Changes to golden visa scheme on hold due to coronavirus pandemic

Portugal’s golden visa scheme, which was due to be blocked for property purchase in the greater Lisbon and Porto areas from 2021, is to remain unaltered for now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The changes are not a priority at the moment,” a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Dinheiro Vivo.

The news has been welcomed by Luís Líma, president of the national association of real estate professionals (APEMIP), who believes that the government should “think again about moving forward with the alterations”.

“Nobody will emerge from this crisis unscathed and the country would really appreciate the millions of euros that it would receive” if the scheme remains open to people buying property in Lisbon and Porto, he told DV.

It is an opinion shared by many others in the property sector.

Francisco Horta e Costa, general manager of the Portuguese delegation of international property consultants CBRE, believes that the golden visa scheme could be “fundamental in helping the market recover following the pandemic”.

Meanwhile, Patrícia Barão from JLL property market consultants says the scheme played a “crucial” role in attracting investment from Asia, USA, Turkey and South Africa and helped bring over €700 million into the State’s coffers.

Leader of the Socialist parliamentary bench Ana Catarina Mendes said at the time the changes were approved that the goal was to tackle the increasing property speculation that golden visas have generated, as well as shift investors’ focus onto other regions, such as the interior and autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores.

The golden visa regime is mainly used as a fast-track into Portugal for foreigners investing in property although it also seeks to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to set up businesses here.