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Golden Visa vs D7 Visa: Which is better?

If you’ve been looking into a Golden Visa for Portugal you’ve probably come across other residency visas, like the D7 Visa. So what’s the difference and which one should you choose? In this article, we will cover the advantages and disadvantages of the Golden Visa and D7 Visa.

Pro Tip: A quick way to understand the key difference between the two visas is that with a Golden Visa your additional investment “buys” your geographic freedom. For the additional cash you’re required to submit, you retain the privilege of living anywhere in the world during the 5 year period it takes to qualify for a citizenship application.

First, let’s rewind to four years ago. I was living in Buenos Aires with my wife and we were planning our next life adventure: a move to Portugal. At first, the experience was a little daunting. We had more questions than we could find answers to. For example, what are the steps required for a Golden Visa in Portugal? Who are the service providers in the industry? Do we need to hire a lawyer?

As an American, I knew I needed a visa to live in Europe and I found there were two main routes I could take in Portugal: Golden Visa and D7 Visa. So the question was, should I get a Golden Visa or a D7 Visa? Like most things in life, the answer was: it depends.

To dig a little deeper, we need to look at each visa’s requirements as well as the visa seeker’s objectives. Let’s go through each…

Portugal Golden Visa Requirements

Portugal’s Golden Visa is a “Residency by Investment” program. What this means is a non-citizen can make an investment of a specific amount which then entitles them to a visa. Once you hold that visa you are officially a resident of Portugal. If you maintain the requirements for that visa for 5 years you can then apply for a passport. However, there are specific requirements you’ll need to meet. They include the following:

  • Make a “qualifying investment.” Currently, there are ten different types of investment you can make, however, the majority of people choose a direct purchase of real estate or investment funds. The requirements for each are the following:
    • Real Estate (without refurbishment): €500k in the interior region (non-coastal), reduced to €400k if low population density area
    • Real Estate (where you refurbish the properly): €350k in the interior region (non-coastal), reduced to €280k if low population density area
    • Investment Fund: €500k investment in a licensed and regulated investment fund. Here’s a list of eligible Golden Visa funds.
  • Spend just 7 days per year in Portugal (on average)
  • Hold a clean criminal record
  • 7-year time frame (Although it's technically a 5-year time frame, you'll need to include a year of bureaucracy at the start and finish)

D7 Visa Requirements

The D7 Visa is a residency visa for foreigners living on income from abroad. In contrast to the Golden Visa, the D7 Visa does not require a large upfront investment. However, it does require you to live in Portugal for more than half the year (183 days). Requirements for this visa include the following:

  • Demonstrate an income of at least €8,460 for the previous 12-month period
    • (No additional qualifying investment required)
  • Live in Portugal for at least half the year (183 days)
  • Hold a clean criminal record
  • 5-year time frame (less bureaucracy than a Golden Visa, but still around 6 years in total)

Advantages of a Portugal Visa

Let’s start with the advantages of both visas as there is some overlap between the two.

First, securing any Portugal residency visa will allow you to live and work in the country. Portugal is part of the Schengen Area which is the world’s largest visa-free zone. The Schengen Area includes 26 European countries that guarantee the free and unrestricted movement of people between borders.

Obtaining a Portugal Visa will allow you to move freely between Schengen countries. If you go on to apply for a Portugal passport you can live and work permanently in any of the 26 Schengen Area countries, with full rights as a citizen.

Additionally, there are many other reasons Portugal has become a hot spot for foreigners which include:

  • Tax efficiency for foreign investors
  • Politically stable country
  • Free high-quality healthcare
  • 3rd Safest Country in the world
  • Mediterranean diet & low-cost high-quality wine
  • English speaking
  • Voted best ex-pat quality of life in Europe (again!)
  • 300 days of sunshine per year
  • Political Stability
  • Beautiful Beaches (also world-class surfing waves)
  • Diverse and breathtaking geography
  • Welcoming population

Golden Visa Advantages

The primary advantage of the Golden Visa vs the D7 Visa is the time in-country requirement. With a Golden Visa, this is reduced to only 7 days per year, affording you incredible geographic freedom. The D7 Visa requires that you live in Portugal as your primary home for more than half of the year.

If you are seeking European citizenship, are not looking to move to Portugal within 5 years but want to start that 5-year clock ticking (and you can manage the investment) then the Golden Visa is a, extremely attractive option.

D7 Visa Advantages

The main advantage of the D7 Visa is the low cost as it does not require a qualifying investment. If you are eager to live in Portugal in the near term and you don’t want to make a substantial investment, the D7 Visa is probably your best option.

In the end, my family relocated to Portugal, so we chose the D7 Visa which has worked out beautifully for our needs.

After plenty of research and speaking with contacts we found a law firm to help us with the process. You should always expect a lot of complex bureaucracy when going through the immigration process here in Portugal.

This article covered just one of the many issues individuals and families will face when emigrating to Portugal. You can find out more about regulated Golden Visa investment funds. For help finding a law firm to represent you, you can check out our law partners.