PORTUGAL COUNTRY PROFILE
Overview One of Europe’s oldest countries, Portugal has a rich historical and architectural heritage. Located mainly on the Iberian Peninsula, it is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain and it includes the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. While its northern landscape is mountainous, the south is characterised by rolling plains and its popular coastal areas, such as the Algarve region, which is very popular with tourists. In 2017, Portugal was elected both Europe’s Leading Destination and in 2018 and 2019, World’s Leading Destination, by the World Travel Awards.
Education and health Portugal’s adult literacy rate is 99.4%. The educational system is divided into preschool (under six years), basic education (for nine years) and secondary education (three years) with 12 years of schooling compulsory. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, the average Portuguese 15-year-old student, when rated in terms of reading literacy, maths and science knowledge, is placed significantly above the OECD’s average, at a similar level as those students from Norway, Denmark and Belgium, with 501 points (493 is the average). With a long history of well-respected universities, Portugal’s higher education system was ranked the 35th best in the world in the first edition of the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings. Portugal has entered into agreements with the MIT and other US institutions to further develop its higher education and research. The average life expectancy in Portugal is 82.11 years and the country ranked 12th in its offer of the best public health systems in the world, which is ahead of the UK, Germany and Sweden.
Transport Portugal boasts a network of 44 motorways along with a national railway system that extends throughout the country and into Spain. In addition, its two largest metropolitan areas – its two main cities of Lisbon and Porto – are serviced by subway systems. Lisbon also boasts tram services, while most of the country’s towns and villages are connected by bus services. The country is serviced by four international airports – Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Beja – which offer direct flights to many countries worldwide.
Lifestyle Family life is very important is Portugal and the Portuguese are very sociable with local fairs and markets the highlight of social gatherings. Football is the country’s most popular sport, while rugby, tennis, cycling and basketball are also popular. The country boasts spectacular white beaches, offering an array of water sports, and delivers some of the world’s best golf courses. The Algarve, an area of coastal Portugal, is one of the most tourist-heavy places in Europe.
Climate Portugal has a Mediterranean climate and is considered one of the warmest European countries. It does vary from north to south, however, with the south featuring hot summers and mild winters, with temperatures up to 40+C; and north and inland, mountainous areas delivering warm (not hot) summers and mild winters.
Population 10.28 million (2019)
Languages Portuguese is the official language.
Religion More than 80% of the population are Roman Catholic and religious festivals and gatherings are frequent and popular.
Capital City Lisbon
GDP Per Capita US$23,031 (2019)
Economy One of the original member states of the eurozone, Portugal is characterised as a developed and high-income country. Increasingly, business services have overtaken more traditional industries such as textiles, cork, clothing, footwear and wood products. In fact, Portugal is the world’s leading cork producer and is ranked among Europe’s leading copper producers. Portugal’s industry is diversified, ranging from automotive and aerospace to electronics, food, chemicals and wood pulp. Agriculture and forestry also play a part in the economy and travel and tourism continues to be important for the country (it is among the top 20 most-visited countries worldwide) with Portugal increasingly focusing on more niche sectors, such as health and nature tourism.
Did you know…? The top nationalities currently investing in Portugal as a way of obtaining residency and then citizenship include the Chinese, Brazilian, Turkish, South African and Russian.
PORTUGAL RESIDENCY BY INVESTMENT PROGRAMME
- Minimum outlay €250,000
- Processing time 2 months to residency (5 years to citizenship)
- Residency or travel requirements 35 days over 5 years
- Freedom of movement 186 countries
- Investment Options 8
Overview Foreigners can obtain residency by investing in Portugal and subsequently (and quite quickly) apply for citizenship. Unveiled in 2012, Portugal’s Golden Resident Permit Program has been updated a number of times over the years. Up until July 2019, the programme had brought more than €4.7 billion in direct investment into Portugal with some 7,700 investors benefiting. The programme, which has proven to be one of the most popular CIPs in Europe, offers citizenship after five years of temporary residency and offers eight investment options. Compared to obtaining citizenship of other European countries, such as Austria and Malta, Portugal offers a fairly simple second citizenship route and is considered to be the fastest, easiest and cheapest along with Greece.
Pros Considered to be one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get EU citizenship, a Portuguese passport gives you visa-free access to a huge number of countries (186), making it one of the most powerful passports in the world. While potential citizens must reside in Portugal during the five-year residency period, which leads to citizenship, it only requires seven days in the first year and 14 days for the subsequent two-year periods: a great plus if you don’t wish to live there permanently but want to access the benefits of EU residency. Portugal delivers a safe and stable environment with a focus on family. Investors can receive a 10-year tax exemption or low tax on most non-Portugal-sourced incomes, via NHR status. There are eight investment options to choose from. Citizenship is extendable to family members, including spouse or legal partner; children under 18 years; dependent children under 26 years (if unmarried and full-time students); parents of spouses (if over 66 or over 55 and dependent); and siblings under 18 years. The country offers affordable and diverse real estate offerings and investors can earn good ROI from properties due to Portugal’s burgeoning economy and super-healthy tourism industry.
Cons It takes five years to gain citizenship and investors must reside in Portugal for at least 35 days during those five years. You must have basic proficiency in the Portuguese language. Real estate in the main centres of Portugal, the cities of Lisbon and Porto, will no longer be eligible for investment under a new government guideline, coming later in 2020. Watch this space.
USP Currently, the easiest, fastest and cheapest European / EU country of which to obtain citizenship.
Ease of processing Residency, via a residency permit, is granted to applicants following an investment of at least €250,000 in real estate or another government-approved option. Residents must hold a residency permit for five years in order to be granted citizenship. During the five years, residents must reside in the country for a total minimum of 35 days, seven days in the first year and 14 days in subsequent two-year periods. Residents will also need to complete a Portuguese language citizenship test. After five years with the Portuguese investment visa, applicants can apply for a passport.
Freedom of movement Once a citizen, Portugal offers a first-class European passport with visa-free access to 186 countries, including being able to work, live and study freely in all 27 member states of the EU. Dependent children and parents will also qualify for the same benefits.
Investment options 8
PORTUGAL RBI INVESTMENTS
There are eight residency investments options, all of which must be kept for a minimum of five years.
Option 1 Transfer of at least €1 million to Portugal
Option 2 Creation of 10 new full-time jobs within a Portuguese business in the form of a single-member limited company. Can be only eight jobs if in a low-density area.
Option 3 An investment in real estate of at least €500,000 anywhere in Portugal but can be just €400,000 if located in a low-density area.
Option 4 An investment in real estate and its rehabilitation. Applicants must invest in eligible properties that are more than 30 years old and are located in designated areas of urban rehabilitation and must be at least €350,000 (property price + ex-VAT value of rehab work contract) or €280,000 if in a low-density area.
Option 5 An investment of minimum €250,000 into the conservation of national heritage, arts and culture.
Option 6 An investment of minimum €350,000 in research conducted by accredited institutions as part of the national scientific and technological system.
Option 7 An investment of at least €350,000 into an existing Portugal-registered business and create five full-time permanent jobs for a minimum period of three years.
Option 8 A minimum investment of €350,000 into a private equity fund.
PORTUGAL RBI RANKINGS
Passport Ranking (Henley Passport Index Q4 2020) 6 / 109
Ease of doing business Ranking (Doing Business 2019, The World Bank) 39 / 190
Economic Freedom (2020 Index of Economic Freedom) 56 / 186