What you need to know
Both programs are hugely popular, Portugal’s marginally more so, and especially with Americans, who have been the largest single nationality recently – retirees, digital nomads, and businessmen leading the group – but also many other nationalities.
These countries offer scenic beauty, wonderful weather, great cuisines, and an excellent quality of life. Legal residency through investment is available to all non-EU nationalities. Meeting all program requirements can eventually lead to permanent residency and citizenship. While the benefits of the Golden Visa programs are similar in both Spain and Portugal, the requirements have some differences.
Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Benefits
For both countries’ programs investors can enjoy
- The right to live, work, and study in that country
- Visa-free travel to the 26 EU nations as part of the Schengen Zone and both offer visa free access to over 180 countries with two of the world’s strongest passports.
- Immediate family eligibility for residency.
- Strong education and medical system that are government subsidised
- A host of entertainment and recreational facilities
- Both are safe counties with Portugal ranking in the world’s top 10 and Spain not far behind (Global Peace index).
Which program is quicker: Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa?
- Spain is fast and efficient, with approval usually given in 20 business days of submission.
- Portugal’s Golden Visa processing takes at least 18 months after the online submission.
Relatively Lenient for Both
- Portugal: 7 days in country in the first year and 14 days every two years after that.
- Spain: you must visit at least once per year as part of your visa renewal.
Which program is quicker: Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa?
Spain after 10 years and Portugal after 5 years and it is easier than in Spain.
In Spain, the Golden Visa program does not automatically grant Spanish citizenship unless you are a national from one of Spain’s former colonies in Central and South America, the Caribbean or the Philippines. These nationals can gain citizenship within two years, provided they meet other requirements.
Particularly for Americans, as well as nationals of other countries, they must first live as temporary residents in Spain, for 183 days per year and apply to become permanent residents after five years. After another 5 years of permanent residency, they can apply for citizenship – 10 years in all.
In Portugal, acquiring permanent residency and citizenship is easier and faster. Investors can apply for permanent residency after five years, without living in Portugal. They become eligible for citizenship after the fifth year.
Portugal has more competitive investment options and is generally a little less costly than Spain.
Portugal has 3 options.
- The lowest cost is a EUR 250,000 donation to the arts.
- An investment of at least EUR 500,000 into a Portuguese Investment or Venture Capital fund with certain government requirements.
- Purchasing real estate
- Any property in a designated area (Not Lisbon, Porto or the coast) for EUR 500,000 or in a low density area for EUR 400,000.
- A property in a designated area that is at least 30 years old for renovation, with a minimum value of EUR 350,000 or 280,000 in a low density area
Spain Golden Visa real estate investment pros and cons.
First Spain has only two options
- A minimum of 1 million Euros deposited into an accredited Spanish bank
- A minimum real estate investment of EUR 500,000 in real estate or real estate shares – for the purchase of 1 or multiple properties and a mix of residential or commercial real estate.
Both countries have relatively dynamic and robust real estate markets, and it is worth noting that these are investment programs. It is reasonable to expect that investors can recoup their funds after 5 years with a likely profit, except for the Portugal Arts donation option, and there may be interim dividends available.
Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers more – the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) Portugal Tax Regime, which allows tax exemptions for up to ten years. These exemptions are extensive and include income obtained from pensions, dependent and independent work, real estate income, capital gains, and intellectual or industrial property. Portugal’s property transfer tax is also highly beneficial.
Spain’s Golden Visa real estate investment has a significant factor to consider, which is the taxation system. Investors who reside in Spain for more than 183 days per year are subject to tax on their worldwide income, which is not the case in Portugal. For non-resident individuals, the country charges a 24% tax on income derived in Spain, such as rental income.
Tax – Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Benefits
Both countries include spouses, dependent children under 18 dependent parents. All eligible for residency. Portugal offers marginally broader family eligibility, for example, including dependent children over 18 who are still in school.
In summary, for Americans or most other nationalities, there are very solid benefits to both Golden Visa programs. Many experts consider Portugal’s Golden Visa to be slightly more advantageous, but it’s important to note that both Portugal’s and Spain’s golden visa real estate investment pros and cons exist. It’s important to consider both options and choose the one that best aligns with your priorities.
As noted earlier there have been some reports of Portugal terminating their Golden visa program. In this event we would recommend you consider some of the other similar European programs, such as those of Malta, Cyprus, Greece, France and Monaco.
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Harvey Law Group (HLG) has been advising on Immigration and Business Law for more than three decades. With 20 offices around the world including in the United States,
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