Your Guide to Golden Visa Investment Funds

Helping you understand investment and venture capital funds that qualify for Portugal’s Golden Visa

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Intro

When we started researching Golden Visa Funds in Portugal, the information was scattered and it was hard to compare one presentation with another. We couldn’t find everything in one place so we created it ourselves.

The objective of this platform is to provide a centralized resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about Golden Visa Funds in Portugal.

You’ll discover a wealth of information collected from a wide range of trusted sources and presented in a way that is designed to act as a guide to the Golden Visa Funds. Through this platform, you are able to connect directly with the fund managers who oversee these Golden Visa private equity and venture capital funds as well as specialist lawyers who can assist you with the more technical aspects of any potential investment and the Golden Visa application itself.

The Golden Visa rules are changing in 2022 and it’s important for potential investors to be aware of those changes. For those keen to invest and obtain the Golden Visa with a smaller investment, you’ll see why it makes sense to do so before the end of 2021.

We are not financial advisors but, with the information we’ve collected and the relevant legal support, you’ll be in a much better position to decide which option makes the most sense for you and move forward with your Golden Visa Fund investment.

What is the Golden Visa ?

Before we dive straight into the Golden Visa Funds it might be helpful for us to explain the core concept of the Portuguese Golden Visa programme first. If you’re already familiar with the Golden Visa then feel free to jump to the next section – What is a Golden Visa Fund?

The Golden Visa is a Citizenship By Investment programme which allows non-EU nationals to obtain Portuguese residency and citizenship through various investment channels. Those who hold a Portuguese Golden Visa are granted the freedom to live, work and study in Portugal and throughout Europe as well. After five years, applicants are also eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

The Golden Visa was introduced in Portugal in 2012 and has been extremely popular with applicants from all over the world. During the past eight years, Golden Visas in Portugal have been granted to approximately 9,000 applicants and a further 16,000 to their family members while the total value invested exceeds €5.6 billion.

Why has Portugal's Golden Visa proven to be so popular?

Golden Visa holders can live, work and study in Europe
You’ll have visa-free travel to Schengen countries
Only required to spend 7 days in Portugal each year
Extend rights to a spouse & dependents through ‘Family Reunification’
Eligible for citizenship & travel visa-free to 186 countries
Portugal allows dual citizenship

The process to obtain a Portuguese Golden Visa

1. Get Prepared
1. Get Prepared
You will need a lawyer and fiscal representative to help guide you through this process. Your lawyer will make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and navigate through the Golden Visa application process. Your fiscal representative will help with tax preparation and is crucial for the next step. This can be done remotely.
2. NIF & Bank Account
2. NIF & Bank Account
Your NIF (Numero de Identificacao Fiscal) is basically your tax ID number. Your fiscal representative will help get you one assigned which will then allow you to open a Portuguese bank account. This bank account is where you will eventually deposit your investment funds coming from outside of Portugal. This can also be done remotely.
3. Invest & Submit GV Application
3. Invest & Submit GV Application
After you’ve carried out sufficient research and decided which Golden Visa investment suits you best, you will proceed with the investment. Your lawyer will then proceed with your Golden Visa application. This can also be done remotely.
4. Interview & Biometrics
4. Interview & Biometrics
Once your application has been submitted with all the relevant documents, SEF will invite you for an interview (to make sure the info provided matches the reality) and you’ll need to give your biometrics (photos, fingerprints, etc). The appointment is usually set 2-3 months after the application is submitted and you’ll need to travel to Portugal for this step.
5. Receive Golden Visa
5. Receive Golden Visa
Following your appointment at SEF, it takes 4-6 months for the authorities to review all the information and issue your Golden Visa. Your lawyer will be notified and you’ll be required to pay the Golden Visa application fees. This payment can be done remotely and your Golden Visa can be posted to you so that you can use it for your next visit.

The Portuguese Golden Visa timeline

Year 0

Golden Visa is issued

Year 1
Year 2

First renewal at the end of Year 2. SEF will check you've maintained your investment and the minimum stay requirement

Year 3
Year 4
Year 5

Second renewal at the end of Year 5. You can now apply for permanent residency in Portugal or Portuguese citizenship

What kind of investments qualify me for the Golden Visa in Portugal?

The Golden Visa rules are changing from January 1st 2022. We’ve prepared the table below to provide you with a quick comparison between the current rules and the new rules coming into effect shortly.

Rules until December 31st 2021 Rules from January 1st 2022
Golden Visa Funds €350,000 €500,000
Real Estate Acquisition €500,000 €500,000*
Real Estate with Renovations (must be over 30 years old and in Urban Regeneration Zone) €350,000 €350,000*
Establish a Company and Create Ten Job Positions Project dependent Project dependent
Invest in Portuguese Research & Development €350,000 €350,000
Donate to Portuguese Cultural Heritage €250,000 €250,000
Capital Transfer to a Portuguese Bank €1,000,000 €1,500,000

*No longer applies to high-density areas such as Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve unless it is commercial real estate but remains applicable in Portugal’s interior and islands – Madeira & Azores.

For a more detailed view of the current Golden Visa rules and new Golden Visa rules please click here

TIP: If you want to save yourself a lot of money, it makes sense to apply for your Golden Visa before December 31st 2021.

What is a Golden Visa Fund ?

In November 2018, the Portuguese Government amended the Golden Visa legislation to allow applicants to invest via a new route – the Golden Visa Investment and Venture Capital Funds.

In order to qualify, the investment fund or venture capital fund must be registered in Portugal and have at least 60% of its capital invested in Portugal. Whilst some funds invest directly into residential real estate, others focus on retail, hotels, and student accommodation. At the other end of the spectrum there are funds investing into energy, technology, agriculture, and other start up ventures. Some funds choose to specialise whilst others tend to diversify. You need to review the characteristics of each fund and decide which one you feel most comfortable with.

What are the benefits of the Golden Visa Fund ?

You’re probably curious about the benefits of investment into a Golden Visa investment fund so we’ve laid out the most significant ones below: 

  1. Lower investment level: You can obtain Portuguese citizenship from a €350,000 investment
  2. Tax efficiencies: Taxes on dividends and capital gains can be reduced or even exempt depending on your tax structure and that of the fund itself
  3. Qualified managers: These funds are managed by experts in their fields so there is an understanding that your investment will be in safe hands
  4. Carefully regulated: The Portuguese Securities Markets Commission (CMVM), Bank of Portugal and the tax authorities all have a role in regulating the funds to make sure they are in compliance with strict rules and are being managed properly.
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Golden Visa Fund vs Golden Visa Real Estate

If you’re considering investing in a golden visa fund it’s most likely that you’ve considered the property investment route as well. The table below shows a direct comparison between the two options.
Golden Visa Funds Real Estate
Investment Threshold €350,000 €280,000 to €500,000
Entry Taxes None 6% IMT, 0.8% Stamp Duty
Ongoing Taxes Can be optimised to zero 0.3-0.5% annual municipal tax (IMI) and 28% rental income tax
Income Potential Annual distributions average around 3-6% but annualised target returns over fund lifetime reach 10-20% Specific to each property but yields range around 3-6%
Security Regulated by several Government agencies Dependent on the state real estate market and having the necessary insurance in place
Management Handled by professional fund managers Either managed yourself or by a professional property management company
Control In the hands of fund managers You have full control
Flexibility Very hard to exit before the set term, usually 5-7 years. Doing so would compromise your GV status Freedom to rent or sell at any time. Doing so would compromise your GV status
Profits at Exit Depends on the fund but keep in mind that managers are incentivise to hit high targets Depends on the property but keep in mind that Portugal is experiencing a boom in demand and property values
Tax Efficiency 0% tax for non-residents and just 10% tax for residents Residents and non-residents are subject to capital gains taxes of 28%
Three elements to look for

What to look for in a Golden Visa Fund?

We believe there are three key elements you need to evaluate when selecting a fund. They are Eligibility, Credibility and Profitability.

Eligibility

Not only should you ensure the fund is regulated by the CMVM (full list here) but you must also confirm that it meets the requirements established by SEF (See Subparagraph vii). It is recommended that you ask the fund manager the following questions: 

  1. Is this fund regulated by CMVM?
  2. Is the fund eligible for Golden Visa applicants as per the criteria set forth by SEF?
  3. If I were to invest now, are the funds’ characteristics (e.g. term, investment strategy) aligned with the requirements for Golden Visa applicants in the eyes of SEF? It’s essential that you hold the investment for at least 5 years and that the fund follows an appropriate investment strategy and complies with the minimum threshold of 60% invested in Portugal in order to maintain its Golden Visa eligibility.

Credibility

Once you feel comfortable with all the above, the next step is to assess the Credibility of the Golden Visa funds that you’re considering. You should investigate: 

  1. The fund managers – Do they have the relevant experience and a track record for success? Are they qualified to lead the fund in this particular sector?
  2. The legal framework – Are the legal documents in line with what’s required to operate the fund accordingly and to protect your investment? We highly recommend appointing a lawyer to assist with this entire process and they should carry out due diligence on your behalf.

Profitability

After you have established that a fund is both eligible for the Golden Visa and credible in terms of its fund managers and legal framework, you will then need to review the security and potential upside to your investment. Funds operate in many different ways to it’s not always possible to compare them perfectly but the key points are: 

  1. Overall strategy – Is the fund’s chosen sector promising and does the investment strategy and risk profile seem appropriate for you? How long will your investment be tied up and how do they plan to return it to you? I.e. What is their exit strategy?
  2. Annual dividend payable – Most funds will offer an annual dividend for the duration of the term. Some are fixed and others are variable depending on the commercial conditions of the fund. It’s important to consider these returns in the context of the wider picture when making your decision.
  3. Capital upon exit – At the very least, you will expect to have your original investment returned to you. In addition, the fund may offer a portion of the profits made throughout the lifetime of the fund.

 

*This is a reminder that we are not financial advisors and do not intend to give any financial advice or specific recommendations related to funds. If you would like to invest in a fund or if you have some questions, we can introduce you to a specialist

Who can participate in the Golden Visa Fund ?

Technically, anyone can invest into the funds but those who are doing so for the purposes of the Portuguese Golden Visa must be non-EU, non-Swiss and non-EEA and have a clean criminal record. 

The official government decree states that a Golden Visa Fund applicant is eligible to apply via a…

Capital transfer of the amount of 350 thousand Euros, or higher, for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies, capital injected under the Portuguese legislation, whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investments are realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory

 

In certain cases, the funds may demand additional information which would require the applicant to:

  • Be a ‘qualified investor’ which usually relates to total wealth and a knowledge of financial instruments and investment products
  • Prove the source of funds

Why invest in a Golden Visa Fund ?

If you’re still unsure as to which kind of investment you should make to obtain your Golden Visa, the list below highlights some key factors which point to why a Golden Visa investment fund may be the best option for you.
You can’t find a suitable property (at least in time)
You don’t want to manage a property from afar
You want to avoid paying property purchase taxes
You prefer to have expert investors managing your money
Particle element
Particle element

Request our Fund Comparison Table

The information and provided by the fund managers and fund advisors themselves!

Detailed Golden Visa Information

If you would like more detailed information about the Golden Visa then we’ve prepared a separate section just for you. We believe the list below covers the most relevant points to help you with your Golden Visa application.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is an investment programme which allows non-EU nationals to obtain the rights to live, work and study in Portugal as well as freedom to travel throughout the Schengen Area. After five years, applicants can obtain permanent residency in Portugal or Portuguese citizenship.

  • No visa required to enter Portugal
  • You can live, work and study in Portugal
  • Freedom to travel throughout the Schengen Area
  • Only required to spend 7 days per year in Portugal*
  • Option to include family members in your application (spouse, dependent children and dependent parents)
  • You can apply for permanent residency after five years
  • You can apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years
  • Portugal allows dual citizenship

*Just 7 days in Year 1 followed by a total of 14 days in Years 2 & 3 and further 14 days in Years 4 & 5

You are eligible to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa if you are a non-EU, non-EEA, non-Swiss citizen with a clean criminal record and have made the necessary qualifying investment.

We recommend the €350,000 investment into a Golden Visa fund but there are other investment options available, such as real estate and capital transfers.

The main reasons are simplicity and tax savings. Funds require less management than the traditional real estate investment route and they also avoid the 6.5% property taxes. The funds are highly tax efficient as well; non-resident investors pay 0% tax in Portugal on their gains. 

No. Eligible Golden Visa funds have to meet several important criteria including formal registration with CMVM and an allocation of at least 60% of their investments in Portugal. We recommend speaking with an expert before investing [CTA?]

We are not financial advisors but recommend considering three key elements – Eligibility, Credibility & Profitability [link to this section of website]. If you need somebody to advise you in more depth we can introduce you to experienced Golden Visa lawyers who regularly work with funds [CTA?]

Five years. In order to be eligible for an application for permanent residency or citizenship, you will need to maintain your investment for at least five years.

Whilst you can set up your bank account, obtain your NIF, and make your investment remotely, you are required to visit Portugal in order to attend your SEF appointment for the purposes of your interview and biometrics (photos and fingerprints).

Yes, you will have residency rights in Portugal immediately and can apply for permanent residency after five years.

Yes. As long as you maintain your investment and fulfill the other criteria, you will be able to apply for your Portuguese citizenship after five years of holding the Golden Visa. As a member of the EU this will grant you EU citizenship rights.

Yes, they can. The following rules apply:

  • Husband/Wife: You can include your legally registered spouse or a life partner as long as the partnership is recognised under the law, either in Portugal or abroad;
  • Children under 18 – Minors dependent children under the custody of the couple or of the applicant, including legally adopted children;
  • Children over 18 – Children who are dependent on both or one parent can also be included as long as they are single and studying in a recognised teaching establishment (which could be outside of Portugal);
  • Parents – The applicant and his/her spouse may also be included as long as the parents are aged over 66, or under 66 as long as they are economically dependent;
  • Siblings – Siblings of the main applicant or spouse may also qualify if they are under the custody of the main applicant or spouse.

The simple answer is five years. Initially, your Golden Visa will be valid for one year so at the end of that first year you’ll have to renew it for a further two years. At the end of Year 3, you can renew it for a further two years and once you’ve held it for five years you’re eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. Alternatively, you can continue renewing the Golden Visa for periods of two years as long as you maintain the investment and other qualifying criteria.

The same rules are valid for initial application and at each renewal. The Golden Visa applicant must maintain the minimum investment requirement and ensure that all of the other qualifying criteria are fulfilled.

Yes, Americans can invest in Portuguese investment funds in order to qualify for the Golden Visa and many are currently doing so.

However, you should note that the IRS puts demands on foreign financial institutions to report on the foreign assets held by American clients and account holders. In the case of Portuguese Golden Visa funds, this forces banks, funds and fund managers to follow heavy compliance regulations imposed by the US Government.

Naturally, many of these Portuguese institutions prefer not to deal with that headache and therefore do not accept U.S. citizens as investors or account holders. However, the good news is that some others are happy to accept American clients and we will gladly introduce you.

No, not at all. One of the major attractions of Portugal’s Golden Visa is that the minimum stay requirement is just 7 days in the first year and 14 days in each of the two subsequent two-year periods. That’s a total of just 35 days over five years.

In addition to the Golden Visa investment itself, you will be required to pay Government costs for the Golden Visa application and renewals over the 5-year period:

  • Initial Application Fee (for the main applicant) – €514.80
  • Initial Golden Residency Permit – €5,174.80
  • Renewal of Golden Residency Permit (for the main applicant) – €5,174.80
  • Initial Golden Residency Permit for Family Members –€5.227,54 (€80,04 + €5,147.50)
  • Renewal of Golden Residency Permit for Family Members – €2.653,94 (€80,04 + €2,573.90)
  • Applying for Portuguese Nationality (for the main applicant) – €600.00

No, to apply for the Golden Visa in Portugal you are not required to speak Portuguese. However, if you choose to apply for citizenship after five years then you will need to pass a basic Portuguese language test.

  1. The application form for your Portuguese Golden Visa 
  2. A copy of a valid passport for each applicant along with travel documents
  3. Declaration from your bank Portugal confirming the transfer of funds and that they originated outside of Portugal
  4. Proof that you have made the minimum investment required (e.g. proof from the Golden Visa Investment Fund or an executed property CPCV/Deed)
  5. Certified copy of the criminal certificate or a Police clearance letter from your country of origin
  6. A completed form authorizing SEF to obtain an extract of your Portuguese criminal records
  7. A copy of your health insurance policy in Portugal
  8. An affidavit (declaration) from you personally confirming your intention to comply with the investment requirements (i.e. to maintain the investment for the required period of time)
  9. Documents from Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and Social Security system declaring that you are in a position of good standing (i.e. have no outstanding debts to either department). These can be issued 45 days prior to your online application
  10. A receipt showing that you already paid the application processing fee
  11. Note that the certificates of criminal records or police clearance letters must have been issued no more than 90 days before submitting your application. For all other certificates, it is 180 days.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes. If you would like to invest in real estate to obtain your Golden Visa then we recommend speaking to specialists.

If you have already applied for your Golden Visa then these rules will not directly affect you. However, if you have yet to apply then we highly recommend that all applicants make their investments and submit their application before December 31st 2021 in order to save themselves money. You can learn more about the Golden Visa rule changes here

According to the Government’s recent announcements, as long as your application has been submitted before the deadline (December 31st 2021), your eligibility to apply with an investment of €350,000 into a Golden Visa fund remains.

Technically, you can submit the paperwork yourself via SEF. However, we highly recommend that you instruct an experienced lawyer to help analyse your investment opportunity and make sure the application is properly submitted. It’s often a complicated process and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The standard market fee tends to be around €5,000 for a single applicant or couple covering the full five year process. This typically includes an analysis of the legal documents related to the investment you’re considering as well as the application itself. Additional applicants and extra services (such as translations) are usually charged on top of this set fee. See all costs here.

Once your application has been submitted it may be a couple of months before SEF sets a time and date for your biometrics appointment. Following that, you can reasonably expect to receive your Golden Visa within 4-6 months. Although this may be frustrating for most applicants, please keep in mind that there is huge demand for Portugal’s Golden Visa programme and the officials are a little understaffed.

The ultimate decision lies with SEF and, according to their guidelines, you (or any family member) would be refused your Golden Visa (or renewal) if:

  1. you have not maintained the investment for the minimum period of 5 (years)
  2. you have has not complied with the minimum periods of stay in Portugal
  3. you have been convicted of a crime
  4. you been banned entry into Portuguese territory 

The Golden Visa may be also refused on the grounds of public order, public security or public health.

Yes. The short answer is that you can use a mortgage or loan to raise the funds required for your Golden Visa investment.

However, remember that one of the rules when applying for the Golden Visa is your funds must come from outside of Portugal. So if you want to take a loan elsewhere or remortgage/refinance a foreign property that you already own and then bring those funds to Portugal to make your Golden Visa investment then that is acceptable.

Alternatively, if you choose to make an investment higher than the relevant Golden Visa threshold then you are able to take a loan or mortgage from a Portuguese bank for the portion of the investment that exceeds that qualifying threshold.

We can introduce you to Portuguese bank managers if you require assistance with finance.

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