If you're thinking about moving to Portugal or getting residency there, you've probably heard of the D7 visa and the Portugal Golden Visa.
D7, also known as passive income visa, is aimed mostly at retirees and persons who rely on their own passive income and desire to reside in Portugal full-time. Portugal Golden Visa, on the other hand, is an investment-based road to residency that does not need you to live in Portugal for the majority of the year.
After five years, both options allow you to seek permanent residency or citizenship in Portugal. However, both have their own set of requirements, which you need to assess depending on your expectations and needs.
D7 Visa VS Portugal Golden Visa
This is the biggest difference between the two schemes: D7 visa requires you to spend a “substantial” time in the country, which is at least six consecutive or eight non-consecutive months per year, on average. This is understandable, as this scheme is intended for people who want to make Portugal their full-time home.
Portugal Golden Visa stands out with its flexible residency requirement. Although Portugal Golden visa holders are free to spend as much time in Portugal as they please, staying only for seven days on average per year will suffice to maintain the Golden Visa status. Again and again, we’ve witnessed this to be the deciding factor for our clients. Getting residency without fully committing themselves physically to Portugal is an outstanding benefit.
Income or Investment Requirement
This is another difference between D7 and Portugal Golden Visa. With the former, you need to show evidence of having a net regular passive income, which is around €8,460 per year. This income can be from a pension, property rental, interest, dividend, or intellectual property income. If you’re bringing along dependents, then an additional 50 percent of this amount for your spouse and 30 percent for each dependent child will be required. However, you should be aware that these amounts are only indicative and the officers have the discretionary power on applications. This is why the higher the proven income, the better.
Portugal Golden Visa, on the contrary, doesn’t require you to show a regular income, as long as you make the qualifying investment, ranging mainly between €350,000 and €500,000. Once the investment has been made and you receive your Portugal Golden Visa, you’ll not be required to show another investment or income. But note that, you’ll need to keep your investment for at least five years.
In both methods, your income or investment liability ends once you receive your permanent residence or citizenship at the end of five years.
You might be eligible to apply for a Non-Habitual Residency scheme either as a D7 visa or Golden Visa holder. This scheme provides tax benefits for foreign income for 10 years.
In accordance with D7 visa stay requirements, you’ll automatically become a tax resident in Portugal, but you can apply for NHR by March 31st of the year following your move.
Under the Portugal Golden Visa scheme, you’re not required to move to Portugal and you’ll not be considered a tax resident. If you start living in the country full time, you can apply for NHR.
With a D7 Visa, the application starts in your home country. In your application, you’ll need to present application forms along with your “accommodation proof”. This is when things might sound confusing. Most prospective clients have issues in arranging accommodation for themselves in Portugal, particularly those who haven’t decided which city they want to live in. If you already have friends or relatives living in Portugal, you might ask them to issue a statement that you’ll be living with them. The other option is to buy or rent a property before starting your application.
After you get your initial visa from the Portuguese Embassy, you travel to Portugal and complete your D7 Visa application.
With Portuguese Golden Visa, the process is smoother. Once you make your investment, you’re ready to start your application, without any accommodation requirements.
The government fees for a D7 visa start from €45 and go up to €300. There will also be legal expenses and renewal fees. When you’re taking the D7 route, the primary costs will be the relocation, rent or purchase of property, and so on.
With the Golden Visa route, the main cost will be the investment. You need to factor in processing and application fees too, which are €533 and €5,325 respectively.*
*Please note that the fees are subject to change, so it’s best to check at the time of your inquiry.
Portuguese Citizenship Through D7 or Portugal Golden Visa
D7 and Portugal Golden Visa are designed for residency purposes. However, both D7 and Golden Visa holders might be eligible for Portuguese citizenship after five years.
Switching From D7 to Golden Visa
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and D7 visa holders can’t meet the stay requirement. Luckily, switching from a D7 visa to Golden Visa is possible as long as you’re willing to make the qualifying investment.
Portugal D7 Visa is a better option for you, if:
- You have a steady passive income
- You don’t want to make a big investment right away
- You intend to spend most of your time in Portugal
Portugal Golden Visa is right for you, if:
- You’re willing to make a big upfront investment in Portugal
- You want to keep your primary residence somewhere else
- You want to have a solid Plan B for the future
The Bottom Line: Which Program Is Better?
As an independent advisor, I would prefer not to take sides and defend one scheme over another. Both programs have their benefits and they have attracted thousands of applicants in years. One comment I can make is this: If you’re planning to buy a house in Portugal to apply for D7, you can also consider the Golden Visa option, which is available through real estate acquisition. The costs will be higher, but it will provide you flexibility and mobility, especially if you’re not sure if you can meet D7 stay requirements.
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