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Golden Visa Programme Portugal Abode2 Luxury Property Magazine 2

Future Focus

28.03.24

Joana Neto Mestre, managing partner of Portuguese law firm MATLAW, outlines the latest changes to the Golden Visa programme and how it works as a stepping-stone to obtaining Portuguese nationality.

Is the residence by investment permit still in existence in Portugal? 

Yes, it’s possible to obtain a residence permit and apply for a Portuguese passport for you and your family within 5 years, by means of a corporate or financial investment of €500,000. This investment can be vested in an existing Portuguese company, to launch a Portuguese start-up or to acquire units of investment funds created under the Portuguese law, regulated and aimed at the capitalisation of national companies. Both options are also linked with the creation and/or maintenance of jobs. 

The Portuguese market is full of investment opportunities, namely in tourism, engineering, modern agriculture, health and IT sectors, where the Portuguese ‘know-how’ and workforce is top ranked and competitive. Portugal is also an interesting springboard to African and American Portuguese speaking countries, such as Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and Brazil. 

Golden Visa Programme Portugal Abode2 Luxury Property Magazine 2

What makes the Golden Visa programme so attractive? 

The Golden Visa requires very short minimum periods of stay in Portugal – two weeks in the first year and one week in ensuing years. This means having a residence permit without the need to dramatically change your life by moving to another country. It’s effectively about spending a pleasant holiday in the so-called ‘California of Europe.’ 

With a sole investment of €500,000, the applicant can apply for temporary residency by investment, not only for themselves, but also immediate family: a spouse or partner, dependent children under the age of 25 and parents over the age of 65. 

5 years from application, Golden Visa holders – the main applicant and regrouped family - are entitled to apply for Portuguese nationality. This means obtaining one of the strongest passports in the world and becoming nationals of an EU country. 

As a Portuguese resident, the Golden Visa holder is allowed to travel visa-free throughout the 27 countries of the European Union. All Portuguese residents are also granted access to key-public services such as healthcare, security and education. 

Although the Golden Visa application may not have historically been a fast-track process - a recent law which came into force on April 1st 2024, now ensures that the waiting period (the time between the submission of the Golden Visa application and the date of issuance of the Golden Visa residence card) will now be considered as legal residency time in the country for the purpose of assessing the applicants’ right to obtain Portuguese nationality. 

In the last edition of Abode2, MATLAW talked about new regulations in the housing market: are there any restrictions to investing in Portuguese real estate now? 

There are no restrictions. The recent amendments were aimed at attracting developers and new residential projects due to the shortage of housing both to buy and to let by Portuguese residents. Recent legislation changes have also created tax incentives for landlords on long term leases (reduced flat rate), and a grass roots reform of planning permission and licensing procedures, to reduce bureaucratic red tape and expedite the release of properties available for sale onto the market. 

A real estate investment in itself, isn’t always aimed towards a Golden Visa application. Given that the minimum period of stay in the country required under the Golden Visa programme, is extremely short, many investors choose not to buy real estate at all or diversify their portfolios. Their hands are not tied to making a real estate investment. Opting for a hotel stay or a holiday rental is more than enough to spend one or two weeks in Portugal a year. 

Is it advisable to go through a Golden Visa or other investment project without the support of an independent lawyer? 

There are many players in the market selling ‘full packages’ to Golden Visa applicants. They are interested in capturing the investment of those clients and in exchange, selling the eligibility of their investments to the programme and a one-stop-shop for Golden Visa applications. The problem is the conflict of interest behind this and the fact that the risk lies 100% with the client. Unfortunately, many clients only realise this at a much later stage in the process, when significant payments have been made which cannot be recouped.

As with any significant investment, having independent, certified lawyers that are not biased is of utmost importance, whether it’s a personal or a business investment, especially when it comes to investing in a different country. 

MATLAW is a Portuguese law firm registered at the Portuguese BAR, with offices in Lisbon and the central Algarve and a team of English-speaking lawyers. MATLAW practice is focused on business, real estate, tax, and immigration. 

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