The Portugal Golden Visa investment funds route is one of the fastest and most tax-efficient ways to start your journey to EU citizenship.
With funds, you can invest in Portugal for citizenship after five years of residency.
The funds route offers a lower cost of investment and more favorable tax situation than the better-known Golden Visa property route.
As with any investment product, funds carry an element of risk. This article is not financial advice. You should seek advice from a qualified financial advisor before investing in a fund.
Portugal Golden Visa Investment Funds: Overview
Since its launch in 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa program has been a resounding success. It’s now widely considered one of Europe’s most popular immigrant investor programs.
The funds route offers a lower overall cost of investment and more favorable tax situation than the better-known real estate route.
Many funds focus on residential property, while others invest in commercial property including storage, student housing, hotels and retail units. Others invest in Portuguese start-ups, high-tech, energy and sustainability projects, and agriculture.
Not just any fund can qualify for the Golden Visa program. There are strict requirements. First, the fund must be registered in Portugal and have at least 60% of its capital invested there.
Top 20 Qualified Investment Funds
NB. This is not an exhaustive list of funds eligible for the Golden Visa. We try to keep all information as accurate as possible, but are not responsible for any inadvertent errors that may occur.
Using funds to invest in Portugal for citizenship
People often ask if Portugal has a citizenship by investment program. Technically, the answer is no. The Golden Visa doesn’t lead to immediate citizenship.
You have to hold the investment (and renew your residency) for a minimum of five years to be eligible to apply for citizenship. The same five year period applies to anyone who wants Portuguese citizenship by naturalization.
What’s more, Portugal Golden Visa holders who want citizenship still have to pass a Portuguese language exam at A2 level.
The major advantage of funds is that your investment will secure those citizenship years for you, while you continue living elsewhere. You only have to spend a minimum of seven days per year physically in Portugal during your journey to citizenship.
Benefits of the Golden Visa
No matter which route you use, the Portugal Golden Visa has substantial benefits for you and your family members. With your Golden Visa residency – leading to Portuguese citizenship – you’ll achieve the following:
- Residency in a safe, stable, and politically neutral EU member state
- Fast five-year pathway to be eligible for EU citizenship – which brings you full freedom to live, work, study and retire across the 30 countries of the EU and EEA (European Economic Area).
- Beat Brexit – if you’re British, regain your lost EU rights by acquiring Portuguese citizenship
- Dual (or multiple) citizenship – not every EU country allows it, but Portugal does
- Travel visa-free to 186 countries with Portugal’s well-respected passport
- Travel visa-free across the Schengen zone with your Portuguese residency permit
- Flexible minimum stay – your choice either to live in Portugal, or just visit for two weeks every year
- Free healthcare – Access to Portugal’s good quality state healthcare system
- Tax benefits – Preferential tax treatment on your worldwide income (if you decide to live in Portugal) with Portugal’s generous NHR tax scheme
All Golden Visa Routes for 2022
In total there are eight different routes to get the Golden Visa in Portugal. Real estate and investment funds are by far the most common.
Please note, it’s no longer possible to invest for the Golden Visa in residential property in Lisbon, Porto, and portions of the Algarve.
However, commercial real estate is still available in all those locations, along with residential options in central Portugal, the Azores, and (our favorite) Madeira.
Here are all the routes for easy comparison.
|Golden Visa route||Minimum investment|
|Investment and venture capital funds||€500,000|
|Real estate (any eligible area)||€500,000|
|Real estate (low-density zones only)||€400,000|
|Real estate (rehabilitation only)||€350,000|
|Real estate (rehabilitation in low-density zones only)||€280,000|
|Bank transfer to Portuguese bank||€1,500,000|
|Cultural heritage projects||€250,000|
|Research and development projects||€500,000|
|Create a Portuguese company and 10 jobs||No minimum|
Investment Funds vs Real Estate
How do Portugal Golden Visa investment funds measure up when compared to the popular real estate route?
Here’s a handy comparison of the two.
|Investment threshold||€500,000||From €280,000 (low-density) to €500,000 (standard)|
|Submission timeline (approx)||5-7 weeks (if all paperwork in order)||Highly variable – you can’t apply without the deeds|
|Investment costs||Typical fund subscription fee: €5,250|
Typical legal fees: €6,000
Total investment cost = €511,250
|Transfer taxes (7.5 %): €37,500 |
Typical legal fees: €6,000
Total investment cost: €543,500
|Government fees||Processing: €533 for main applicant + €83.30 per dependent (Paid at start and at each renewal)|
Application fee (paid at start): €5,325 per applicant
Renewal fee (per renewal): €2,663 per applicant
|Processing: €533 for main applicant + €83.30 per dependent (Paid at start and at each renewal)|
Application fee (paid at start): €5,325 per applicant
Renewal fee (per renewal): €2,663 per applicant
|Exit fees||Varies by fund, typically 35% of profit||None|
|Taxes||At entry: Zero |
Ongoing: Potentially zero
At exit: Zero capital gains for non tax residents; 10% for tax residents
|At entry: Transfer tax 7.5%; stamp duty, notary fees|
Ongoing: Municipal tax up to 0.5% per annum; Rental income 28%
At exit: Capital gains 28%
Once the investment is made, you’re all set for a pathway to citizenship
– Finding and managing tenants and/or holiday guests,
– Dealing with property management firms,
– Other possible legal costs
– Professionally managed,
– Closely regulated by the Portuguese government
– Property market is less regulated than funds,
– More vulnerable to market changes,
– More risk of loss or damage
|Investment management||Professional fund managers, increasing the chance of good returns||You’ll have to manage your property yourself, or hire someone to help|
|Location restrictions||None; you can live anywhere you want||Limited to property in central Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira|
|Ease of exit||Low:|
Most funds lock you in for 5-7 years
You can sell at any time (but you’d lose residency rights)
Which route is best for you?
Investment funds might be the right fit if…
- Living in Portugal isn’t necessarily your plan with the Golden Visa
- You might want to live in Portugal in future, but haven’t yet chosen your perfect location
- You’re keen to save money on associated taxes and fees
- You don’t want the added hassle and expense of finding a reliable management firm to look after the property and find suitable tenants
- Your property needs don’t match Golden Visa program requirements (for example, you want something modest, or in a lower-cost area), although you can buy more than one property to reach the minimum investment threshold.
Property might be better for you if…
- You want your investment to function both as a place to live and as your route to residency in Portugal (for example, if you’re selling your main home elsewhere to raise the Golden Visa funds). For Brits, this could suit you if you want to live in Portugal for four months per year, but can’t due to the 90/180 rule in the aftermath of Brexit. With a Golden Visa you can.
- You’re not in a rush and are happy to spend time looking for the perfect property investment
- You’re willing to pay the higher associated costs in taxes and fees
- You’re happy to invest outside of prime areas of Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve . We strongly suggest looking at properties in Madeira.
To be eligible for the Golden Visa, you must be a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizen, over 18 years old and with no criminal record.
These eligibility requirements apply to whichever route you choose.
To combat money laundering and fraud, all qualified investment funds will require you to provide evidence of the source of your funds. Some may also ask for proof that you’re a knowledgeable and experienced investor.
The funds mentioned in this guide are all open to US citizens, although you may be subject to additional checks to comply with FATCA regulations.
All Golden Visa routes require a standard list of documents. It’s important to prepare these carefully, as any inaccuracies or omissions can delay your application.
The below list includes all the general documents, plus the specific ones needed for the Portugal Golden Visa investment funds route.
- Application form
- Receipt for payment of the application fee
- A passport copy for each person on your application
- Declaration from your Portuguese bank confirming the transfer of funds and that they originated outside of Portugal
- Proof that you’ve made the minimum investment (e.g. fund documents – your fund manager will provide these)
- Health insurance policy covering Portugal
- Criminal record check from your country of origin or of legal residency of over one year (must be a certified copy and less than 90 days old)
- Authorization for SEF to check your Portuguese criminal record
- Proof from Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and Social Security system that you have no outstanding debts
- Your signed declaration stating that you intend to follow the investment requirements (i.e. to maintain the investment for the required period of time)
How to choose a fund
First, make sure the fund is regulated and eligible for Golden Visa investment. We only recommend funds that already meet those criteria.
Next, check out the experience of the fund managers. Look them up on LinkedIn and do some digging around. Do they have a good level of experience and the appropriate credentials?
Are their incentives as managers well-aligned with yours as the investor? (Typically yes, because their performance fees are based on how much the fund increases in value).
Then, think about the fund’s wider strategy. Is it investing into a promising sector? Does its risk profile match your own? How long will your money be locked in beyond the minimum period of five years? What sort of exit strategy does the fund have?
These are all questions you should ask the fund manager before committing any money to the fund. It’s also worth seeking advice from an independent financial advisor before going ahead with any investment.
Exiting the fund
Portuguese Golden Visa investment funds are designed with the five-year residency timeline to citizenship in mind. Most funds have a minimum lock-in period of six years.
This ensures the investors can maintain a valid investment for long enough to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. But some funds may lock investors in beyond this typical six year period.
Hence, the minimal lock-in period is worth keeping in mind when you choose a fund.
Most funds have optional extension periods, which they can use to go beyond the six year mark. Typically, the decision to extend is made by the fund managers, rather than the investors.
But this may be inconvenient if you need to access your investment soon after getting your citizenship.
Some funds make extension decisions by holding a democratic vote among all investors. We recommend that you check this point with all your funds of interest before deciding to invest.
Getting EU citizenship in Portugal
Many people reading Digital Émigré want to get Portuguese citizenship. The investment funds route is an excellent way to invest in Portugal for citizenship.
You need to maintain residency for a minimum of five years before you become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. Golden Visa eligible investment funds are designed around this requirement.
As a pathway to citizenship, the Golden Visa is extremely flexible compared to other residency routes. Physical stay requirements in Portugal are minimal – just two weeks in every year.
You can continue your life outside Portugal, as your investment builds up the years to make you eligible for citizenship – while hopefully bringing you good returns in the process. It’s a win-win.
You can also choose to live full time in Portugal. This has significant advantages for tax efficiency, because Portugal tax residents have access to the NHR tax program – valid for 10 years.
FAQs: Portugal Golden Visa Investment Funds
If you have another question about funds that isn’t listed here, please contact us.
Why did Portugal create the investment funds route?
Portugal created the investment funds route to add another way for Golden Visa investors to put foreign capital into the country, while reducing the overly heavy focus on real estate investment.
Can I get residency in Portugal through investment funds?
Yes. If you invest in a qualifying fund, you can then apply for residency through the Golden Visa route.
What’s the minimum I can invest in funds?
The minimum you can invest in a Golden Visa investment fund is €500,000, as of 2022.
What are the benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa investment funds route?
Lower overall cost of investment compared to the property route
Faster process than the property route
Easier to manage than property
Tax-efficient (with the right strategy)
Maximum flexibility – choose whether to live in Portugal or not
No geographical restrictions
Professionally managed to maximize your returns
Closely regulated for maximum safety
Can I include my family on my application?
Yes. You can include your spouse or partner (the latter provided you’ve lived together for at least two years and can prove it), dependent children under 18, dependent children over 18 who are in full-time education, and parents, provided they are either over 66, or under 66 and financially dependent on you or your spouse.
Does Portugal have a citizenship by investment program?
No, Portugal doesn’t have a citizenship by investment program. The Golden Visa program offers residency by investment, not guaranteed citizenship. However, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship after holding residency for five years.
Can I get EU citizenship with the Golden Visa?
Yes. All Golden Visa applicants become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of residency. As Portugal is an EU member state, getting Portuguese citizenship will give you full EU rights. Those rights include freedom of movement (to freely live, work, study, do business, or retire) across the 30 countries of the EU and EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). If you’re British, the Portugal Golden Visa is your best option to beat Brexit and regain your rights.
What are the language requirements for citizenship?
For citizenship, you’ll need Portuguese at A2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). There are no language requirements for getting residency.
Does Portugal allow dual citizenship?
Yes, dual citizenship is recognized under Portuguese law
What’s the difference between permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship?
Permanent residency still needs to be renewed and can be lost if you leave the country for too many years. Citizenship is permanent, doesn’t need to be renewed, and cannot be lost by living outside the country.
Also, Portuguese permanent residency only applies to Portugal; it doesn’t give you rights in the rest of the EU. Only citizenship can do that. Lastly, you can only apply for a Portuguese passport if you are first granted Portuguese citizenship.
How will program changes in 2022 affect the investment fund route?
As of January 1, 2022, the minimum investment threshold for funds has increased from €350,000 to €500,000.
Can I invest in more than one fund to get my Golden Visa?
Yes, as long as the total investment amount meets the minimum €500,000 Golden Visa threshold.
Can I invest more than the €500,000 minimum threshold in funds?
Yes, you can as invest as much as you want in funds, as long as you meet the minimum threshold.
Do all Portuguese investment funds qualify for the Golden Visa?
No. Funds need to meet specific criteria before qualifying for Golden Visa investment. All funds featured in this article qualify.
How long do I need to keep my money invested?
Five years. This is the minimum period to be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship. You’ll need to maintain your investment to keep your Golden Visa residency status active.
Can I exit my investment early?
Some funds may allow you to sell your units early. But exiting the investment early will end your Golden Visa. You’ll lose your residency status and that will stop the clock on your citizenship journey.
Can I use my fund units to buy property on exit?
It depends on the fund. Several offer this opportunity. It’s an interesting way to secure a prime property in areas that are now outside the Golden Visa scheme, including Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve. Contact us for details of funds offering this option.
What additional costs are involved in investment funds?
Some funds charge a subscription fee on entry. You will also have to account for legal fees for handling the Golden Visa application, plus government fees. These also apply if you use the property route.
How do fund managers get paid?
Funds typically charge an annual management fee, usually 1-2%. They also have a performance fee at fund maturity: usually 20-30% of profits.
How many days must I spend in Portugal to maintain residency status?
7 days in the first year, and 14 days in each of the subsequent two-year periods. Many Golden Visa holders use these as opportunities to renew their residency permits, while having a sunny vacation in Portugal.
Can I get NHR tax status?
Yes. But only if you live full time in Portugal and register as a tax resident. As a Golden Visa holder, you can maintain your immigration status whether or not you’re a Portugal tax resident, but being tax resident is a prerequisite for gaining NHR status.
Which countries can I visit without getting another visa?
You can use your Golden Visa to travel freely as a tourist in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in every 180.
Can I work and/or study in Portugal?
Yes. You and your family can do both. You can also open a business in Portugal.
Can I make other investments in Portugal?
Yes, you’re free to invest in any assets that you choose.