Compared to most EU countries, Portugal offers one of the best visa plans. It allows for multiple paths that lead to long-term residency, and eventually citizenship.
Two of its more flexible visas are the Portuguese D7 Visa and Golden Visa Portugal. If you are planning to apply for residency in Portugal and are confused between D7 Visa Vs Portugal Golden Visa, then this article will assist you in making a decision. We’ll discuss their basics below before breaking each down in-depth.
Specifically, we’ll look at:
- Who’s targeted by each visa?
- The requirements for acquiring each visa
- Application process
- Getting your accommodation
First – Who’s Targeted by Each Visa?
The D7 targets those who have:
- Constant passive income
- An online business (or work remotely)
- Wish to reside (primarily) in Portugal for the following 5 years
- Agree to be a tax resident in Portugal (this includes taxation on worldwide income)
The Golden Visa targets those who have:
- The willingness to establish a large investment in Portugal
- The flexibility to choose being a tax resident in Portugal
- A wish to have a primary residence outside Portugal (for work – family, etc.)
Both visas lead to the same permanent residency path. After five years of residing in Portugal, a visa holder can apply for permanent residency, with a naturalization option being offered.
However, for naturalization, residents must show they’re able to integrate into the Portuguese community.
This is easier for D7 applicants, where they are required to reside in Portugal for most of the five years on the pathway to permanent residency. This’ll normally be enough to prove integration into the Portuguese community.
For Golden Visa holders, this is a little difficult – where most do spend lower time in the country. If you choose this route, we recommend adapting your lifestyle to Portugal for a few months each year.
But, as a Golden Visa holder, you’re not forced to spend excess time out of country. The minimal stay requirements for this path are 7-14 days in Portugal per year, and for the entire five year timespan. But still, it’s better to exceed that minimum.
There is no hard rule for integration. However, it’s best to demonstrate a basic level of interest in the country and culture beyond some occasional visits.
Difference Between D7 Visa Vs Golden Visa Portugal
The D7 is the low-cost alternative of the Golden Visa. It’s seen as a retiree or passive income visa, used mainly by the previous (plus online entrepreneurs).
Remote workers may apply for a D7 based on contracts and income from employers out of Portugal. But, they are required to stay 183 days/year (minimum) inside Portugal while signing up for tax residency.
Also, while flexible, the D7 does have stricter requirements on residency than the Golden Visa, and while levying taxes (on worldwide income).
Alternatively, the Golden Visa targets higher capital investors. Those with available funds and the willingness to make a significant investment in Portugal fit the Golden Visa better.
Also, Golden Visa holders receive more flexibility in residency requirements – while getting the same D7 path towards citizenship.
This advantage allows Golden Visa holders to maintain work outside of Portugal, and without exceeding their minimum stay requirements. In fact, a Golden Visa holder may choose to seek another citizenship outside of Portugal.
Also, being a tax resident isn’t required with a Golden Visa, though the applicant may choose that option.
Applying for Citizenship
Portugal doesn’t offer easy citizenship like Malta. Applicants are expected to pass certain exams, proving their ability to blend into Portuguese society.
One is the CIPLE exam. This requires applicants to reach a level of A2 in the Portuguese language.
A2 isn’t considered a very high level (with A1 being the lowest). Thus, reaching A2 should be easy for anyone after living in Portugal for five years.
This usually will not be a problem for D7 applicants. However, for Golden visa holders, we recommend being aware of the language test.
It’s best to take pre-emptive measures to hit the A2 level. This should include intensive study courses within the last year of the five year residency requirement.
Second – Income Requirements for Portugal Golden Visa & D7 Visa
The D7 visa requires no investment. Instead, the applicant must show proof of their income, with a constant flow equating Portugal’s minimum wage (around EUR 700 per month).
The income requirements go up if the applicant wants to bring family members with them. That will be:
- + 50% per adult
- + 30% per child
To improve your chances of your application getting accepted, we recommend showing income that exceeds the minimum levels.
As for the Golden Visa, applicants are required to make a larger investment. The sum depends on the chosen pathway, which includes:
- Cultural projects
- Investment funds
- Real estate
The lowest required sum is EUR 280,000, which is the minimum for investments that maintain cultural/national heritage (art included). However, note that few applicants pick this option, since it’s difficult to generate income from it.
For a more reliable option (such as real estate), you might be required EUR 350,000 minimum – and this is for properties in low density area, bought for the purpose of rehabilitation. For other real estate options, you might be expected to invest EUR 500,000 minimum.
Taxation for D7 & Portugal Golden Visa
Both the Golden Visa and D7 paths offer options applicable to the NHR (non-habitual residence) tax scheme.
If you’re eligible for an NHR, you gain better tax treatment for foreign-sourced income (some forms of Portuguese income also apply). This lasts 10 years, starting the day you become a tax resident.
If you’re on a D7 visa route, you’ll need to become a tax resident. This’ll require you make Portugal your main base of operations. This also means you’ll apply for NHR before March 31st of the year after registering tax residency.
Basically, if you’re a tax resident by 2021, you can wait until 31st March 2022 to apply.
We highly recommend you don’t miss the deadline. Doing so may cost you thousands of dollars in NHR benefits.
You see, the NHR fits well with the path of getting a Portuguese citizenship, which is double the time required to qualify for citizenship.
There’s another benefits for D7 holders from the NHR. If you do become a Portuguese citizen before your NHR benefits expire, you gain full EU rights. From there, you can pick to live in Portugal on a normal progressive tax system, or relocate somewhere else with the EU’s freedom of mobility.
As for Golden Visa applicants, they can sign up for NHR benefits right after registering for tax residency.
Golden Visa holders get another advantage. If they’re not Portuguese residents, they only pay taxes to Portugal on local income, which includes property sales and real estate tenant income. They aren’t required to pay tax on their worldwide income.
Third – Application Fees and Process
Of the two routes, the D7 is cheaper when it comes to:
- Legal costs (EUR 2000 for a lawyer to manage your application)
- Government application costs (EUR 400 for single applicants)
Legal fees, Golden Visa application costs, and other fees will vary based on the investment route you select. But overall, Golden Visa applicants stand to pay more than D7 applicants.
Application Process for D7 Visas
The D7 route has two vital steps. The first is acquiring the visa. This is done by handing your application to the Portuguese consulate or embassy in your citizenship country (or that of your current legal residence).
After the application is approved, the consulate will give an initial D7 visa. It lasts four months, and is effective for double-entry. With a D7 visa, you can then access Portugal and start the second step.
The second step is applying for Portuguese residency. This is done through the SEP (Portuguese Immigration Office). Applying for a D7 residency is a major step in the overall route, and is only applicable after entering Portugal with your D7 visa.
You aren’t allowed to apply in Portugal if you’ve entered on a 90-180 day tourist visa.
After the SEF accepts your application, they’ll provide you a residency card. This lasts for 2 years, and after expiration you’re required to reapply.
There are also some extra requirements you’ll need to consider when submitting your D7 application, which include:
- An NIF (Portuguese tax number). For non-EU citizens, you’ll need a fiscal representative to apply. Any lawyer can act as your fiscal representative, and can assist with the next step.
- Open a Portuguese bank account after acquiring an NIF. You need to do so before applying for the initial D7. There, you’ll place the funds required for your application. Many banks already offer that option remotely.
Opening the bank account is important. The Portuguese government requires funds to be held in Portugal before a D7 application is approved. Thus, international accounts (such as Revolut and TransferWise) will not work for a D7 application.
Fourth – Getting Your Accommodation
Before applying for a Portuguese visa, you’ll need accommodation (and documents to prove your use of it). This’ll mean buying or renting a home before submitting one.
While this might be uncomfortable for many (especially since you’re not guaranteed an application acceptance), there are some solutions to that issue. They are:
- If you have friends with legal residence in Portugal – ask them to write a letter stating that you’re staying with them
- Buy/rent using a promissory contract. There should be a clause that safeguards you from liabilities if your D7 is rejected
This won’t be a requirement with a Golden Visa. Application requirements are simpler, requiring you own no residence (only the investment).
But if you do pick Portugal as a main residence on a Golden Visa (which is optional), be sure to immediately apply for residency at the SEF. You aren’t required proof of address for this process.
Plus, the SEF will not refuse your residency application if you have a Golden Visa and meet the requirements. A D7 alternatively is much more likely to be refused (though that’s unlikely to occur).
Can I Swap Between a Golden Visa and D7?
Yes, that’s possible. Residency in Portugal is flexible, and you can change your status per your needs.
For example, you can get initial residency with a D7. You can then later fulfill the Golden Visa investment requirements and apply for that.
This can be a flexible option assuming you decide you don’t want to stay in Portugal for a long time, or relocate tax residency there.
At GlobalRCG, we help individuals and families achieve a higher quality of life and greater financial security through a second residence, relocation, citizenship, and passport programs.
We take the hassle out of the process and provide peace of mind. To check your eligibility, submit our assessment form today!