NEW RULES OF THE GOLDEN VISA PROGRAM
Doubts about how important the Golden Visa program is for Portuguese Government and how long it will last ?
“Nothing lasts forever”, that’s an absolute truth. But as pictures are worth a thousand words, also numbers can replace a more extensive description of this program:
Total Golden Visas issued YTD (2015): 2.290
Golden Visa by type of investment
Country Investors Profile (investors origins)
Economic Value Invested in Portugal
Source: Associação Portuguese de Promototres e Investidores Imobiliários
These numbers clearly indicates the level of importance the golden visa program has for Portuguese economy.
What is the Golden Visa Program anyway ?
This program is actually called the ARI program, but for commercial reasons the market has adopted the terminology “Golden Visa”. To simplify our communication we will continue to refer to it has Golden Visa instead of the official name “Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento (ARI) “
The Resident Permit for Investment Activity opens the possibility for foreign investors to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Portugal and consequently free access to the vast majority of European countries (Schengen area).
Who can apply?
Nationals of third countries who pursue an investment activity, that leads, to the implementation of at least one of the following investment activities in the country for a minimum period of five years.
- Transfer of capital of at least EUR 1,000,000
Bank deposits: the applicant must have a declaration from a credit institution authorised or registered in Portugal by the Bank of Portugal. This declaration must prove the ownership, free of any burdens or charges, of bank deposits with a balance of at least EUR 1,000,000, resulting from an international transfer, or of a share in the balance of the same amount in the case of joint accounts. To renew a Golden Visa, the applicant must demonstrate that the average quarterly balance of the bank deposit has been at least EUR 1,000,000;
Public debt securities of the Portuguese State: it possible to obtain a Golden Visa by first acquiring public debt of the Portuguese State, including treasury bonds, savings certificates or treasury bills. In this case, the Treasury and Public Debt Management Agency (Agência de Gestão de Tesouraria e Dívida Pública – IGCP, E.P.E.), must attest to the ownership, free of any burdens or charges, of one of those instruments with a value of at least EUR 1,000,000. In the case of renewal, the applicant must obtain a declaration from that Agency attesting to the ownership, free of any burdens or charges, of debt instruments with an average quarterly balance of at least EUR 1,000,000;
Acquisition of securities and acquisition of shares in commercial companies: it is also possible to obtain a Golden Visa by acquiring bookentry securities or bearer or registered securities (whether or not in a centralised system) for an amount of at least EUR 1,000,000. In any of these cases, it will always be mandatory to have a certificate proving ownership, free of any burdens or charges, issued by the registering or custodial entity, by their issuer or by the financial intermediary, respectively, for both granting and renewal of the Golden Visa. In the case of acquisition of shares in commercial companies, the applicant must have an up-to-date commercial registration certificate and the acquisition contract, with an indication of the value.
Creation of at least 10 jobs
The applicant must prove that he or she has actually hired the employees and registered them with the Social Security – by presenting an up-to-date certificate issued by that entity. In the case of renewal, the applicant must present an up-to-date social security certificate proving that he or she has maintained the minimum number of jobs.
- Acquisition of real estate with a value of at least EUR 500,000
In relation to what has been the predominant investment activity to obtain Golden Visas, the applicant must acquire real estate with a value of at least EUR 500,000.
The applicant may acquire the real estate as a co-owner as long as each of the co-owners invests at least EUR 500,000.
The Golden Visa applicant may also be a promissory purchaser as long as the deposit he or she has paid is at least EUR 500,000.
The money used to pay the purchase price or deposit must come from an international transfer to a bank account in Portugal held by the applicant.
To prove compliance with the minimum requirements for this investment activity, when he or she makes the Golden Visa application, the applicant must file:
- the document that proves the acquisition or promissory purchase of the property,
- a declaration issued by a financial institution attesting to the transfer of the capital, and
- an up-to-date land registry certificate that includes registration of the acquisition or, henever possible, of the promissory sale and purchase in favour of the Golden Visa applcant).
It should be noted that if the second renewal occurs 36 months after the Golden Visa is granted, the visa holder must present the definitive sale and purchase contract and an up-to-date land registry certificate of his or her acquisition.
Acquisition of real estate with construction completed at least 30 years ago or located in an urban rehabilitation area, with execution of rehabilitation works:
To obtain a Golden Visa on the basis of prior acquisition of real estate assets with construction completed at least 30 years ago or located in an urban rehabilitation area and execution of rehabilitation works on the property acquired, the minimum investment is reduced to EUR 350,000.
Besides demonstrating that he or she is the owner of the property, free of any burdens or charges, the applicant may present:
- Poof of filing of a request for prior information or for the licensing for rehabilitation or
- A works contract for the works on the property acquired.
In either of these cases, the applicant must also deposit the difference between the property purchase price and the minimum investment required – to be used to pay for the works – in a bank account at a bank in Portugal held by him or her.
To renew the Golden Visa, the applicant must have an authorisation to carry out the rehabilitation works as well as the works contract. At the same time, the applicant continues to be under an obligation to prove that he or she has maintained the deposit of the works contract price at a bank in Portugal and, whenever possible, present the receipts for partial or full payment for the works.
- Transfer of capital of at least EUR 350,000, invested in research carried out by public or private scientific research institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system:
For this purpose, the applicant must make an international transfer of at least EUR 350,000 to a bank account held by him or her in Portugal.
The applicant must also obtain a declaration issued by a public or private research institution that is part of the national scientific and technological system, attesting that it has received the capital in question.
- Transfer capital of at least EUR 250,000, as investment or support for artistic production, or recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage:
The applicant must make an international transfer to his or her bank account in Portugal and obtain a declaration issued by the Office of Cultural Strategy, Planning and Evaluation (Gabinete de Estratégia, Planeamento e Avaliações Culturais) attesting to the transfer of that capital.
- Transfer capital of at least EUR 500,000, destined to acquire units in investment or venture capital funds aimed at providing capital to small and medium-sized companies that meet certain requirements:
To obtain a Golden Visa, the applicant must acquire, for the price of at least EUR 500,000, units in investment or venture capital funds aimed at providing capital to small and medium-sized companies that present a capitalisation plan. In turn, the company that manages the fund in question must attest to the viability of the capitalisation plan.