Golden Visa programme revamped

Portugal is renovating the rules for the Golden Visa Residence Programme. The highlights of the new norms, which still need to be confirmed by the Portuguese Parliament, are detailed as follows:

1. Cultural investment or scientific research
The investment of at least €350,000 in a project relating to cultural or scientific research will now qualify for a Golden Visa application.

2. Urban renewal
The costs of rebuilding or refurbishing of inner city housing totalling a minimum of €500,000 will also meet the requirements for the Golden Visa application.

3. Investment in less favoured regions
Investment in property in rural regions with a low population density (less than 100,000 habitants per km2) or with a Gross Domestic Product 75% or less than the national average will benefit from a 20% reduction in the criteria relating to real estate, reducing the minimum investment to €400,000.

4. Mandatory legal description
When the investment is in real estate, it will be compulsory to provide the tax description of the property. This is to compare the acquisition value of the property with its tax value.

5. External Auditor
An external auditor will now be required to review Golden Visa applications. This independent scrutiny is intended to check the possibility of fraud that marred the former Golden Visa programme.
The original options available to investors to obtain a Golden Visa remain unchanged:

a) a minimum investment in real estate of €500,000 OR
b) the capital transfer of at least €1,000,000 to a Portuguese bank account or to a Portuguese company OR
c) the creation of at least 10 jobs.

In 2014, over one billion euros were invested according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Golden Visa programme. Chinese lead the list of foreign recipients, followed by nationals of Russia, Brazil, Angola and South Africa.

By Dennis Swing Greene
|| [email protected]

Dennis Swing Greene is Chairman and International Tax Consultant for euroFINESCO s.a.