Changes to the Portuguese Golden Visa program have officially taken effect as of October 7, 2023. These changes were introduced through the "Mais Habitação" ("More Housing") bill, signed into law by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa last week and published in the official newspaper Diário da república on October 6. The new law effectively eliminates the real estate investment option within the Golden Visa program, reshaping the landscape for residency seekers.
Under the new rules, applicants have several ways to qualify for the Golden Visa:
- Creating a minimum of ten jobs.
- Investing at least €500,000 in research activities conducted by public or private research institutions.
- Investing at least €250,000 in artistic production, cultural heritage recovery, or maintenance.
- Investing at least €500,000 in specific investment funds based in Portugal, with a minimum maturity of five years, and a requirement that at least 60% of investments are made in national-based commercial companies.
- Investing at least €500,000 in a company based in Portugal, either by establishing a new one and creating five permanent jobs or by contributing to an existing company, ensuring the creation or maintenance of at least five permanent jobs for a minimum of three years.
For options 1, 2, and 3, the minimum investment requirements may be reduced by 20% when investments are directed toward low-density territories, defined as areas with fewer than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer or a GDP per capita less than 75% of the national average. Importantly, the new regulations strictly prohibit investments in the form of real estate.
With no real estate investment option, market experts anticipate that the fund investment route will become the preferred choice for most investors seeking residency in Portugal.
The law also introduced other measures such as the suspension of registration for new local accommodations outside low-density territories, an extraordinary contribution imposed on such businesses, mandatory rentals for properties vacant for over two years, and caps on the value of new rental contracts for properties already on the market.
There are also capital gains tax exemptions for property owners selling to the State, an increase in the deduction for dependents under the Family IMI, adjustments to the autonomous rate of property income, and tax exemptions for homeowners transitioning their properties from local accommodations by the end of 2024.