreigner to obtain a residence permit in Portugal is to buy units in an investment fund. Such funds are usually managed by managers officially accredited by the government market regulator (CMVM). Professional managers invest the funds in promising start-ups and medium-sized businesses with high growth potential. Golden Visa members can also choose funds that specialise in one sector of the Portuguese economy: energy, industrial production, high technology or construction.

Starting your own business

In this option, there is no clearly defined amount that you need to invest in order to obtain a residence permit in Portugal. However, there is a parameter against which your Portuguese business will be evaluated. One of the results of your business activity in the country should be the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs for locals or their equivalent.

Which investment option should I choose?

The way you invest in the Portuguese economy depends on your next steps in your residency status. If you do not plan to stay in Portugal, you can invest in financial assets of varying degrees of risk. For those who intend to settle in the country and, as a consequence, become a tax resident, a business may be more suitable.

Buying property has long been the most popular option for investing in a Portuguese Golden Visa, as the property so purchased can become your home in the country or be rented out and generate income. However, in light of recent government decisions, we recommend that you do not waste any time and seek advice from Imperial & Legal as soon as possible in order to be able to obtain a Portuguese residence permit for your investment in local property.

Portugal is not the only country that offers a residence permit for investment programme. If you want to learn more about other options – check out the article on our website on this topic.

Cost of Golden Visa processing

The exact cost of obtaining an investment residence permit depends on many variables: the chosen method of investment and the associated additional costs, the current immigration status of the investor and the cost of legal services.

To give you at least a general idea of the order of numbers, we will give you an example of the legal costs for the first Golden Visa application. At the moment they are 5000-8000 euros for the main applicant.

If an investor takes his family with him, he can include only minor children in his application free of charge. A visa for spouses or elderly parents will further increase his costs for official payments. Depending on the circumstances, an additional 500 to 2,000 euros will have to be paid for each additional adult.

In order to optimise the cost of obtaining a Golden Visa, competent investors seek the advice of immigration law specialists at the preliminary stage of gathering supporting documents.

Timeframe for obtaining a Portuguese residence permit for investment

As more and more foreign investors decide to obtain a residency card in this country, the process of applying for a Golden Visa in Portugal can take up to 6 months, of which 2-4 months will be spent just for the immigration authorities to consider your application.

Experienced immigration lawyers of Imperial & Legal will not only help you to choose the most suitable investment option for your goals and requirements, but will also significantly reduce the loss of time and money during the residence permit procedure.

Once your application is approved, you will be granted a temporary residence permit for 1 year, which can then be extended for another 2 years twice. In the first year of residency you must spend at least 7 days in Portugal, in the next 2 years you are allowed a one-off stay of 14 days.

Renewal of Golden Visa

In the past, the procedure for extending the Golden Visa meant that the foreign investor had to personally visit the SEF office — the Portuguese Immigration and Border Guard Service. Of course, this was time-consuming and costly for those participants in the immigration programme who continued to live abroad after receiving a Portuguese residence card.

In force until the end of 2023, the new rules allow to choose between a face-to-face or remote Golden Visa extension procedure. Those who choose to extend their immigration status through the official SEF website can also expect a simplified application process, as in this case the applicant is only checked for offences and debts to the Portuguese tax and social security funds. If you are in good standing, the decision to extend your Golden Visa will be taken by the Portuguese immigration authorities in just 2 weeks.

The practice of remote extension of the Golden Visa has saved considerable time and effort not only for overseas investors but also for immigration officials, so this option will be extended beyond 31 December 2023.

What are the prospects for the programme of obtaining a residence permit in Portugal for investment?

On 16 February 2023, the Portuguese authorities announced that the Golden Visa programme will be reformed. Does this mean that enterprising foreign citizens will soon lose the opportunity to become residents of Portugal for their contribution to the country’s economic development?

For now, the authorities want to keep the Golden Visa programme, but are going to remove some investment options from it, so that the activity of foreign citizens does not interfere with another programme, called “More Housing”. The new government initiative will not affect those foreign entrepreneurs who had time to make an investment and participate in the programme before the new law came into force. Also, no changes have been made to the composition of the family members of a foreign investor, who together with him can apply for a Golden Visa to Portugal.

Imperial & Legal specialists closely follow all changes in legislation and help foreign investors to choose the best way to obtain a Golden Visa for Portugal.

Permanent residence permit in Portugal for an investor

If you have applied for a Golden Visa to settle in Portugal, after 5 years of residence in the country you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Additional terms and conditions for the applicant:

  • Having enough money to support yourself and your family;
  • Own accommodation in Portugal;
  • Basic level of proficiency in the state language.

Permanent resident status in Portugal is granted permanently, but requires it to be confirmed every 5 years.

Portuguese passport for an investor

If you can document that you have lived in the country for the past 6 years, of which the last year was spent as a permanent resident, you and your family can apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Naturalisation implies that the investor is successfully integrated into Portuguese society, which means that:

  • You have a good command of Portuguese and can prove it in the exam;
  • You understand the lifestyle, culture, traditions and customs of your second homeland;
  • You do not owe any taxes or penalties to the state;
  • You have not been prosecuted for criminal offences and have a good reputation.

The country’s authorities do not require applicants for a Portuguese passport to renounce their former citizenship, so if you meet all the requirements, after a short time you will be the happy owner of a Portuguese passport.

As Portugal is a member of the EU, your new citizenship will allow you to live and work in any member country. A Portuguese passport will also significantly improve your mobility, as the country is now ranked third in the passport ranking with 174 jurisdictions that you can visit without a visa or under a simplified entry document procedure.

Portugal is an amazingly comfortable country with a lot of unique opportunities for enterprising foreigners. Investing in a Portuguese Golden Visa is profitable because, compared to immigration programmes in other countries, you are investing a relatively small amount of money, which, with a proper approach, can be fully recovered in 5 years and even partially compensate for your expenses on state administrative fees.

After the expiry of the temporary residence permit, you can apply for a permanent residence permit and after another year (after passing the tests), you will become the holder of a Portuguese passport, which is also a passport of the European Union.

The scope of Imperial & Legal’s qualified specialists is not limited to the preparation of documents for applying for a residence permit in Portugal. With the help of our consultants, you will choose the best option for investing in the Portuguese economy.

Thanks to Imperial & Legal, you will get a Schengen visa for travelling to Portugal to apply in person and submit biometric data. If you are unable to return in a few months to obtain a residence card, we will do it for you and send all the documents home. You can safely rely on the legal support of our immigration lawyers if you decide to apply for a Portuguese permanent residence permit or obtain a Portuguese passport.

Can a foreign investor obtain a residence permit before investing in the Portuguese economy?

No. The basis for granting a residence permit is a contribution to the economic development of the country. Therefore, even if you buy a flat in one of the interior regions of the Portuguese Republic, you will at least need to pay a deposit and show the relevant contract to the immigration authorities.

How much does it cost to extend a Golden Visa in Portugal?

The official fees for the renewal of the Golden Visa are between 1000-2500 Euros, which is much lower than the costs incurred by the investor at the beginning, when the Portuguese residence permit is granted for the first time.

If your adult relatives need to extend the visa together with you, the cost will increase as each dependent will cost an additional 500-2000 euros. Minor children can extend the Portuguese residence permit free of charge together with the main applicant.

What is the most popular way to invest in a residence permit in Portugal?

According to official statistics, during the period of the programme (from October 2012 to March 2023), the most common way of investing in a Portuguese residence permit was the purchase of real estate. On this basis, 11,181 authorisations were issued by the immigration authorities of the Republic.

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