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Key changes have been made to the Portuguese golden visa program which will see minimum investments rise in certain categories and parts of the Algarve no longer accessible to those seeking ‘golden visas’ via residential property investments.  

The new rules, which will come into force in January 2022, will see an increase from €1 million to €1.5 million in the capital investment / deposit category; and an increase from €350,000 to €500,000 in the investment fund category.

Additionally, while in the property investment category, the minimum investment requirements remain unchanged at €500,000, and €350,000 for renovation properties, for buyers of residential property, qualifying for the golden visa will be limited to properties in the regional autonomies of the Azores and Madeira, or in territories of the interior on the mainland. Lisbon and Porto, therefore, will not be eligible from January 2022.

The changes to the real estate market are only applicable to residential properties. Commercial and tourist properties will remain eligible in Lisbon, on the coast, and in Porto. Developers with hotel products in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, for example, will remain qualifying for golden visa applicants for €350,000; while one can still buy rehabilitation properties in the cities and on the coast at the lower price point, as long as the property is intended for tourism.

Other changes include a rise in the minimum capital requirement for the job creation category from €350,000 to €500,000; while in the science and research activities category, the minimum investment requirement will rise from €350,000 to €500,000.

The changes, which will not be retrospective, will take effect from 1st January 2022, thus existing rules and requirements remain in place until then, with no changes taking effect from 1st July 2021 as the government had previously announced.

As such, the new rules will only apply to golden visa requests received after the 2022 deadline, and anyone submitting their applications before the end of this year will be subject to the existing rules, regardless of the status of their application on 1st January 2022.

The changes also do not prevent the renewal of existing applications under the terms of the existing rules and do not prevent the addition of family members to existing applications.

Windsor Capital Management’s co-founder, Hiran Chohan, commented: “Now that a deadline for the current rules has been set, I envisage a rush in applications for the Portuguese Golden Visa from now until the end of the year. In their publication, the Portuguese government advised that the changes will not be retroactive, meaning any application submitted before 31st December 2021 will be subject to the old rules.

“The changes have been met with mixed reaction. On the one hand, more wealth will be injected into Portugal and, on the other, applicants may be persuaded to look elsewhere, but only time will tell if Portugal has enough credit in the bank to still be the leading RBI option in Europe,” Chohan  added.