What Do I Need to Immigrate to Portugal from South Africa?

Portugal Residency Program

What is the Easiest European Country to Immigrate to from South Africa?

“Easiest” is subjective, but certainly Portugal has become a very popular destination for many South Africans thinking about emigrating.

There are three main reasons for this. First is the development of the Portuguese Golden Visa (PGV), or Residency-by-Investment (RBI) program. It is seen as affordable and accessible, with a large number already granted to South Africans. Second is the appeal of a European (and especially a Mediterranean) lifestyle.

Third is the travel advantage offered by Portuguese residency and many European passports. 

Immigrate to Portugal
Immigrate to Portugal from South Africa
Portugal Residency Program

How much money do I need to immigrate to Portugal?”

There are 3 pathways to the PGV, each with different rules and funding demands. One option is to invest EUR 500,000 in residential or commercial property. Residential property must be in a designated interior area, which basically excludes the two main cities of Lisbon and Porto, and the two coastal strips, but leaves all of the rest of the country. In a designated low-density area, the pecuniary condition drops to EUR 400,000.


Another possibility under the PGV is to purchase a property for at least EUR 350,000 that is over 30 years old or in an urban regeneration area and undertake to renovate it. Again, if residential, it must be in a designated interior and in a low-density area. These financial requirements will decrease to EUR 280,000.
The final opportunity is to commit EUR 500,000 to an approved Portuguese investment fund.

How long can a South African stay in Portugal?

The successful applicant and their family receive a residency permit valid for 2 years that enables them to live in Portugal as long as they want, to study and work there. The permit is renewed every two years, provided all the conditions continue to be met.

For all 3 investment types, the assets must be held for the permit to remain valid. After 5 years of holding the relevant asset, the applicant and qualifying family members may choose to apply for either permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.   

Can South Africans retire in Portugal?

There is no age limit and no language, educational, or work experience requirements, therefore retirees as well as individuals or families from South Africa are eligible for the PGV.  “Family” can include a spouse, dependent children, and parents. The PGV program has proven particularly attractive to those either planning retirement or already retired.  

The Global Retirement Index rates Portugal as one of the 3 or 4 best countries in the world. It is also very appealing to families, as many South Africans see it as offering a better opportunity for their children and future generations.  


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    Can I live in Portugal with a South African passport?

    As outlined above, a person who is approved for a Portuguese Golden Visa is granted a renewable residency permit and may live in Portugal as long as they maintain their requisite investment or, after years, decide to convert their permit into permanent residency or citizenship.

    Portugal does nothing to prevent nationals from South Africa from applying for the PGV, hence having a South African passport should not be an issue. 

    Is it difficult to immigrate to Portugal?

    The lifestyle in Portugal attracts many South Africans due to several features. Portugal is in the top 10 countries in the world for safety across 23 parameters measured by the World Peace Index, well ahead of the United Kingdom or the United States, for example.   

    All Portuguese schoolchildren learn English from sixth grade; therefore, someone can usually help if you don’t speak Portuguese. If you do eventually seek Portuguese citizenship, you will need to speak some basic Portuguese, but the government offers Portuguese classes for foreign residents. For parents, the Portuguese education system is heavily government subsidized and ranks highly on global tables. Likewise, the health system is both excellent and well-funded by the government, which is important for both families and retirees.


    Another factor when considering a new life is the cost of living. While greater than in South Africa, it is still very reasonable for Europe. For example, it is almost half the cost of that in Great Britain (46% cheaper) or France (39%). In terms of weather, Portugal averages 300 days of sunshine per year, compared to 161 in Paris and even less in the cities of Great Britain. Plus, the scenery in Portugal is breath-taking, gorgeous beaches, rugged mountains, and beautiful forests crisscrossed with walking trails. 

    Portugal has cities with every level of shopping, beautiful wines and wineries; superb restaurants; and a history and culture that are unsurpassed. Almost every leisure activity is catered to, from golf and water sports to even snow skiing in the Serra del Estrella

    Lastly, as noted earlier, travel access is a huge incentive for South Africans.  With a valid Portuguese Residency Permit, there is visa-free mobility within the Schengen area for up to 6 months per year (90 days in any 180-day period). Then if citizenship is gained, the whole qualifying family can live, study, work, and enjoy social benefits anywhere within the EU.    

    Bastien Trelcat, Managing Partner of Harvey Law Group, notes that, “The Portuguese government changed the requirements for a Golden Visa at the start of 2022, however nonetheless, it remains one of the most advantageous in Europe.”

    With any Citizenship-by-Investment or Residency-by-Investment program there are details that can be complex and issues to consider for each individual to decide what is best for them.  

    For more information about Portuguese Residency-by-Investment (the Golden Visa), please visit https://harveylawcorporation.com/portugal-golden-visa-program/ . If you would like to discuss your plans with one of our professionals, please contact us as at [email protected] .

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