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Residency vs Citizenship in Portugal – What is the Best Option?

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Published on 14 January, 2020 • Last updated on 28 March, 2024

By Portugal Homes

Residency vs Citizenship in Portugal – What is the Best Option?

Residency and Citizenship are two separate but related legal statuses, which enable individuals to lawfully stay in a country with different levels of benefits and obligations. When expats move to and settle in Portugal, they do not typically lose their original citizenship. They usually become Residents first and then apply for Citizenship later on, becoming Dual Citizens. Having Portuguese Residency unlocks a series of benefits, like access to premium healthcare and education systems and visa-free travel, which only further increase once it evolves into Citizenship.

Residency in Portugal

Residency status in Portugal enables individuals to live, work and study and can either be Temporary or Permanent.

Officially referred to as título de residência (residency permit), Temporary Residency status must be renewed after a certain period of time to remain valid and does not typically grant the same rights or obligations as Citizenship. Temporary Residency is only available for a set amount of time, usually 2 years, and is only granted for a specific reason. For example, when a foreign student decides to come to Portugal to pursue a higher education degree. Due to its nature, after the permit has expired, unless it is renewed, the Temporary Resident will have to leave the country.

If Temporary Residency is consecutively renewed, it can turn into Permanent Residency at the 5th year mark, if the expat decides to apply. Officially referred to as cartão de residência (residency card), this status is perpetual, and its holders are allowed to stay in the country indefinitely. Though they do not have to renew the status in itself, they may have to renew the card. This would be the equivalent of United States “green card” holders, who can live, work, and study in the United States, despite not being a Citizen.

Residency can be obtained for the most varied of reasons, including for research & investigation, for retirement, and family reunification, among others. The caveat is that these visas grant Residency on a conditional basis: a significant amount of time must be spent in Portugal. Investment visas, like the Portugal Golden Visa, have both low physical presence requirements and enable family members to be included in the application, letting everyone in the family become Residents.

Citizenship in Portugal

There are multiple ways to gain Citizenship in Portugal, including naturalisation, descent, and marriage.

This means that unless an expat has a direct connection to Portugal, whether through descent or marriage, which will not be the case for the vast majority, the only path to Citizenship is through naturalisation. After 5 years of holding Residency status in Portugal, expats, investors, and their families can choose to naturalise and become Citizens.  

Portuguese Citizenship is distinctly more advantageous than Residency, in the sense that unlocks not only full visa-free travel to the rest of Europe but also the opportunity to live and work in other European Union countries, plus the right to vote in Portugal.

Portugal is among the hundreds of countries worldwide that allow Dual Citizenship. Prospective investors should not concern themselves with this, as they will be able to retain any other citizenships they may hold, further boosting their international mobility.

Unlike Residency, there are no direct, straightforward investment programmes for Citizenship in Portugal. Regardless, residency programmes, like the D2 Visa & the Golden Visa present the best platform for high net-worth expats & investors to become Portuguese citizens, as they only require an economic investment in the country.  

Portugal has also been making significant strides towards facilitating the Citizenship acquisition process. These include launching a new border control agency purely focused on the administrative side of immigration, changes to its language test requirements, and even recently approved a series of amendments to its Nationality law, dramatically decreasing the real-time number of years to obtain Citizenship to only 5 years, the fastest time to an EU Passport among all EU countries.

The Best Residency & Citizenship Options in Portugal

There may be no direct Citizenship by Investment programmes in Portugal, though the Portuguese passport can still be acquired through Residency by Investment programmes. There are a few in Portugal, though only two truly stand out.

D2 Visa

The D2 Visa is a business-driven Residency programme, created to draw in economic investment into Portugal, to boost the country’s entrepreneurial diversity. With multiple qualifiable options, including the inception of a new business and the acquisition of shares in an existing Portuguese company, the D2 Visa is one of Portugal’s best Residency by Investment programmes.

Running a business in Portugal is made completely effortless with Portugal Homes’ exclusive Investment Opportunities. Centred on Mátria Co-Working, a development project located in the Lisbon city centre, just minutes away from the iconic Avenida da Liberdade, Portugal Homes’ solutions constitute as a business operation basis, and qualify for the D2 Visa.

With a single investment of €280,000, Portugal Homes’ team of industry veterans & leaders take care of the whole process, from the very beginning up until you have the Portuguese passport in hand. The Portugal D2 Visa grants Residency in as soon as 3 months, unlocks benefits such as family reunification and visa-free travel to the 29 European Countries within the Schengen Zone, and currently has the fastest path to EU Citizenship.

Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa may have fallen out of fame with the discontinuation of the Real Estate option, but the programme remains active through other interesting opportunities, like donations and contributions. As a Residency by Investment programme, the Golden Visa requires an economic investment in exchange for granting Residency status to third-country nationals.

Currently, the Golden Visa’s best option is a subscription to investment funds, which is higher-risk, higher-reward, and holds the chance to yield substantial returns. Requiring a minimum investment of €500,000, the Golden Visa also grants Residency status in Portugal and benefits like family reunification and visa-free travel to the 29 European countries in the Schengen Zone.

Get In Touch with Portugal Homes and Start Your Residency & Citizenship Process in Portugal

Getting Portuguese citizenship is possible and achievable, but with Portugal Homes’ guidance, the process becomes effortless. You can count on our advisors’ multiple decades of experience with other international investment immigration programs, the Portugal D2 Visa, and the Portugal Golden Visa. Their expertise reaches across every essential aspect of getting Residency & Citizenship, from all the required documentation for all the family, up until the Passport is in your hands, regardless of programme.

If you are interested in the Portugal Golden Visa or the D2 Visa, or you would like to find out more about how to get Residency and Citizenship in Portugal for you and your family, do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

Portugal Homes’ track record includes countless successful Portuguese residency applications, and many more Portuguese passports granted.


2019 was a year of massive growth for Commercial Property in Portugal

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