Moving to Portugal post-Brexit
The Golden Visa
Portugal’s golden visa is an option for British citizens looking to spend more than 90 days in the country after Brexit. Unless you can prove that you were settled (living permanently) in Portugal before 31/12/20, you must now apply for some sort of visa to move stay for longer than this period.
Like other ‘golden visa’ schemes offered across the EU, it was set up as a residence visa issued to a non-EU national who intends to make an investment in Portugal. Portugal’s scheme has been one of the most popular on offer. It is also known as the Residence Permit for Investment or ARI.
Although you can also invest sums of money into the country (into funds, shares, bonds), the real estate element of the programme offers a residency permit if you spend above a certain threshold on a property.
The qualifying amounts vary by location and type of property, from €500,000 in high-density areas cities such as Lisbon and Porto, to €400,000 in coastal low-density areas such as the Algarve, but with further reductions to €350,000 or €280,000, dependent on whether the property is an area of rehabilitation or needs renovation/is over 30 years old.
When will the Golden Visa scheme end?
As of 12th February 2021, it was announced that the scheme will finish for properties in Lisbon, Porto and high-density coastal areas on 31 December 2021, with certain exceptions such as properties rated ‘touristic’ . You can also invest in a property fund (PEF) with a minimum qualifying investment of €350,000 - but this goes up to €500,000 at the end of 2021.
Bear in mind that your investment must be all from your own pocket - not a mortgage lender. You can get a mortgage on a property that is worth more than the threshold, as long as it is only on the sum above this.
If you can afford this entry point, the visa is designed to be a quick and easy way of getting you and your dependents residency in Portugal, and after one year you can renew for two years. You and your family must be fully covered by private healthcare and not have a criminal record.
It is not necessary to move to Portugal with this scheme so it will be a useful way for second-home owners to enjoy stays of over 90 days at a time in Portugal. But if you spend more than 180 days (6 months) at a time in Portugal you will automatically become tax (or fiscal) resident in Portugal.
You can also rent out your property to generate income, and need only visit the country to get or renew your residence permit. Unlike the D7 Visa you are permitted to work in Portugal for a Portuguese company.
If you do wish to use this route to residency, once in Portugal you must apply for your residency permit.
Existing property owners in Portugal can also benefit from this scheme: if you have purchased a home of this value since the scheme began in 2012, go can apply for a golden visa.
So how to get a golden visa? You must have a tax identification number (NIF) in Portugal, and open a bank account, which you will need to have done to purchase your property. Amongst the required documents are proof of ownership through a title deed (if the purchase has not been finalized, you can submit the signed promissory contract with proof of the deposit payment); passport, proof of health insurance, police clearance document from the UK.
Many people applying use a lawyer specialising in golden visas, who will help with the paperwork and make the application to SEF, the Immigration and Borders Service.
Whilst all of the above can be done remotely (even purchasing your property sight unseen), and by power of attorney, you will need to attend the SEF office in person (there is one in Faro on the Algarve) to do your biometrics, by prior appointment. You will then need to wait for it to be issued, but this can be collected by your legal representative.
Although it can be renewed indefinitely, the golden visa is not permanent residency, nor Portuguese citizenship. Permanent residency may be applied for after five years, as long as you spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal for the first year, then no less than 14 days each subsequent two-year period (this is called the stay requirement).