According to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, 9,389 investors obtained residency in Portugal between 2012 and December 2020. Similarly, 8,011 investors obtained residency in Greece between 2013 and January 2021. This is the data Enterprise Greece released. All of these investors obtained their residency through making an investment in the related country.
If you wonder about the reasons behind this interest, we should dive deeper into the Residency by Investment programs. Let’s have a look at together to the rest of the article below.
Benefits of a Golden Visa
A Golden Visa offers more than an EU residency. The Get Golden Visa name a few benefits and lists expanded mobility rights, potential EU citizenship, and tax reductions as the most outstanding features of this program. They state that investors commonly consider Golden Visa as an investment in the future of their family.
Let’s have a look at them below in more detail.
Extended mobility rights between countries
A Golden Visa means visa-free travel within the Schengen countries as well as easy travel between two countries. This means that you can easily enter or exit your country of origin and your country of Golden Visa. A second residency provides you this right.
So, in case of unexpected conditions such as the recent pandemic, Golden Visa offers you an alternative place of residence. As the CBI Index also suggests, “Before the Covid-19 crisis, investors looked to second citizenship as a platform from which to dive head-on into a world of greater interaction, travel, and globalization. Mobility rights took . . . center-stage. However, by blocking international travel, the Covid-19 pandemic has had the effect of reminding investors and the wider world of the fundamental importance of ‘home’. In other words, Covid-19 has shifted investor priorities, refocusing them on places that are healthy, pleasant, and welcoming.” This is why the importance of Golden Visas has become more clear.
No stay requirement
It is important to note that you don’t need to stay in the country of your Golden Visa, except for the minimum required period. However, if you wish to, especially Portugal and Greece offer you a quality lifestyle in many respects. For example, hospitals in Portugal are equipped with high-end pieces of equipment. So much so that Forbes elected the Alentejo region as one of the must-visit destinations after Covid-19. It indicates that Portugal has handled the pandemic quite well.
Portugal has also many world-class international schools. So, if you plan to move there with your family, Portugal will serve you well. The safety rate in Portugal is also proven through international indexes. One of them is the Global Peace Index (GPI). According to the 2020 GPI Index, Portugal ranks the 3rd safest and peaceful country in the world, among a total of 163 countries.
Similarly, Greece Golden Visa does not require you to stay in the country on any day of the year. So, you can spend your year wherever you want.
Potential EU citizenship
Following a certain period after your Golden Visa application, you can apply for citizenship and permanent residency as well. EU citizenship will provide you the same rights as a regular EU citizen has. These include the right to live, work, or study in any EU country you and your family wish.
For Portugal Golden Visa, the duration to apply for a passport is five years following your application. During these five years, you need to stay in Portugal for a minimum of seven days on average per year. Because it does not require being a full-time resident to be eligible for citizenship, the program also known as Portuguese citizenship by investment
As mentioned above, Greece does not require you to spend time in Greece at all. However, the exact process to get Greek citizenship is not clear yet. The reason is that it is relatively a recent program, and it requires at least seven years to apply for citizenship. Lawyers suggest residing in Greece at least 183 days each year and show strong connections to the country.
Spain Golden Visa is another program you can consider for EU citizenship. Note that it takes five years to apply for permanent residency, and ten years to apply for citizenship. This again a residence permit that can lead to citizenship if you decide to live in the country.
Tax benefits for foreigners
Portugal’s non-habitual resident (NHR) program
The NHR schedule aims to attract people who shift their tax residency to Portugal. The condition is that you shouldn’t be a tax resident in Portugal within the last five years. Also, you need to have the right to residency in Portugal.
The NHR program mainly allows you to be exempt from most of your foreign income for ten years. It also allows you to pay less tax if you gain Portuguese income as well. A regular Portuguese taxpayer can pay taxes up to 48%. If you are a non-habitual resident, the rate will remain at 20%.
Greece’s 7% tax rate for foreign retirees
The recent regulation states that if foreign pensioners shift their tax residency to Greece, all of their foreign income will be taxed at a flat rate of 7%. This will be in effect for a duration of ten years.
Eligible applicants and investment options
- Golden Visas are available only for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens.
- Investment options differ depending on the country of your choice. However, the most common option is real estate purchase in general. Note that Greece offers the lowest threshold to get EU residency. It is only €250,000.
- Portugal Golden Visa Program gained attention with its alternative investment options. Fund investment option for a minimum of € 350,000 is one of the most common one recently.
- If you plan to establish a business, Portugal can be a good option with its growing tech and startup sector. The EY Attractiveness Survey shows that the foreign direct investment rate in 2019 increased more than double the rate in 2018.
When is the best time to apply?
Most of the application process can be completed remotely, so there is no need to wait for anything. Also, in time of the pandemic, it would be better to start the process sooner so that you can extend your mobility as soon as possible.