Portugal has seen an increasing number of Chinese and South African citizens rushing to purchase residency and ultimately citizenship in Portugal via the country’s successful residency by investment programme. This comes following a recent announcement that the popular Portuguese areas of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve are set to be removed as investment regions from the programme at the end of this year.
According to Schengen Visa News, between January and September 2020, inquiries by investors from China marked a 176% increase, while migration specialists, Sable International, have seen an increasing number of South Africans enquire about obtaining citizenship via Portugal’s residency programme.
This surge of interest in Portugal’s residency programme in Q3/4 2020 comes not just in the wake of the pandemic, with more global citizens looking for alternative routes to global mobility and reconsidering their living arrangements, but with the announcement in September that from 2021, RBI applicants will no longer be able to invest in real estate in the popular tourist destinations of Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve region.
And since the real estate investment option is the most popular route in Portugal’s RBI Programme taken by applicants, and since Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve are the most invested-in destinations, it is no surprise to see such a surge in HNWIs applying for the programme beore the end of the year when the new rules kick in.
According to Luiz Felipe Maia, director of Maia International Properties in Portugal, the decision to remove these locations from the programme “created a wave of demand for urgent property acquisition from Chinese buyers” and that the imminent exclusion of both main cities had rushed persons “who were previously holding back purchases because of the COVID-19 situation”.
In fact, “a total of €37 million has been invested in Portugal from Chinese nationals during the second quarter of this year, which is twice their spending in all of 2019,” adds Luiz Felipe.
Considered to be one of the most popular residency programmes in Europe, Portugal’s Golden Resident Permit Programme (aka Golden Visa), requires applicants to invest in the country in exchange for all the benefits of residency, and following five years of residency (owning property there, but not having to live there), citizenship can be granted. Potential citizens must spend some time on Portuguese soil during the five-year residency period (7 days in the first year and 14 days for the subsequent two-year periods).
Residents can however live, work and study in Portugal and get to travel visa-free throughout the EU. Once citizenship is granted, a Portuguese passport – one of the world’s most powerful (ranked 7th in the world, according to the latest Henley Passport Index Q4 2020) – gives citizens the chance to live, study, travel and work in any of the EU member states and travel visa-free to 186 countries.
In fact, according to Andrew Rissik, the director of South Africa-based Sable International, one of the main benefits for applicants to Portugal’s RBI programme is that the visa permits you to not only live and work in Portugal, but travel visa-free through the EU’s Schengen Zone, and only spend seven days a year in Portugal to meet residency requirements.
“It means you can make a sound offshore investment and secure your family’s future without the hassle of relocating to a completely new country,” he explains.
In fact, until the end of this year (December 31st), Sable International is offering South African citizens the opportunity to make a hands-off investment via Portugal’s programme by investing in the five-star Rebello Hotel in Portugal’s second city, Porto. For €350,000, investors get one of 125 units and this hands-off investment not only provides investors with preferred returns of 3% per annum, but also an instant Portuguese (EU) residency.
Applicants can choose from eight investment options, though the real estate purchase option is the most popular, requiring €280,000 investment in property (built more than 30 years ago and located outside of the major cities) or €350,000 investment in real estate (built more than 30 years) or €400,000 (in real estate outside major cities). And while Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve are still on the list for the rest of this year, from 2021, applicants will only be able to invest in properties outside of these regions.
To find out more about the programme, read our country profile by clicking here