Golden Visa Portugal

Are you a non-EU citizen looking to invest in Portugal? Portugal’s Golden Visa Program makes your dream of living in Europe true. Great weather, affordability, friendly people, and a welcoming atmosphere are all key factors why the country is a top destination for expats. 

Start a New Life With the Portugal Golden Visa Program

Using the Portugal Golden Visa Program (ARI) is one of the fastest and safest ways to move to Portugal for non-asylum seekers outside of Europe. You’ll have to invest a minimum of 280,000 EUR for a Portugal residence permit, which allows you to live, work, and enjoy free movement within the Schengen area. 

If you’re not familiar with the country, check out our list of why living in Portugal as an expat is so appealing: 

  • Low cost of living in Portugal vs. USA and other Western countries
  • A liberal political climate
  • High security and stability
  • Affordable education for children
  • Affordable housing market
  • Easier travel opportunities 
  • A welcoming culture toward the LGBTQ community

Future of the Golden Visa Program

There have recently been discussions and declarations around the Golden Visa Program and its future. Nothing was decided, yet the government may want to change it (again) or even terminate the program. 

The prime minister defended the continuity of the policy of attracting investors in Portugal, especially in the technological area, but made a distinction between such visas and the Golden Visa program.

While the program is benefiting the Portuguese economy overall, there has also been increasing pressure from the European Commission to harmonize residency-by-investment programs across the EU. There are more than 20 countries within the EU that have similar programs, so the goal seems to be harmonizing rules and conditions between them. 

Our advice is that any new investment targeted towards the Golden Visa should be done within the next 12 months – a reasonable ballpark in which we are expecting the present rules and current legal framework to still be applicable. So from our point of view, 2023 can be used to invest in the Golden Visa program in Portugal without time pressure.

Rights that were granted by a certain legal frame cannot be removed and will need to be respected by the Portuguese authorities. Therefore, if the program is changed in the future or even totally removed, this will only affect future applications and not the ones already ongoing, granted that the investment was done and the application submitted before the rules change.

Benefits of the Golden Visa Program in Portugal

  • Registration in the Schengen Area Central System, which will allow you to enter 26 European countries without the need for an additional visa after your application has been approved by the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras)
  • After five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship
  • Certain dependent family members can also get Portuguese residency
  • Access to free Portuguese healthcare and a high-quality European education system
  • You’ll be a resident in one of the safest countries in the world
  • Having a second passport allows you flexibility and the possibility to leave your home country whenever necessary
  • No necessity to live year-round in Portugal to get a visa or citizenship
  • Option to become a non-habitual resident of Portugal and pay little or no tax for 10 years. GV holders automatically qualify for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR). For this, you must stay in the country for more than 183 days, consecutive or not, in any 12-month period beginning or ending in a given tax year and register as a taxed resident.

Portugal Golden Visa Requirements 

Any legal adult with a clean criminal record who is not a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can apply for the Golden Visa. Here is an overview of all the requirements:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Clean criminal record
  • Investment period of at least 5 years 
  • No previous refusal to a visa application or to enter the EU
  • Sufficient medical insurance if you decide to stay in Portugal
  • Anyone who applies for the Golden Visa must spend a minimum of 7 days in the country in the first year, and 14 days in the subsequent years

Currently, applications coming from Iranian citizens are suspended. SEF’s (Serviços de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) reasons for not accepting these applications were not made public. In addition, the Portuguese embassy in Pakistan is currently closed.

Can the Golden Visa Program Extend to My Family Members?

Yes, the Golden Visa is extendable. Here’s who can qualify: 

  • A spouse or legal partner
  • Children under 18 years
  • Dependent children under 26 years, provided they are unmarried and are full-time students, in which case they will also have access to the European education system
  • Parents of either spouse over the age of 66 or 55 if proven dependent
  • Siblings under the age of 18, from either spouse/ partner, if legally responsible

Why Invest in Real Estate in Portugal? 

  • It’s Profitable – Real estate can easily grant annual capital growth rates of around 8%. Touristic renting can achieve rates of 15% or higher. Liquid funds do not guarantee a return rate, and if they do, the maximum is 1,5%.
  • It Provides Stability – Even during a financial crisis, rent remains. Savings, however, will likely lose capital. Real estate increases in value over time and does not depend on venture capital managers. The fund investor can expect to achieve all gains in only 5 to 10 years.
  • Safety – If you come to Portugal because you have to leave your home country, you already have a home you can use. If your children want to live and study in Europe, they immediately have a place to stay. 
  • Growth – Despite some increases in prices, Portugal is still among the cheapest real estate markets in Europe. With a strong growth rate of around 15% per year in cities, and 5% in rural areas, investments in Portuguese real estate remain profitable.

Can I Invest in Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve? 

Yes, you may invest in Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve. Here’s what you can and can’t buy in these regions: 

  • Invest in non-interior areas and buy commercial properties such as offices, hotels, and local serviced accommodations (e.g. Airbnb apartments with service licenses). The Algarve is considered a low-density area, so you only need 280,000 EUR to invest in a property that requires renovation.
  • It’s no longer possible to buy residential investments in non-interior areas, e.g. an apartment in Lisbon where you live permanently.       

How We Can Help You Find the Right Property in Portugal 

When you choose to work with Pearls of Portugal, we help you find the right area, based on the two regional parameters. Whether you prefer to invest in a tourism condo with a high return rate or already know which region you want to buy real estate in, we help you find a property that meets your needs and is eligible for the Golden Visa program in Portugal.   

Restructure of the SEF (Immigration and Borders Service) in 2023 

Due to complaints of violence and abuse of power, the abolition of the SEF and the creation of a new Borders service (APMA) was announced in 2021. It has been delayed since then but the change is set to be officially implemented in 2023.

Besides the more serious troubles, the SEF was also known for its delays and administrative issues. So it’s expected that this change will speed up response times and improve the overall quality of the organization and, by doing so, your experience of immigrating to Portugal. 

The SEF held law enforcement powers, which will now be completely transferred to the respective authorities. The APMA (Agência Portuguesa para as Migrações e Asilo) will only be responsible for migration and asylum matters, such as:

  • Approval of Visas
  • Residence Permit Applications
  • Requests for extension of tourist visas
  • Family reunification
  • Declarations of Arrival
  • General information on any immigration issue

So if you’re worried about delays and the general dealing of migration bureaucracy in Portugal, those are expected to improve greatly. 

Where to buy real estate

High Density Low Density
Interior Region
Mixed Region*
Not Interior Region

*Some Parishes are part of the interior region.


What is quite confusing regarding the real estate location is that the new rules now have two regional parameters that determine your investment: A: “low-density” / “high-density regions” and B: “interior” / “non-interior” regions. Looks complicated but it is quite easy if you understand the practical implications.

The “density” factor basically determines the minimum investment thresholds you have to meet for the GV application. The values in low-density areas are 280k with renovation and 400k without renovation while the high-density areas are 350k with renovation and 500k without renovation.

The new regional parameter is the “interior parameter” and defines the investment types in real estate you can do for the GV.  In “interior areas” you can buy residential or non-residential properties. Whereas in “non-interior” you can buy non-residential properties like tourist buildings, offices, hotels, stores, etc.


Since the application for the golden visa in Portugal follows a strict process, we recommend you get the help of a lawyer to guide you through it. Here are the steps to obtain your GV:

1: Make Your Investment

Before you can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa Program, you have to have made an investment. Since real estate investments may take between 1 to 3 months to finalize, plan accordingly. You don’t have to wait for renovation projects to be completed to apply for the GV. You must only prove that you have already deposited the necessary funds in a Portuguese bank account.

2: Prepare and Translate Your Documents Into Portuguese

While you look for an investment property, gather all necessary documents needed for the application – this step may take a few months. Once you have all documents, translate them and have them certified by a Portuguese notary or a Portuguese consulate in your country of origin to meet SEF’s requirements.

Here’s a list of documents you will need to obtain:

General Documents

Coordinated by the Golden Visa Lawyer

  • Portuguese Tax Identification Number
  • A copy of your passport 
  • Portuguese bank account documents
  • Proof of entry and stay in Portugal – (stamp in your passport)
  • Health insurance with international coverage
  • Criminal record certificate of your country of origin 
  • Proof of tax number of the country of origin/residence (tax return)
  • Declaration signature for consultation with the Criminal Record in Portugal
  • Investment compliance declaration
  • Declaration by the Portuguese Tax Authority that you have no debts
  • Portuguese Social Security Declaration confirming that  you have no debts

Investment Documents

Coordinated by Pearls of Portugal

  • Promissory Purchase and Sale Agreement
  • Property Purchase Deed
  • Bank statement confirming  the transfer of €280,000
  • Certificate from the Registry with the registration of the property
  • Tax Authority’s Land Booklet (caderneta predial)
  • Communication of renovation works to the City Council
  • Architectural work contract 
  • Licensing of the IMPIC Contractor proof
  • Proof of payment for the contract work, or of deposit in a Portuguese account of the total value of the contract works
  • Property Use License proving that it is over 30 years old

3: Get a Portuguese TAX-Number (NIF) and Open a Bank Account

If you’re not in Portugal, you can get your NIF and bank account remotely with the help of a third party like a lawyer or Pearls of Portugal. Keep in mind that once you get this, you are a tax resident in Portugal and bound to the local tax regime (granted you’ve already been approved after the visa interview). Fortunately, the Portugal Golden Visa Program categorizes you as a non-habitual resident, meaning you won’t have to pay most of the local taxes. 

4: Finalize Your Investment

Once you’ve decided on an investment, transfer the funds from a bank account in your name to your Portuguese bank account. Your lawyer should help you finalize the application process. 

5: File Your Initial Application to SEF 

Pre-register, then submit your application through the online portal of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). While you can do this on your own, we recommend that your lawyer do this on your behalf to ensure there are no issues with your paperwork. 

6: Book Your Interview 

Once you are pre-approved, you can schedule your interview appointment. Simply log into the ARI (Golden Visa) portal and select the Calendar option on the Applications page. Choose a date and time that suits you. It can take up to three months to get an appointment in Lisbon or  similar large cities. You may be able to get an appointment sooner in a less populated district. 

During the interview with an immigration official, your biometric data will be collected. Bring your family with you if you are applying with them. Make sure to have a copy of all the documents that were digitally attached to the Portugal Golden Visa Program application in case the official needs to validate anything.

7: Wait for Approval 

As soon as your application is approved, you have to pay an authorization fee of 5.324,60 EUR per applicant. 10 days later, you will receive your residence card, which is valid for one year. Congratulations, you may now legally live and work in Portugal! 


The residence card can be renewed for two years via the SEF website. In the second, third, fourth and fifth year, you have to submit your biometric data, present a current criminal record, and pay a fee of 2.662,30 EUR per applicant. The renewal process costs 532.70 EUR for the main applicant and 83,10 EUR for each additional family member.

Each year, you will have to prove that you are committed to maintaining your investment for at least five years and provide proof of your investment, like a deed of purchase for your real estate investment, employment contracts of jobs you created in Portugal, or a bank statement with your capital contributions. 

For your renewal, bring the following certified documents from a Portuguese consulate, or the embassy of your country translated into Portuguese with you:

  • Criminal record certificate from the country of origin/residence (issued within the last three months)
  • Marriage certificate (if married)
  • Birth certificate of the children (if needed)


Just like other foreigners in the country, Portugal Golden Visa applicants who want to gain citizenship can do so after 5 years. The process requires an intensive vetting process where applicants are checked for money laundering,  criminal records, and contributions in Portugal. 


There are tons of Americans living in Portugal, as well as many other nationalities. And for good reason: the country offers great weather, a low cost of living, safety, a liberal political climate and a welcoming culture toward people of all backgrounds. 

Moving to Portugal as a non-asylum seeking non-European is easy with the Portugal Golden Visa Program: you will just need to be an adult with no criminal record and make a minimum investment of 280,000 EUR.

Not only is this a great way to invest in Portugal and in your future, but it also allows you to live and work in Europe and move freely in the Schengen area. What’s more, you can even bring your family members, granted they fulfil a set of requirements. 

So, pack your bags and plan ahead, as a new life awaits you in Europe with the Portugal Golden Visa Program! 


1. Submission of Visa application
  • Obtaining a NIF (Tax Identification Number).
  • Opening a bank account in Portugal.
  • Acknowledgment of signatures.
  • Manage the legalization of documents, where applicable, in Portugal.
  • Collect, prepare, legalize the translation, and transmission of the initial documents for the visa application.
  • Manage the initial administrative formalities.
  • Provide all representation services.
  • Submit the visa application to the competent local authorities, for the main applicant and family members, including dependants, if applicable.
2. Visa Application Follow-up
  • Follow-up and coordinate the administrative processing with local authorities.
  • After the request is accepted, collect and transmit the residence permits.
  • Orientation and accompaniment during visits to Portugal.
  • Organize the necessary appointments (namely for the biometric process) and provide all the necessary guidance during the stay in the country.
3. Services after obtaining the Visa
  • Submit the residence permit application.
  • Follow-up of residence permit renewals (after two years).
  • Various administrative and support services (Numero de Utente and NISS).
  • “Orientation Program”: The goal of this program is to offer orientation about Portugal, giving an overview of the lifestyle, cultural activities, infrastructure, transportation, health services, and commercial areas.

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