Country Spotlight: PORTUGAL “Golden Visa”

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Full name: Portuguese Republic
Capital city: Lisbon
Population: 10,276,617 (2018)
GDP in current prices: USD $238.5 billion (2018)
GDP real growth: 2.1% (2018)
Area: 92,212 km²
Government: Unitary Semi-presidential constitutional republic
President: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Prime Minister: Antonio Costa
Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
HDI: 42nd (2018)
Ease of doing business index: 34th (2018/19)
Time zone: GMT + 0
Dialling code: 351

Portugal is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, located on the Iberian Peninsula, bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. It is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe with mountain ranges, valleys, national parks, beautiful beaches and abundant wine regions.

Portugal’s climate is described as a Mediterranean climate and is one of the warmest countries in Europe with over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The annual average temperature varies from 12°C in the mountainous northern highlands to 22°C in the southern coastal areas, with average high temperatures in the popular Algarve region ranging from 16°C in January to 29°C in July.

Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world. It overtook Austria to rank as the 3rd most peaceful country in the world behind Iceland and New Zealand on the 2019 Global Peace Index rankings, and for the past ten years it has consistently been listed as one of the 30 most prosperous nations of the world (24th in 2018) on the Legatum Prosperity Index.


Portugal has a rich history dating back to Roman times. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, the Portuguese empire grew, as it largely monopolised the spice trade worldwide, thus creating immense wealth and expanding Western influence across the globe. The dawn of the 20th century brought state bankruptcy, economic turmoil and social unrest. On 1 February 1908, King Dom Carlos I was assassinated along with his eldest son and heir apparent. The youngest son became King Manuel II, but was eventually overthrown during the 5 October 1910 revolution and Portugal became a constitutional republic.

Portugal was one of the few European nations to remain neutral during World War II, but the succeeding years saw several armed conflicts in its overseas territories and a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens from its African territories including Angola and Mozambique. By 1975, all its African territories were independent and in 1976 Portugal held its first democratic elections in 50 years.


Portugal is a parliamentary republic based on the 1976 constitution, amended in 2004. The government holds the nation’s sovereignty and not only has executive powers but also limited legislative powers, mainly concerning its own organisation. The parliament is known as the Assembly of the Republic with 230 deputies who are elected for a maximum term of four years. The legislature is elected by proportional representation, used in 20 multimember constituencies. Power is shared between the president, the assembly, the government and the courts.

The country is a member of the EU since 1986 and was a founding member of NATO, the eurozone and the OECD. It enjoys a high standard of living, has a low crime rate, little corruption, press freedom, social progress, prosperity. It is now a secular state with one of the world’s highest rates of moral freedom.

Portugal is also a full member of the Latin Union and has a dual-citizenship treaty with its former colony Brazil. Sharing a long history and a common language, there is a mutual interest in using their bilateral political capital to increase trade and investment and to partner together in science, technology, culture and education. Over recent years, trade has grown steadily and is relatively balanced with over 600 Portuguese companies having a presence in Brazil and an increase in Brazilian investment in Portugal. Co-operation between the countries extends across the areas of innovation, nanotechnology, biotechnology and energy production.


Portugal currently ranks as the 88th most populous country in the world, but its GDP of $238 billion (2018) is the 49th highest and ranks 40th highest by GDP per capita ($23,186 nominal). Portugal saw real GDP growth of 2.1% in 2018, which is lower than the 2.8% growth in 2017 but still ahead of the EU average.

The majority of industries, businesses and financial institutions have traditionally been located around Lisbon and Porto, but after the revolution in 1974, their most notable era of economic expansion ended and since they have tried to adapt to the changing modern global economy, a process that is still continuing.

There is now more focus on exports, private investment and developing a high technology sector. The World Economic Forum places Portugal 34th on its 2018 Global Competitiveness Index, a significant rise from 51st in 2013. Portugal is a notable producer of minerals particularly copper, tin, tungsten and uranium. Lithium is also mined from their subsoil. Portugal is among the top ten producers of lithium, which is increasingly sought after by manufacturers of electric cars and mobile phones who use the element in their batteries. There is great interest in exploring lithium deposits further in the areas from Alto Minho to Beira Baixa, passing through Trás-os-Montes, where Dakota Minerals already is mining the ‘white oil’ in a €370m investment.

One of the country’s main exports is wine and it is the 11th largest exporter in the world by volume. The industy dates back to the Roman Empire. Its wine-producing regions, the Douro valley and Pico Island, are protected by UNESCO and offer a large selection of different wines from a vast array of grapes, all distinctive due to variations in soil and climate.

Portugal’s industry is diversified, ranging from textiles and food to automotive and aerospace, with investment growing strongly in the biotechnology and IT sectors. Research grants are prolific, particularly for neuroscience and oncology. The country has a strong infrastructure with widespread broadband connectivity and it is also a leader in electronic payments. There is an open door to a market of 500 million and the country is ranked joint-highest in the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders Rank.

Portugal has a highly developed motorway network and a port system among the best in the world. (Sines was recently the fastest growing container port in the world). Porto Airport was named as the 3rd best European airport in 2013 while the Atlantic Corridor is a rail freight line across Europe which is among the best in the world.


Tourism remains extremely important to the country and it is one of the top 30 most visited countries in the world. The number of foreign arrivals has been growing steadily since 2009, attracted by breathtaking landscape, glorious beaches, fine cuisine and even finer wines! 2017 brought in a record number of 12.7 million foreign tourists, an increase of nearly 12% over 2016 and almost twice the 2009 figure of 6.4 million.

Tourism and travel revenues now account for 10% of Portugal’s GDP and this is forecast to continue growing with more hotels and more daily direct flights from the US being added. Portugal has also been declared Europe’s leading destination for golf.

Living in Portugal

A large majority of Portugal’s citizens are Roman Catholic but it is home to a large number of small communities representing different faiths and so it gives off a welcoming impression to all who grace its borders. The official language is, of course, Portuguese derived from early Latin. Although if Portuguese is not your first language, you should not fear as according to the latest EF English Proficiency Index, Portugal has a high proficiency level in English, higher than in countries like Italy, France or Greece.

Many people, after spending time in Portugal, come to the conclusion that they would like to live there permanently. To these people, there is some good news as citizenship by investment is entirely possible in Portugal, but you will need to invest a minimum of €280,000 in order to qualify for a “golden visa”.

Once you have acquired a golden visa, it is then possible to apply to become a citizen of Portugal after five years. In comparison to some other EU countries, the minimum cost of investment is a little higher, but there are many benefits to Portuguese citizenship, including low tax rates, low minimum stay periods and, of course, the benefits of a climate and culture that are in-line with each other – easy going, with hot periods. While being a more expensive option than some of its neighbours, Portugal offers investors a warm and friendly climate, gorgeous coastlines and vibrant cities in which to seek residence. Diverse, beautiful and culturally arresting, Portugal, in many ways, offers bits of the best of all of Europe.

“Golden Visa” and Visa Routes to Residency and Citizenship in Portugal

• Property Investments:

Acquisition of property above €500,000

Acquisition of property above €350,000 – for properties more than 30 years old or located in areas of urban renovation

Acquisition of property above €280,000 – for properties in Low-Density Area

• Capital Investments:

Transfer of funds above €1,000,000.

Transfer of funds above €350,000 for research activities.

Transfer of funds above €250,000 for artistic or cultural activities.

Transfer of funds above €500,000 for capitalisation of small and medium-sized companies.

• Job creation:

Creation of a minimum of 10 jobs.

Once issued, the Golden Visa will be valid for an initial period of one year and then will be renewed for subsequent periods of two years. The simplicity of the Golden Visa Programme implies an extremely reduced amount of requirements being asked from the investor. The Golden Visa Programme sets out that the investor must comply with general requirements applicable to all types of qualifying investments and also with the specific requirements of each type of qualifying investment.

In general, all investors have to comply with the following requirements:

• Creation of a minimum of 10 jobs.

– Keep the investment for a minimum period of five years

– Funds for investment should come from abroad

– Entry in Portugal with a valid Schengen visa

– Absence of references in the Portuguese Immigration and
the Schengen services

– Absence of conviction of a relevant crime

– Minimum stay in Portugal: seven days during the first year and 14 days during each subsequent period of two years.

Alternatively should you be seeking to set up a company, retire or live on your income in Portugal you have options on a D2 / D7 Visa for Foreign Citizens.

Stipulations to the Golden Visa have been discussed, which may take effect in 2021. It is likely that this will limit the regions in which properties would qualify as investments under the scheme. This will probably be designed to transfer buyers away from Lisbon city centre and give other regions a greater share of inward investment, but at present nothing is decided, and the COVID-19 pandemic could delay any decisions.

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