Please sign in to post.

Golden Visa to immigrate to Portugal

I like traveling in Europe. So much, that I want to eventually move there once I retire. I live now in the Silicon Valley, which is outrageously expensive and boring. Once I stop working, I don't know if I can afford to live there for the rest of my life.

I have done some Google searches and found that Portugal provides the easiest pathway. It's called the Golden Visa.

Has anybody done some homework on this or is on the Golden Visa? What are your findings, if you don't mind sharing?

Posted by
596 posts

There are various levels of capital required according to investment types and locations. I think the lowest is actually 280k euros for real estate in low density areas. In most of the Bay Area, 280k does not even buy a private parking spot.

Would you like to live in this country? Why or why not?

Posted by
3155 posts

My daughter and son-in-law are in the process. From what they have told us, you have to purchase a residence worth at least €150,000 (not sure I have the exact figure correct but that’s the ballpark) and live there a couple of weeks each year. That entitles you to an EU residence visa, so you can actually live anywhere in the EU. After 5 years you can acquire citizenship.
If you own a house in Silicon Valley, I don’t think you’ll have affordability problems.

Posted by
881 posts

That entitles you to an EU residence visa, so you can actually live anywhere in the EU. After 5 years you can acquire citizenship.

This is incorrect. With the Portuguese residency permit, you can travel the EU. In order to reside in another country you have to acquire Portuguese citizenship after 5 years.

Posted by
4873 posts

We have looked into it. With the Golden Visa you would get a visa for Portugal. You would still be limited to the 90 in 180 day limit travelling limit elsewhere in the Schengen Zone. From what I have read, the EU isn’t happy about Portugal offering this visa.

Portuguese isn’t an easy language to learn.

Posted by
1033 posts

There are changes to the GV at the end of the year that entail property purchase being in rural areas. Since I don’t have those funds, I went with the normal D7 visa when I moved here.

There are many resources for obtaining residency in Portugal. Expat Exchange is the one I used 6 years ago. You can also start with the Portuguese Embassy in the US that gives details on residency.

Be aware that the new areas for utilizing GV are not in the most desirable areas of the country IMO. But, if you want a quiet place with few expats or English speakers, it might appeal to you.

Posted by
596 posts

Thank you, everybody. I finally hired an agent to handle the application for me. (Special thanks to Rosalyn, who answered my questions in PM.) Fingers crossed. The bar for applying isn't high and the country does not care about my age or profession. However, as expected, a lot of documents are required. I will keep you updated here.

Posted by
577 posts

Barkinpark: I'll be very curious to hear how things go. My cousin has been talking about Portugal's golden visa for the last year or so. I don't think he has pulled the trigger yet because of COVID.

Posted by
596 posts

Hello Trotter: please tell your cousin to start NOW, because the thresholds for investment amounts will be raised on Jan 1, 2022. Furthermore, real estate purchases in Lisbon, Porto, or popular coastal areas will not qualify. Also, minimum investments in funds will be raised from 350k euros to 500k euros. Deposits at Portuguese banks will have to be at least 1.5m euros instead of 1m.

Posted by
2092 posts

We've been looking at Portugal for retirement for some time. Like @kathrynj, we will probably go the D7 visa route. As she mentions, and we've also traded a couple PMs, the GV is too restrictive for our needs.

Having worked through the visa process in 5 countries, it's no more burdensome than our previous experiences.... but it is a lot of legwork. As we determine where and when we will move, we intend to get support, just like kathrynj. (We have a Dutch registered car and NL licenses to convert... so some extra steps).

Posted by
596 posts

Hello RnR: I suppose that you have healthcare coverage as an EU citizen, correct? Does the D7 visa grant healthcare coverage?

Posted by
2092 posts

@Barkinpark, we are Americans living in The Netherlands with a long-term work visa (as my wife has a roll-over NL contract). Thus, we currently have private insurance. In fact, as ex-pats living on long-term visas in multiple countries, we've almost always had to secure private health coverage. The one exception was when we were in the "national system" in Italy.

I know the D7 visa requires that you already have healthcare coverage when you apply --- yet reading the Benefits of the D7, it says this:

Once your D7 Residency Visa has been approved by SEF, you will be
considered a Portuguese resident. You can therefore benefit from the
Portuguese healthcare system. Keep in mind that you will need to
register to the National Health Service (SNS) in order to benefit from
its services.

Per our research, the Portuguese Healthcare system is well regarded. Coupled with other D7 benefits, this makes Portugal an interesting option. We've been on a few long-weekend trips to Portugal to "check out" WHERE we'd like to live. Still looking as we have a couple more years till we retire.

Posted by
596 posts

Hello RnR: thanks for the info. I am also not retiring soon. Let's exchange notes in the future.

Posted by
2092 posts

Certainly - I'll drop you a PM with my email!

Posted by
1833 posts

Interesting thread, we just bought our retirement place in CA. Not my first choice (too expensive), but marriage is all about compromise! I like your plan better, but my European retirement place would be Ireland ( they speak English)! However, do keep us updated as I would love to know how it all works out for you. What is your timeframe, countdown to retirement?

Posted by
596 posts

I have at least a decade till retirement. I like Europe and think that since I only live once, why not make a move? I don't have to pay foreign taxes to the government of Portugal if I don't live there for 183 or more days per year. So, I am planning to live there part time.

This Golden Visa is the most straight forward and affordable way to citizenship. I don't have a move to Portugal till I properly retire. Similar visas by, for example, Spain and Greece have much more stringent residency requirements.

Posted by
6745 posts

I don't have to pay foreign taxes to the government of Portugal if I
don't live there for 183 or more days per year. So, I am planning to
live there part time.

But if you still have to maintain a residence in the US for half the year - presumably - (although probably not?) in the Bay Area, where are the cost savings? I am also wondering why you find the Bay Area "boring", it's a pretty enviable place to live. I know it's crazy expensive, I lived in SoCal for 20+ years.

Posted by
596 posts

From a tax perspective, there is no escape from Uncle Sam, but I can avoid CA income taxes by moving out of state. The part of Bay Area where I reside in is not that vibrant. I don't live in San Francisco. Sometimes, I go up to SF for fun, but traffic is really horrendous. Crime is on the rise. In fact, there are quite a few news articles in national news feeds about exodus from the Bay Area. The number one reason for this is high real estate prices, and the second is declining living standards (traffic congestion, worsening crime/homelessness, power outages, wildfires...etc). The first factor does not directly affect me that much as I bought my house quite a while ago when the market was down, but it will eventually haunt me when I retire and have to pay high property taxes. I plan to move to a low or no-income tax state so that I can afford a comfortable life with limited income.

Posted by
6745 posts

Thanks for answering, that makes sense. So is your goal to eventually move to Europe full time, but starting part-time in Portugal (initially) because barriers to entry are lowest? What country looks the most attractive to you now (assuming you could get permanent citizenship there), and do you expect that to change over time?

Posted by
1804 posts

Be sure to talk to a tax expert, if you're in CA any part of a year you might owe them tax. Apparently NY tax obligations follow sunbirds into Florida, for instance. And there's a whole school of tax law involving residence vs. domicile.

Posted by
596 posts

Thank you, phred. CA taxes are more haunting than ghosts! I am thinking of moving to WA. Then, I will be closer to Canada, where I can buy cheaper meds. For example, a bottle of insulin costs US$200 without insurance here, but only CA$30 (Costco price) in Canada without insurance!

Posted by
881 posts

I know the OP said he had a ways to go before making this move, but I would caution those ready to move to a foreign country to hire an international tax firm and a residency/citizenship attorney before doing so. This forum is not the place to seek tax and residency advice. For example:

Residency for Portugal Income Tax

Residents of Portugal must pay taxes on worldwide income.

You are officially a resident if you spend 183 days or more in Portugal over a 12 month period, or maintain an abode. An abode can be described as one’s home, habitation, residence, domicile, or place of dwelling. It does not mean your principal place of business. “Abode” has a domestic rather than a vocational meaning and does not mean the same as “tax home,” when it comes to Portugal income tax.

There are 6 categories of income that are taxable: Income, business and professional income, investment income, real estate income, increases in net worth and pensions.

Other Expat Taxes

There are a few additional expat taxes Portugal enforces:

Stamp tax of .5% to 20% on the transfer of property
For Portuguese residents, capital gains tax is assessed on only half the value of the property and the applicable tax rate is based on your individual income. For non-residents, capital gains tax is 25%.

Also, for Portugal residents, be aware since Portugal taxes your worldwide income of pensions, etc., the tax rate for 2021 on taxable income of 36,967 euros to 80,882 euros is 45%!!! For non-residents it is a flat 25%.

Not trying to be a wet blanket, but the grass is not always greener on the other side of the Atlantic.

Posted by
596 posts

Threadwear, thank you very much. Yesterday, I spoke with a Portuguese lawyer. He said that Portugal does not tax foreign sources of income for non-tax residents. It's ok to maintain a vacation home.

Posted by
13 posts

Very interested in this topic so I wanted chime in and follow this post and see how things work out for you.

My wife and I have watched a series of YouTube videos on the D7 and Golden Visa and we will probably do one or the other at some point in the future. I have about 10 years until full retirement but hope to live part time and telecommute from PT within the next 5 years. We are planning our first trip to the Porto region in fall 2022 and will explore that area first as there just seems to be something that draws to the NW corner of PT. We'll check out some of the smaller mid sized towns and then plan on staying longer at some of them in 2022 and 2023. We plan to retain a footprint here in the US for a little longer and see if PT and living and retiring in Europe is really what we want to do. I've been to England and Germany repeatedly for work and also skied in all the Alp countries so Europe seems like its the right move for us but of course we want to live and explore PT a little before we make any decisions. It is very exciting and we can't wait to get over there and check it out. If we were to fully leave the US and sell our house we could do the Golden Visa, but if we do a split between the two we'd probably do D7. But we'll see!

Posted by
596 posts

Hi mergs:

Rules for the GV will change for the worse in 2022. Purchase of properties in Lisbon, Porto, and most coastal areas will not qualify. Fund investments will be raised from 350k euros minimum to 500k. I am in a rush to file my application by Dec 31, 2021.

Rules for D7 will not change. However, the catch is the residency requirements. There are lots written about it and some good Youtube videos about it.

Healthcare premiums in PT are about 10% of what they cost in the US. I do not make a typo; it's really 10%.