Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam, moved the Aga Khan Foundation’s branch from Aiglemont, France to Lisbon in 2015. This location shift has attracted other Ismaili/Khoja people from all around the world and they started to raise interest in Portugal. As a result, Lisbon has become the place where the Ismaili community visits often.
In this article, we’re going to explain how Lisbon has transformed into a place where this community has built a natural bond and how you can also plan your move to Lisbon.
This article will cover the following:
- The Ismailis Community’s Movement to Portugal
- Benefits of moving to Portugal
- Portugal Golden Visa
- Benefits of Golden Visa Portugal
The Ismailis Community’s Movement to Portugal
As mentioned above, in 2015, the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam, Aga Khan moved the Ismaili Imamate’s Secretariat from Aiglemont, France to Lisbon. To introduce the community briefly; The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) was established in 1967. Since then, it aims to bring together human, financial, and technical resources for the challenges that the poorest and most marginalized communities face in the world. It specifically deals with investing in human potential, expanding opportunity, and improving the overall quality of life.
Considering the numbers of the Ismailis community, the movement has had great effects on Portugal. It appears that Portugal is the new “home” for the Imamate of Aga Khan. The Ismailis live in more than 25 different countries. They live mainly in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia.
The movement of the Secretariat also means that cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat will improve people’s quality of life both within Portugal and anywhere around the world. The president’s and Aga Khan’s speeches support this as well. When Aga Khan visited Portugal in 2016, Portugal’s President de Sousa stated that “What really brings us together is a joint commitment to defend and apply the principles and values that honor the ethical importance of human life, pluralism of societies, and respect for the dignity of human beings.” In a response to this, Aga Khan also stated that “The values of your civil society are the same values that we defend. We have therefore great commonality in the work we do, not only here in Europe, but in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere.”
Eurico Brilhante Dias, who is Portugal’s secretary of state for internationalization also agrees with the interest from the Middle East countries. “We have people living in the UAE but also in Pakistan and India, and other countries in this region interested. China and the Middle East in particular.”
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Benefits of Moving to Portugal
One other reason why people from the Ismailis community prefer to live in Portugal is the tax relief. As opposed to heavy tax burdens in the Middle East such as India and Pakistan, Portugal offers many tax breaks for expats. For expat homeowners, there is no taxation on wealth tax, inheritance tax, or gift tax.
Portugal has also signed a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with more than 60 countries. Algeria, United Arab Emirates, India, Israel, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Tunisia, and Turkey are among them. You can benefit from the agreement at both individual and corporate levels. Basically, if you pay taxes for your foreign income in your country of origin, then you won’t pay the same tax in Portugal. However, you need to prove to the Portuguese authorities that you are already paying taxes in the other country.
Another important tax regime is the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program. This is a bit different from the DTA. Firstly, you benefit from NHR for a duration of ten years. Through NHR, you can be exempt from taxation on most of your foreign income. Also, you will only pay a 10% tax rate for your foreign pension income. Along with this, you will be subject to a flat rate of 20% tax rate on your Portuguese income. This is a huge relief for foreigners. The reason is that normally, residents pay a rate of up to 48%.
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Lisbon is relatively lower when compared to other Western European capitals. Expats can easily find Lisbon apartments for rent at affordable prices, access fresh and cheap food, and benefit from low prices for daily expenses. Restaurants, bars, and cafes are cheap too which allows you to dine out without worrying about the bill. This is a huge motivation for expats and families who dream of living in Lisbon.
For those who want to live in a more secluded area, life gets cheaper. There are a lot of beachfront villas or farmhouses at affordable prices. This affordability is one of the reasons why many people prefer to invest in Portugal and start a new life there.
Getting Residency and Citizenship
Another reason why Portugal is an attractive country is the ease of getting residency in the country. D7 Visa, which is also known as a passive income visa, is a popular and relatively easy method of getting residency in the country. Another route is Portugal Golden Visa which has granted 10,515 residency permits since its introduction in 2012. It’s a residency by investment scheme that presents investors with residency rights in the country either through property acquisition or other investment routes. More information on Portugal’s Golden Visa can be found in the following section of this article.
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Portugal Golden Visa
Portugal Golden Visa is the preferred method of many high-net-worth investors who are looking to get residency in Europe. Golden Visa in Portugal is a direct route to residency in the country but its benefits aren’t limited to that. The program can lead to citizenship at the end of five years, which makes the program so unique and popular.
Portugal Golden Visa can be obtained through various investment methods. Although real estate investment has been the most popular option so far, fund subscription through Portugal Golden Visa funds is also gaining popularity.
Investment Options for Portugal Golden Visa
Real Estate Acquisition
If you want to make a real estate investment in Portugal and obtain a residency through Golden Visa, note that the eligible areas consist of the designated interior areas and low-density locations.. If you want to make a commercial real estate investment, you’re free to do it anywhere in the country.
The investment amount for real estate acquisition is €500,000. However, note that the minimum investment amount can be as low as €280,000 depending on the property’s condition and the area it’s located in. Portugal is home to many hidden spots where you can find nice properties that qualify for Portugal Golden Visa with this price tag. Sagres is one of these areas. It’s one of the few coastal locations where properties qualify for Portugal Golden Visa. If you want to invest in Sagres real estate, you’d better be quick as the demand is very high.
Fund subscription in Portugal is another method for making a Portugal Golden Visa application. The minimum investment amount is €500,000 and it’s a favorite route among financially savvy investors. Portugal Golden Visa funds are also preferred by investors who don’t want to deal with the hassle the real estate acquisition brings, such as taxes, property management, etc.
Portugal Golden Visa application is available through other methods, such as:
- Capital transfer to Portugal – €1,5 million
- Company formation – €500,000 investment in an existing company or setting up one that will employ at least 10 Portuguese people
- Donation to preserve national heritage in Portugal – €250,000
- Donation to a research and development activity in Portugal – €500,000
Benefits of Golden Visa for non-EU citizens
Portugal Golden Visa provides many benefits to its holders. These benefits include but are not limited to:
- Increased mobility within the Schengen zone with your Portugal residence permit
- Living and working in Portugal without any restrictions
- Being able to seek citizenship only after five years
Another advantage of Portugal Golden Visa is that you don’t have to live in the country to be able to maintain your residency status. Only by staying in the country for a minimum of seven days every year on average, you can hold your Golden Visa and still become eligible for citizenship.
This feature is highly favored by investors who have business interests outside Portugal and can’t plan a full relocation to the country. Thanks to the low stay requirements, they can still keep their Golden Visas and apply for citizenship after five years. If they choose to invest in real estate, they can choose to work with a proper management company in Lisbon and rent out their property for side income.
What Else You Need To Know
Lisbon, Portugal has is startup ecosystem and is home to many tech companies. There has been a variety of projects in the digital sector. Furthermore, several big companies have opened their Portuguese branch in Lisbon. One of the companies is Qualitest (a large services provider of QA and testing solutions). Also, Oracle established an internet data center in Lisbon, and Amazon Web Services opened a new CloudFront location in 2019. While Huawei opened a network optimization center in Lisbon, Xing established an R&D center in Matosinhos. All these improvements motivate investors from the Middle East who want to expand their business.
If you also want to move to Lisbon, Portugal, you’re on the right track. Portugal is a great country that offers great opportunities both for yourself and your family. Please feel free to contact us for any questions you might have regarding your investment in Portugal.