Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa: Which One Should You Choose?

Porto In Portugal

Dreaming of a life in the sun-soaked landscapes of Portugal or Spain? You are not alone! But when both countries offer attractive Golden Visa schemes, it is not easy to choose between them. The Spanish and Portuguese Golden Visa programs have perks, from investment options to residency and citizenship paths. So, the question lies: Spain or Portugal?

This comprehensive guide will compare the two Golden Visa opportunities, highlighting essential factors like investment requirements, cost of living, financial implications, and lifestyle considerations. Whether you’re attracted to Spain’s diverse landscapes and vibrant cities or Portugal’s lower investment requirements and tax benefits, this article will provide the necessary details to make an informed decision. Keep reading and prepare to embark on a life-altering journey.

Comparing Investment Requirements

Spain’s Golden Visa Investment Methods

To be eligible for the Golden Visa in Spain, you must inject money into the Spanish economy. You have the option to invest  €500,000 into property, €2 million in Spanish Government Bonds, or €1 million in shares in Spanish Public Debt, Spanish companies or bank deposits. This investment must be held for at least 5 years or as long as you wish to hold your Golden Visa, at which point you can return the investment and apply to be a permanent resident.

Real Estate (soon to be altered)

If you take the option of investment by real estate, you must invest €500,000 in either one or more properties in Spain. The property or properties can be either residential or commercial. The property you buy can be rented out.

Business Development

If you choose to obtain your Golden Visa by assisting the Spanish business economy, you must invest at least €1 million into opportunities that either create employment, have a strong socio-economic impact on the economy or contribute to technological/scientific innovations.

Public Debt

If you choose this option, you must invest at least €1 million into the Spanish Public Debt.

Stocks and Shares

A popular option is to gain your Golden Visa by investing at least €1 million worth of shares in Spanish companies, or by putting this money into a bank deposit with a Spanish financial institution.

Portugal’s Golden Visa Investment Options

To obtain a Golden Visa in Portugal, you must inject money into their economy, however, you have lower-cost options than in Spain. These include investments in real estate, real estate rehabilitation, national heritage, research, existing businesses or private equity funds. There is also the option to create 10 full-time jobs in Portugal. This investment must be held for at least 5 years or as long as you wish to hold your Golden Visa, at which point you can return the investment and apply to be a permanent resident.

Real Estate (soon to be altered)

You can invest by acquiring real estate worth more than €500,000 in Portugal (not in Lisbon, Porto or other coastal towns), or €400,000 if you buy property in a low-density area. The investment focus has recently shifted towards low-density areas, urban renovation, cultural heritage, and job creation. This shift is due to the rising cost of housing in capital cities such as Lisbon and Portugal, which is forcing locals out of living in these areas.

Real Estate Rehabilitation

It is also possible to invest €350,000 into rehabilitating a property that is at least 30 years old and in an urban rehabilitation area, or this amount lowers to €280,000 if it is also in a low-density area.

National Heritage

You can invest a minimum of €250,000 into the conservation of national heritage, arts, or culture.


You can also invest €500,000 into research conducted by accredited institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological systems.

Existing Businesses

You can invest €500,000 into Portugal-registered businesses where the incorporated business must create a minimum of five new full-time jobs for at least three years.

Private Equity Funds

Another very popular option is to invest €500,000 into qualifying private equity funds.

10 Full-Time Jobs

The last option is to create at least 10 new full-time jobs in a Portuguese business that is owned by you, as the main applicant. This number drops to 8 if it is in a low-density area in Portugal.

Porto In Portugal With Boats

Exploring Residency and Citizenship Requirements

The Spanish Golden Visa and Portuguese Golden Visa both harness certain requirements for recipients, beyond the investment they have to make.

Spain’s Requirements for Golden Visa Recipients


  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • You don’t have a criminal record in the last five years
  • You’re not on the list of undesirable people
  • You’ve not been rejected for residence from certain other countries or from Spain
  • Must have valid medical/health insurance
  • You don’t have any of the illnesses according to a 2005 regulation
  • You’re able to prove that you have sufficient funds to live without working in Spain
  • Documentation of the investment is also required

Is My Family Eligible for a Golden Visa as well?

In addition to yourself, your spouse, dependant elderly parents, and children under 18 are also eligible for the Golden Visa. There are exceptions to this, for example, if your child is over 18 but is dependent on you due to any health or mental conditions.

Portugal’s Requirements for Golden Visa Recipients


  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Copy of a passport or other government-issued travel document
  • Must have a clean criminal record in both your residing country and Portugal (attach a completed form authorizing SEF to access criminal records in Portugal)
  • Must not have been refused a Schengen Visa in the past
  • Must have valid medical/health insurance
  • Provide evidence of a steady income
  • Documentation of the investment is also required
  • A sworn declaration of compliance with the minimum investment requirements for the necessary time period of five years

Tax Implications


As a Tax Resident

If you stay in Spain for more than 183 days, you will become a tax resident and therefore have to pay taxes on your global income. These tax rates vary from 17% up to 50%, which may vary depending on which region you live in. You will also be liable to pay capital gains tax which ranges from 19% to 23%. There is also wealth tax which you may be liable to pay on highly valued assets, ranging from 0.2% to 2.5%, depending on the region you are in. Lastly, there are complicated inheritance tax laws in Spain. The rates range from 7.65% to 34%. If you want to know more about this, see here.

As a Non-tax Resident

If you spend less than 183 days per year in Spain, you will not be considered a tax resident. Instead of having to pay personal income tax, you will have to pay the non-resident income tax and wealth tax.

For example, if you have property that you are renting out, you will have to pay non-resident tax quarterly, at a rate of 24%. However, if you have just used the property for personal use, you will be required to pay a rate using this formulation: 24% by 1.1% or 2%. The percentage you will need to pay will depend on the cadastral value of the property. If you want to see what your property is valued at, click here.

As for wealth tax, if your property is worth more than €700,000, you will be required to pay tax on this somewhere between 0.2% and 2.5%.


As a Tax Resident

If you spend more than 183 days a year in Portugal, you will be considered a tax resident. As a tax resident, you will be taxed between 14.5% and 48% on global income. You will also have to pay capital gains tax at a rate of 28%. There is also a 10% inheritance tax rate applied when inheriting or gifting an estate to a spouse or children.

If you have a property in Portugal, you will have to pay IMI tax annually. The IMI tax rate is between 0.3% to 0.8% depending on the type, age, and location of the real estate. You also have to pay property purchase tax (IMT).  You will also be required to pay Stamp Duty on your property purchase at 0.8%. You will also have to pay tax on any rental income, at a flat rate of 15%. You will also still be liable to pay capital gains tax at 28%.

As a Non-tax Resident

If you spend less than 183 days a year in Portugal, you will be considered a non-habitual resident (NHR). NHR holders are given tax exemptions on any global income they earn and are limited to paying a flat rate of 20% on any income earned in Portugal. You also will not be required to pay any wealth tax. There are, however, taxes involved if you own a home in Portugal.

You will be liable for the same property taxes as you would if you were a tax resident (read the paragraph above).

Barcelona In Spain At Night With Golden Visa

Golden Visa Fees


The initial processing fee you will need to pay is €250 per person. However, the application/approval fee will cost €8000 per visa holder. The subsequent renewal fees will cost €2500.


The processing fee is €533 (+ €83 /dependent) at the time of application and at each renewal. There is also an initial application fee of €5,325 per person as a once-off. You will be required to pay €2,663 per person each time you renew your Golden Visa.

The Pathway to Citizenship in Both Countries

Both Portugal and Spain offer pathways to citizenship for Golden Visa holders. You can apply for citizenship in Portugal after five years of permanent residency and you can apply for citizenship in Spain after 10 years of continuous residency.

Portugal allows dual citizenship, so you won’t need to choose between Portugal and your home country.

However, if you would like to become a citizen of Spain, you will need to renounce your original nationality (unless you’re from Iberian countries).

Maintaining your investment is crucial in both cases. It’s essential for retaining your residency status and progressing towards citizenship.

Analyzing the Benefits and Limitations

Spain’s Golden Visa Benefits

The Spanish Golden Visa program offers many advantages. You can obtain the Golden Visa at the Spanish embassy which is valid for one year and can be exchanged for a Spain residence permit, valid for two years. The residence permit can be renewed indefinitely if you maintain your investment within the country.

  • Although you must enter Spain to renew your visa/permit, there is no requirement beyond this entry once per year, meaning you have the freedom to live anywhere you choose
  • After 5 continuous years of residency, you can apply for permanent residency (or citizenship after 10 years)
  • You can travel visa-free anywhere in the Schengen area for 90 days every 180 days
  • You can legally live and work in Spain with a Spanish Golden Visa
  • You and your family will have access to public services such as state health care and schooling
  • There is no requirement to learn the language and no language test
  • After submitting your application for the Golden Visa it will be accepted or denied within 20 days

Portugal’s Golden Visa Benefits

The Portuguese Golden Visa program has many benefits. The initial Golden Visa card in Portugal is valid for two years, with subsequent cards valid for three years each.

  • You are only required to stay in Portugal for at least seven days per year, offering you a lot of flexibility
  • You have the potential for permanent residence and citizenship after just 5 years, particularly because Portugal allows dual citizenship
  • Low investment rates to achieve the Golden Visa (starting at €250,000)
  • You can travel throughout the Schengen region without a visa, for up to 90 days in every 180 days
  • You have the ability to work legally in Portugal, with favorable tax regimes if you choose to do so
  • Pay either no tax (on global income) or limited tax (on Portuguese income) for up to 10 years
  • Relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe
  • Access to Portuguese healthcare and education for both you and your family
  • You don’t have to learn Portuguese, as there is no language test
  • There is no inheritance tax for spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents the decedent

Challenges in Both Golden Visa Programs

Despite the many benefits, both the Spanish and Portuguese Golden Visa programs face certain challenges, and each program has its certain pitfalls.


  • Hefty inheritance fees in Spain if you are looking at moving there permanently with your family
  • Have to invest a larger amount of money (€500,000) to acquire the visa
  • Tax rates are higher than in Portugal


  • It can take up to 6-12 months for your application to be processed

In both countries, there’s been talk about reforming the programs. This could mean abolishing the program or doubling the minimum investment requirement.

Livability in Both Countries

Various factors are considered when assessing the actual livability of residing in Spain or Portugal.

Spain is more expensive than Portugal, however, for Europe, it is still considered to be low-cost. Living costs in Spain fluctuate depending on the region, with major cities being pricier than smaller towns or rural areas. The healthcare system in Spain is very good, with no premiums or out-of-pocket fees. The schools in Spain are highly recommended, with great international schools for foreigners. Spain is celebrated for its diverse landscapes and dynamic cities like Barcelona and Madrid. Its cultural heritage, art, and gastronomy are globally acclaimed.

In Portugal, the average cost of living is 11% lower than in Spain. This is something to take into consideration, particularly if you don’t plan to become a permanent resident and work in Portugal. Portugal is known for its scenic coastal cities like Lisbon and Porto, and the locals’ renowned hospitality. It boasts a high standard of living and a public-funded healthcare system, the Serviço Nacional de Saúde, ranked third for patient care and medical infrastructure.

Seeking Professional Advice

Given the complexity of these programs and the significant financial commitment involved, it’s wise to seek professional advice. This can help you understand the full implications of each program. It includes the costs, benefits, and application process.

Madrid In Spain Which Offers A Golden Visa

Making the Final Decision: Spain vs. Portugal

Choosing between these two Golden Sisa options isn’t easy, as they both offer great opportunities. Ultimately, the decision will depend on what your primary goal is for applying for the visa. If you are looking to choose primarily as a financial decision, with lower minimum investment options and tax benefits, the Portuguese Golden Visa Program is your clear choice.

Additionally, if you are looking to become a citizen in one of these countries, it is half a long to do so in Portugal and doesn’t require you to renounce your original nationality. Aside from these few factors, both Spain and Portugal provide you with offer a thriving culture, modern facilities, and promising future prospects. They also both offer you the ability to travel throughout Europe freely.

Remember, while the information provided here aims to guide you, seeking professional advice tailored to your circumstances is crucial. Whichever European haven you choose, enjoy!



Rihab Saad

General Manager
Next Generation Equity

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