Portugal Golden Visa Program has been in effect since 2012. The aim of this program is to encourage investors to invest in Portugal. Since the beginning of this program, the total investment amount has reached several billion euros, with more than a thousand family applications each year.
Can US citizens obtain Portuguese citizenship through the Portugal Golden Visa?
Yes, holders of the Portugal Golden Visa are eligible to apply for citizenship after five years of getting their Golden Visa. The program grants you a temporary residency for two years. In order to gain a permanent residency, the minimum requirement to stay in the country is only seven days per year. So, you can still maintain your old lifestyle in the US while waiting for permanent residency and citizenship in Portugal.
In order to obtain citizenship, you’ll need to pass a basic Portuguese Language exam. Since Portugal and the US both allow dual citizenship, you may keep both your Portuguese passport and your American one.
Golden Visa Program in Portugal
Citizens who are not from the EU, EEA, nor Switzerland, can apply to this program. You also need to be older than 18 years of age and have a clean criminal record.
The first step to obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa is to make an investment in Portugal. There are different methods of investment, such as:
- Purchase of a real estate property with a minimum value of €500,000
- In low-density areas, the minimum investment amount is €40,0000
- Purchase of a real estate property with a minimum value of €350,000, which is older than 30 years and needs renovation
- In low-density areas, the minimum investment amount is €280,000
- Investing €500,000 in Portuguese investment funds or venture capital
- Owning a company that creates a minimum of ten jobs for citizens of Portugal
- A capital transfer of €1,5 milllion to the country
- Investing a minimum amount of €250.000 in the arts or in the reconstruction or refurbishment of national heritage projects
It is essential to note here that some investment funds are not available for US citizens. For more information on which funds you can invest in as an American, please contact us below.
The process of purchasing the property takes around one to three months. The second step after the purchase is preparing the necessary documents for the Golden Visa application and then submitting this documentation online.
Following this, a visit to Portugal is necessary for a biometrics appointment at a SEF office. SEF is the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service. After applying to SEF, you need to make a payment of Government Analysis processing fees. Investors then receive their approval and their Golden Visa Residence cards.
Portugal Golden Visa Benefits for US Citizens
There are various visa types that grant Americans residence in Portugal. However, the most convenient and possibly profitable method appears to be the Golden Visa in Portugal. Needless to say, the US passport is quite strong. Nevertheless, it does not have visa-free access to the European Union, unlike the Portuguese passport.
American investors who would like full access to the EU choose to invest in the Golden Visa program. This gives them the right to live, work, and conduct business in Portugal, and then potentially in any EU country. Some direct and indirect benefits of the Golden Visa Portugal include:
Visa-Free Travel in the Schengen Zone and Potentially to 188 Countries
When you obtain your Golden Visa, you immediately get the right to travel visa-free through Schengen. If you choose to apply for citizenship after five years, you will obtain a Portuguese passport. The Portuguese passport gives you the right to travel to 188 countries in the world without the need for a visa.
The Right to Live, Work, and Study in EU/EEA Countries
Golden Visa applicants have the right to live, work, and study in Portugal for the first five years of their process. After five years, in case they decide to get their citizenship in Portugal, the same rights are valid all across the European Union countries.
One of the most advantageous aspects of this program is that the Golden Visa includes the family members of the investor as well. The reunification covers the investor’s spouse and children under 18 years of age. It may also cover children who are over 18 years of age if they are full-time students and are dependent on the applicant.
Low Cost of Living and Healthcare
The general cost of living in Portugal is 30% less than it is in the US. Furthermore, the more you move away from the main cities, the cheaper the cost of living will be. Similarly, healthcare is also quite affordable compared to that of the US. In addition to these, Portugal ranks the third most peaceful country in the world, according to the 2020 Global Peace Index. So, it is a very safe place with low crime rates. This is why the number of American expats in Portugal is increasing day by day.
For a comprehensive understanding of how to move to Portugal from the US, and a complete comparison between services and costs in the two countries, please read our guide on Moving to Portugal from the US.
International Schools with US Curriculum
In Portugal, expats with children can be comfortable in finding schools for their children. There are various international schools in Portugal with different curricula, including American ones. Two of the best ones are namely, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon and the International Christian School of Cascais. Other than American curricula, some schools in Portugal offer international curricula as well.
Favorable Tax Treatments in Portugal for Americans
Portugal has Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) with many countries, including the US. DTA aims to prevent the situation when people have to pay taxes on the same income in both countries.
With this agreement, if you earn income outside of Portugal as a US citizen, then the income will not be subject to taxation in Portugal. This means that you will be taxed on the same income only in one country.
Furthermore, expat retirees in Portugal can also benefit from the program because pension income from a foreign source is also exempt from taxation in Portugal.
Besides DTA, taxation in Portugal is quite advantageous compared to other European countries.
Another taxation program Portugal offers is the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) regime. Under this program,
- Most of your foreign source income is exempt from taxation for 10 years. If the foreign income is from a country Portugal has a DTA with, then it will not be taxed in Portugal,
- If you have a “high-added-value” profession, you will get generous tax exemptions. You can see a list of the high-added-value professions in our NHR guide
- Even if your income is from a Portuguese source, the taxation is still at lower rates for the expats
Normally, citizens of EU/EEA/Switzerland can apply for the NHR program by being a resident in Portugal. However, as a US citizen, you can benefit from NHR by first becoming a resident through a Portugal Golden Visa.