Obtaining EU Residency in Portugal

If you are considering EU residency in Portugal via investment in the Golden Visa program read on to learn how this process may work for you.

What Does EU Residency in Portugal Offer?

Many people refer to Portugal’s “Golden Visa” program as the ultimate gateway to EU residency. In fact, the program is an exceptionally popular residency by investment program.

Non-EU/EEA citizens gain a Portuguese residency permit in exchange for making a five-year investment into the country. This can ultimately lead to Portuguese citizenship (your choice) as long as you continue to meet the qualifications.

Portugal opened its residency by investment program in 2012. After the global economic crisis of 2008, the country was looking to boost its economy and help its real estate market. The program sought to encourage foreign investment, offering EU residency in exchange for making one of several pre-approved types of investments.

Although different types of investments are possible, the vast majority of people who participate in the program use real estate acquisitions.

The Types of Investments Offered Under the EU Residency in Portugal Program

The Portuguese government requires one of three types of investments if you want to gain residency there. You can invest in real estate, start a business and hire local workers, or make capital contributions to a Portuguese business or institution.

Real Estate Investment

The residency by investment program has three different real estate investment categories. The first option has a minimum investment of 500,000€. You can invest in any property or properties as long as the total investment meets the minimum amount required.

The second option has a lower investment requirement. You only need to invest 350,000€, but you have to buy real estate in need of renovation. The property has to be at least 30 years old or be located in a designated urban rehabilitation area.

The third option has an even lower minimum investment. You only have to buy real estate worth 280,000€, but the property has to be designated for renovation and in a low-density area. The Portuguese government classifies an area as low density if it has less than 100 inhabitants per 1,000 square meters and/or the gross domestic product per capita is 75% or less of the national average.

Property values in Portugal tend to increase over time although the growth rate has slowed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Start a Business

With the entrepreneurship option, you have to start a business in Portugal that employs at least 10 local people. You’ll need to register each employee with the Portuguese Social Security system, and your business will have to pay social security taxes and corporate tax. You’ll also need to pay personal income tax.

Wages in Portugal are cheaper than in some other western European countries. You’ll pay much more than in eastern European countries like Moldova or Serbia, though.

Gaining EU residency by starting a business in Portugal is a good fit for business owners who have a growing enterprise and are looking to expand in Europe.

Capital Contributions

Making a capital investment is the simplest of the three options. You have several types of investments to choose from:

  • Capital transfer worth at least 1,000,000€
  • Invest at least 350,000€ in a venture capital fund headquartered in Portugal that has been established for at least five years
  • Invest at least 350,000€ in an existing Portuguese company to create five permanent jobs for three years or more
  • Invest at least 350,000€ in scientific research conducted at a public or private institution in Portugal’s scientific or technological system
  • Contribute at least 250,000€ to support the arts and culture or the renovation or maintenance of cultural heritage in Portugal

You need to maintain each of these investments for five years, with the exception of creating five jobs for three years. You may need to keep them longer if you plan to apply for citizenship after your residency.

The Application Process for EU Residency in Portugal

The application process for residency in Portugal is straightforward. You’ll need to verify your eligibility, provide all required documents, fulfill the residency requirement, and pay the applicable fees. The residency requirement states that you must spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal for the first year, then no less than 14 days each subsequent two-year period.


Portugal accepts applications from citizens of any country outside the EU/EEA. You can add family members to your application for an additional fee. Possible dependents include:

  • Your spouse
  • Children under 18
  • Children over 18 if they’re in school and not married
  • Retirement-aged parents

The residency requirement is minimal. You only have to spend seven days in Portugal during your first year of residency. When you renew your residency permit it will be valid for two years, during which time you need to spend at least 14 days in the country.

Making Your Investment

Your Portuguese bank must confirm that you have made your investment before you apply for residency, so it’s important to allow enough time to finalize the transaction. For example, buying real estate can take up to three months.

Gather Your Documents

You’ll need to provide documents to prove your identity, certify that you don’t have a criminal record, and show that you have health insurance coverage in Portugal. You’ll also need proof that you made an investment that meets the program requirements.

You need to have all of your documents translated into Portuguese. You can use a notary in Portugal or a Portuguese consulate in your home country. Our legal team in Portugal will be able to assist with this.

Pay the Applicable Fees

In addition to the cost of the investment itself, you’re responsible for paying several other fees. The fee for issuing the residency card is 5,147.80€ for each applicant, including any dependents.

A processing fee of 514.80€ for the main applicant and 80.29€ for each dependent is also required.

Attend Your Interview

Portugal requires an application interview for you and any family members applying with you. Depending on the district where you’re trying to schedule the interview, you may have to wait several months to get an appointment. Again, our legal team in Portugal will be able to assist.


You’ll wait between three and six months after your interview before you get a decision.

Your first residency permit will be valid for a year, but it will be valid for two years at a time once you renew it. After five years of residency, you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Since Portugal started its residency by investment program in 2012, more than 9,200 people have received residency permits. Whether your goal is moving to the EU or expanding your work and travel options, Portugal’s Golden Visa gives you many advantages.

Should You Chose EU Residency in Portugal?

Portugal’s Golden Visa gives you many benefits that make it worth considering. Your residency permit lets you travel freely within the Schengen Area, and you can live and work in any EU/EEA country. If you become a Portuguese citizen, you can travel without a visa to 186 countries.

The residency requirement for a Golden Visa is very low. However, if moving to the EU is attractive to you, Portugal is a good choice. Tax programs like the non-habitual resident regime benefit foreign investors. The cost of living is affordable, and the healthcare and education options are good. In addition, the climate is one of the best in Europe.

American Investment Migration can help you determine if EU residency in Portugal is the best fit for your situation. When you’re ready to move forward, our legal team in Portugal will work with you to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact us to schedule a private consultation and find out how we can help you reach your citizenship goals by using EU residency in Portugal as your vehicle.