PERMIT PROGRAMME The recent changes to the legal rules on entry and stay of foreign nationals in Portugal have introduced, among other changes, a mechanism that allows foreign nationals to obtain a Portuguese residence permit if they make certain investments in the country.
General Principles: With the introduction of this mechanism it is now possible for a temporary residence permit to be granted without the need to first obtain a residence visa if the foreign national, personally or through a company, makes an investment that leads to the creation of at least one of the following situations in Portugal:
· (A) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than EUR 1 000 000;
· (B) Creation of at least 10 jobs; or
· (C) Acquisition of real estate of a value equal to or greater than EUR 500 000.
The investment chosen by the applicant for the residence permit must have been made at the time the application for the residence permit is presented and must be maintained for a minimum period of five years from the date the residence permit is granted.
Investment using companies: If the investment is made through a company, the respective value is determined by reference to the proportion of the investment in the respective share capital, as long as the company has its registered office in Portugal or in another European Union Member State but with a permanent establishment in Portugal.
Validity Periods: The temporary residence permit is valid for the period of one year from the date of issue and may be renewed for successive periods of two years as long as the conditions necessary for it to be granted remain in place. After that period Portuguese Citizenship may be requested.
For the residence permit to be granted under these terms, foreign nationals must regularize their stay in Portugal within 90 days of their first entry into the country (obtaining, in cases in which it is necessary, a short term visa – Schengen visa – issued by the Portuguese Consulate in the country of origin) and prove they have met the minimum quantitative requirements for the chosen investment activity.
For the purposes of renewal, applicants must demonstrate that they have stayed in Portugal for at least (i) 7 days (continuous or not) in the first year and (ii) 14 days (continuous or not) in each subsequent period of two years.
(A) Transfer of capital: In the case of a transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than EUR 1 000 000, the applicant must present:
-(i) a declaration issued by a Portuguese financial institution stating that the applicant is the sole or first holder of the capital or, if it is an investment made by a company;
-(ii) an up to date commercial registration certificate declaring the holding of the stake in the company, valued at the amount of the investment required for this purpose;
-(iii) the amount can invested either in stocks or company share.
(B) Job creation: In the case of investment activity that leads to the creation of at least 10 jobs, the applicant must demonstrate that he or she has registered the employees for social security purposes by presenting an up to date certificate.
Currently social security contributions for most employers are 23.75% to be paid by the employer [the applicant for the residence permit] and 11% to be paid by the employee. These contributions are calculated on the gross value of the monthly salary.
(C) Real estate investment: The most accessible investment activity leading to obtaining a residence permit is a real estate investment made by acquiring property of a value equal to or greater than EUR 500 000.
In this case, the applicant must prove full ownership of the property and that the property is free from any burdens of charges.
i) It is also possible to buy a part of the property as long as the candidate to the Golden Visa Programme invests equal to or greater than EUR 500 000;
ii) If a down payment exists, reflected in a promissory contract of purchase and sale, equal to or greater than EUR 500 000, it is possible to apply the Golden Visa Programme.
iii) There is no obligation for the candidate to the Golden Visa Programme to inhabit the property during the period of stay in Portugal. In fact the investment in the property can be done with renting purposes.
This is done by presenting the respective up to date land registry certificate (or certificates).
Taxation of real estate investments: when acquiring a property in Portugal, the investor must take into consideration the charges associated with such a transaction. These charges include Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas (“IMT”), which is the municipal tax on transfer of real property for value, Imposto do Selo (“IS”), which is stamp duty and Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis (“IMI”), which is the annual municipal property tax:
· IMT is charged on transfers of rights in property for value and the applicable rate is 6.5% or, in the case of residential property there is a progressive rate (which is of, approximately, 6% for a property valued at EUR 500 000). The rate is calculated on the basis of the value that appears in the contract or other transfer document (or on the valor patrimonial tributário - the official valuation of the property for tax purposes, if greater);
· IMI is payable by whoever owns the property on 31 December of the year for which the tax is due. The rate varies between 0.3% e 0.5% for urban buildings (according to the location of the property) and 0.8% for rural buildings.
These rates are applied to the official valuation of the property for tax purposes;
· The rate of IS (stamp duty) is 0.8% and is charged on the value that serves as the basis for assessment of IMT.
Furthermore, tax wise, Portugal offers extraordinarily comparative advantages, namely: No gift tax; No inheritance tax (between parents, sons, grandsons and husband and wife)