Portugal Citizenship by Investment: All You Need To Know Before You Decide


Updated: June 1, 2021

The Portuguese government introduced the Portugal Golden Visa program in 2012. It is the most popular residency by investment program in Europe, mainly because it leads to European citizenship after five years.  You just need to make a qualifying investment in Portugal and spend an average of only seven days per year in the country.

What you will find in this article:

Table of Contents

Change in the Portugal Citizenship Law

When the Portuguese Golden Visa program first started, the citizenship law stated that the residents could only apply for citizenship in six years.  In 2018, the law was amended and the six-year requirement dropped to a five-year requirement. Portugal Golden Visa applicants can obtain their Portuguese passports after fulfilling the 35-day stay requirements in five years.

Portugal Citizenship by Investment Precedence

Has anyone become a Portuguese citizen by investment, through the Golden Visa program?

This is one of the first questions we get from our clients. And rightfully so. Until 2019, the answer was a big question mark. Fortunately, as of 2019, there have been many precedent cases that received their Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa program in Portugal.

So, yes, many families started to become Portuguese citizens by investment.

Benefits of Portugal Citizenship by Investment

Portugal allows investors to obtain citizenship without having to live in Portugal.  This is one of the many benefits of obtaining Portuguese citizenship by investment.  Below, you may find the main advantages:

You’re Not Required To Move to Portugal

Most European residency and citizenship programs require the investor to spend the majority of their year in the corresponding country. Portugal, on the other hand, only requires the Golden Visa applicants to spend an average of seven days per year in the country for five years.  In other words, the Golden Visa holders can apply for citizenship after only spending 35 days in Portugal throughout five years.

Variety of Investment Methods

There are numerous investment options available in order to obtain a Golden Visa in Portugal.  These include capital transfer, property purchase, fund investment, among others. You are free to choose the route that suits you the most. We will go through the investment options briefly later on in this article.

Portugal Has Attractive Tax Programs

Portugal’s Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR) allows investors to enjoy significant reductions and exemptions from taxes.  Investors, who choose to relocate to Portugal and become tax residents in the country, can benefit from these tax advantages for a duration of ten years. Read our Non-Habitual Resident in Portugal Guide for comprehensive information on the program and how to qualify for it.

Inexpensive Investment Options and Strong Returns

You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to make use of the Portugal Golden Visa program. Compared to the rest of the citizenship by investment programs, the minimum investment requirements are relatively affordable.

More importantly, Portugal’s economy has been a robust one for the last couple of years. It has been a sought-after destination for tourists and expats alike. So, an investment in Portugal is a smart move financially. It allows you to get in on one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. You can get great returns on your fund investment or real estate investment, especially in cities like Lisbon and Porto.

Despite Portugal’s stable economy and a high quality of life, it is still one of the cheapest countries in Europe. You can get a Golden Visa by buying property priced at as little as €280,000 Euro.

Access to Health Care and Social Security in Europe

When you become a citizen in Portugal, you are entitled to all the benefits this European country offers. These include social security and health care.

Social Security

The social security system in Portugal covers employees and self-employed individuals. It offers them various benefits, including:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Occupational diseases benefits
  • Invalidity benefits
  • Maternity benefits
  • Pension benefits
  • Death benefits

Health Care

As a citizen in Portugal, you can get access to free health care. The public health care system is strong and has few exceptions that are not covered.  These include visiting the emergency room or the family doctor, which costs an affordable fee of €5-20.

Keep in mind that while you’re a temporary resident in Portugal, you’ll need to have private insurance. It costs between €400-1,000 a year depending on how comprehensive it is.

Read our Portugal’s healthcare system guide to learn more.

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    How to Get a Portuguese Passport by Investment

    Portuguese Golden Visa citizenship can be obtained by applicants in five years.  Below, you can find the necessary steps and requirements.

    Requirements

    Portugal requires you to spend seven days on average per year, for a duration of five years, in order to apply for Portuguese citizenship.  In order to apply for citizenship, there are a couple of pre-requisites, these include:

    • You need to have a clean criminal record,
    • You need to have NO unpaid taxes in Portugal,
    • You need to enter and pass a Portuguese language test.

    Required Documents

    • Filled out application form
    • Passport, ID, or a Birth certificate from your country of origin,
    • Clean criminal record certificate,
    • Portuguese residence permit,
    • Proof of passed Portuguese language test (CIPLE)
    • Document from SEF to prove that you have been a resident in Portugal for at least five years

    Portuguese Language Requirements

    You need to pass an A2 level basic language test (CIPLE) in order to obtain Portuguese citizenship.

    The test can be adapted for children under the age of 10. Children between the ages of 10 to 18 can be exempt from the test as long as they attend a Portuguese school or a declaration of proficiency can be provided.

    Check out our article on the Portuguese citizenship language test for detailed information.

    Who can apply for residency by investment in Portugal?

    Any adult with a clean criminal record that is not from the EU can apply for residency in Portugal through a qualifying investment.  Portugal Golden Visa is the name of this investment visa.

    Buying property in Portugal to obtain Citizenship

    You can buy property in Portugal and obtain citizenship in five years, as long as you maintain your investment. The property needs to be either:

    • €500,000 or more in value
      • €400,000 or more if in a low-density area
    • €350,000 or more if it is a property in an urban rehabilitation area,
      • €280,000 or more if n a low-density area

    If you’re interested in buying a property in Portugal to obtain citizenship, feel free to get in touch with us.  We’d be happy to answer any of your questions regarding the process and the market.

    How long does it take to get Citizenship by Investment in Portugal?

    Once you make your qualifying investment and receive your Golden Visa from Portugal, it takes five years to be eligible to apply for citizenship.  The Portuguese language test can be taken at any time before the application. Once you apply for citizenship, it takes roughly six months to get naturalized in Portugal.

    Dual Citizenship in Portugal

    Portugal allows for dual citizenship.  This means that in order to obtain Portuguese nationality, you do not need to compromise your citizenship status anywhere else. You should, however, check with your country of origin to see if it allows dual citizenship as well.

    Investment Options to get Citizenship in Portugal

    Important February 12, 2021 Update: The below minimum investment requirements for Portugal Golden Visa’s investment are valid for the year 2021.  They will increase significantly as of January 1, 2022.

    The scheme allows you to choose from a variety of investment options. The minimum investment amounts and returns on investment vary depending on the method.  The investment methods for Portugal citizenship by investment program include:

    Capital Transfer

    You need to transfer a minimum of €1 million to Portugal in a bank deposit or in other qualifying methods, such as capital to a Portuguese company.

    Real Estate Investment

    You may choose to invest in Portuguese property to obtain citizenship. The minimum investment requirement starts at €280,000, €350,000, €400,000, or €500,000 depending on what type of property and what type of location you would like to focus on.  For all the minimum investment amounts below €500,000, you need to compromise in some aspect.

    Creation of Jobs

    You can also choose to establish a company and create ten jobs in Portugal. The number gets decreased to eight if the business is in a “low-density area.”

    Portuguese Fund Investment

    You can choose to subscribe to a qualifying Portuguese fund with a minimum of €350,000 in units.

    Scientific Research Investment

    You may select the option to invest €350,000 in scientific research that is conducted by accredited institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system.

    Cultural Contribution

    The investors can also invest at least €250,000 in artistic production or the recovery or maintenance of the national cultural heritage that is conducted by accredited institutions.

    You can find out more on our guide on the investment options for Golden Visa in Portugal.

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    Get Golden Visa: Who We Are And What We Do

    Get Golden Visa is a full-service investment immigration agency & investment advisory company.  We provide end-to-end solutions on residence and citizenship by investment programs in numerous countries worldwide.

    We have a local office in Lisbon, Portugal with legal professionals and licensed real estate professionals in our team.

    We work with clients from all around the world, interested in obtaining Portugal Golden Visas or in making real estate investments in Portugal.

    Contact us and talk to one of our experienced team members to help you with any and all your questions.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      How to get Portuguese citizenship?

      Portuguese nationality law permits foreigners to acquire citizenship by a number of methods. These include:

      • Descent or birth
      • Naturalization after five years of residence (Golden Visa Programme)
      • Marriage to a Portuguese citizen
      • Being a citizen of a former Portuguese overseas territory
      • Adoption

      Can I buy Portuguese citizenship?

      No, you can’t buy Portuguese citizenship.  However, you can obtain residency through investing in Portugal, and then apply for citizenship in five years. Investors can choose to make a property investment, a subscription in an investment fund, or a capital transfer to a Portuguese bank account.  The residence permit program then leads to permanent residency and citizenship.

      How do I apply for a Portuguese passport?

      You first need to qualify for naturalization by being a legal resident in Portugal for at least five years. Once you are a Portuguese citizen, you can then apply for a Portuguese passport and typically receive it in a couple of months.

      How long do I need to live in Portugal to get Portuguese citizenship?

      To be able to apply for permanent residence or Portuguese citizenship, you need to have a valid residence permit in Portugal for at least five years. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you have to live in Portugal for that whole time, it depends on your residence permit.  The residency requirement for a Golden Visa permit is to spend seven days per year in Portugal to keep your residence permit valid.  If the application is through marriage, this period is reduced to three years.

      How Long Does It Take to Obtain Portuguese Citizenship Through Portugal Golden Visa Program?

      In 2018, the Portuguese government changed the Portuguese Nationality Law and reduced the required minimum period of residency to five years from six years. Therefore, the residents that acquired the right to reside through Portugal Golden Visa can obtain citizenship after five years of residence. The investment immigration program proved to be a legitimate path to citizenship.

      Which Countries Can I Travel to With A Portuguese Passport?

      Portuguese Golden Visa has significant travel advantages. The Portuguese passport is a European Union passport and it can travel to 186 different countries globally, without the need for a visa. These countries include the European Schengen Area.

      Can I Work in Canada and The United Stated with A Portuguese Passport?

      Portuguese passport grants visa-free travel to Canada, but to be able to work, passport holders go through a different application process. A trip to the United States needs a visa since Portugal citizenship doesn’t grant that. Because these countries aren’t EU members, working in these countries requires separate permits.

      Can I Travel Visa-Freely to The United States and Canada With A Portuguese Passport?

      Portuguese passport grants his/her holder the right to freely travel to and from Canada, but not the USA. It’s, however, very easy to obtain a visa to travel to the US with your Portuguese passport.

      Does Portugal Allow Dual Citizenship?

      Portugal allows dual citizenship.  Only if the applicant’s home country does not allow it, the applicant may have to renounce their citizenship of their own country.

      How Strong Is The Portuguese Passport?

      To start with, Portugal is a European Union country, meaning that holding Portuguese citizenship grants its holder the right to live, study, and work in the EU. The country is ranked 18th according to the Passport Index. In terms of visa-free travel, it is one of the strongest passports in the world.

      After I Obtain Portuguese citizenship, Do I Have to Maintain The Property, or Am I Allowed to Sell It And Keep The Citizenship?

      Once you are a Portuguese citizen, you no longer need to maintain your investment property, you are allowed to sell the property or hold it and keep their citizenship.

      Can I Include My Children Later On?

      Portugal Golden Visa allows entrance to the country without a visa. It grants Golden Visa holders the right to live and work in Portugal, and to include family members in the program. If one person in the family holds a residence permit, Portugal’s Golden Visa program allows their family to also gain access to a permanent residence permit and Portuguese citizenship in accordance with the legal provisions. They may also enter the country without a residential visa.

      Is the Portugal Golden Visa Program changing?

      The government in Portugal proposed to change the Portugal Golden Visa program in 2020.  These changes will no longer allow the applicants to apply for the investment program and obtain a residency permit through real estate investments in Lisbon or Porto. Real estate options in the low-density areas of the country. The Golden Visa program, however, will continue to be available through a subscription in an investment fund or venture capital funds. Besides investment funds, investors will also be able to apply to the program through investment in research activities, national heritage, or the creation of jobs.

      Should I use a Law Firm to apply for Portuguese Citizenship?

      It’s recommended that you work with an experienced advisory firm and an experienced legal representative in applying for the Golden Visa residency permit, as well as your citizenship in Portugal.

      What are common nationalities that are interested in the Golden Visa programme and Citizenship by Investment in Portugal?

      The largest group of applicants by far are the Chinese. Following them, the Golden Visa programme is also popular among Russian, Turkish, Brazilian clients.  Recently, applicants from Hong Kong and from the United States also started showing interest in obtaining a residence permit through property investment or an investment in venture capital funds.

      What are the most popular investment types for residency and citizenship in Portugal?

      Investors typically choose to make real estate investments or subscriptions in investment funds or venture capital in order to apply for a resident visa card via Portugal’s Golden Visa. The country offers many attractive real estate options to non-EU investors that are interested in obtaining a European residency card. Real estate in Portugal has been a lucrative investment in recent years.

      Are there other residency and citizenship by investment programs available to investors similar to Portugal Golden Visa?

      Yes. Besides Portugal, Spain, and Greece each also offer a Golden Visa programme to investors. The program in each country also allows investors to make a property investment in exchange for a residency visa.  Malta has a residency and citizenship by investment program. Many countries in the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands offer investment immigration programs. Apart from these, Cyprus had a similar program that ended in late 2020.

      What rights and advantages does the Golden Visa in Portugal provide me with before becoming a Portuguese citizen?

      Portugal’s golden residence permit allows you to live, work, and study in Portugal and travel across the European Schengen area without the need for a visa.  The real estate market in Portugal is a lucrative one, so you may also benefit from investing in real estate in Portugal.

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        Comments (20)

        • in the process is there any interview or something like that that requires me to come portugal? do i need to come??

          • no…no inverviews or anything. i only suggest you to go portugal to choose your property.
            i dont suggest you to buy your property with just looking pictures from your mobile!!

        • I dont know Portuguese real property market and I dont want to buy an overvalued property. I dont know either how to filter them or how to compare them. How to decide them?? Do this firm help about it if i apply for consultation?

          • this agency works with the database of Portugal’s real estate and offered rational choices for me, personnaly. Call them because it is important to define your requirements first, before jumping into market.

          • in just 2019 prices went 10%… i would doubt of anyone’s intention behind it saying no.Portuguese real estate market is still a booming one.

          • with portuguese passport?yes.
            with golden visa?no.
            the portuguese passport allows you to travel to US under the visa waiver program which allows you to travel to US indirectly. but golden visa offers residency, not citizenship. you can only apply for citizenship after complating 5 years of golden visa programme.

        • What regions in Portugal can I purchase real estate that qualifies for the $350,000 program? i couldnt find available regions online.someone help?

        • Before getting passport, with gooden visa do I have permission to work in Porugal and other EU countries also UK?
          Another question, can I rent my property during first 5years of residency?

          • Hi Roofia, Portugal Golden Visa Program gives you the right to live and work only in Portugal before you obtain Portuguese citizenship. The program allows you to obtain a yield from your property, and you may rent it out on the day you acquire a property.

        • YOU SAID: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN PORTUGUESE CITIZENSHIP THROUGH PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA PROGRAM?
          In 2018, the Portuguese government changed the Portuguese Nationality Law and reduced the required period of residency to 5 years from 6 years. Therefore, the residents that acquired the right to reside
          through Portugal Golden Visa can obtain citizenship after five years of residence.
          I WOULD LIKE TO ASK: PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA DOES NOT REQUIRE PHYSICAL RESIDENCE IN PORTUGAL. THAT MEANS I CAN APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP AFTER 5 YEARS OF GOLDEN VISA WITHOUT PHYSICAL RESIDENCE. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I UNDERSTAND RIGHT? THANK YOU SO MUCH.

          • Hi Nguyen, the Portuguese Golden Visa Program allows you to obtain citizenship within the program requirements. It means there is a stay requirement of 7 days on avg each year. It already confirmed by cases that you can obtain citizenship without physical residence in Portugal.

        • Hello, I am a US citizen but my wife is not. Our son is a US citizen. Would we still qualify for the program?

          • Hello Mark, yes, you and your son would certainly qualify. If your wife is not an EU, EEA, or a Swiss citizen, she would also qualify. Feel free to email us at [email protected] and we can set up a call to go into the details of the program and answer your questions. Cheers!

          • Hello Baya, you do not need to pay taxes in Portugal if you are not living in Portugal full time (more than 183 days of the year), regardless of if you have a Golden Visa or not.

        • I’m a widowed and I have a 25 year old son, we would love to live and buy a property in Portugal.
          If I get my residence buying a property there, can my son qualify for the program?
          We are us citizens.

          • Hello Susana, the easiest way to qualify your 25-year-old son for the program would be to purchase the property under his name. If this is not possible, there may be other solutions. Please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to help you with your questions!

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