⚠️ Important update: The Portuguese government announced that investments in real estate (including funds investing in real estate) as well as capital transfers will no longer qualify for the Golden Visa. However, for the time being it’s still possible to submit applications. See here for the latest updates
⚠️ October 5, 2023 update: The last day to submit Golden Visa applications under the old rules will be tomorrow, October 6, 2023. From October 7 the new law will apply, although the exact regulations have not yet been produced yet.
When it comes to choosing an investment migration program, arguably one of the most decisive factors is how much it is going to cost you. One thing that has made the Portuguese Golden Visa one of the, if not the, most attractive investment migration program out there is the low investment thresholds when you compare it with other comparable countries.
Nonetheless, any money you invest, you will hopefully get back with some extra returns if you made a good investment, but what you don’t get back is all the fees and taxes that you will have to pay along the way.
These taxes and fees don’t just appear at the start of your Golden Visa journey, but there are also things to take into consideration while you hold the investment, when renewing your Golden Visa, as well as when exiting the investment (e.g., selling your property).
We hope that by breaking down all the fees and taxes in this guide, you will have an easier time understanding the financial commitment you’re making should you decide to apply for a Golden Visa.
As one of the first independent sites to write about the Portuguese Golden Visa, we have done plenty of research on this topic over several years, including how to find qualifying real estate, suitable investment funds and keeping up to date with all the regulatory changes. In the process, we’ve also consulted with lawyers and fund representatives at length; however, we are not financial advisors or lawyers ourselves, so we strongly encourage you to do your own research and seek the help of professionals when deciding what to do. If you don’t have a lawyer yet, here are some options that come recommended by our readers.
If you are new to the topic, check out our extensive guide to the Golden Visa in Portugal to learn about the whole process, your options, and the benefits of such a program.
Throughout the Golden Visa process, you will encounter quite a few fees. Most of these fees are unavoidable state fees that are part of the application process. Still, there are also service fees to bear in mind, such as legal representation fees, advisor fees, translation and notary costs, or even the cost of the flight to get to Portugal once you’ve completed everything. It’s something worth taking into account when you start thinking about investing.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there will be some differences depending on whether you will go for the real estate route or the investment fund route. Towards the end of this article, there is a cost comparison for both routes, which hopefully will help you decide which one you prefer.
Regarding government fees, pretty much all of them have to be paid at the start of your application, and then some of them again whenever you renew your visa.
Altogether the government fees you will need to pay are:
- Golden Visa application fee
- Residence permit fee
- Deeds of Purchase (for the real estate route)
Golden Visa Application and Residence Permit Fees
When you apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa, you will have to pay application fees and residence permit fees for each member of the family.
Although these fees may change annually to keep up with inflation, as of 2022, the fees are as follows:
- Application fee is €539.66. It’s paid per person, both for the initial application and each renewal.
- Residence permit fee is paid when the application has been approved, before the residency card is issued. It is €5,391.56 for the initial permit, and €2,696.29 for each renewal. This is also paid per person.
Since you’ll need two renewals before being able to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, the application and permit fees amount to €12,403.12 per person for the whole process.
|Initial application and each renewal
|€539.66 per person
|Residence Permit Fee
|€5,391.56 per person
|Residence Permit Renewal Fee
|€2,696.29 per person
Deeds of Purchase (for the Real Estate Route)
If you intend to acquire the Golden Visa via purchasing real estate, there will be several other expenses to take into account. While most of these are taxes, you will also need a public deed contract. This contract must be made by a public notary office or recognized official. The deeds of purchase fee can vary depending on various factors. Most notary offices charge their own fees, plus there are also registry fees (€225 + VAT) to add on to that. The prices often reflect the price of the property, as well as how many copies of the deeds you need. Most people go to a “Casa Pronta” notary house (a government one-stop-shop for services related to purchase and sale of properties), where it is a set price of €375, including both the preparation of the contract and the registry fee.
No matter what path you choose; you will need some legal representation at one point or another, and preferably for the entire process. While you could theoretically do the whole process without a lawyer, it’s very unwise to do so. Not using a lawyer means you will have a language barrier for one, presuming you don’t speak Portuguese, but also, it will make things tricky when trying to figure out Portuguese bureaucracy and dealing with the authorities, such as SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service).
There are several possible areas where you may need or would be highly recommended to get a lawyer during the application process and afterward, including:
If you are pursuing an investment fund, you may want a lawyer to review all the contracts and verify that your chosen fund meets the Golden Visa criteria. Lawyers will not give advice related to the potential performance of the funds, however.
Some lawyers do not charge separate fees for this part of the process (it’s included in their Golden Visa package), but otherwise common fees are between €1,000 and €3,000. Note that we have heard of lawyers who seem to be pushing certain funds (most likely for their own compensation, which isn’t actually allowed for lawyers in Portugal). If you experience this—and it’s a good idea to ask up front whether they are compensated by anyone—it’s probably better to choose another law firm to avoid any conflict of interest.
Fiscal representation is when you appoint a person to communicate your tax obligations with the local authorities. Previously, having a tax representative was required for all non-EU residents with a Portuguese tax number (NIF), however as of July 2022, you can opt out of this requirement. However, it may still be helpful to use a tax representative service to quickly and easily apply for your Portuguese tax number remotely.
Most lawyers, as well as some other specialized services, can offer this service, as well as help you set up a bank account and get a Portuguese NIF.
Fiscal representation can cost anywhere from €300 to €1,200, depending on the lawyer and scope of the representation.
On the other hand, there are online services offering it much cheaper. We can recommend, for example, NIF Online who will help you get your NIF sorted as well as provide fiscal representation. Their annual fee is €99.90, including fiscal representation.
NIF Online is giving Nomad Gate readers 10% off their NIF with the following code:
That makes it a lot cheaper than going through a lawyer.
If there is anything you will need a lawyer for the most, it will be your actual application submission. This is where Portuguese bureaucracy and dealing with the authorities come into play the most. It’s worth noting that many lawyers charge higher amounts for this, but then include the other things like reviewing the fund and fiscal representation for free together with payment for the application. Overall you can expect the average price for the initial application for a single applicant to be around €4,000 to €6,000, and they usually charge €0 to €1,000 for additional family members.
Renewal and Citizenship
After receiving the Golden Visa, the other ongoing legal expenses will be for both renewals (2nd and 4th years) and then eventually your Citizenship application.
For renewals, typical fees are around €500 to €2,500 depending on whether they charge per family member or not. Citizenship application fees can be slightly more expensive, usually around €1,000 to €2,000 per family member.
If you are to use a lawyer for all of these things, then for the entire process on average, it will cost you around €8,000 to €12,000 for a single applicant, and €14,000-€24,000 for a family of four. Of course, there are outliers, and it can cost you less or more than this, depending on the lawyer.
If you are interested in finding a lawyer that can meet your needs and budget, we have compiled a list of legal and financial providers that are popular with our readers.
Buyer’s Agent and Broker’s Fees
If you choose to invest in real estate with the help of a buyer’s agent or a broker, broker fees are typically paid by the seller at a 5% rate of the property value. This is split between both the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent, so as a buyer, in most cases you will not need to pay a fee to the broker. Some buyer’s agents however will charge a fee, but forgo any fee from the sellers side. In this case it could still be worth it as it aligns their incentives with yours.
Investment Fund Fees
While you will find that the real estate option comes with a lot of fees and taxes (such as property tax), the investment fund route is not without its own fees, which will need to be paid when initially making the investment, managing the investment throughout, and also when exiting the investment.
When you make the initial investment, you usually pay a one-time fee which can either be a fixed amount, or between 1%-5% of the capital invested. This is the only fee that can be charged as an extra on top of the €500,000 investment amount. Other fees are usually paid from the fund assets, meaning they reduce the investment returns, but are not charged on top of your investment. It is also possible that setup fes may be charged from the fund assets as well, but lesson common. Furthermore, there aren’t always setup fees at all, but they are pretty common.
Management fees are paid to cover the daily overhead expenses of the investment fund operations, such as employee salaries, regulatory compliance, monitoring the investments, and other costs associated with maintaining the investment fund. Most companies charge around 1%-2.5% annually.
In addition to management fees, there are also performance fees where a percentage of the returns are distributed to the fund managers, either annually or at maturity. Often, this rate is with a hurdle which is typically between 3-5%. Read more about hurdle rates in our investment funds article.
It would be impossible for us to list every single fee that you will come across on your journey, but these are the main expenses. That said, there are many other things that may come up that could add to this price, especially if you are moving your family. Here is a list of additional expenses that you may want to consider in your personal finance expectations:
Possible bank transaction fees
Fees for acquiring the necessary documents and getting them apostilled
Currency exchange fees
Air travel and temporary accommodation during the application process and to meet the minimum stay requirements
Upkeep and insurance fees in the case that you invest in a commercial rental property
The taxes you will have throughout the Golden Visa process will depend largely on which route you pursue. Generally, the real estate route has more taxes to take into consideration, such as IMT and IMI (Property Purchase Tax and Local Property Tax), but with the investment fund route you have to bear in mind that the minimum investment is higher. Both programs have their pros and cons.
Some taxes are paid upfront when you make your investment, some taxes are recurring while you keep your investment, and then others are taxed once you cash out your investment. For your convenience, we’ve organized the Golden Visa taxes in this list to reflect when they are paid, so you can get an idea of what the taxes will look like over the coming years once making your Golden Visa investment, also specifying which routes they apply to.
Taxes at Purchase
At purchase taxes only apply to real estate investments and include:
- IMT (Property Purchase Tax)
- Stamp Duty
- Mortgage Tax (if applicable)
IMT (Property Purchase Tax)
IMT or Imposto Municipal sobre Transmissões, is a property purchase tax. (Note: you may also see it mistakenly referred to IMI Transfer Tax.) In Portugal, these rates are varied and depend on four key factors:
- Type of Property: Whether it is a rural or urban property
- Price: The taxes go up with the price of the property
- Location: Taxation is different depending on whether it is on the mainland or the autonomous regions (Madeira and the Azores)
- Purpose: Whether this will be a primary or secondary residence
IMT is also influenced by many possible exemptions, such as:
- If the property is in an urban rehabilitation zone
- If the property is intended for touristic use (such as having an AL license)
- If the investment is eligible under RFAI (Investment Promotion Tax Regime)
There are other exemptions, however most would not be relevant for a Golden Visa investor. There are also a few circumstances, whereby you will be taxed at a special rate, such as:
- Commercial properties, taxed at a flat rate of 6.5%
- Land (with or without planning permission), taxed at a flat rate of 6.5%
- Agricultural properties, taxed at a flat rate of 5%
To have a general understanding of what the taxes will look like for a primary residence on the mainland, here is an overview of IMT tax rates:
|Up to €92,407
|€92,407 to €126,403
|€126,403 to €172,348
|€172,348 to €287,213
|€287,213 to €574,323
|€574,323 to €1,000,000
* Applies to the whole amount.
Note that the last two tax brackets (marked with an asterisk) are fixed rates on the entire property value, whereas the previous brackets apply only to the part of the property value that falls within that bracket.
So for example, if you buy a €100,000 property, you pay 0% on the amount up €92,407, and 2% on the amount between €92,407 and €100,000, meaning the tax owed is only €151.86, not €2,000. This continues for each tax bracket until you hit €574,323.
Any property value equal or higher to €574,323 and you will pay the IMT tax rate on the entire sum (at a fixed rate). So if you have a property worth €600,000 you will pay €36,000 (6%) in IMT.
Stamp Duty, or Imposto de Selo (IS), is a type of tax that is paid on all contracts or documents related to the real estate in question, including changes to deeds and mortgage agreements. It’s a fixed rate of 0.8% of the property’s value. However, there are two main exceptions to this:
If the property is being acquired based on inheritance, there is an exemption on Stamp Duty if the person inheriting the property is a direct descendent (child or spouse). In all other cases, including if the property is being given a gift, it is taxed at 10% of the property’s value.
Long-term lease or sublease contracts are taxed at 10% value of the monthly rental income.
If you have a mortgage in Portugal, you will also need to pay an additional stamp duty at a rate of 0.6% of the loan amount.
Note that if you get a mortgage in Portugal, banks won’t also lend you the amount needed for the stamp duty; you will have to pay this out of pocket. So, say you get a mortgage for €150,000, you pay €400,000 up-front (qualifying you for the Golden Visa in low-density areas), then you will also have to pay up-front €900 euros (0.6% of the loan amount) in stamp duty for the mortgage, and €4,400 euros (0.8% of total property value) in stamp duty.
Taxes after Purchase
For both real estate investments and investment funds, you will need to pay some taxes after the visa application. These will mostly be paid on top of your gains, but with the real estate path, there will also be some property taxes to pay. If you are a non-resident, there will actually be no taxes on distributions (including capital gains and dividends) should you be investing in funds.
After purchase taxes include:
- IMI (Property Tax)
- AIMI (Wealth Tax)
- Capital Gains
- Rental Taxes
IMI or Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis is an immovable property tax. Unlike IMT, which is paid on purchase, IMI is paid every tax year where you own the property on the last day of the fiscal year, which is December 31st. The bill can actually be paid in installments depending on the amount. Usually, the first bill is in April, and there is another in November, or if it is paid in three installments, in May, August, and November.
The tax rate varies by municipality and also whether or not it is an urban area or country home. Typical IMI rates for urban properties vary from 0.3% to 0.45%, and you usually pay 0.8% for properties in rural areas.
The one thing to know about IMI tax is that there are many exemptions to be familiar with, and in fact, a common pitfall is that some people end up paying more in IMI than they need to be paying. Some of these exemptions and deductions include:
Deductions for urban properties considered a permanent place of residence for the first three years
Deductions on properties that are the permanent residence for taxable persons with dependents (deduction depends on number of dependents)
Urban rehabilitation properties
There are many more possible exemptions and deductions, but these ones are the most common and relevant ones for most Golden Visa investors.
AIMI, or Adicional Imposto Municipal Sobre Imóveis, is an additional IMI tax (or wealth tax) that is paid if you own at least €600,000 worth of urban properties (or double if filing as a married couple). The AIMI tax is paid separately to IMI, and there are three rates depending on the value of the property:
- 0.7% – Properties with a combined value between €600,000 and €1,000,000
- 1% – Properties with a combined value between €1,000,000 and €2,000,000
- 1.5% – Properties with a combined value higher than €2,000,000
There are special rates for properties in urban rehabilitation areas. These are 0.7% for individuals, 0.4% for corporations and 7.5% for entities in blacklisted jurisdictions. Other than that, there are very few exemptions unless the real estate is intended for commercial use, i.e., certain industries and services, as well as municipal enterprises, residents’ associations and social housing projects.
If you choose to rent your property out, rental income will be taxed at a rate of 15%. From this, you can deduct any expenses related to the maintenance of the property, municipal taxes, and so on. Interest costs are not deductible.
No matter what route you take, be it real estate or investment funds; you will have to pay capital gains taxes on any profit made from these investments at the time of sale, however these rates and where you pay these taxes vary depending on whether it is real estate or capital gains taxes on investment funds.
For Real Estate
Capital gains taxes will be added on to your other income for the year and taxed at regular income tax scale rates. This currently ranges from 14.5% to 48%. If you are a Portuguese resident, only 50% of the gain will be liable to tax. Portugal also allows for inflation relief after two years of ownership.
There are a few exceptions to this:
– If the proceeds are going towards another main home in Portugal, or anywhere in the EU or EEA that has a tax treaty with a Portugal, you won’t have to pay capital gains. You must do this latest 36 months after the sale.
– If you are over 65 and the proceeds are invested into a retirement fund or eligible insurance plan, you don’t have to pay capital gains. You must do this latest 6 months after the sale.
For Investment Funds
Distributions and capital gains from Golden Visa-eligible investment funds will be taxed at 10% for Portuguese tax residents. For non-residents they are taxed where you live (no tax in Portugal), so see your domestic laws.
If you are interested in reducing some of your taxes in general, Portugal has a great tax benefit scheme, known as non-habitual residency or NHR, during the first ten years of tax residency. This benefit isn’t limited to Golden Visa applicants, but basically, anyone who is a new Portuguese tax resident.
Some of the benefits of NHR include a lower tax on pensions, certain tax breaks on foreign-sourced income and capital gains, and special rates for Portuguese-sourced income. For the full breakdown of NHR and what it can offer you, visit our guide to Portugal’s NHR program.
Real Estate vs. Investment Funds: Cost Comparison
As you may have already determined from reading this article, the real estate path has a lot more fees and taxes compared to investment funds. At least added on top of your investment. You don’t have to deal with stamp duty and annual property taxes with investment funds.
Nevertheless, you are not entirely free from regular fees when pursuing an investment fund, as there are management fees and other fees. Funds usually take these fees from your investments in different way. The structures and rules depend on which fund you invest in.
Both programs present their pros and cons, but when it comes to taxes, investment funds are more efficient in this regard. We also recommend you to check out funds that focus on the real-estate sector, as these present some relatively low-hassle options for your Golden Visa application compared to buying property directly.
In conclusion, it mostly comes down to how much direct control you wish to have over your investment versus ease of management. You can rent out or decide to live in a property yourself, and you can list it for sale at any time after you’ve received your permanent residency or citizenship. It’s yours to do with it as you please, something that isn’t possible with an investment fund where you typically can’t easily exit the investment until the fund wraps up in 6-12 years.
On the other hand, funds are much easier to manage, more diversified, don’t require you to submit tax returns to Portugal, and with professional management you have the potential for greater returns. It’s also a matter of how much available funds you have for your Golden Visa application, as the minimum investment amount is of course lower with real estate than with investment funds.
We hope that this guide has given you a clear understanding of all the costs that may come up in your Golden Visa on top of the investment amount so that you can be prepared to spend exactly what you had calculated from the start.
Get free access to our community & exclusive content.