What is a Golden Visa – and why are more South Africans using it to move to Portugal?

South Africans are increasingly hitching into Europe on Portugal’s Golden Visa, says Sable International.

“A really good standard of living, easy access to the EU and tax friendly immigration policies,are drawing wealthy South Africans tobuy up property and settle in Portugal instead of Australia or Britain,” said Andrew Rissik, MD, Sable International, adding that they have seen a significant increase of over 30% in serious enquiries in the past year from South Africans either looking to retire or buy property in Portugal.

“The other change we’re seeing at the moment, is that instead of people buying a property in Portugal as a “Plan B” investment, they are actively considering moving there and applying for citizenship as soon as possible.”

Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Programme (GRPP) has become one of the most popular residency-by-investment programmes in the world. According to recent figures released by the Portuguese Immigration Services (SEF), over 8,000 applications have already been approved since the programme’s inception, with South African participants on a steady rise.

The Golden Visa not only allows the holder to live and work in Portugal, but also affords one the right to visa-free travel throughout the European Schengen Area. This has been especially attractive to executives wishing to work within the European Union (EU).Through the Portuguese residency programme, applicants can apply for permanent residence or Citizenship after five years.

Advantages of the Golden Visa

  • It removes the need for a visa to enter Portugal or travel through Europe (Schengen Area);
  • You can live and work in Portugal, even with residency in a different country;
  • Portuguese residency can extend to dependant family members;
  • It has extremely low minimum stay periods (total of 35 days in five years);
  • Potential to attain permanent residency or citizenship after five years.

Why move to Portugal?

Portugal is one of the most inexpensive places to live in all of Western Europe. The price of food is comparable to places like South Africa and Argentina. Living in Portugal allows you to enjoy excellent infrastructure and as well as personal safety, at reasonable prices.

Many South Africans have chosen to invest in Portugal and many have elected to buy property there. The competitive housing prices, especially in comparison to other EU countries, are another reason for the Mediterranean country’s popularity.

Many people who move to Portugal choose to live in Lisbon, which is understandable as it is a beautiful city steeped in history and culture. However, If you fancy a more bucolic lifestyle, Portugal also has beautiful forests, beaches and highlands.

Visitation and residency requirements

To receive your Golden Visa, you need to hold an investment alongside your visa for a full five-year period. You’ll have to spend time in Portugal over the course of your visa; but with Portugal being what it is, this won’t seem like much of a chore at all.

How present must you be in Portugal?

The residency requirements are not onerous and most participants in the programme spend more than enough time in a short trip to satisfy the residency requirements.

Number of days you must spend in Portugal in order to ensure your visa remains valid:

  • Year one: seven days;
  • Year two to three: 14 days;
  • Year four to five: 14 days.


Over €2 billion has been invested into the Portuguese economy. The great thing for Portugal, and the investors, is that this is not so-called “hot money”; investments are mostly in long-term assets like residential property. In fact, over 90% of participants in the Golden Visa programme have chosen to buy property in Portugal. This is mostly as a result of the financial opportunities this avenue of the GRPP affords investors.

The following investments qualify for the Golden Visa:

  • Acquire property valued at €500,000 or more;
  • Acquire property valued at €350,000 (Urban rehabilitation scheme);
  • Private equity investment of €350,000;
  • Investment of €1 million;
  • Creation of at least 10 jobs in Portugal.

Other requirements, In addition to the investment requirement, you need to meet the following three basic conditions in order to receive your visa:

  • Your investment funds should come from abroad;
  • You should have no previous criminal convictions to your name;
  • As a resident holder, you are required to spend a minimum of 35 days in Portugal over this five-year period.

Read: A guide for South Africans who want to live in Portugal

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What is a Golden Visa – and why are more South Africans using it to move to Portugal?