Investing in Portugal – What changes in the Portuguese Golden Visa Investment Program?

By Thursday February 18th, 2021 February 23rd, 2021 Artigo, Vistos e Residências
O “Novo” Processo de Inventário

Golden Visa investment program in Portugal suffered some important changes in its terms.

But is this the end of the Golden Visa Investment Program?

We don´t think so.

Let’s go over what changes and what remains the same.

 

Portuguese Golden Visa investment program -what changes?

There were always several investment options for the Golden Visa investment program in Portugal.

However, real estate was always the preferred option. And we will get to that in a few minutes, we promise.

Let’s start with an overview of the other investment options and how they were affected.

Right after that, special attention will be given to the Investment Fund option and the Real Estate option.

So, without further ado,

Investment options that were not subject to change:

  • The creation of, at least, 10 job positions;
  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 250.000,00€ (two hundred and fifty thousand Euros) to invest in artistic output or supporting the arts, for reconstruction or refurbishment of the national heritage property, through the local and central authorities, public institutions, public corporate sector, public foundations, private foundations of public interest,  networked local authorities, local corporate sector organizations, local associations, and public cultural associations, pursuing activities of artistic output, and reconstruction or maintenance of the national heritage;

Investment options that were subject to change:

  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 1 million Euros;

Now – 1.5 million Euro

  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 350.000,00€ (three hundred and fifty thousand Euros) for investing in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technologic system;

Now – 500.000,00€

  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 350.000,00€ (three hundred and fifty thousand Euros), for the constitution of a commercial society with head office in the national territory, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a commercial society with head office in national territory, already existing, with the creation or keeping of working jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, for a minimum period of three years.

Now – 500.000,00€

 

INVESTMENT FUND OPTION

Like the previous options, the investment fund option was also subject to minor change, being that the investment will need to be made for 500.000,00€ instead of the prior 350.000,00€.

This option involves:

Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 350.000,00€ (three hundred and fifty thousand Euros), to the acquisition of units of investment funds,

OR

venture capital fund of funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies, capital injected under the Portuguese legislation,

whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investment is realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory;

Now – 500.000,00€

 

However, this particular type of investment is worthy of note for the lack of change more than the change itself.

That is because the fact that the only change was the amount of the investment from 350K to 500k means that the door is still open to real estate investment funds with residential property in the “red zone” area in the portfolio!

We are not quite sure if this was intended or if it was an oversight.

The fact is that (1) residential property is not the main sort of real estate funds investment object and (2) the direct market value and long-term renting impact of such a fund would not be the same as buying a residential property.

Therefore, we suspect that this was an intentional move, as we believe the intention ended up not being to eliminate the investment in the “red zone” altogether, but rather to redirect its attention.

 

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT:

Getting to the big pink elephant in the room,

The major change in the law was, as known, regarding the direct purchase of a property.

As we have all heard by now, investment in Lisbon, Porto, shoreline, and most of Algarve is now limited.

However, limitation seems to rely only on when discussing property meant for residential purposes.

 

What does it mean when a property is meant for a certain purpose?

This sidenote is essential to understand the change in the law.

Property in Portugal might be registered for different purposes – residential purposes, or non-residential purposes.

As for the residential purpose, it is self-explanatory – is when a property is meant to be used as an apartment, house, etc, – for someone to live in.

When regarding non-residential purposes, we have properties that are meant to be used as services, commerce, industry, tourism, equipment, etc. So, for example, a hotel, a grocery store, hairdresser, barbershop….

As a curious note – The Portuguese courts have already ruled that short-term rental does not conflict with a property’s license issued for residential purposes. However, this does not seem to prevent an apartment that will be placed in the market for short-term rental, to be licensed as a service apartment.

So how is the “property purpose” defined?

The purpose of a property is something that is defined based on the initial architectural project and the property license issued by the City Hall.

For example, if you have a project for an apartment building, you will initiate the City Hall approval process as a residential property.

Therefore, when the project is concluded, and the City Hall issues the final mandatory license, it will be licensed as a residential purpose property.

On the other hand, if you renovate an existing apartment building, you are probably renovating a building licensed for residential purposes.

If this is not changed from the moment you ask the City Hall for the renovation project approval, the license will still be given as a license for residential purposes.

But can we change the purpose of a specific property?

Yes, in fact, this “purpose” can be changed.

Most and foremost, it will most certainly and most importantly be up to the City Hall to approve such change or not.

However, the complexity of the procedures to even get to that point will depend on a certain number of variable factors.

For example, factors such as what type of building is in question; is there a horizontal property deed?; does the owner have unanimity regarding the horizontal property, either alone or with the agreeance of the other co-owners? Did the City Hall already pronounce itself on the matter? Will the change collide with the Municipality urban planning? … a lot of factors are involved in such a quest, so only case by case we would be able to do a proper evaluation. But an article is coming out soon on this particular subject.

So, what did change in the real estate investment?

The actual eligibility of an investment in real estate is analyzed from the following perspective:

A real estate investment is eligible when the requirements determined in articles 3º, d), iii, and iv are met.

This means the law did NOT change anything regarding the original writing, so the same amount of investment and the same requirements will still be applicable.

Therefore, an investment is eligible for Golden Visa when:

  • The purchase of real estate property with a value equal to or above 500.000,00€ (five thousand Euros);
  • The purchase of real estate property, with construction dating back more than 30 years or located in urban rehabilitation areas, for renovating, for a total value equal to or above 350.000,00€ (three hundred and fifty thousand Euros);

 

However, we now have a new number to play with,

number 4 added to article 3 saying:

“4 – Properties acquired under the terms outlined in sub-paragraphs iii) and iv) of paragraph d) of no. 1 [of article 3] that are intended for residential purposes only allow access to this regime if they are located in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or in the inland territories identified in the annex to Ministerial Order no. 208/2017, of 13 July.”

This means that the property bought on the above 500.000,00€ (five thousand Euros) and/or above 350.000,00€ (three hundred and fifty thousand Euros) requirements, if, bought as a property registered for residential purposes, is only eligible if located in Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or the inland territories (see MAP at the end).

If the investment is made referring to property registered for services or commercial purposes, the investment can STILL be made in Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve. It can be made anywhere in Portugal for that matter.

 

So, in short:

– no change in the minimal amount of investment for real estate investment.

– if the investment relates to a residential purpose property (short-term rental included), only the areas in the MAP below (green zone) are eligible.

– if the investment relates to a non-residential purpose such as services or commercial purposes – (hotels, office buildings, boutiques, restaurants, hairdressers, etc), or industry (manufacturing) – it can be made anywhere in Portugal.

 

As a final note:

These changes will ONLY be inforced by the 1st of January 2022;

Until the end of 2021, everything will remain the same, and any real estate investment over 500K or 350K will still be eligible anywhere in Portugal;

It is possible to create the NIF, open a bank account, and purchase a house without coming to Portugal.

On this note, PLEASE be aware of lawyers that are attesting a Power of Attorney via online or zoom conversations – our BAR already clarified that this is not legal, for lack of legal prevision. So, you are at a high risk of getting your property registration denied further down the line!

Even after the changes, real estate investment will still be possible in Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, and shoreline.

As per the world’s current situation, unfortunately, we actually anticipate that the investment in commercial opportunities will skyrocket, either by the purchase of real estate for services or commercial purposes or by the investment in existing businesses as well.

Agriculture is also always a good option for investment in Portugal, due to our very unique set of climate conditions. We don´t need to explain further if you already ate the food and drank the wine, do we?

 

For clarity purposes, here we have a map of our beloved Country.

Map of Portugal highlighting the green, orange, and red zones for investment

Highlighted in red are the areas where the investment will be restricted and in green the areas where the investment will not.

Orange areas are Municipalities that have both civil parishes where the investment is restricted, and civil parishes where the investment is not restricted.

In the green and blue areas, the investment is not restricted.

 

 

 

To keep in mind,
The benefits of investing via the Golden Visa investment program in Portugal are still the same:

– Visa exemption for traveling within the Schengen Area;

– Family reunification, even for children studying abroad;

– Applying for permanent residence after 5 years of residency;

– Applying for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years. You can read more about the requirements here and here.

– Possibility of applying to NHR regime;

 

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Eva