Time’s Running out for Portugal’s Golden Visa

Portugal’s controversial but highly popular Golden Visa is coming to and end, but there is still time to get in on the act.

Portugal has a lot going for it: great food, lovely wine, wonderful people, and some amazing cities. Plus for the past few years it’s also had a golden visa – a fantastic offer for investors which could pave the way towards citizenship. It’s been incredibly popular and has sparked a surge of buyers into the country. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. If you want to take advantage of these rules you have until January 2022 to get in on the act. 

What are golden visas?

Golden visas have been introduced to some degree or other in many countries across Europe. Each time the aim is pretty much the same: to encourage high network investors into the country with the lure of citizenship. It’s been a great way for investors in the US, China, Russia and (since Brexit) the UK to get a toe hold in Europe to go with their second home. 

Portugal’s has been one of the most successful. Anyone who invests a minimum of €500,000 into real estate (or €350,000 into businesses) can apply for permanent residency after five years. It’s effectively a back door which could see you granted citizenship without ever living in the country. Once you have that nice second passport in your hand, you can then live, work, study and move freely in the EU. Nice perks if you can get them.

The visas have been incredibly popular. According to estimates, Portugal’s Golden Visa is thought to have attracted $5bn into the country. However, they have also been highly controversial. The EU has opposed them on the basis that they grant citizenship – and thereby EU membership – without requiring a genuine link to the country. In 2020 they took legal action against Cyprus and Malta for their golden visa programs and called on other member states to curb their citizenship for investment offers.   

The pushback

Others have criticised the schemes for creating avenues for money laundering and fraud. There have also been complaints about the impact on property prices which for residents. Now, rules are changing. Although the golden visa will continue, it will not apply to the property hotspots of Lisbon or Porto. The scheme will be used to encourage investment in some of the other, less well-known, areas of Portugal. 

For investors, therefore, time is running out to secure the benefits of citizenship along with an investment. If you were thinking about buying property in Lisbon or Porto, it’s worth acting sooner rather than later. 

Other investors will be worried by the impact which this might have on the future property market. If the golden visas were responsible for encouraging more buyers into the market, what will prices do when they are gone?

Alternatively, you may look at other opportunities off the beaten track. Tourists are discovering Portugal with people flooding into new areas which offer a more relaxed and affordable alternative to the main resort. With the golden visa still applying in these areas, local markets could be set to rise. Now is a good time for any enterprising investor to get in on the ground floor. 

Change, then, is coming. It’s been a good time for investors, but inevitably Portugal is returning to a sense of normality. What impact this will have on the market remains to be seen, but for now if you were looking to benefit from the Golden Visa, this is your final call.

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