+1 902.405.8587 | info@high-net-worth-immigration.com
Porto, Portugal old town on the Douro River.

Citizenship in Portugal: How and Why (+Investment Opportunities)

Citizenship In Portugal:How And Why (+Investment Opportunities)

Acquiring citizenship in Portugal is a no-brainer, thanks to the numerous pathways that the country supports. But that is not the only reason why you should consider Portuguese citizenship!

Portugal is a small but mighty cultural powerhouse that boasts an impressive 585 miles of coastline on the mainland. The nation includes Madeira and the Azores, two idyllic archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal has a rich and varied landscape and a distinct but unmistakably Mediterranean culture.

Once in possession of a vast empire, Portugal is now a thriving tourist destination for visitors from all over the globe. In 2019, Portugal attracted more than 17 million tourists from abroad. It is an extremely safe country and ranks 6th in the world on the Global Peace Index

Additionally, Portugal is a member of the European Union, and citizens enjoy all the rights and protections of the EU, including visa-free travel throughout all member states. 

We at High Net Worth Immigration are here to guide you through all the possible options available to individuals seeking citizenship in Portugal and beyond. 

Our extensive experience and local knowledge allow us to bring the most up-to-date information, so you can decide whether the Portugal Golden Visa is the right choice for you.

In this guide, you will learn why it is worthwhile to acquire Portuguese passport, the different routes to citizenship, and frequently asked questions answered – all in one place for your convenience.

Note: The information is accurate at the time of publication. We make every effort to give the most recent factual information and to update this guide if changes happen. However, governments continually revise and implement new immigration legislation; thus, we recommend you contact us or check information via official government sources.

 

Why Get Citizenship In Portugal?

A wide variety of benefits are available to those who obtain Portuguese citizenship, both for individuals seeking to live in the country and those who would like to expand their business and travel options.

1. Climate

One of the primary attractions of Portugal is the mild and sunny climate. Despite some variation from north to south, Portugal is a good choice for those seeking to escape brutal winters and receives an impressive 300 days of sunshine a year.

2. Cost of Living

As with much of southern Europe, Portugal is cheaper than its northern counterparts. The cost of living is around 42% lower than in the United States, with most pantry staples being noticeably more affordable.

3. Thriving Portugal’s Economy

According to the data released by Portugal’s central bank, the country’s economy demonstrates solid growth due to its flourishing tourism sector and growing private consumption. This presents an excellent opportunity for individuals looking to find employment or start a business in this nation.

4. EU Membership 

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of Portuguese citizenship is that it makes you a European Union (EU) citizen. Citizens of the EU can enjoy border-free travel, access to education and healthcare, and visa-free employment throughout the 27 member states

Likewise, you can launch a business and benefit from a vast array of benefits and simplified rules. For more information on doing business in the EU, you can consult their official website here.

5. Portuguese Passport is Among The Strongest in The World

Portugal boasts the 6th strongest passport in the world, enabling its holders to visit over 187 countries without requiring a prior visa.

6. Safety and Stability

Safety and political stability are significant factors for individuals looking to move overseas, especially if they intend to bring their families or set up a business. 

Portugal is one of the safest nations in Europe and the whole world, with one of the lowest crime rates, a stable political system, and peaceful relationships with its neighboring countries.


Advantages Over Other Golden Visa Programs

Portuguese citizenship may be your ultimate goal, but if you do not have ancestry or other grounds for obtaining it, you might pursue the investment route and apply for Portugal's Golden Visa program.

The Portuguese Golden Visa entitles you to a residency permit in exchange for an investment in real estate, a local business, private equity funds, or a contribution to art or research. 

The best part is that Portugal's Golden Visa program (residency-by-investment) can lead you to Portuguese citizenship in just 5 years. You simply need to maintain residence for five consecutive years and make a few quick visits to the country without ever really staying there for an extended period of time.

Besides, the Portuguese Golden Visa program has many advantages over comparable European residency programs. 

Take a look at some of the key benefits.

Green Headland at Amado Beach; Algarve; Portugal

1. Low Investment Amount


The Portugal Golden Visa program has one of the lowest investment requirements, with contributions of as little as €250,000 in artistic production or maintenance of national cultural heritage. 

Alternatively, you might invest €280,000 in Portugal's properties designated for restoration in low-density regions.

portugal-residency-by-investment

2. No Requirement for Permanent Stay in the Country


To maintain your residence permit, you simply need to stay in the country for seven days each year in the first year and then at least 14 days every two years after that. 

Moreover, if you decide to apply for Portuguese citizenship and acquire a passport, you only need to spend 35 days in the country for the last five years.

get-your-golden-visa-in-Portugal

3. Lenient Family Reunification Rules


You can include your immediate family members (your spouse, legal partner, dependent children, or parents, depending on their age.)

The age requirements for dependent family members are as follows:

  • Children under 18 years of age 
  • Children under the age of 26 who are full-time students and unmarried
  • Parents of the primary applicant, if they are older than 65.

Any dependents included on the Golden Visa application will each be issued their own Portuguese residence permit card and given the same rights and benefits as the primary applicant.

portugal-golden-visa-for-investors

4. Attractive Tax Regime for Portugal Golden Visa Investors


In Portugal, the tax laws largely depend on whether you are a resident or a non-resident.

What does that mean? Simply put, if you spend over 183 days per year in Portugal, you become a tax resident. If you stay for less than 183 days a year, you do not have to pay taxes on income from business activities done abroad.

Besides, if you live in Portugal for more than 183 days, you have to pay taxes on all of your income, whether it comes from a job, a pension, investments, rent, or capital gains.

Tax rates in Portugal vary from 14.5% to 48% depending on your income level.

More information on Portugal’s resident income tax rates can be found here.

8 Ways To Get Citizenship in Portugal

1. Invest in Portugal Golden Visa


One of the most straightforward ways to obtain Portuguese residency and citizenship is via Portugal's Golden Visa program. 

Investors seeking a pathway to EU citizenship may do so by investing in the local economy, buying property in Portugal, creating a business, or making a contribution to research or art. 

Upon approval of the application, individuals are granted a residency permit and can in 5 years apply for Portuguese citizenship.


How to Get Portugal Citizenship by Investment

Portugal offers a variety of investment options, with different investment and contribution amounts, so that you can choose the most appropriate route in your circumstances.

You first need to acquire Portugal’s residence permit through one of the investment options before qualifying for citizenship.

  • Investment in Portugal’s Real Estate:
    Depending on the property type, investment amounts range from as low as €280,000 to as high as €500,000.

    To take advantage of the lowest investment amount, you must acquire a real estate object in a low-density area (with less than 100 inhabitants per square km or GDP per capita less than 75% of Portugal's average.)

    Alternatively, if you hold capital worth at least €350,000, you can invest in Portuguese-qualified urban regeneration projects that are over 30 years old.

    However, if you want to enjoy the flexibility and have fewer location-specific restrictions, you can invest a minimum of €500,000 in any real estate project within a qualifying area. This amount can be reduced to €400,000 if you invest in low-density regions.
  • Investment in Portugal’s Private Equity Funds and Venture Capital:
    The equity funds investment route was introduced in 2018 and is aimed at high-net-worth individuals interested in obtaining Portugal’s Golden Visa.

    The country sets out fairly strict requirements regarding investment in private equity funds in exchange for the Portuguese residence permit. Both the private equity funds and the venture capital project are regulated by the Bank of Portugal, the Portuguese Securities Market Commission, and external fund management firms.

    The funds must be aimed at the capitalization of commercial companies with 5 years of maturity. The minimum investment amount required is equivalent to €500,000. 
  • Capital Transfer to Portuguese-Domiciled Bank:
    Deposit of €1.5 million to a Portuguese bank, which can be subsequently used to generate ROI; however, it is essential to note that capital must be kept in the bank for a minimum of 5 years.
  • Investment in Job Creation in Portugal’s Economy:
    Incorporation of a Portuguese company and employment of at least 10 Portuguese nationals on a full-time basis. There is no minimum amount you must invest, but you must show proof that you paid social security contributions for the workers you hired.

    Furthermore, the requirement for the number of employees can be reduced to 8 if you choose to invest in a low-density area.
  • Investment in an Existing Company:
    A €500,000 investment in an established Portuguese business, in addition to creating 5 full-time positions for a minimum period of 3 years.
  • Donation to Support Portugal’s National Heritage and Art:
    Contribution of capital worth €250,000 to support Portugal’s artistic production, recovery, and maintenance of the national cultural heritage.
  • Capital Transfer for Research Activities:

    Transfer of capital equal to or greater than €500,000 to the public or private scientific research institutions for research activities.

As you can see, Portugal’s investment options are varied and often inexpensive. For similar European programs, such as Ireland's Golden Visa, you must invest a minimum of €1 million in an Irish enterprise or an investment fund, while your net worth must be at least €2 million.


Portuguese Investment Visa Requirements

Apart from meeting the investment requirements for one of your chosen options, you must also ensure that you can satisfy additional criteria set out by Portugal’s immigration laws.

Who Can Apply for an Investment Visa in Portugal?

In order to apply for an investment visa in Portugal, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a nationality outside of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland.

Related Content: Differences between the EU, the Schengen Area, and the EEA.

In addition, you must have a clean criminal record from your country of origin or of the country (countries) where you have resided for more than a year. The certificate must be issued no more than 3 months before submitting your application.

The applicant’s funds for investment must also originate from outside of Portugal.

What Are the Conditions for Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship?

As we mentioned above, there is no direct way to apply for Portuguese citizenship. The Portugal Golden Visa is primarily a residency-by-investment program.

However, those wishing to acquire a Portuguese passport can become eligible after holding residency for at least 5 years and satisfying several additional requirements, including:

  • Spending at least 7 days physically in Portugal every year for the whole five-year period (35 days in total)
  • Obtaining A2 level in the Portuguese language (*this is required only for citizenship, not residency)
  • Paying citizenship application fees as set out by the government
  • Providing an up-to-date criminal record certificate
  • Supplying details of current residency permit and proof of continuous residency for a minimum of 5 years

Submitting other documents, such as your passport, birth certificate, and list of countries you have previously lived in.

2. Via Naturalization

Citizenship by naturalization is available to people who have resided in Portugal for at least 5 years. It is a far longer and more complicated process for Portuguese citizenship than the Golden Visa route.

The applicant must primarily demonstrate that they are sufficiently assimilated into Portuguese society, mainly speaking an acceptable level of Portuguese. 

You must either take an exam to demonstrate your level or prove you were born in and/or lived in another Portuguese-speaking country for 10 years. Once all the required documents are in order, you must send a form (completed in Portuguese) requesting citizenship to the Ministry of Justice. The application fee is €250.

To apply for citizenship by naturalization, you need the following:

  • A passport
  • Your birth certificate
  • Proof that you have lived in Portugal for at least 5 years
  • At least an A2 level in Portuguese
  • A criminal record check from any country you have lived in after 16 years of age.

 

3. By Marriage to a Portuguese Citizen

It is possible to obtain Portuguese citizenship in less than 5 years if you have been in a marriage, or common law relationship, with a Portuguese citizen for at least 3 years. You do not need to reside in Portugal in order to be eligible, so you can apply even if you and your spouse met and live elsewhere. 

You do, however, need to show an interest in Portugal and, indeed, demonstrate some Portuguese to qualify. The application fee is €250. (Please note: you are ineligible for this citizenship route if you have voluntarily served in the military of another county.)

To apply for citizenship by marriage, you need the following:

  • A marriage certificate OR a legal document proving you and your partner have lived together in a marriage-like union for at least 3 years
  • Your birth certificate and the birth certificate of your partner
  • Proof of your nationality
  • A criminal record check from any country you have lived in after 16 years of age. 

For more details on what you need in each situation, you might need to consult an expert or official government sources.

4. Citizenship by Descent

If you can prove your ancestry ties, you might be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

However, some residency requirements for yourself and your parents differ depending on the year of your birth. 

If you were born in 1981 or later, your mother or father legally resided in Portugal for at least 5 years, and had not worked in the public service, you can apply for citizenship by descent. The fee for this route is €250.

You are also automatically eligible if you have at least one Portuguese parent who was a Portuguese national when you were born or a grandparent who has maintained their citizenship regardless of their country of residence. In this circumstance, your application is free.

To apply for citizenship by birth or descent, you will need some or all of the following:

  • Your birth certificate
  • The birth certificate of your Portuguese parent
  • The birth certificate of your Portuguese grandparent
  • To declare your desire to obtain Portuguese nationality
  • To demonstrate your connection to the Portuguese community, within Portugal or in a historical community abroad
  • A criminal record check from any country you have lived in after 16 years of age.

 

5. The Sephardic Jewish Opportunity

This route to citizenship is exclusively for those who identify as Sephardim – that is, historically Jewish people of Spanish or Portuguese descent. This route was opened in 2015 to acknowledge the connection of Sephardic Jewish people worldwide, who were expelled in the late 15th century. 

Applicants must demonstrate a connection to Portugal through ancestry or culture, notably the use of the Judeo-Spanish language, Ladino. You can prove your connection to the current Jewish community in Portugal or a historical Sephardic community abroad. 

To apply for citizenship as a Sephardim, you need the following:

  • Your birth certificate
  • ‘A description of the facts’ that prove your connection to the Sephardic community
  • Proof of membership in a Jewish community in Portugal or abroad
  • A criminal record check from any country you have lived in after 16 years of age.

 

6. Portugal Citizenship for Citizens of Former Portuguese Colonies

If you are an individual born in the Portuguese ex-colonies, you might be eligible to apply for citizenship in Portugal. These former colonies include Angola, Cape Verde, Portuguese India, Guinea Bissau, East Timor, Macao, Mozambique, São Tomé, and Príncipe.

To apply for a Portuguese passport via this route, you must demonstrate that you are either the descendant of Portuguese nationals within ex-colonies or a part of a community that adheres to Portuguese values and customs.

All applications under this pathway must go through Portugal’s Ministry of Justice. Besides, you need to have no criminal convictions, be at least 18 years old and provide documents, such as your and your parents legalized birth certificates and other papers proving your connection to Portuguese descent.

The standard fee of €250 also must be paid when submitting the application.

7. Be Born in Portugal

In most countries, birth gives you a guaranteed right to citizenship. However, Portugal follows the ‘ius sanguinis’ principle, meaning that a child's citizenship is passed on by his/her parents.

For this reason, gaining Portuguese citizenship by birth is a bit more nuanced and requires meeting several prerequisites.

For example, if you are born in Portugal, and at least one of your parents is Portuguese, you automatically acquire Portuguese citizenship. 

However, suppose you were born to a family of non-Portuguese parents; you can only acquire citizenship if at least one parent has resided in Portugal for a minimum of 1 year prior to your birth and was not an employee of the state.

Stateless newborns in Portugal automatically acquire citizenship without any additional requirements.

By the same token, if you are born in a foreign country to a Portuguese parent, you are also eligible to obtain citizenship as long as your birth is registered at the Portuguese diplomatic consulate.

What About Dual Nationality in Portugal?

Portugal allows dual nationality; thus, if you hold a foreign passport, you can acquire a Portuguese one without needing to renounce your original citizenship. 

However, it is always important to check whether your home country allows you to hold a second passport, as laws vary country by country.

Related Content: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Second Passport.

8. Portuguese Citizenship by Adoption

Portugal also has a separate procedure for individuals adopted by a Portuguese national. There are two routes depending on your circumstances.

If you were adopted before turning 18 and before October 8, 1981, you could apply for Portuguese citizenship if:

  • the deadline for appealing the ruling of the court that declared the adoption expired before October 8, 1981
  • you have a proven connection to the Portuguese community
  • you express your wish to apply for citizenship by submitting the official application form
  • You have no criminal convictions.

Conversely, if you were adopted before turning 18 and after October 8, 1981, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship by proving your connection to the Portuguese community and having a clean criminal record.

Note: As part of the application for citizenship by adoption, you might be asked to provide other supporting evidence.

Partner With Experts to Get Portugal’s Golden Visa

get-the-attention-you-deserve-for-your-second-passpot-application

Here you have it – eight different ways to acquire Portuguese citizenship. Now that you are fully aware of the available options, you can decide which pathway is the most viable and suitable within your unique circumstances.

However, at High Net Worth Immigration, we have been in business for over a decade. For the most part, we tend to receive inquiries regarding Portugal’s Golden Visa program, including investment routes to residency and citizenship.

We often hear from our clients, entrepreneurs, and investors alike that obtaining citizenship in Portugal or any other country is a complicated process. And we get it!

Our expert team offers personalized care, guidance, and end-to-end management of citizenship or residency applications for you and your family. 

Contact the High Net Worth Immigration Team Today!

Portugal Citizenship FAQ

A: Portugal, like many other European countries, allows dual citizenship, meaning you do not have to give up your original passport to acquire a Portuguese one. Nevertheless, you must consult your home country’s laws to determine if your original country supports dual citizenship.

A: No, you cannot buy a Portuguese citizenship and passport, but you can contribute €250,000 in artistic production or national cultural heritage or invest €280,000 in a property designated for restoration in exchange for a residence permit that you can use to apply for Portuguese citizenship in five years.

A: Investing in a Portuguese Golden Visa that can lead to citizenship presents several benefits, including the right to live, work, conduct business, study, and travel in the European Union (EU) and Schengen area. Besides, the Portuguese passport is one of the world's strongest, enabling visa-free travel to 187 countries. 

A: The fastest way to Portuguese citizenship is the Golden Visa Program, which requires a €250,000 (donation) or €280,000 (investment), no criminal record, and at least 35 days of physical presence in the country over the 5-year residency period. After that, you may seek citizenship if you pass an A2 level in Portuguese.

A: The timeline to get Portuguese citizenship could vary depending on the citizenship pathway you take. However, if you apply for a Portugal Golden Visa program, you can secure Portuguese citizenship after five years of residency in the country.
A: The Portugal Golden Visa is first awarded for a period of one year, but may be renewed every two years if the investor maintains their initial investments in Portugal. You become eligible to apply for Portuguese nationality after five years.

 vicky-page-author

Vicky Katsarova, CEO

“My world travels and my own immigration experiences have given me a deep understanding and clear insight into each of our clients’ specific requirements, aspirations and concerns. It is this intense personal association with client expectations and needs that helps to set our company and our service apart.”

Porto, Portugal old town skyline on the Douro River with rabelo boats.

Acquiring citizenship in Portugal is a no-brainer, thanks to the numerous pathways that the country supports. But that is not the only reason why you should consider Portuguese citizenship!

Portugal is a small but mighty cultural powerhouse that boasts an impressive 585 miles of coastline on the mainland. The nation includes Madeira and the Azores, two idyllic archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal has a rich and varied landscape and a distinct but unmistakably Mediterranean culture.

We at High Net Worth Immigration are here to guide you through all the possible options available to individuals seeking citizenship in Portugal and beyond. 

Get Your Free Consultation