Citizenship in Portugal

Wealthy expats who're dreaming of becoming EU citizens often opt for Portugal. In this overview, we'll scrutinize the rules and advantages of having local citizenship.

How to Buy Property in Portugal and Get Citizenship

The most reasonable initial step is to buy real estate. Feel free to get a commercial property or accommodation for yourself. The cost threshold for a new property is half a million euros. If it is located in an urban renovation territory or was constructed over three decades years ago, deduct €150,000 from half a million. For low-density areas, the required limits are €400,000 and €280,000, respectively.

The key drawback of this system is that only selected areas qualify for it. The authorities strive to attract foreign investments to lesser-popular parts of the state.

The process goes according to this algorithm:

  1. Go to Portugal

  2. Pick a house, apartment or commercial building

  3. Do the paperwork for yourself and all the other applicants who'll be relocating with you

  4. Get a tax number

  5. Register an account in a local banking institution

  6. Finalize the purchase

  7. Submit your application online

  8. Wait for the pre-approval

  9. Pass the biometrics procedure in your new homeland

  10. Wait for the final approval and pay the fee

  11. Obtain your residence permit

In 24 months, you'll renew your permit. In three more years, it's time to apply for citizenship. Be ready to complete a language test on the basic conversational level. Plus, it's vital to spend one week per year during all five years here.

D7 Visa

The target audience of this kind of visa is individuals with passive income. They won't be seeking employment locally. The minimum yearly required threshold is:

  • €7,620 — per the primary applicant

  • €3,810 — for their mom, dad or better half

  • €2,292 — for each of their sons and daughters who don't earn their daily bread themselves yet

Multiply the above-mentioned sums by twelve and place these funds in a local bank account.

Feel free to include in your application your following dearest and nearest:

  • Better half

  • Underage sisters and brothers

  • Underage sons and daughters

  • Sons and daughters who have come of age, study in Portugal and haven't tied the knot yet

  • Your mom and dad who don't earn enough and rely on your financial support

  • Your partner's mom and dad who don't earn enough and rely on your and their support

All the people who fail to meet these criteria apply individually.

Your initial permit will remain valid for 24 months. The renewed version of this document will expire in three years. Then, it's time to apply for citizenship. So, there are two periods: two years plus three years. During each of these periods, expats are supposed to stay at least 8 months in Portugal. If you can stay here for a few months consecutively, half a year per each period will be enough.

60 months after obtaining the initial permit, it's time to get a local fiscal number. Open an account in a local banking institution. Rent or buy accommodation. Visit the Portuguese Consulate in your homeland for an interview. Finally, have an interview in your new homeland.

Who Is Eligible

The target audience of the program that we describe in this overview are individuals who tick these boxes:

  • Have come of age

  • Have been law-obedient

  • Own the funds that they invest

You can't transfer the ownership right for your new property to a third party in the next 60 months.

Timeframes

Every case is individual. Those who opt for buying property in Portugal for citizenship first need to wait for a few months. The authorities might take up to a year to review all the papers and issue your initial permit.

Then, be ready to wait 60 months until becoming a local citizen. It's a fixed term that can't be shortened or extended.

Paperwork

Prepare a set of papers that features:

  • Passport

  • Birth certificate

  • Residence permit

  • Proof of the fact that you have been a resident of this state for 60 months or more

  • Paper that proves that you have been law-obedient

  • Fee

  • Results of your language test

Plus, attach the list of all the states whose residences you have ever held. The details of your current residence and occupation will come in handy as well.

Reasons to Deny Citizenship

Most applicants successfully get a Portugal passport. Denials are rare. They take place if the expats fail to fulfill the requirements or provide a full set of papers. Those who provide fake papers get punished too. If you rely on the assistance of experienced professionals and meet all the deadlines, there shouldn't be any problems.

Dual Citizenship

This state enables you to keep the citizenship of your homeland. It's not necessary to sacrifice anything to become a local.

Arguments in favor of Portuguese Citizenship

It's one of the favorite locations of retirees and wealthy expats. Portugal can boast a warm and sunny climate. It's pleasant to stay here all year round.

The quality of construction is normally decent. The infrastructure is highly developed. If you move here with your kids, they will be able to attend an English or an international school. Then, they will be allowed to enter any EU university. They won't need to pay higher tuition fees targeted at foreigners from outside the EU. Medical services are top-notch too.

Compared to other European states, Portugal puts forward very reasonable requirements for expats. Every cent that you invest will pay off quickly. It will be easy for you to do the paperwork. The interviews will be simple and straightforward. There will be hardly any pitfalls on your way. However, it would be wise to rely on the assistance of experienced Golden Visa consultants to save funds, time and nerves.

The list of visa-free countries for local residents is updated every year. In 2022, it features around 170 states.

You can get employed or run a business in any part of the EU. It's a huge hub of highly professional people and a large consumer market.

If you're not planning to get involved in economic activities, you'll have great fun here. You'll enjoy surfing, swimming, sunbathing, diving and hiking. There are so many sights and landscapes to admire. You'll fall in love with local museums, festivals and concerts. Shopping opportunities are impressive.

Both Portugal and all of the EU are economically stable. The crime rate is low. It's a democratic country where human rights are the top social and legal priority.

Your family will be surrounded by a cosmopolitan community and will be able to make many useful connections. It's a haven for socializing.

Property Prices in Portugal

There is an obvious upward trend in the local real estate market. All types of properties are becoming more expensive.

The capital is the most premium location. There, you might have needed to pay €3,414 per square meter, on average. But, as we said, Lisbon fails to qualify for the program. In the least popular territories, one square meter of housing costs as little as €620-€880.

Expats invest more in real estate, compared to local tax residents. In 2022, the former pays on average around €2,200 per square meter. The latter pay slightly more than €1,400. Here, we're talking about houses.

While the prices are generally going up, they still remain affordable. For half a million euros, you can get a luxurious property of excellent quality. The sooner you'll sign a purchase contract, the more you'll benefit from it.

Alternative Options

Portugal's citizenship by investment is not the only possible way out. Consider proving that you or your ancestors were born in this country. Otherwise, you may spend 5 years here or tie the knot with a local. Besides, this country accepts investments in its culture and business. Below, we'll scrutinize the specifics of all these variants.

Naturalization

If you opt for this variant, your task will be to spend at least 60 months in this Mediterranean state. Please avoid arriving here as an illegal immigrant. It's essential to get some type of residence permit.

It doesn't matter whether you stay here for 60 months in a row or will be coming and going. It's the total sum of the days during a 15-years period that counts.

It's necessary to be fluent in Portuguese on the basic conversational level.

The primary shortcoming of this method is a scarcity of employment opportunities. If you're lucky enough to land a job, don't expect to get a high salary. In this aspect, Portugal differs unfavorably from other states with identical programs. That's why it attracts predominantly wealthy expats who don't need to work here.

Tying the Knot

It doesn't matter whether you walk down the aisle with your better half or just live together. The local authorities are very liberal in this aspect. If you lack a marriage certificate, provide other papers to prove your status. It can be a household bill or a rental contract for the apartment where you live together.

It's crucial to spend at least 36 months as a couple. You won't be able to apply after you split up or divorce.

It doesn't make sense to arrange a fake marriage. The authorities can easily find out that you were trying to deceive them. Then, you might forever lose your chance of becoming a local one day.

Language proficiency might or might not be mandatory. But be ready to show your ties with the local community. It can be the fact that you spend most of your time here or purchased an apartment.

The key drawback of this variant is the lack of a 100% guarantee. The fact of tying the knot might lead either to citizenship or residence. It's impossible to predict the decision of the authorities in advance.

Ancestors

It's the easiest way — but few people are eligible for it. To qualify, it's essential to tick one of these boxes:

  • Be born in the state where you're planning to relocate. Your mom and dad might have held the citizenship of a third-party country at the moment when they welcomed you. But you'll be a local citizen if they have been staying here legally for at least 5 years. If either your mom or dad had a local residence, it's enough for them to have been living here for 1 year. Attention: in the latter case, your parents shouldn't be employed by this state.

  • Have a Portuguese mom and/or dad. No language proficiency is required.

  • Have a Portuguese grandmom or granddad. Language proficiency is required.

Check your genealogy to find out whether you have Sephardic Jewish routes. Around 600 years ago, the representatives of this ethnic group fled Portugal to save themselves from the inquisition. Investigate the history of several previous generations of your family without digging too deep. Your task is to provide cemetery documents or a surname that is typical of this ethnic group. Besides, you may prove that your ancestors talked ladino.

It's not mandatory to be fluent in Portuguese or stay here for a certain period of time. To boost your odds for a positive outcome, please prove that you've been visiting this state regularly over many years. Plus, you might need to purchase property here or invest in a local business.

A while ago, Portugal gave its citizenship to people from its African and South American colonies. Today, this option seems to be already outdated.

Adoption

This one is relevant only to underage individuals. If you're older than 18, you can't ask locals to adopt you.

Invest in Portugal for Citizenship: Business, Science and Art

Those who have enough funds to spend can invest them not only in real estate. Here are the alternatives:

  • €5 million in VC funds or other varieties of funds

  • €1.5 million in shares of a local business

  • €1.5 million transfer to a local bank account

  • Half a million euros in science

  • €250,000 in culture

No matter which of these points you pick, you'll need accommodation nevertheless. That's why it would be wiser to invest in a property from the onset.

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