Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa Comparison

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Program

Updated: 7 February 2024

Spain and Portugal both offer Portugal Golden Visa programs. If you are interested in residency by investment, you can consider applying for one of them. Furthermore, if you are wondering about the differences between them, we prepared this guide to help you understand and compare both programs.

You will discover what these programs allow you and what main features they have.

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Programs: Comparison

Portugal is one of the most popular residency by investment programs in European countries. And Spain is another one. There were serious changes in Portugal Golden Visa program, which stopped accepting real estate purchases and real estate related funds. So, since October 2023, these have not qualified as investment options for the Portugal Golden Visa program. However, Portugal continues to accept other investment options that are eligible for the application of the program.

When it comes to Spain, it may be another option for European Golden Visa programs. You can reside, study, and work in Spain, and as in Portugal, your status may lead to permanent residency plus citizenship.

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Programs: Benefits

Let us show you the comparison of both the Portugal Golden Visa benefits and Spain.

Visa-free travel188 countries (including EU and Schengen)EU Schengen countries
Citizenship eligibilityAfter 5 years of residencyAfter 10 years of residency
Residency requirement7 days per year on averageNone
Family inclusionYes, simultaneous applicationYes, included in the program
Tax liabilityOnly if you spend more than 183 days per year in PortugalOnly if you spend more than 183 days per year in Spain
EducationAccess to public services, including educationWide spectrum of schools that cater to international students
RetirementFavorable tax regime for non-habitual residentsMany pension schemes to choose from

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options 

Here, you can see investment options and discover the minimum investment alternatives.

Investment TypeSpainPortugal
Real Estate€500,000No longer available
Business Development€1 million€500,000 + 5 jobs or €350,000 + 8 jobs
Capital Transfer€1 millionNo longer available
Fund SubscriptionNot available€500,000
DonationNot available€250,000 or €500,000

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Requirements Comparison

Let us take you through the Portuguese Golden Visa Program and Spanish Golden Visa Program requirements.

Investment optionsJob creation, donation, business, researchReal estate, business development, capital transfer
Investment amount€200,000 – €1,000,000 (depending on the option)€500,000 – €2,000,000 (depending on the option)
Age18 or older18 or older
Criminal recordCleanClean
Health insuranceRequiredRequired
Financial meansSufficient to support yourself and your familySufficient to live on without working in Spain
Residency statusLegalLegal
IllnessesNoneNone according to a 2005 regulation
Application processOnline application, biometric data collection, approval, issuance, renewalOnline application, biometric data collection, approval, issuance, renewal
Citizenship eligibilityAfter 5 years of residencyAfter 10 years of residency

Portugal Golden Visa vs Spain Application Fees Comparison

See the application fees of Spain’s and Portugal’s golden visa program.

Application FeesPortugal Golden VisaSpain Golden Visa
Initial application fee€532.70€72.00
Renewal fee€532.70€18.82
Issuance fee€5,324.60€10.60
Family member fee€83.10€18.82

Portugal Golden Visa vs Spain Validity Period Comparison

We compared the Portugal Golden Visa Program and Spain Golden Visa Program’s validity periods below.

Validity PeriodsPortugal Golden VisaSpain Golden Visa
Initial residence permit1 year1 year
First renewal2 years2 years
Second renewal2 years2 years
Permanent residenceAfter 5 yearsAfter 5 years
CitizenshipAfter 5 yearsAfter 10 years

Portugal Golden Visa vs Spain Citizenship Comparison

See the criteria of Portugal and Spain for citizenship by investment through the golden visa program.

Application processing time12 to 18 months20 business days
Timeline to citizenship5 years10 years
Physical stay requirements7 days in the first year and also 14 days in the following two-year periods183 days per year
Fast-track citizenship optionNoYes, for nationals from former Spanish colonies


The Golden Visa Program is a way for non-EU citizens to obtain residency and citizenship in Europe by investing in real estate or other sectors. Spain and Portugal are two of the most popular destinations among the countries that offer this program, as they have attractive climates, cultures, and lifestyles. The Portugal Golden Visa Program has several benefits, such as low minimum stay requirements, access to free healthcare and education, and the possibility of applying for Portuguese citizenship after five years. On the other hand, Spanish citizenship requires 10 years of residency and a language test, but it also grants the right to live and work anywhere in the EU.

As you can see, when it comes to Golden Visa programs, Portugal and Spain have both pros and cons. The ideal option will depend on your circumstances, goals, and personal preferences. We hope that this comparison post was helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easier to get residency in Portugal or Spain?

It depends on the type of investment and the applicant’s personal circumstances. Both Portugal and Spain offer residency by investment programs.

Some of the main differences are as follows:

Portugal offers more investment options than Spain, such as venture capital funds, cultural production, scientific research, and job creation. Spain mainly focuses on real estate, government bonds, and business projects.

Portugal does not impose a minimum period of residence for the Golden Visa holders, while Spain requires them to stay in the country for at least 183 days per year.

Portugal offers a fast-track citizenship option after five years of residence, while Spain requires ten years of residence, except for nationals from former Spanish colonies.

Therefore, depending on the investor’s preferences, goals, and budget, one country may be easier than the other to obtain residency by investment.

Which EU country offers the cheapest Golden Visa?

The cheapest Golden Visa in the EU is offered by Malta, which launched its Permanent Residency Program in 2021. This program allows non-EU investors and their families to obtain permanent residency in the Schengen area for a minimum investment of €100,000, which includes a donation to government funds and a rental property. The program has no physical stay requirements and provides the possibility of applying for citizenship after five years of residence.

Other affordable Golden Visa programs in the EU are offered by Greece, Portugal, Latvia, and Ireland, with investment thresholds ranging from €250,000 to €500,000. These programs typically involve real estate purchases, but some also offer alternative options such as venture capital funds, government bonds, or donations. The benefits and requirements of each program vary, so investors should compare them carefully before making a decision.

How long can I stay in Spain if I have a Golden Visa?

Spain Golden Visa allows non-EU investors and their families to stay in Spain for up to three years, with the possibility of renewing the residence permit every five years. The initial visa is granted for one year and can be extended for two more years if the investor visits Spain at least once during that period. The investor can then apply for a long-term residence permit, which is valid for five years and can be renewed indefinitely.

The Golden Visa in Spain also grants visa-free access to the Schengen area, which includes 26 European countries. However, the investor can only stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within every 180 days unless they have a residence permit from another Schengen country.

Is it easier to get citizenship in Portugal or in Spain?

Portugal offers a quicker and easier route to citizenship than Spain for Golden Visa holders. Portugal allows investors to apply for citizenship after five years of residence, regardless of their nationality, as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • They have a clean criminal record
  • They have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language (A2 level)
  • They have sufficient means of subsistence
  • They have ties to the Portuguese community

Spain, on the other hand, requires investors to live in the country for ten years before they can apply for citizenship, except for nationals from former Spanish colonies, who can obtain a passport within two years of residence. The requirements for Spanish citizenship are:

  • They have a clean criminal record
  • They have sufficient knowledge of the Spanish language (DELE A2 level)
  • They have passed the CCSE test on Spanish culture and constitution
  • They have renounced their previous nationality, unless they are from a country that allows dual citizenship with Spain

How long does it take to get the residence permit for Portugal and Spain Golden Visa Programs?

Spain has a faster and simpler application process than Portugal, with an average processing time of 2 to 3 months. Portugal can take up to 12 to 18 months to process the application, and requires more documents and fees.

What are the physical stay requirements for Portugal and Spain Golden Visa Programs?

Spain requires a minimum stay of 183 days per year to maintain the residency status and apply for citizenship. Portugal only requires 14 days every two years to keep the residency status, and 7 days per year to apply for citizenship.

What are the tax benefits for Portugal and Spain Golden Visa Programs?

There is a special tax regime for non-habitual residents in Portugal, granting a flat income tax rate of 20% for certain professions and tax exemptions for foreign income sources. Spain does not have a similar scheme, but it offers some tax incentives for new residents, such as exemption from wealth tax and inheritance tax for the first five years.

What is the comparison of Spain vs Greece Golden Visa?

If you want a detailed comparison of both countries’ golden visa programs, you may check out “Spain vs Greece Golden Visa“.

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