Changes to Portugal’s Golden Visa program to take effect next year

Contrary to what has been widely disseminated in international news, the Portuguese Golden Visa program is changing, but it’s not over. Portugal remains one of the most wanted destinations in the world both for tourism and Golden Visa Programs. Within the discussion of the state’s budget, the Portuguese Parliament has approved an authorization to amend the Golden Visa Program legislation. This amendment constitutes in fact an opportunity both for Portugal and for international investors.

The Secretary of State to the Prime Minister has stated that in order not to affect any ongoing situations, these amendments could only enter into force in the beginning of 2021.

This authorization does not affect any ongoing Golden Visa applications, since the Portuguese Constitution does not allow the law to be retroactive, meaning that only applications submitted after the materialization of this legislative authorization will be affected. So, if you have already applied for a Golden Visa, you have nothing to worry about.

Through this authorization, the parliament is now allowed to exclude the main cities of Lisbon and Porto from the Golden Visa Program. The idea is to promote investment in low-density regions, as well as in urban revitalization, cultural heritage, activities of high environmental or social value, productive investment and in job creation.

The door has been opened to the restriction of the Golden Visa Program but nothing has actually changed so far. This authorization must now be materialized in an amendment of Law 23/2007, of July 4, the Portuguese Aliens Act (which has not happened yet). Portugal remains the place to invest.

In fact, the Golden Visa Program is already responsible for millions of euros invested in the rehabilitation of several historic buildings in the interior of Portugal and the creation of thousands of new jobs. This amendment to the law will allow for even more investment in the rehabilitation of monasteries, palaces, and in Portuguese heritage overall.

Let’s not forget that the golden visa program has brought new and sustainable investment to the country, allowing people and companies to create jobs, build new infrastructures, create new businesses, develop innovative products, renovate old properties and consequently transforming the historic city centers. There has also been an increment of the tourism sector, which means that there will be further in depth discussion before an actual amendment to the Portuguese Aliens Act effectively occurs.

This authorization will create new opportunities for investment in Portugal outside of the two main cities. Portugal is more than just Lisbon and Porto.

In 2019, Portugal won 39 awards at the World Travel Awards, and was chosen to Europe’s leading destination. In 2019, the World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that tourism in Portugal would grow double the European average of 2,5% and commended the Portuguese Government for its investment in Tourism [1]. 

Between January and August 2019, Portugal had 18 million tourists, which is above the numbers of the previous year (from January to December 2018 Portugal welcomed 12,76 million tourists.)

Portugal was ranked 2nd in the 2020 Global Residence Program Index [2] which considers the Portuguese golden visa residence program one of the best in the world, offering low corporate and personal income tax regimes, a fast processing time for the golden visa application, secure compliance and low processing fees. It offers the investors a path to a passport with visa free access for up to 185 countries. 

Given the fact that Portugal is a relatively small country, visitors can have breakfast in Vila Viçosa (in Alentejo region) and lunch by the ocean in Cascais, Lisbon or Alentejo’s coastline. They can drive from Porto to Spain in about one hour and a half, or go the mountains to Lisbon in just two hours. 

The charm of Portugal is so much more than Lisbon and Porto. Following this amendment to the Golden Visa Program, you will be given the opportunity to invest in a raw diamond with so much to offer.


[1] https://www.wttc.org/about/media-centre/press-releases/press-releases/2019/portugal-records-highest-travel-tourism-growth-in-the-european-union/

[2]Data from Henley & Partners Global Residence Program Index, available at https://issuu.com/ideos_publications/docs/investment_migration_programs_2020

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About the Author

Tiago Gali Macedo
Tiago Gali Macedo

Tiago Gali Macedo is a Portuguese immigration consultant. He serves as the managing partner of NEXT/Gali Macedo & Associados, a law firm based in Porto and Lisbon with offices in Angola and Belgium.

Established in 2005, the firm offers a large variety of legal services. Its main practice areas include immigration law, real estate, project management, contracts, national and international mergers and acquisitions.

Gali Macedo is a professor at various universities in Portugal and the U.S. He is the author of several international publications and a frequent speaker at conferences in Portugal and overseas.

Gali Macedo holds a law degree from the Catholic University of Portugal and a master’s degree from Santiago University in Spain. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from Salford University in the U.K.

Gali Macedo has been a member of the Portuguese Bar Association since 1994. He is also a member of the Belgian Bar Association.

Gali Macedo speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.

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