In the 2018 Global Passport Index, the South African passport sits in the 49th position, with 95 countries available to the citizens for visa-free entry – right in the middle of the 99-spot list that ranks 199 countries according to their visa-free score. Not bad at all! Sometimes, though, the passport of one’s native country just isn’t powerful enough. This is an issue entrepreneurs and those seeking the opportunity to travel to, live or work within the European Union are especially familiar with.
Thankfully, there is a solution for this in today’s atmosphere of globalisation and border elimination. European countries are becoming increasingly interested in attracting foreign funds as well as accommodating non-resident investors of impeccable personal and business reputation. In exchange for the status of a citizen or a resident for themselves and their families, foreign investors are expected to make a contribution to the host country’s economy.
Portugal is one such country – and its Golden Visa Program is quite popular among wealthy foreign investors, including South Africans. In 2012, Portugal, along with some other European countries, applied for several bail-out programs to raise funding and survive in the midst of the financial crisis. In the same year, to stimulate foreign investment, Portugal established the residence-for-investment program. The concept is fairly simple, the process straightforward: in exchange for injecting investment in the country’s economy, non-European investors obtain the right to residency in Portugal and, ultimately, Portuguese citizenship.
In 2015, the government has introduced new features to the program. The initial minimum amount of investment in real estate was €500,000, but today, an investor may choose to purchase a property built at least 30 years ago or located in an urban regeneration/historically significant area anywhere in Portugal. Local developers obtain government-issued permissions to renovate such objects which can be later resold to foreign investors for the cost of at least €350,000.
One available option is buying a suite for €350 000 in the Sé Catedral Hotel, a Porto Cathedral-inspired, government-approved renovation project located in the historic center of Porto, a UNESCO Heritage Site, by the way. The 5-floor, 5-room hotel is expected to start operations in 2019 and offer services to travellers and tourists.
Speaking of Porto, this industrial and commercial part of Portugal is a wonderful alternative to Lisbon, with multiple development projects.
Suddenly, ZAR5.1 seems more affordable than ZAR7.3, doesn’t it? Add to this over 150 destinations, including the Schengen Zone, where you can travel visa-free (or easily obtain a visa-on-arrival), fully legal dual citizenship, the opportunity to apply for a European passport and to create a contingency plan to fall back on in case of unforeseen circumstances. Maybe Portugal is what you’re looking for, after all?
South Africans tend to be really cautious when it comes to making offshore investments and, naturally, are quite wary of failure or losing one’s money. However, the success of the Portuguese residency program is speaking for itself. About 200 South African investors have become Portuguese residents between 2015 and 2017, and close to 14,000 residence permits were issued to foreign investors between 2012 to 2017.
The terms of the Golden Visa Portugal program are quite manageable. There is no requirement for physical presence, just a minimum of a 7-day stay within the first year, and two-week stay every two years since then. Which is, by the way, a fantastic opportunity to get to know the country and travel for a bit. Investors may also choose to rent the property out.
Life hacks from Migronis, Golden Visa Portugal edition
Migronis specializes in EU citizenship or residency by investment programs, so we know the ins and outs of every program. We assist our clients from the initial free-of-charge consultation to the very last stages of acquiring their residence card. We help our clients find best property and connect with trustworthy developers.
If you started looking through EU citizenship options, the cost and conditions of many programs may appear too overwhelming. Residency programs like Portugal’s are more “friendly,” cost- and range of options-wise. After six years of holding the status of Portugal’s resident, you can apply for a passport and become a full European citizen.