Golden visa Spain vs Portugal

Spain has the Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, but Colorful castles in Portugal's Sintra can lighten your mood almost immediately. In Spain, sangria is here to cool you off, and Portugal will spin your world right around with its Port wine. You can use the peaceful beaches of Spanish Tenerife to rest your body and soul, yet, nothing will give you chills like surfing on the Atlantic coast of Portugal.

Still, the most important thing is that both countries are willing to grant you a golden ticket to your dream destination in exchange for substantial investment in their economy. The question is where you would prefer to go. Hence, let the showdown ‘golden visa: Spain vs Portugal' begin.

Dissecting the Subject: How Does It Work?

Regardless of the country, the essence of the document is the same: it is designed to help you cut some big and sharp corners on your way to obtaining residency. It might also remove certain obstacles from your path to citizenship, but it depends on the country.

So, what's the algorithm? Provided that you've enriched the country's economy by making a substantial investment in it, you shall be granted a special form of temporary residency, called a golden visa. This, in turn, means that you can work or study in the chosen location, and the ability to cross Schengen countries freely comes as a very pleasant bonus.


Your wallet →



€500,000 (min)



€280,000 (min)





Country's economy* →



Real estate, business development, or capital transfer



Real estate, business development, capital transfer, fund subscription, donation




Residency permit →



Initially, it is valid for one year



For your first application, you can get a two-year permit








Enjoy life**

*You have to complete the investment procedure before initiating a visa application process.

**This is not a roadmap, just some suggestions. In addition, keep in mind that other countries might not allow you to work even with a golden visa (e.g., Greece).

Eligibility Concerns

In many aspects, this is similar to meeting the girl of your dreams. You like her style and taste in music, she's smart and fun at the same time. But if she's 30, while you are only 16, chances are she's not your soulmate. Plus, she can also be way out of your league. Hence, let's check if you are a real match before you make your first move.


Truth be told, this country is open to almost anyone. If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national, who is already 18 years old and has no criminal past (or present), the gates are open to you. Naturally, you have to provide enough money to pass the minimum investment bar. Also, note that the transfer must be made from outside Portugal.


Unfortunately, this country has to deal with its more than a fair share of illegal immigrants. Therefore, its policy evolved to be a bit stricter. Hence, besides being over 18 with a clean criminal record and stable finances, you have to jump through some hoops to qualify:

  • Refrain from coming to the country illegally.
  • Check your health to make sure that you can get a Spanish health card, and obtain private health care.
  • Abstain from doing anything that can make you a persona non grata.
  • Put enough money in your bank account to prove that you can provide for your needs without having a job.
  • Ensure that you haven't been rejected for residency in other countries before submitting your application.

Golden Visa: a Romanticized Placebo or a Real Deal?

Neither Portugal nor Spain is an industrial or technological center. They don't have an abundance of natural resources. For the most part, they consist of rural areas. Thus, they focus on the tourism and agricultural sectors of the economy. They managed to turn this to their advantage by portraying it as the land of milk and honey that is easily accessible if you are eager to invest. This is how the pilgrimage of investors, pensioners, and digital nomads from foreign countries began.

Yet, you need to weigh the pros and cons of both propositions to determine whether they are worthy of your time or are nothing more than an advertising trick. Some essential aspects cannot be omitted, but you can add some requirements that are essential specifically to your expectations and purposes to your ‘golden visa: Spain vs Portugal' benefits list.

Main Advantages

Essentially, your residency in both Spain and Portugal will grant you permission to live, work, and study there. Thus, it's the extra privileges that make a difference. So, let's count the cherries on top of these pies.

Multiply Your Happiness by Sharing It

Both countries are ready to make concessions for you. Therefore, they won't force you to leave your loved ones behind and will allow them to apply for a golden visa as well. Generally, you can take your spouse and children under 18 with you (provided they want to go, of course). Moreover, Portugal welcomes your elderly parents (in case they have reached the age of 65) and children under the age of 26 if they depend on you (meaning they are full-time students and are not married).

Alice in Borderless Land: the List of Visa-free Countries

At some point, you're going to get tired of sangria and seafood. Plus, with time, you'll stop being so fascinated with culture, architecture, and scenery. Luckily, your temporary residency allows you to effortlessly visit any place within the Schengen area and usually does not impose severe restrictions on the period you have to spend within your country of residence. Hence, you can be charmed by France, drink beer in Germany, or enjoy the quiet, almost extraterrestrial landscape of Iceland without any unnecessary trouble (don't forget that you can travel for business as easily as for pleasure).

How Long Do You Have to Stay Put?



7 days per year (14 days during the initial 2-year permit and 21 days for the subsequent ones)

You can just go there once a year, even for 1 day. It will count as a required 1 entrance.

Additional Perks

Certain benefits are not an inherent part of the golden visa, but are closely connected to it.

Non-Habitual Residence Program (NHR)

This one applies solely to Portuguese residents. Certain categories of golden visa owners are entitled to generous tax income tax exemptions for 10 years.

However, pensioners have already been deprived of their tax privileges. Of course, it might have something to do with them viewing the land as if it is Valinor, and themselves as the Elves who are ready to leave Middle-earth. Still, a strange choice of demographic, considering that their income will hardly make any substantial difference to the country's budget. Furthermore, this implies that new restrictions are bound to come.

Sustainable Housing Program

This initiative is a pleasant surprise for those who plan to invest in new property and value eco-friendly solutions or strive to avoid any turbulence of the current European energy crisis (plus, save some money). The Portuguese authorities are willing to compensate for the cost of making your house energy-efficient.

Easy Path to Citizenship

Of course, you understand that getting a temporary residence permit does not automatically grant you even a permanent residency, let alone citizenship. Still, it is frequently antecedent to them. However, the requirements, as always, differ depending on the chosen location.

Citizenship requirements



Spend 7 out of 365 days (on average) in Portugal for 5 years

Show sufficient results on your language test (A2 will suffice)

Don't forget to pay your taxes on time (in Portugal)

Spend most of the year in Spain for 10 years

Pass language and culture tests (DELE A2 & CCSE)

Keep in Mind

The obligation to keep your criminal record clean goes without saying. In addition, you will have to renounce your current citizenship if you want to get the Spanish one. Hence, think thoroughly before making your final decision.


If you are a citizen of a former Spanish colony, you have to comply with the minimum stay requirement of only 2 years.

Positive Vibes

With this investment, you get access to tasty food, rich culture, fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and almost eternal summer for a relatively small price. However, be sure to do a quick reality check before authorizing any transfers:

  • Both countries are integrated into the world economy. Hence, the existing energy crisis and COVID-19 implications combined with the emerging housing bubble affect them as well as their European neighbors.
  • Portugal struggles heavily with skyrocketing property prices and a growing disproportion between demand and supply in the housing market. Meanwhile, Spain desperately seeks a solution to the illegal immigrants' issue.
  • Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas are no longer part of Portugal's golden visa initiative. Still, you can make a business investment in these locations and become eligible for the program.
  • There will be many stereotypes that you'll have to renounce or beliefs that you have to accept.
  • There are windy days in Portugal and the northern Spanish regions winter can be rather cold.

Side-by-Side Portraits

Let's create a visual representation of the comparison of the gold visas of Spain and Portugal to understand better which country suits your needs more.

List of Advantages



Live, work, study, and travel to Schengen countries

A short period of obligatory stay

Tax exemption

Faster path to citizenship

Mostly, yes

Not necessarily

Doing the Math: Investments, Expenditures, and Taxes

Spain surpasses Portugal in terms of GDP (249.89 vs. 1425.28 billion US dollars in 2021) and average gross salary (€1,418 vs. €2,279.00). Thus, it is essentially more demanding towards the sums you have to pay in case you seek a residency permit.

The Main Part

Of course, investment options may vary depending on the country. However, many of them intersect. The most popular fund destinations include property acquisition, capital transfer, fund subscription, and business development.

Investment Type



Real Estate

  • €500,000;
  • €400,000 (low-density area);
  • €350,000 (real estate older than 30 years in an urban rehabilitation area);
  • €280,000 (real estate older than 30 years in a low-density urban rehabilitation area)



€1,5 million

  • €2 million (Spanish Government Bonds) - safer option because they are backed by the country's government;
  • €1 million (business or bank deposit in the country)


€500,000 (qualified funds only)



  • Use your business to create at least 10 new full-time jobs (8 if it's in a low-density area);
  • Contribute €500,000 to the operating Portuguese company (but during 3 years it has to create a minimum of 5 new full-time jobs)

€1 million to develop:

  1. new jobs;
  2. socio-economic environment;
  3. scientific & technological innovations


  • €250,000 (National Heritage, Arts, and Culture);
  • €500,000 (Research & Development)


Word of Advice

Remember that you can invest in more than one property. Plus, no one stops you from getting the funds that you need to complete the acquisition (aside from the minimum amount, of course) through a loan or mortgage.

Subsequent Costs

Naturally, many parties, institutions, and specialists will be involved in carrying out all the transactions and procedures. Thus, some extra expenses are inevitable if you want to keep everyone happy.



Application fee (amount of euro per person)

  • 533.90 (main applicant) & 83.30 (family members) - processing fee;
  • 5.325 per person (initial application) & 2.663 per person (renewal)

87.57 (application & renewal)

Notary cost (paid in euros, for real estate deals only)



Management fee (%)

  • 0.5 (capital transfer);
  • 1.5 per year (investment fund)


Helpful Reminder

Do not forget that you also have to pay legal fees as well as remuneration to the companies that will perform translation and notary services (to translate & verify your documents). Naturally, the sum will vary depending on the prices of the selected firms.


Unfortunately, this part is inescapable. Yet, the good news is that, in most cases, you won't have to deal with it regularly.


Naturally, the contribution to the country's economy you will be making is way more substantial than purchasing a souvenir in a local store. Therefore, you will have to face particular fiscal consequences.

Type of Tax



Transfer Tax

  • 4.58% (€350,000);
  • 6.5% (€500,000)
  • TT (first transfer): 6-11% (depending on the region);
  • VAT (second/posterior transfer): 21% (10% for residential property)

Stamp Duty



Tax Residency

Essentially, a golden visa does not automatically entail any permanent tax obligations. However, you might plan to work or receive a pension here. You might also be excited to Airbnb your newly acquired house with a view. Plus, in Spain, you will be obliged to become a tax resident in case you spend more than 183 days per year in the country.

Type of Tax



Income Tax

14.5-45% (participants of the NHR program are entitled to a 10-year exemption)


Corporate Tax



Inheritance & Gift Tax


1-7% (depending on the region)

Exit Fee

  • 5%+VAT (real estate);
  • 35% of the profit (investment fund)

19-26% (your assets might not be subjected to it, you need to check the criteria)

The Most Daunting Part: Getting Your Paperwork Right

Dealing with bureaucracy is exhausting. Hence, the amount of paperwork you have to complete is a vital parameter to consider while selecting your potential country of residence.

Identity Proof



Passport or another official travel document (+copy)

A passport that will be valid for the next year

Tax identification number (NIF)

Tax identification number (NIE)

Confirmation of Completing the Necessary Procedures

Type of Document



Proof that the investment is complete



Healthcare papers (should cover the whole period of residency)

Criminal records

Declaration of intent to be a law-abiding citizen


Confirmation of submitting your application


Evidence of Financial Stability


*A deed or promissory sale agreement (real estate), proof of fond subscription from a fund manager, a declaration from your bank (capital transfer), employment contracts (business development), etc.

**Certification of the Land Registry (real estate), a statement of investment from the Registrar of Foreign Investments of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (copy), a certificate from a Spanish financial institution (capital transfer), etc.

***Papers that describe your good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority & Social Security system.

****Application payment receipt from API portal.

*****Still, you have to present a sworn declaration of your ability to sustain your investment for the upcoming 5 years.

Important Tip

Do not forget to check the validity of your documents before submitting your application.

What Else to Consider




Waiting Time (months)



Validity Period (years)


  • 1 (initial permit);
  • 2 (second permit);
  • 5 (consecutive permits)


Overall, the ‘golden visa: Spain vs Portugal' face-off isn't exactly a competition. The pictures on both canvases have some rather bleak brush strokes alongside the bright ones. In the same manner, as light forms shadow, pros always coexist with cons. The question is what benefits and shortcomings you label as tempting incentives or dealbreakers.

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