Comparison of Spain and Portugal Golden Visa Programs
A Golden Visa is a path to residency by investment in a country. Both Portugal and Spain have such programs, and, for many investors, they are rather similar. The programs offer to obtain a residence permit by investing in a respective country's economy. Portugal requires at least €250,000 while Spain — €500,000.
To help investors choose between Portugal and Spain Golden Visas, we compare the two programs and give detailed information on obtaining a Golden Visa under both of them.
8 Benefits of Having Spanish or Portuguese Residency
1. Creation of a safe haven. A person with a Spanish or Portuguese residence permit can move to the chosen country anytime and live there indifferently. This is especially useful if something dangerous happens in the investor’s country of origin.
2. Access to the Schengen Area. Spain and Portugal are part of the Schengen Agreement, allowing border-free travel within the Schengen Area. Having a residency in one of these countries provides you with the ability to move freely across participating countries for tourism, business, or personal reasons.
3. Education. Residency in Spain or Portugal can provide you or your family members with access to European educational institutions. Many European countries offer affordable or even free education at public schools and universities for residents.
4. Healthcare. In many European countries, including Spain and Portugal, residents have access to public healthcare systems, regardless of nationality. This can be a significant benefit for individuals seeking high-quality medical services without the need for expensive private health insurance.
5. Quality of life. Europe is known for its high standard of living, safety, and cultural diversity. Residency can allow you to enjoy these aspects of European life, including access to cultural events, recreational activities, and a generally high quality of public services.
6. Tax benefits in Portugal. New Portuguese residents can apply for a Non-Habitual Resident status for 10 years. It allows Portugal’s tax residents to pay income taxes at a flat rate of 20%.
7. Multiple citizenship in Portugal. Portugal allows its residents to obtain citizenship in 5 years. Applicants also don’t need to renounce their first citizenship because Portugal, in contrast to Spain, allows having two or more passports.
8. Real estate investment options in Spain. Spain has 6 investment options, and one of them is a real estate option. It is especially profitable as the investor can rent the property out and get income from it. Real estate in Spain is also becoming more and more expensive. So, the investor can expect a year yield of up to 10%.
Spain and Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options
Portugal has five investment options. Spain offers six options, including the purchase of real estate.
Supporting the cultural heritage — €250,000
Real estate purchase — €500,000
Investment in science research — €500,000
Opening a deposit in a Spanish bank — €1,000,000
Investment in local business — €500,000 and creation of at least 5 jobs
Purchase of Spanish companies — €1,000,000
Purchase of investment fund units — €500,000
Purchase of investment fund units — €1,000,000
Opening a company with the creation of at least 10 jobs
Purchase of government bonds — €2,000,000
Business investment — no minimum sum
Both Portugal and Spain allow investment returns. The minimum time is 5 years.
Applicants for the Spain Golden Visa can return money under each investment option. However, to do that, they must permanently live in Spain for at least 5 years. If the investor lives elsewhere and maintains the resident status, they can’t get an investment return.
Portuguese Golden Visa applicants obtain investment returns only by purchasing fund units. Their maturity must be at least 5 years.
Requirements for Obtaining a Golden Visa in Spain or Portugal
Main applicant must be over 18, have no criminal record or prosecution, be able to prove the legality of their income, have no debts in the chosen country and buy health insurance for all family members.
Family. Both countries allow investors to add their close family members.
Requirements for Portugal Golden Visa
Requirements for Spain Golden Visa
Children under 18
Children over 18
Aged 18 to 26;
Live with the investor or study at a university
Have no children of their own;
In the investor’s custody
Documents. The basic list of documents for Spain and Portugal Golden Visas is similar. It usually includes:
a birth certificate;
a marriage certificate, if applicable;
a police clearance certificate;
Depending on the investor’s preferences and background, the government authorities might require additional documentation.
Additional expenses. Besides investment, the applicant has other expenses. Under the Spain Golden Visa, they must prove they have at least €28,800 in their bank account for themselves and an additional €7,000 for each family member. Portugal doesn’t have such a requirement.
Taxation in Spain and Portugal for Golden Visa Holders
New Portuguese residents can obtain a Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status for 10 years. The main feature of it is a flat tax of 20% on any income earned in Portugal. Employers without this status must pay income taxes depending on the sums they make. The highest tax rate is 48%.
Non-habitual residents also don’t pay taxes on income outside Portugal.
Spanish Golden Visa holders become tax residents if they spend more than 183 days a year in the country. There, they need to pay income taxes at 19—47%. Non-tax residents pay 24% tax from global income only.
Step-by-step Process of Obtaining a Golden Visa
Getting a Golden Visa in a European country depends on the country, but typically, it doesn't take longer than a year. A Portuguese residence permit can be obtained in 8—10 months, Spanish — in 5+ months.
Citizenship Prospects after Spain and Portugal Golden Visa
One can’t obtain Portuguese or Spanish citizenship right away after obtaining a residence permit.
Spain citizenship is granted to a person who resided in the country for at least 10 years. First, for 5 years with a residence permit and then another 5 with permanent residency. Other requirements include passing:
a DELE language exam at the A2 or higher level;
a CCSE exam to prove knowledge of Spanish culture and laws.
One important point is that Spain doesn’t allow its citizens to have more than one passport. If you don’t come from France, Portugal, Andorra or some Latin states, you will be required to renounce your original citizenship.
Obtaining a Portuguese passport is easier. First, it requires only 5 years of holding a residence permit to be eligible. One doesn’t need to obtain permanent residency and can apply for citizenship straight away. When doing so, applicants must prove they know Portuguese at level A2 or higher.
Portugal allows its citizens to have two or more passports. You won’t need to forfeit your first citizenship unless your country of origin requires so.
Comparison of Golden Visa Programs in Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal Golden Visa programs are similar. However, some differences might be essential for investors.
Purchase of real estate option
7 days a year
Once every year
Inclusion of family members
A spouse, children under 26, parents of any age, siblings under 26
A spouse, children of any age, parents of any age
Living in Spain and Portugal: 6 Features
1. Cost of living. Generally, Portugal has a lower cost of living than many other Western European countries. Housing, food, and services are affordable. While Spain can also be cost-effective, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, cities like Barcelona and Madrid can be more expensive.
2. Climate. Portugal offers a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm summers, making it attractive for those who enjoy a pleasant year-round climate. Spain has diverse environments, ranging from Mediterranean on the coast to continental in the interior. This means you can choose a region with an environment that suits your preferences.
3. Job opportunities. Spain has a larger and more diverse economy, potentially offering more job opportunities in various sectors. However, the unemployment rate can be higher than in Portugal in some regions.
While Portugal’s economy has been growing steadily, it may offer fewer job opportunities than Spain.
4. Quality of life. Both Portugal and Spain offer a high quality of life with good healthcare, education, and safety. Portugal often ranks highly in global quality of life indexes.
5. Healthcare. Both Portugal and Spain have good healthcare systems, and residents are entitled to public healthcare. Many expats also choose to have private health insurance for additional coverage.
6. Culture and lifestyle. Spain is known for its vibrant culture, with lively festivals, a rich culinary tradition, and a strong emphasis on socializing. Portugal has a more relaxed pace of life, and it’s known for its hospitality, beautiful landscapes, and traditional music.
The main difference is that Portuguese residence permits can be obtained for a minimum of €250,000, and Spanish — for a minimum of €500,000.
Another difference is the number of investment options: since recent changes, Portugal has five of them, and Spain still has 6, including purchase of real estate.
The requirements of the process of obtaining a Golden Visa are rather similar. But it takes 8—10 months to become a Portuguese resident and 5+ — a Spanish one.
Both programs can lead to citizenship: to Portugal in 5 years and to Spanish — in 10 years. However, unlike Portugal, Spain doesn’t allow dual citizenship.
Is It Better to Move to Spain or Portugal?
Is It Easier to Get Residency in Portugal or Spain?
Obtaining each Golden Visa requires a lot of time and effort, so it’s impossible to say which one is easier to get. In terms of money, the Portuguese program can be more appealing as the minimum investment there is 250,000. But a Spanish Golden Visa can be obtained 2 times faster than a Portugal’s one.
How Much Do I Need to Invest in Spain to Get Residency?
What Are the Benefits of Portugal Residency by Investment?
Why is Portugal Ending the Golden Visa?
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