Do you want a simple, fast and tax efficient route to Portuguese citizenship and an EU passport?
Then the Portugal Golden Visa investment fund route might be the perfect fit for you.
Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of using investment funds to get your Portugal Golden Visa. We’ll look at the different types of funds available, the requirements for investing in them, and how they can help you achieve your goals of obtaining a Golden Visa, building wealth in Portugal, and eventually applying for citizenship.
As with any investment product, fund investment carries an element of risk. This article is not financial advice. You should seek advice from a qualified financial advisor before investing in a fund.
Overview: The Portugal Golden Visa funds route
Since its launch in 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa program has been a resounding success. It’s now 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 direct real estate route.
To access the Golden Visa via this route, you need to invest at least €500,000 in one of Portugal’s eligible private equity or venture capital funds.
Some 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. According to relevant legislation, all funds must be registered in Portugal and have at least 60% of their capital invested in the country.
Advantages of investment funds
- High potential earnings – depending on the fund and its investment strategy.
- Faster, more predictable visa application timeline than direct real estate investment (no need to locate the right property or go through the buying process).
- Lower overall cost of investment than direct real estate investment at the same threshold (no property taxes or notary fees to pay).
- Pay low or zero taxes in Portugal during the lifetime of the investment (depending on your tax residency).
- Professional management of your investment during its lifetime – designed to maximize returns.
- Possibility to invest in several funds, to build better diversification into your portfolio
- Funds for the Golden Visa are much more closely regulated than real estate, with rigorous acceptance criteria and regular third-party audits.
- No geographic restrictions – get your residence permit and then live wherever you want, however you want.
Disadvantages of investment funds
- Requires you to undergo a KYC (know your customer) check before making the investment.
- You don’t have control over the investment – the fund manager handles it on your behalf during the investment period.
- Exiting the fund – Most funds have a pre-defined lock-in period before you can get your investment back (usually at least 6 years but varies by fund)
- Shared earnings – You’ll pay a performance fee at the end of the investment period, along with annual management fees (costs vary by fund).
List of Golden Visa qualified investment funds
Note. 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. All funds listed here are open to US investors.
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 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
Alternative Golden Visa Routes
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.
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 a 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|
Fees, taxes, and other costs
Several costs are associated with investing in funds for your Golden Visa. Here’s a full breakdown.
Please note, some of these figures are estimates and may vary for different funds and law firms.
Fund entry fees
- Main investment: €500,000
- Subscription fee (estimated): €5,000
Legal fees (estimated)
- €6-7,000 (for a family of up to four)
Government fees for the Golden Visa application
- Processing fee: €533 for main applicant + €83,30 per dependent
- Application fee: €5,325 per applicant
- Renewal fee: €2,663 per applicant
Fund exit fees (estimated)
- Around 35% of profit (varies by fund)
Portugal Golden Visa funds vs direct real estate
How do investment funds measure up when compared to the real estate Golden Visa route?
Here’s a handy comparison of the two.
|Investment fund route||Direct real estate (standard route)|
|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: €5,000|
Typical legal fees: €6,000
Total investment cost = €511,000
|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…
- You don’t want to relocate permanently to Portugal
- You might want to live in Portugal in future, but haven’t decided yet
- 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 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.
Who is eligible?
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 no outstanding debts, both from the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and the Social Security system
- Your signed declaration stating your intent to follow the investment requirements (i.e. maintain the investment for the required period)
How to choose a fund
First, make sure the fund is regulated and eligible for Golden Visa investment. Here, we only recommend funds that already meet those criteria – so you don’t need to worry.
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 for the future?
These are all questions you should ask the fund manager before committing any money to the fund. That’s why we highly recommend setting up an initial call with any funds you’re interested in, so they can answer your questions in detail.
It’s also worth seeking advice from an independent financial advisor before going ahead with any investment.
Exiting the fund
Golden Visa-eligible investment funds are designed with the five-year residency timeline to citizenship in mind.
Hence, most funds have a minimum lock-in period of at least six years.
This ensures the investors can maintain a valid investment 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.
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.
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 for Golden Visa investors to bring foreign capital into the country, while reducing the overly heavy focus on real estate investment.
What’s the minimum I can invest in funds?
The minimum investment threshold for Golden Visa investment funds is €500,000.
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.
Can I invest in more than one fund to get my Golden Visa?
Yes, you can invest in more than one fund, as long as your total investment meets the minimum €500,000 threshold.
Can I invest more than the €500,000 minimum threshold?
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.
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 if I invest in funds?
Yes. you can get NHR status 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.
Can I make other investments in Portugal?
Yes, you’re free to invest in any assets that you choose.
Before you go…
Portugal Golden Visa investment funds offer a great level of speed and efficiency at a reasonable investment threshold of €500,000.
You can reach this threshold by investing in as many funds as you want. That makes it straightforward to diversify your investment portfolio and reduce risk.
Investing in funds is the smart choice if you want a Golden Visa in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
To arrange a free call to discuss the funds route in more detail, please contact our team.