An Overview Of Portugal's Citizenship By Investment For South Africans
As a South African, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship by investment, also known as the Golden visa. The government of Portugal launched this immigration route in 2012 to attract investors to the country.
The visa allows non-EU citizens to invest in Portugal and maintain that investment for 5 years. In return, the government offers incentives to attract South Africans to invest in Portugal.
South Africans can invest between €200,000 and €500,000 in an eligible investment route. Upon receiving the Portuguese golden visa, you can visit other countries in the Schengen zone, live freely in Portugal, access Portuguese borders at will and even avoid paying taxes.
The most significant thing pulling South Africans to apply for the Portugal golden visa program is that after 5 years on the golden visa they become eligible for permanent residence or citizenship.
- An Overview Of Portugal’s Citizenship By Investment For South Africans
- Your Investment Options To Get Citizenship in Portugal
- Portugal Real Estate Investment
- Eligibility and Requirements
- Associated Costs For Obtaining a Portuguese Citizenship By Investment
- Obtaining a Portuguese Citizenship & Passport
- Portugal Golden Visa Benefits
- What Family Members Can I Include in My Portuguese Golden Visa Application?
- Do I Have to Pay Taxes in Portugal On The Golden Visa Program?
- Golden Visa application is rejected: What Now?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Investment in the Arts and Cultural Heritage of Portugal
As a South African citizen, you can fund a cultural or artistic reform in Portugal. You can invest your money in the reconstruction or rehabilitation of the cultural heritage of the Portuguese people.
The cultural heritage could be historical sites in need of rehabilitation or preservation. It could also be museums housing artefacts that define the culture and history of Portugal. In this category, you must invest a minimum of €200,000 if the cultural heritage is located in a region with a low population. If the area is highly populated, you must invest a minimum of €250,000.
Investment in Science and Technology
Science and technology have become the driving forces of the world economy. South Africans who want to apply for a golden visa can invest in tech or science. In this category, you must find public or private research institutes conducting research in science or technology and invest in their study.
In this category, you need to invest at least €500,000 if the study will take place in an urban area. It will cost you €400,000 if the research is conducted in a rural area.
Funding an Existing Business
Another eligible investment option is investing at least €500,000 in a business already existing in Portugal. You can fund the company by buying shares. Your investment must reinforce the business to create at least 5 new and permanent roles, which would be available for at least 3 years.
Starting Up A New Business
You can also start up a new business or company in Portugal. There is no specific amount that you need to start the business. However, the business must provide at least 10 permanent roles in a high-density area. The company must provide at least 8 permanent jobs if it is formed in a low-density area.
You are expected to follow the rules of business incorporation in Portugal while opening your business.
Venture Capital Fund Investment
Another route to getting the golden visa is the fund subscription route. You can do this by investing €500,000 in a business. You must ensure that your funds will not be used to buy real estate properties. Also, the company you are funding must be in a Portugal national territory.
When applying for a golden visa in Portugal, you can join funds with a friend or sibling.
For instance, if the research you want to fund will cost €800,000 in a rural area, you and your sibling or friend can spend €400,000 each supporting the research. In doing so, you have met the minimum financial requirement for that investment option. You both will now become eligible to get the golden visa.
Portugal Real Estate Investment
Real estate investment is another valid route to getting a golden visa. It has been the most popular route since the golden visa programme started. As a South African, you can purchase real estate worth between €280,000 and €500,000.
The exact amount you’ll use to purchase real estate depends on the property’s location.
If the property is in a low-density area in Portugal, you can purchase one for €400,000.
If the property is in a high-density area in Portugal, you can invest at least €500,000.
You can purchase and renovate an old property (more than 30 years old) in an urban area with no less than €350,000. If the property is in a rural area, you can renovate it with €280,000.
It is important to note that you can no longer purchase residential properties in Lisbon, Porto or any coastal city in Portugal. The properties you can buy here must be commercial properties.
Also, you must not buy one property. You can buy 2 or more, provided their combined value meets or exceeds the minimum financial requirement.
There have been many discussions in the Portuguese government about the real estate route of the golden visa. The Portuguese parliament has moved a motion to scrap the real estate route. But the nation’s President is yet to give his final verdict. The real estate route is still up and accepting fresh and renewal applications.
If the Portuguese Embassy has started processing your application when the President signs the new rule, your application will be moved to a D2 visa (Entrepreneur’s Permit visa).
You must be at least 18 before applying for a golden visa.
The golden visa is only available for citizens of countries outside the European Union. This means that South Africans are eligible to apply for a golden visa.
Clean Criminal Record
The Portuguese government takes this seriously. They are dedicated to keeping criminals out and citizens safe. To this effect, you must present a criminal record certificate when applying for any Portuguese visa. This certificate proves that you have not been convicted of any criminal offence.
You must get this certificate from the South African Police. Again, you must get a criminal record certificate from any country where you have spent at least 3 months in the last 5 years.
Income Earned Abroad
You cannot apply for a golden visa with a loan you took in Portugal. The income you will use for the investment must have been earned abroad.
Investment in Portugal
For your application to be approved, you must prove that you have made an eligible investment in Portugal. Your investment must be between €200,000 and €500,000 in the appropriate category.
After investing in Portugal, you must also agree to maintain the investment for 5 years. You will have to swear an affidavit in this regard. Note that this affidavit is no longer binding after the 5 years is complete.
It is also compulsory that you present a medical insurance policy certificate. This certificate must be valid throughout the EU. Also, the value of the insurance must be at least €30000. If you are applying to travel with your family members, they must also have their policy certificates.
Minimum Stay Requirement
As a golden visa holder, you must commit to spending some time in the country. Golden visa holders must spend at least 7 days at a stretch in Portugal every year.
Like any visa application, you need to submit some documents to prove you are eligible for the golden visa.
These are the documents below:
- Valid South African passport. The passport must have been issued within the past 10 years and is valid up to 3 months after the expiration of your visa.
- Recent digital passport that meets the picture requirements standard of the European Union. Your facial details have to be shown clearly. If you are wearing medicated glasses, the camera light must not reflect in the glasses.
- Medical insurance policy certificate with a value of no less than €30,000.
- Affidavit that shows you have agreed to maintain your investment in Portugal for at least 5 years.
- Criminal history certificate obtained from the Police in South Africa. The certificate must not have been obtained earlier than 3 months before the submission of your application. You will also get certificates from every country you have spent at least 3 months in the last 5 years.
- Consent form that shows you have permitted the SEF to check your criminal records.
- Evidence that you paid the visa application fees.
- Signed golden visa application form from the ARI website. If you do not sign the application form, it will be rejected.
- NIF number that shows you are committed to paying your taxes while in Portugal.
- Portugal bank account number. This requirement is waived if your bank in South Africa has a branch or affiliation with a bank in Portugal.
- Statement from the Office of Strategy, Planning and Cultural Assessment showing you invested the sum required to reconstruct or protect an artefact in Portugal if this applies.
- Statement from a private or public research body that confirms you invested in their study, if it applies.
- Certificate of business incorporation showing you set up a business in Portugal.
- Statement from a financial institution that shows you have invested in a company.
- Statement from a business showing you bought shares in the company.
- Employment contracts are handed out to employees, which shows you have created permanent roles.
- Birth and marriage certificates if you are travelling with your family members.
- Adoption certificate if you are travelling with your siblings.
Note that the documents proving your civil status must be legalised.
Associated Costs For Obtaining a Portuguese Citizenship By Investment
There are other related fees that you have to pay even after you have invested in Portugal. These fees will be made to the Portuguese Embassy.
Here are the associated costs:
- You’ll pay €533 as the processing fee. This fee is payable again whenever you renew.
- You’ll pay €83 for every family member travelling with you. This fee is also payable upon every visa renewal.
- You’ll pay €5325 as the golden visa application fee.
- You’ll pay €2663 as the golden visa fee for each dependent.
Aside from these fees payable to the Portuguese Embassy, you’ll also need to pay the lawyers who will draw up your investment papers in Portugal. If you need help with this, our lawyers at Total Law can help.
Golden visa holders can apply for citizenship if they have completed their 5-year stay on the visa. The Ministry of Justice manages the citizenship application.
To apply for citizenship, you have to submit the following documents:
- Criminal record certificate.
- Birth certificate.
- Letter requesting Portuguese citizenship.
- Proof of ties to Portugal.
- Valid South African passport.
- Marriage and birth certificates if you are applying with your family.
- Proof of legal stay in Portugal like a residence permit.
- Evidence that you have paid the processing fees.
There are 3 ways to submit your citizenship application:
You can gather your supporting documents and submit them at the following places in person:
- Civil registry offices.
- Nationality desks.
- Odivelas’ citizens’ shop.
- Registry spaces in Lisbon.
- Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN).
- Portuguese Embassy or Consulate.
You can also submit your application online. However, a lawyer has to do this on your behalf. You can contact our lawyers at Total Law to help you with this.
After gathering your documents, post them to Conservatória dos Registos Centrais, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 202, 1099-033 Lisbon.
After you get your Portuguese citizenship, you can apply for a passport. This passport gives you access to more than 180 countries without needing to apply for a visa.
Pathway to Permanent Residence or Citizenship
A significant reason why you should apply for a golden visa is that it is the quickest means of naturalising in Portugal. If you do not wish to naturalise, you can apply for permanent residence and settle permanently in Portugal.
If you become a permanent resident in Portugal, you can live, work and study in other Schengen countries. You are also no longer bound by immigration rules and border controls.
If you apply to become an EU citizen, you and your family can access premium education at the rate offered to citizens. You can also contest elections and vote for people who are. Again, you can also access social security and public healthcare.
You also become a citizen of the EU, with the freedom to live in whichever country you like in the European Union.
Access to the Schengen Area
You can visit the Schengen zone without applying for a visa. You can stay there for up to 90 days.
The weather in Portugal is usually warm, and the winter is not as harsh as in other European countries. As a South African, you can quickly adapt to the weather.
Unrestricted Access to the Border
Golden visa holders have unlimited entry permits to Portugal. You can access the border at will without any impediments.
Live Freely in Portugal
As a golden visa holder, you can live in Portugal without restrictions. You and your dependents can work, study or do business in Portugal.
What Family Members Can I Include in My Portuguese Golden Visa Application?
A golden visa is one of the visas that allow for family reunification. You can apply to Portugal with your family or go alone and have them join you later.
However, you must note that not all family members can be included in a golden visa application. Below are the family members you can include:
- Your spouse or de facto partner.
- Your children. But they must not be older than 18.
- Your children older than 18 must be less than 26, unmarried and have an offer to study in Portugal.
- Your siblings. But they must not be older than 18. You must also be their legal guardian.
- Your spouse’s sibling. But they must not be older than 18. You or your partner must be their legal guardian.
- Your parents. But they must be 65 years and above, and they must also be financially dependent on you.
- Your spouse’s parents. But they must be 65 years and older.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes in Portugal On The Golden Visa Program?
Golden visa holders have different tax rules binding to them. You will pay taxes on your investment in Portugal as a golden visa holder. However, you will be taxed at 20% instead of 48%.
Note also that if you choose to become a non-habitual resident (NHR), your income from abroad will not be taxed, But you’ll have to spend less than 183 days in Portugal per year.
Golden Visa application is rejected: What Now?
Your golden visa application can be rejected. The reasons behind the rejections could be:
- You did not make an eligible requirement.
- You did not meet the financial requirements.
- You submitted the wrong documents or the right ones with errors.
Upon rejection, it is essential to check the reason for the denial. You can correct that and then make a fresh application.
However, if you feel you were unjustly denied a visa, contact us at Total Law by calling +44 (0)333 305 9375 or sending a message online. We have competent lawyers who can help you assess your case and then file an appeal for you.
To avoid the cumbersome legalistic process when appealing for a visa, pitching your tent with us is best. We can help you make an error-free application.
How Can Total Law Help?
Making applications for the golden visa can be cumbersome due to the volume of documentation needed for the process. The huge amount of documentation scared many people away. But don’t let them deter you.
At Total Law, lawyers have helped many South Africans move to Portugal on this and other immigration routes. We can also assist you if you want to make the application yourself. We’ll guide you on what to do.
After you have stayed on the visa for 5 years and are eligible for citizenship, you can employ our services to help make an online application.
If you want more information about the services we offer or speak with us, call +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online.
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The fastest way to obtain Portuguese citizenship is via the golden visa route. Portugal’s citizenship by investment route remains the fastest means of getting citizenship. If you hold the golden visa for 5 years, you automatically become eligible to apply for citizenship.
You can obtain Portuguese citizenship without living in Portugal. However, you need to show that you have other ties to Portugal. These ties could be passing the Portuguese language proficiency tests or buying a property in Portugal.
It is possible to buy a property in Portugal without being a resident. Our team at Total Law can help you identify properties you want to purchase and also help draw up papers for the purchase on your behalf.