Portugal’s Golden Visa: Who’s the Biggest Buyer?

As you may have guessed, it’s China.

Chinese investors make up the bulk of popular investment programs. And Portugal’s program is no exception.

However, what’s interesting is the level of demand. In earlier years, Chinese demand for the Portuguese program slowly fell, with record-low numbers in 2020.

This has changed in 2021, with a strong resurgence, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

What the Numbers Show

The Portuguese program was launched in 2012. The absolute majority were Chinese, with record high applications registered in 2016.

In fact, the majority rates were reached before that in 2014. Back then, 81% of approved applications were Chinese!

The rate would slowly dwindle since then. A sharp drop was noticeable in 2016, with only 60% as Chinese approvals. They’d reach even lower by 2020, taking up 25% of approval rates.

2021 has seen a strong rebound though. And while only values up to May are noticeable, they seem quite promising.

Right now, China represents 42% of accepted applications.

Of those, there was 81 new applicants in March, which is better than the 55 new ones recorded in March last year.

What About Other Nationalities?

Other competing nationalities for Portugal’s visa include Brazil, America, Turkey, and Russia.

None of those seem to match up to Chinese numbers. In March, China represented 31 main applicants, with Brazil and America coming second (at 6 each).

However, the numbers do show a notable increase in American approval rates. In fact, the US has been part of Portugal’s top 5 for the past 9 months!

Nationalities Aside: Where Are the Investments Going?

Portugal offers 8 investment channels for its programs.

As records show, investors overwhelmingly favored option 3 (investment in real estate of 500,000 EUR or more).

However, the data is showing changes in what investors are picking. In 2020 and 2021, investors are now picking option 4 (350,000 EUR in old real estate).

Some are even dabbling in venture capital option 7 (also requiring 350,000 EUR minimum).

What About Investment Values?

In March 2021, the program saw a 40 million EUR influx. This was a slight drop from February, which was at 52 million EUR. April did see an uptick though, garnering up to 40 million EUR.

Up to May, total recorded investments hit 201 million EUR.

If the same rate of influx continues, it’s predicted that Portugal’s GV may barely reach 2020’s levels, which is a slight downturn from previous years.

For comparison, Portugal’s peak investment influx was in 2014 (at 916 million EUR).

So far, around 2/3 of 2020’s investments were pooled into option 3, where option 4 accounted for 23%. This puts the overwhelming majority of investors in the real estate category.

Some investors seem to be dabbling in alternative options. Also, there seems to be a slight increase in venture capital up by 3% from 2020.

So alternative options are being explored. Over time, they may help to drive Portugal’s program to a better record from previous years.