Foreign nationals can acquire Portugal citizenship by investment if they follow one of the routes of investment that allows them to gain residence. Citizenship is then obtained once they have lived in the country for the minimum amount of time, as their investment continues to remain valid and/or in their possession.
Citizenship by investment is preceded by residency in Portugal. Foreign nationals can apply for different types of residence permits that allow them to remain in the country, however, in some cases they will need to observe a minimum monthly income requirement and in all cases, they will need to lawfully reside in the country for a minimum number of years before submitting their citizenship application.
In this article, our team of Portugal immigration specialists lists the main investment options that are available to foreign nationals who can thus first obtain residency in Portugal, followed by citizenship.
Each of the situations in which a foreign national can obtain Portugal citizenship by investment is assessed individually and one needs to comply with the general and the particular conditions, according to the chosen investment form. Making the investment precedes obtaining the residence permit, and ultimately citizenship, this is why it is advisable to discuss the existing options with a team of immigration experts who can guide you according to your particular situation.
Investment routes for acquiring Portugal citizenship by investment
The residence permit for investment purposes is awarded for several types of investments, available to third-country nationals (EU/EEA nationals are not included in the Golden Visa regime). Applicants should note that they will first obtain a temporary residence permit that will allow them to engage in particular business activities. They can then apply for permanent residence and then obtain Portugal citizenship by investment, following the naturalization process.
The following types of investments, with mandatory values, are available to foreign nationals seeking Portuguese residency and citizenship:
- Real estate purchase: third-country nationals can purchase real estate property with a value equal to or above 500,000 Euros; another option is to acquire a property in an urban regeneration area with a value of at least 350,000 Euros;
- Capital transfer: make a capital transfer in equal to or above 1,000,000 Euros in transferable securities, bearer securities, public debt instruments from the Portuguese State and others;
- Business: open a limited liability company in Portugal, or acquire a company in a manner in which the investment will lead to the creation of at least 10 jobs;
- Others: make a capital transfer of at least 350,000 Euros in research or a capital transfer of at least 250,000 Euros for supporting the arts or for the reconstruction of national heritage.
Once the investment is made, the applicant will need to provide acceptable proof in order to commence the process of obtaining Portugal citizenship by investment. The documents related to the investment can include the deed real estate or pre-contract agreement, a credit institution declaration that the minimum amount was transferred, an extract from the Register of Companies (where applicable) as well as others.
The purchase of property in Portugal remains the most common option for investors. The following documents are required when applying for a residence permit for investment activities via the acquisition of real estate property:
- the passport or another valid travel document;
- evidence of having lawfully entered and remained in the country (a visa for Portugal);
- evidence of having health insurance (proof that the applicant is covered by the National Health Service or that he has an internationally recognized health insurance for the entire legal residence period);
- criminal records from his country of origin issued up to three months before the submission of all the documents (translated into Portuguese);
- tax identification number in the country of residence or origin;
- the filled-in application form;
- sworn statement of compliance with the minimum quantitative and time requirements for the investment activity in the country;
- evidence of having fulfilled any due tax obligations;
- documents related to the real estate investment.
We invite you to watch a short video about the general conditions that allow foreign nationals to remain in the country after having made an investment:
Additional information about the residence permit for investment purposes
Once the investment route is decided, the foreign national can start the process for acquiring property or making the capital transfer in one of the selected routes.
The residence permit is granted if the applicant is not prohibited to enter the country and is not convicted of a crime that would be punishable in Portugal with a custodian sentence of more than one year.
The residence permit for investment purposes is valid for two years from the issue date and can be renewed. When applying for this permit, mandatory online pre-registration is required. For complete assistance during this process, you can reach out to our team of immigration specialists.
The application is subject to a number of fees, among which the one for the issuance of the residence permit (approximately € 5,300 for the applicant and the same fee for the family member reuniting with the holder, if applicable). A permit renewal fee also applies and there are fees for issuing permit copies or for its replacement.
The holder of a residence permit for investment purposes will also obtain a visa exemption for traveling in the Schengen Area. The individual is allowed to live and work in the country, however, one should keep in mind that a condition is to remain in the country for a period of 7 or more days in the first year and 14 or more days in the following years.
If you are not an investor but a digital nomad, you currently have an attractive option for relocating to Portugal. The country offers a special visa for those who can continue their professional activity remotely. Working professionals will need to show proof of minimum monthly income, as well as comply with other requirements. Our team can give you more details about the nomad visa for Portugal.
If making a substantial investment in Portugal is not an option in your case, our team can give you details about the naturalization process which is the usual application route for citizenship in Portugal for many foreign nationals who initially come to the country for employment purposes, for example. Apart from the condition for a minimum lawful stay of five years, the applicant will also need to meet other requirements.
Statistical data on residence permits issued for investment purposes
The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) keeps a record of the number of residence permits issued for investment activities. The number of permits issued during the last five years is the following:
- 2016: 1,414 permits out of which 848 for Chinese citizens, 142 for Brazilian ones, 62 for South African citizens, 51 for Russian nationals and 35 for Jordanian citizens;
- 2017: 1,351 permits, applied for by 538 Chinese nationals, 226 Brazilian and 81 South African ones, 78 for Turkish nationals and 47 for Russian citizens;
- 2018: 1,409 permits, with 485 permits issued to nationals from China, 188 from Turkey, 180 from Brazil, 57 from South Africa and 55 for Vietnam;
- 2019: 1,245 residence permits for investment purposes, out of which 394 were issued for Chinese nationals, 210 to Brazilian nationals, 85 for Turkish nationals, 65 from the USA and 53 from Russia;
- 2020: 1,182 permits, issued to citizens from China (296), Brazil (126), USA (75), South Africa (74), Turkey (75 permits).
The Foreigners and Borders Service also issued residence permits for the family members of those who apply each year for residency by investment and will ultimately obtain Portugal citizenship by investment, provided that the property or the investment remains in their name. In 2020, the number of residence permits issued for the applicant’s family members was 2,043.
As far as the total investment value derived from issuing residence permits for investment purposes (property purchases as well as capital transfers), the data shows the following:
- 2016: 874,444,320,10 €;
- 2017: 844,088,897,77 €;
- 2018 838,532,935,27 €;
- 2019: 742,455,053,29 €;
- 2020: 646,729,464,80 €.
As required by law, these investments also create new job positions. In 2019, 4 of the permits issued for investment also lead to the creation of jobs, however, most of the permits applied for are for the purpose of purchasing real estate: in 2020, out of the total 1,182 permits, 1,094 of these were issued for real estate purchasing, with an investment value of 588,357,248,80 €. This means that more than 90% of the total number of permits applied for in 2020 were for buying real estate in Portugal.
The provisional data for 2021 shows that 55 residency permits for investment purposes were obtained in January, 73 in Mach, and 67 in June. China remains the country of origin for many of these investors.
Conditions for acquiring citizenship by naturalization in Portugal
Once the investment has been approved, the foreign national can start the process of obtaining Portugal citizenship by investment, which will include several steps and will require the residence permit holder to comply with the naturalization process.
Some of the main conditions when choosing to acquire citizenship in this manner are the following:
- Renewal: the golden visa for investment purposes is renewed after the first year;
- Residence: the holder of the residence permit/golden visa will continue to renew the permit, provided that the investment remains in his possession for four more years (two renewals at 2-year terms, after the first year);
- Citizenship application: after five years, the holder of an investment residence permit can apply for Portugal citizenship by investment;
- Naturalization compliance: when applying for citizenship, the individual will need to bring forward proof of his integration in the community as well as Portuguese language knowledge, among others.
Foreign investors who wish to apply for the Golden Visa should keep in mind that the Portuguese authorities plan to change part of the conditions (namely, the investment amounts) starting with 2022. In addition to this, certain high-density areas in the country will no longer be eligible for residency and citizenship by investment in real estate. You can reach out to our team of immigration experts for more information about these changes.
Applying for a residence permit for an investment activity can be a suitable option for third-country nationals who have the means to make a substantial investment in the country. Contact us for more information on how to Portugal citizenship by investment.