Hello everyone! Today I bring you a bit of a more practical matter about what requirements are there for obtaining the Golden Visa in Portugal.
I have been asked about this many times, and I thought that if I write a blog post, I could help more people, rather than just answering one person at a time. I will also give a bit of an insight on how to get Portuguese citizenship and what type of language assessment exam you can expect when applying for it.
So, with no further ado, let’s do this!
Golden Visa Program in Portugal
So, to begin with, let me explain to you what the Golden Visa programme is. The Golden Visa program was instated in 2012, as a way to bring foreign investment from outside the EU/EFTA to the country. Its goal was to help Portugal crawl out of the crisis, and so far it generated an investment revenue of more than 2.5 billion euros.
The successful candidate will also get benefits out of it, evidently. After five years, it is possible for the candidate to apply for a permanent visa permit and one year later for citizenship. Not bad if you dream of living in sunny Portugal, right?
But, alas, it is not THAT easy to get this visa, unless you follow some specific steps. Shall we discuss them?
Visa Requirements for Portugal
So, as I was saying, you have to meet some criteria to be able to get “o douradinho”, as I jokingly like to call it. In fact, to become a golden visa holder, you have to meet at least one of these requirements (spoiler alert: get ready to spend some money!):
- Transfer 1 Million Euros to Portugal (wow!)
- Purchase a property that costs at least 500.000 Euros;
- Purchase of old property (at least 30 years old) in locals of urban regeneration (you know, you will probably have to build it up almost from scratch, but we do have some really cool old houses here. So maybe worth looking into it if you like this kind of thing!)
- Invest at least 500.000 Euros in small to medium businesses in Portugal (hey, if you want to invest in my small Portuguese language business, just drop me a line! he he);
- Create work for at least 10 people (this one seems to be somehow easier, but probably it has some nuances behind it);
- Invest at least 350.000 EUR in scientific research (nerdy!);
- Invest at least 250.000 EUR in culture, heritage and art (can my website count as such? Not sure…)
And there it is…your way to the Golden Visa. I know it is not easy, but probably it will be possible for many people and it might be an interesting way to finally find your way to becoming a Portuguese citizen.
Please be aware that you can apply as an individual or as a company, as long as the company is set up in Portugal or another EU state. Be aware, though, that you must have all your taxes up to date and running smoothly, obeying to all the obligations you are bound to. You also have to keep your investment in Portugal for five years at least, so do not think of getting your money back anytime soon or the golden visa will be withdrawn.
Getting Portuguese Citizenship
So, once you have your golden visa, you will get a temporary residence permit, which will be renewed after two years and again two years after that. If you go this far, this means that you have been living in Portugal and you held to your golden visa for at least five years, and this gives you the right to apply for a permanent residence permit. This is the first step in your way to becoming a Portuguese citizen.
After you get your permanent residence permit to live and work in Portugal, and after at least six years of getting your golden visa, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
To do this, make sure you read SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) guidelines and anytime along this process, if you have to make an appointment with this organisation, do it sooner rather than later, as waiting times can be immense, especially in big cities. Actually, I have heard from some students that sometimes it is worth it to make your appointments in smaller towns where a SEF office exists, because there normally are shorter waiting times. Anyway, just try to plan your moves way in advance!
Requirements for Portuguese Citizenship
Again, to apply for Portuguese citizenship, you do need to have some things in place and to meet some criteria. The following list tells you what you need to fulfil to become a citizen of Portugal:
- Have a residency permit for at least five years (we covered that one before, but just making sure, as it is a really important point!);
- Being able to prove that you have the financial needs necessary to live in Portugal;
- Not having been convicted and served time for more than 1 year in the previous five years (tough one, this one);
- Have a place to live in Portugal (a home, some would call it!);
- Have basic knowledge of the language, as you will need to pass a proficiency test – the A2 level (you can start preparing for it here).
If you meet this criteria, you will get your citizenship, and this applies whether you come from an EU-country or a non-EU/EFTA country, so it does not matter if you get to this point via a golden visa (if you are a non-EU/EFTA citizen) or not (if you are a EU citizen).
Anyway, if you get the citizenship, you will have access to a myriad of things you would not have otherwise and you will become one of us. How cool is that? =)
Check out some of the benefits you will get:
- You will be able to vote at the local elections (that IS important, don’t you think?);
- You can also be a candidate yourself! (ready to become a Portuguese politician?);
- Obviously, you will get an EU citizenship, which in itself opens a lot of doors (for example, you will be able to travel around the European Union much more easily);
- You will get a Portuguese passport (it is always nice to show your friends AND you will have access to 185 countries not requiring you to get a visa or getting one on arrival, no questions asked…unless you are a criminal, then some questions may be asked…);
- You will also be able to create roots here, as no one can deport you to another country ever again. Cooliooo!
Ok, and if these aren’t enough reasons why you should get a citizenship, just think that you will be part of some of the most welcoming people in the world!
Some other ways to get Portuguese citizenship for non-EU/EFTA residents
If you are a non-EU resident, but you do not have a lot of money, or if you simply do not want to invest in Portugal, there are some other ways you can get your permanent residency and later your citizenship:
- Work Visa: If you work for a company in Portugal, you may be eligible to apply for a work visa. You must have everything in place before coming to Portugal, though. So it is important to find a job beforehand. In some cases, if you are a tech entrepreneur, you can apply for a Startup Visa. Just be sure to enquire about everything you need, by making an appointment with SEF.
- Retirement: You can also retire in Portugal, as long as you can prove that you can support yourself (the pension must be at least 1070 Euros). Just check if your country has an agreement with Portugal, as some do, and that makes the process that much easier!
- Relationship: If you are a dependant of a family member or if you are married to a Portuguese citizen, you have the right to come to Portugal and get a residence permit. Bear in mind that you need to be married for at least three years, before you can get the Portuguese citizenship.
If you are a EU citizen, you will not need as many things to get Portuguese citizenship. So, if you do not have between 250.000 and 1 Million Euros to spend, don’t worry. As long as you are already a EU member, you just need the following:
- a valid passport;
- a proof of address (normally they will ask for a water or electricity bill or maybe your contract. So, in order to do this, you should have a contract in place before trying to do this);
- If you are working or studying here, you can also give a proof of employment or deliver a certificate from your university saying that you are studying here for an amount of time);
- You can also deliver proof that you can support yourself here;
If you gather all these things, you will be able to apply first for a temporary residence certificate for EU-citizens (Certificado do Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia). Once you arrive to Portugal and you stay here for at least 90 days straight, you then have 30 days to apply for this. And voilá! Your temporary residence permit is set in place!
If you are an EU-citizen, you can take care of these things at the local city hall (Câmara Municipal) or the Parish Council (Junta de Freguesia).
This certificate will be valid for 5 years, and then you can apply for the permanent residence (as stated above) and later on for citizenship.
If you have been reading my post carefully, you probably noticed that one of the things you have to have to get the Portuguese citizenship is by passing an exam.
This exam is called CIPLE, and it is the equivalent of level A2, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
This means that you have to have a basic knowledge of the language and you need to be able to:
- Understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
- Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
- Can describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
If you are interested in following a course that will take you to this level, please do not forget the 100% online course I offer.
All the points above will be covered and you get access to a lot of videos, exercises and pdfs that will allow you to reach the A2 level in no time!
Plus, you can complete it at your own pace, go back, watch again, download everything to learn as you go and to put your heart at ease, if you do not like the course, you have 30 days to give it back after purchase, no questions asked!
If you want to learn more, make sure to check out the European Portuguese Master Course (A1-B2 Level) which comes at a very reasonable price.
This is what some of my students have to say about it (just to give you further evidence that you should definitely be trying my course :)):
If you feel that this course might be for you, but you still have questions, do hesitate to contact me and/ or leave a comment below! I would also like to know your experience with getting Portuguese residency or citizenship. Is it difficult? Or was it super easy? I will be looking forward to reading your insights.
Go here now and start your journey to become a Portuguese citizen!
Portugal is known for being very welcoming, and since 2012 becoming a Portuguese citizen has become easier than ever.
Still, there is some bureaucracy you must obey to (boring, I know) and I wanted to make sure that it will be as easy as possible for you to get all the information you need!
I hope you enjoyed this article (sorry about the jokes, but I find it easier to read bureaucratic things, when it is mixed with some comedy…sorry if that is not your case!)
Also, if you know of someone that would benefit from this article, please pass it along. Sharing is caring =)
PS – Here are some further useful links on the subject:
For UK Citizens: https://algarvedailynews.com/brexit/11006-become-a-portuguese-citizen-and-keep-your-british-passport (I am still not sure of the changes with Brexit, so you will have to keep informed).
Disclaimer: This post was last updated on 15 October 2019 (please check if anything has changed meanwhile ;)) Also, this is just a research article, so I am not an official source and you should always check with official sources before making any decisions. Still, I tried my best to be as accurate as possible at the time or writing this article! Thank you for reading =)