Rated as one of five ‘coolest’ places to live in the world by thesouthafrican.com, Portugal was also voted the best golfing destination in the world in the 2014 World Golf Awards. James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co International, a company that specialises in investor programmes for residency and citizenship in a number of territories around the world, says that Portugal is offering foreigners great investment opportunities as well as unsurpassed lifestyle benefits with the possibility of citizenship through its Golden Visa Programme.
“Aside from the amazing lifestyle benefits, Portugal also offers its residents excellent schools and international quality health care clinics and hospitals. Portugal also ranks as the 17th safest country in the world,” he says.
Added to this, Portugal's Algarve is considered to be the best place in the world to retire. This is according to the 2014 Retire Overseas Index. Bowling says that the index takes 12 categories into consideration, including real estate, residency options, cost of living, healthcare and taxes.
Situated on the Atlantic coast, the Algarve region is already home to 100 000 resident expat retirees and is characterised by medieval towns, fishing villages, open-air markets and local wineries as well as some of Europe's best beaches. As the Algarve boasts great weather, with around 3 300 hours of sunshine per year, it’s easy to see why it has become such a sought-after retirement destination.
Bowling points out that the Golden Visa Programme makes it easier than ever for a foreign retiree to arrange legal residency. “Aside from retirees, Portugal is a very attractive option for South African business people and executives who wish to work within the European Union (EU) while also providing their families with a wonderful opportunity for a good education and lifestyle.”
Speaking about residency and citizenship opportunities in Portugal, Bowling says that the Portuguese government legislated the Golden Visa Programme in October 2012. He explains that this programme allows the investor immediate residence, meaning they are able to live and work in Portugal as well as travel visa free to all the 26 Schengen countries of Europe.
“It is important to note that the Golden Visa Programme is attractive for investors who would like to enjoy the quality of life, great weather and safety that Portugal has to offer but also take advantage of being part of the European Union without being obligated to reside permanently in Portugal,” Bowling explains. He says that the Golden Residence Permit for Investment is available to all foreign national investors who are not citizens of the EU.
To qualify, the investor will need to make an investment in Portugal through one of the following qualifying options:
- Capital investment with a minimum value of 1 000 000€ (one million Euros) in a Portuguese company.
- Establishing a Portuguese company that employs more than ten people.
- Acquisition of real estate with a minimum value of 500 000€ (five hundred thousand Euros)
“The criteria are simple and transparent, added to which, the Portuguese government is committed to supporting investment in the country in order to attract capital, promote job creation and increase investment in real estate,” says Bowling.
When it comes to qualifying for citizenship, Bowling says that in terms of the general law, visa holders qualify for Portuguese citizenship after they have successively renewed the residence permit for a total of five years. “The Golden Visa is renewed three times and after the fifth year the permit holder may apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport, which will grant the holder all the rights of an EU national.”
Bowling concludes by saying no matter whether retirees, families or business executives are considering the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme, it will offer all investors the best of both worlds: a good investment in terms of a rand hedge that also has expansion opportunities as well as an amazing lifestyle including visa-free travel possibilities and world-class health and education facilities.