What You Need to Know About Portugal’s Golden Visa Recent Changes

The Portugal Golden Visa Program is a very popular choice among foreigners and investors looking for a safe haven. Since its introduction, the program has seen several improvements and modifications, but that hasn’t changed its perception as one of the most demanded residence and citizenship investment schemes worldwide. 

It was introduced 10 years ago allowing foreigners to invest in the country, either through real estate or other sources of investments, and get a residence visa or citizenship after some years. 

It has been in high demand since the beginning, facing different adjustments along the way.

But in 2022, several changes took place, leaving many with questions about whether it was still applied and in what conditions. 

  • What exactly were the Portuguese golden visa changes in 2022?
  • And how will the program eventually evolve in the coming years? 

The Biggest Changes

The recent changes can be divided into two types. One specifically related to real estate investments, and the other related to capital transfers.

Let’s take a closer look at each of those:

Changes in Real Estate:

  • From now on, whoever applies to the program, can only purchase residential properties in some interior areas of the country. The minimum amount to invest should be €350,000 for rehabilitation projects or €500,000 for the rest of the properties.
  • The archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, are also included in such designated areas. 
  • Furthermore, a 20% discount will apply if the property is within a low-density area
  • From this last point, popular and high-demand areas like Porto, Lisbon, some coastal regions, or the Algarve aren’t eligible anymore.
  • When willing to invest in commercial real estate, then the applicant can do so in any region of the country, with the same values as mentioned above. The 20% discount related to the so-called low-density areas also applies.

Capital Transfer Routes

  • The option to invest in R&D or start a company increased from the previous €350,000 to half a million Euros.
  • The option to transfer money to a Portuguese bank account now needs to be at least €1.5 million, instead of the previous €1 million.

What Remained the Same?

First of all, we should mention that those who applied for the golden visa before January 1, 2022, are still eligible for the older requirements regarding the program. 

For all new applicants, there are still some requirements that didn’t change, for example, contribution in art, worth €250,000 or more. And also, the possibility of creating a company in the country, with at least 10 new Portuguese citizens employers.

Overall and despite the tweaks made to the program in order to keep up with the current times, Portugal’s golden visa program remains largely unchanged from the original version.

And such rules still make it easier to obtain a visa for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Regarding other major requirements, none of those have changed for non-EU, non-Swiss, or non-EEA citizens willing to apply, for example, regarding staying requirements: you still need to spend at least 7 days in Portugal during the first year, then at least 14 days each subsequent two years.

What Market Implications Are Expected?

With the recent changes in the program, expect some interesting developments, especially to occur in the Portuguese real estate market.

These new rules might benefit low-density regions and somehow balance the real estate market throughout the country, which is still majorly concentrated in the major cities and other popular touristic areas.

For only €280K, you can invest in low-cost renovation projects and become eligible to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa program.

This means that you can buy a house for example in a low-density area and renovate it into a luxurious home.

You can also buy a property in a high-growth area like the Douro Valley, where you can live comfortably while building wealth.

And since the new rules allow foreigners to purchase properties in Portugal with very attractive taxes, there is an expectation in the real estate sector that those areas with low population density will become increasingly attractive. 

So if you’ve been thinking about investing in Portugal, but can’t do it anymore in the most known areas like Lisbon or Porto, now might be the perfect time to do so.

It is expected that the program will continue to grow in popularity in the coming years, especially among young people looking to start their own businesses or persons willing to live in more rural and less popular areas.

Major Cities Will be the Most Affected

Changes to the program will get more attention to smaller towns especially in interior areas or in the archipelagos of Azores and Madeira. But what about the largest cities like Lisbon and Porto, or the Algarve and coastal regions? From now on, applicants for the program are only able to purchase commercial properties there, not residential ones.

It’s likely that the real estate market in such cities might stabilize now after several years of surging in terms of price per square meter. 

However, there are still some specific cases.

The law only refers to the most common type of real estate property in Portugal, known in Portuguese as “habitação” – which means housing. That leaves enough room for other sorts of investments in real estate, referred to as commercial real estate, mostly focused on tourism. For example, hotels and touristic apartments that have been among the most demanded types of properties in cities like Porto and Lisbon for the past decade, will still be allowed in these regions in 2022 and beyond.

Commonly Pointed Benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa

Portugal’s golden visa program is a very popular choice among foreigners and investors looking for a safe haven. Since its introduction, the program has seen several improvements and modifications, but that hasn’t changed its perception as one of the most demanded residence and citizenship by investment schemes worldwide. 

Some of the most important and commonly pointed benefits to the program are:

  • Right to Live & Work in Portugal: Your Golden Visa residence permit gives you the legal right to reside and work in Portugal.
  • Visa-free travel in the Schengen Area/EU countries: with your Golden Visa you can travel freely within the  Schengen Area without having to apply for visas. The Portuguese Golden Visa allows family members to move to Portugal without having to wait for the visa process to complete.
  • Getting Portuguese Citizenship at the end of five years is also one of the most important factors for choosing Portugal’s Golden Visa Program over its alternatives.
  • Without actually moving to the country, by merely spending 7 days a year in Portugal, the program allows the visa holder and family to apply for Portuguese Citizenship in 5 years.
  • Once becoming a Portuguese Citizen, EU citizenship is also granted.
  • You can live, work, and study anywhere in the EU or EEA and you can Travel to 184 Countries without a Visa.
  • An attractive tax system