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Overseas Property: How investors obtain EU residence and citizenship by investment Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Overseas Property: How investors obtain EU residence and citizenship by investment

Written by  The Dubrovnik Times Jul 25, 2021

According to the data from the Portuguese government, 9,124 investors have become Portuguese residents since 2012. This shows that 95% of all the foreign investors have chosen this option while they have other options as well.

Another data from an official Greek institution shows that more than 8,000 foreign investors have become Greek residents since 2013. Although the rate of real estate purchasers is not specified, it is known to be a popular option.

What are the benefits of buying property for Golden Visa?

This mentioned application is known as Golden Visa. It is mainly an investment program that offers EU residency. In some countries, even EU citizenship is also available.

First of all, this program enables you to get residency in a matter of a few months upon investing. You can either stay in that property or rent your property and live in another place. The program does not require a full-stay in that Golden Visa country. It is also a good option for retirees or future retirees to relocate to a safe country.

Another benefit of this option is that the minimum investment requirements are quite affordable in Portugal and Greece. Furthermore, the minimum reqıirement in Greece is the lowest amount to get EU residency among other programs. A minimum amount of €250,000 is sufficient to buy Greek property and become a resident. In Portugal, the lowest amount starts from €280,000.

A tax break is a possibility if you consider living as a tax resident

Both Portugal and Greece offer different types of tax breaks for foreigners. Portugal enables the Non-habitual resident program (NHR) for its new tax residents. To benefit from this, you need to qualify for specific requirements. Firstly, you must not be a tax-resident in Portugal in the previous five years. Also, you need to be a resident of Portugal. You also need to make sure that you stay in Portugal for at least 183 days.

So, how does NHR benefit you? It provides tax exemption from your foreign income. Furthermore, it is maintained for ten years, if you keep staying as a tax resident. The tax exemption is valid for almost all of your foreign income. If you are retired, then a fixed 10% taxation will apply to your foreign income.

Greece offers another taxation practice that concerns foreign retirees only. When you shift your tax residency to Greece, you will be subject to a fixed 7% taxation. This will apply to all types of your foreign income for ten years.

How to apply for residency after completing an investment

You need to apply to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). They will require certain documents from you, including proof of your real estate purchase. You also need to be present at your biometrics data appointment. Roughly, it takes around six to eight months for your application to be finalized.

When approved, you will receive your temporary residency card. You need to renew it at the end of every two years. In the meantime, you must stay for at least around seven days each year in Portugal.

Greece requires a similar process as well. However, the Greek program does not require you to stay in Greece at all. The renewal period of your residency is every five years.

Liquidate your investment after citizenship in Portugal

Another benefit of the Portugal Golden Visa program is that liquidation is possible if you become a Portuguese citizen or permanent resident. It means that you can sell your property at the end of five yea in case of citizenship or permanent residency.

When will citizenship become available to apply?

You need to wait for five years after the approval of your application. In the meantime, you need to satisfy the stay requirement. In the first two years, you must spend at least 14 days in Portugal, in total. Then, you will renew your residency for another three years. In that case, you need to spend at least 21 days in Portugal within this three-year period.

When you complete these five years, you can be eligible to apply for citizenship and permanent residency. Note that Portuguese citizenship is also EU citizenship. So, you will attain the same rights that other EU citizens have.

This is the process in the Portuguese Golden Visa program. Greece's Golden Visa program is not that clear on the citizenship issue, though. There is not yet a sufficient record on whether any applicant obtained Greece citizenship by investment. It’s also expected because, technically, the duration to wait for a citizenship application is seven years.

Portugal Golden Visa’s recent changes on the real estate purchase option

According to the recent amendment, the €500,000 option will not be applicable in Lisbon and Porto. It has been the most popular option among investors. However, it will not be possible to choose the €500,000 option in Lisbon and Porto after 2022.

Other real estate options are minimum investment amounts of €350,000 and €280,000. They are applicable if such properties are in urban restoration and/or low-density areas.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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