The Golden Visa Programme is an economic strategy proposed by the IMF in 2008, as a way to accelerate overseas investments in countries affected by the global crises & reinforcing their economy. In Portugal since 2012, the programme has been established as one of the most stable and profitable residency-by-investment plans in the European Union. In February 2023, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the end of the Visa, leading to the Parliament vote on the 19th of May, and ultimately to the law ratification by President Marcelo Rebelo. Until then, the Portugal Golden Visa remains active and open to new applications.
The Golden Visa Programme grants investors and their families, from non-European countries, the right to live, work, and study in Portugal as a resident. Keeping the investment for five years, the investor will have the right to apply for permanent citizenship.
In this piece, we'll be discussing Portuguese Golden Visa statistics and the investment trends since the programme's inception. As the programme comes to a close, we'll provide valuable insights into its evolution during the 10+ years it was operating.
Changes in the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme through time
The rules that endorse the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme have changed since its beginning in 2012, improving it into one of the most stable and profitable in the Europe Union block. While the first guidelines of the programme were exclusively for investments of €500K or more, into Portuguese real estate or capital funds, the rule changes opened up another bracket of €350k minimum asset - as long as the investment complied with certain requirements.
Those requirements pointed out that the investor should acquire a property constructed over the minimum period of 30 years, or a property located in an urban rehabilitation area, with the investor responsible for carrying out the total restoration of the acquired property. The total amount of the investment acquisition + the renovation would have to be equal to or greater than €350k.
Suffering growing internal pressure from the left-wing parties in Portugal and the European Commission, the Portuguese Government announced, at the beginning of 2021, new changes to the law affecting the programme. It implemented additional regulations and stricter criteria for the permissible locations where real estate purchases could be executed. In effect since the 1st of January 2022, the change turned the programme into one of the most profitable, attracting investors worldwide.
Among other effects, these changes would limit the investment within the purpose of the Residency-Permit-For-Investment-Activity (ARI) in certain areas of the country. For example, residential properties in major cities like the Metropolitan Region of Lisbon and Porto would no longer be qualified for the Golden Visa Programme - commercial properties are still available in those areas.
Moving Forward with the 2022 Portuguese Golden Visa rules
From January 2022, the Portuguese Government implemented slight changes to the Golden Visa Programme that would encourage investors to look at all areas of the country instead of just looking at the main cities. Real Estate purchases in high population density cities such as Lisbon and Porto passed to be eligible only if the property has a license for commercial & tourist purposes. The purchase of Residential properties in those areas no longer qualifies for the Golden Visa investment.
Properties are qualified as Touristic Property if the project includes permissions for hotels, resorts or service apartments for ten years or more. Another requirement made by the government changes is that all tourist properties should have a management entity responsible for the effects during the application period. In this way, the investor has a status of a freeholder of the unit, having the possibility of selling it at any time. It is important to remember that for the Golden Visa purpose, the investor needs to keep the property in his name for at least five years when it is allowed for the investor to apply for citizenship.
Learn more about this subject in the Portugal Golden Visa Programme 2022 article, where Portugal Homes approach all the details of 2022 and these changes in the Portuguese Golden Visa.
Understanding the stats: 2021, 2022, and 2023
Comparing the Portuguese Golden Visa stats and the evolution of the investments from 2021 to 2023, we can see that the changes made to the Golden Visa Programme were positive and increased the scale of investments. Their trust and will in the programme are highly reflected in the increasing search for the best high-return opportunities in Portugal’s real estate market. The total investment into Real Estate Property Purchasing, aiming to gain a Portuguese Golden Visa, in 2022, is bigger than half a billion euros, closing the Golden Visa year’s stats with a total of €534,626,804.91 invested, a higher amount than the €409,366,153.13 registered during the same period in 2021. In 2023, from January to April, the investment into Real Estate Purchasing was already higher than in the same period of the two previous years, with €184,547,354.32.
Even though the Portuguese Golden Visa is coming to an end, the programme continues to attract investors looking to gain residency in the country in 2023. The first four months of 2023 make it clear how the programme has significantly grown, with the total investment amount getting close to 200 million euros (€184,547,354.32).
Looking at the stats provided by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders (SEF), we can identify that the Residence Permits for Investment Activity (ARI), emitted between January and December 2022 also surpassed the numbers shown in the same period of 2021. In 2022 were issued 1.281 Residence Permits at that period, against 865 documents in 2021. Just in the four months of 2023, we already can identify a total of 502 Residence Permits issued.
The top nations with the most residency permits show a slight year-to-year difference. Not only do the stats show a change in the nationalities applying the most, but also in the volume of applications in the top nations. While 2021’s period we see China (270), the USA (101), and Brazil (61) topping the Portuguese Residence Permits list, in 2022 we find a different raking, with the USA (216) leading, followed closely by China (213), and Brazil (109).
In 2023, the USA keep its lead in the number of ARI emitted. Together, the four first months of 2023 show the USA (102) with the higher number of residences granted, followed by China (72), and the UK (40); close the list Brazil (30), South Africa (18), Lebanon (15), and Turkey (14).
However, the total number of Residence permits granted per nation, since the beginning of the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme in 2012, until February 2023, shows China leading the raking with 5,319 ARI issued, followed by Brazil with 1,203. In the third position appears the USA with 635, then Turkey with 571, and closing the top five nations, we have South Africa with 532 Portuguese Residence Permits granted to its citizens.
Since 2012, the preference of investors who applied for the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme remained the same: Real Estate. In 2021 we see €500K real estate investment option preferred by the investors, with 515 residency permits approved, against 241 through the €350K investment possibility. In 2022 the €500k option maintained its status with the highest choice by the investors, showcasing 476 permits issued for the €350k investment option, against the 532 approvals for the €500k. In 2023, the option has a switch with 176 visas issued for the €500K option and 188 for the €350K.
However, in total numbers, since the creation of the Portugal Golden Visa Programme in 2012 until February 2023, the €500K real estate investment option has given 9,284 permits and a total of 5,626,782,267.27€, while the €350k investment option has yielded 1,673 residence permits, with 599,586,116.76€ generated to the Portuguese economy. The numbers show that the total assets are more than 6 billion euros (6,226,368,384.03€) invested in Portugal through real estate investments; however, the total amount invested in Portugal through the Golden Visa is higher when adding all types of investments, reaching almost seven billion euros (6,994,565,457.86€).
As SEF monthly releases the 2023 ARI reports, Portugal Homes will keep the analysis of the Portuguese Golden Visa programme stats and evolution to guarantee the best investments to our investors’ clients. With the end of 2022, it is clear to see that the changes implemented in January 2022 by the Portuguese Government prove to be a positive measure for the continuation of the Programme. As 2023 starts, the Portuguese real estate market proves to be desirable and advantageous for international investors and buyers.
Navigate to our news page for more information about Portugal and its real estate investment sector.
2023 Outlook: is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?
Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, announced the "Mais Habitação" pack on February 16th, aimed at curbing real estate speculation and high rents in Portugal. One of the proposals was the discontinuation of the Golden Visa Programme that had been available since 2012. Despite President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's disapproval of the new plan, he has yet to announce whether he will veto or partially approve the pack. The Portugal Golden Visa Programme is still active and open to all non-EU citizens interested in obtaining residency through property investment. The programme celebrated its 10th anniversary in October 2022 and has so far attracted a total investment of €6.9 billion in Portugal's economy as of March 2023.
The recent changes to the original proposal, released on April 14th, came after intense public opinion and political discussions. The proposal will be voted on by the Portuguese Parliament on May 19th before it is ratified by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
This means that the Portugal Golden Visa Programme remains active and available to non-EU citizens looking to obtain future property investments in Portugal.
Once the Portuguese Parliament passes the official bill on May 19th, 2023, the Golden Visa Programme will come to an end. However, clients may have a grace period of 30 days to a year to submit their applications before the programme officially closes. The Portuguese government has historically provided a timeframe prior to the absolute end of the programme. The official end of the Golden Visa Programme will be announced on the government's official press site, called the Gazette or (Diário da Republica), within one to two weeks. Once the final date for submission is published, no further applications will be accepted.
We have recorded our webinars held on May 2nd for clients who couldn't attend. Watch our exclusive webinars below, featuring Portugal Homes CEOs David Poston & Gary Harland, as they provide valuable insights on the Portugal Golden Visa for new and existing clients in 2023.
- Investing in Portugal Real Estate
- 350k Portugal Golden Visa
- Lisbon is among the best for real estate investments in Europe!