Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options – Which One is Best for You

I am reposting one of our latest articles here, I hope it will help to to choose the most appropriation investment options! Some table from the original post will not be shared here.

Portugal Golden Visa investment options —- Real estate? Funds? Fully managed properties? Guaranteed income? Buy back option? How to choose from all these?

The minimum investment thresholds for the various Portugal Golden Visa investment options are different. This means your budget may already have filtered out some of them.

In this article we will first take a look at the Portugal Golden Visa investment options statistics, and see which ones are most popular. And then we will categorise applicants into several different categories and see which investment options may be most suitable for them.

Portugal Golden Visa Statistics on Investment: From 2012 – 2021

This is the statistics of the Portugal Golden Visa program from 2012 where it was first launched until Q1 of 2021. Check here to see the statistics year by year.

  • Number of main investor application: 9617
  • Number of dependent application: 16372
  • 94% of applications chose property investment; 5% chose capital transfer of 1 million or more; while only less than 1% went with funds

See the breakdown of Portugal Golden Visa investment options below:

Investment options No of applications
500k property purchase 8208
350k property purchase 826
Capital transfer 488
Investment in funds 73
Investment in company 5
Creation of jobs 17

*note that they don’t have a breakdown between high and low density area, thus the 500k and 350k figures also contain the low density area

So why is there an overwhelming majority of applicants choosing property investment over the other options. There are a few reason:

Capital Transfer of 1 Million

There aren’t that many people who have the cash or the willingness to go for the 1 million capital transfer.

Creation of Jobs

Creation of jobs sounds like a reasonable route for people who is planning to start a business in Portugal. However, the commitment of maintaining 10 jobs throughout the 5 years period may be seen as a risk factor if the business doesn’t do well. In addition, for those who intent to start a business and live in Portugal, buying a property is seemed as a necessity, a first step and a less risky choice for many.

Investing in Company

Investing in company is a more specialized activity and option. It also has an employment requirement which is a risk factor. Sourcing a trustful and profit making company to invest in is not an easy task and investing a large sum of money into the hands of others is another risk factor.

Investing in R&D and Arts & Heritage

Other options such as investments in R&D and arts and heritage is quite vague and too specialized. There is a lack of both market demand and market supply. Thus there is a ‘zero’ figure on these options.

Investment Funds

Investment in funds is gaining popularity now. But why is it that it only makes up less than 1% of the investment options chosen?

First of all, the investment funds option only started in 2017, around 3 years ago. And when it first started, there aren’t many funds offered on the market.

Second, when you see the nationalities who applied for Portugal Golden Visa, the majority proportion was/is Chinese. And real estate is the go to asset for Chinese. It is a tangible asset that is owned outright and seen as a value holding asset.

Third, we are seeing more and more applicants choosing funds, but there is a time lag of the showing up in the statistics, as it only shows applications that have been approved, which could take several months to one year with the current Covid situation and many can’t come to get their biometric done.

We are seeing that the number of funds that are targeting to Golden Visa applicants have tripled during the last year. There are a couple reasons for this:

  1. The investment fund options only really started to gain popularity in the recent one year or so. This also coincides with the increasing popularity of Portugal Golden Visa amongst Americans, since they are more open to and familiar with funds.
  2. The anticipated termination of property investment for Portugal Golden Visa, which was first discussed in early 2020.

With the biggest investment option (real estate investment) partially shutting down, it would give rooms for other options to grow and prosper. In fact, it is the intention of the policy change – to shift the foreign direct investment (FDI) elsewhere, not just focusing on residential properties in big cities like Lisbon, Porto, Algarve. And in the case of Lisbon and Porto, to steer the focus on commercial property like offices and shops.

We shall see how the whole situation and the percentage share of the investment routes will evolve with the changes of Portugal Golden Visa regulations taking place in 2022.

Pick the Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options According to Your Goals

For the aforementioned reasons, we will just be focusing on real estate and funds.

To begin with, we will categorise Golden Visa applicants into 3 main categories.

We will then investigate which type of real estate/ funds options is suitable for each category, breaking down the options according to characteristics such as buy back, income guaranteed, capital guaranteed — and give some insight on the decision points you should be looking into.

We hope this post would help you to rethink in another way, not in terms of funds or properties, but in relations to your final objectives and goals.

Below is the most common categories investors fall into, and it will largely determine what type of Portugal Golden Visa investment options would make more sense and appeal to you.

Let’s begin with the obvious.

Type 1 – You are planning to move and live in Portugal in the near future

This one has an obvious answer. If you are planning to live in Portugal in the near future (say, in the coming one to two years), buying a property for self use may be one of your top choice.

Owning your own home gives you better quality of life in a new country. You have the flexibility to remodel or decorate it however you like, save you from paying rent, and gives you a sense of settling down in a foreign country. Staying in the same home let you get familiar with the public transportation system, the neighbourhood, the junta de freguesia (parish council), the market, the cafe, the butcher and so on. You and your children would be able to make friends in the neighbourhood or in school.

If this is you, you could be looking for your own property, either a new development or a property in the second hand market.

Some questions you might be asking are:

  • is this a safe neighbourhood?
  • your lifestyle – do you want to live in the country side or in the buzzing centre of the city?
  • Is it close to school, supermarket, park, daily necessity/ facilities?
  • Will you be taking public transportation, and if so, is it close by?
  • …………

How to choose the right neighbourhood could be another separate post. In this post, we would stick to the different Portugal Golden Visa investment options.

Type 2 – You just want to take the lowest risk, preserve your capital, and take the money out as quick as possible

Then there are those who just want to get the residency or citizenship/ passport, with minimal risk and minimal cost. You want to preserve your capital and ideally take the money out as soon as possible.

The main reasons behind for this group of investors:

  1. You see the investment as a mean to get the visa and eventually the citizenship or permanent residency, and not necessarily an investment to get a high potential return. You want to just park the money in a safe place, with a low cost, low maintenance option. OR

  2. You are not familiar with Portugal and are not too sure about the investment environment of Portugal. OR

  3. You intended to invest in property, however with the pandemic, you are not able to come and do property viewing and prefer to find a low risk and low cost option as an alternative (to catch the deadline before the regulations change).

The typical requirements for Portugal Golden Visa investment options are

  • Low risk – the main goal is to preserve the capital
  • Low cost
  • Low maintenance
  • Able to exit the investment in a timely manner (around 6 years where they then get the citizenship and permanent residency)
  • Preferably with a reasonable return

There are a couple options for this type of clients:

  • Capital guaranteed fund
  • Property / Hotel projects that have buy back options

Below is a table of all capital guaranteed/ buy back options with us with detailed information on cost, income and investment outlay.

Some decision point when choosing this type of options:

The amount of capital outlay

Since the objective is to preserve your capital, so, the lower the outlay the better. Mostly this type of investments are for 280k or 350k Golden Visa.

Any guaranteed income?

Most of the time this type of projects also gives a modest guaranteed income, around 3%. There are also buy back projects that generates 7%-10% income. To the other extreme, there are also some that gives out zero return.

When does it start to generate income?

Other than yearly return rate, you should also consider the timing of when the project starts generating income, as your investment timeline is typically around 6 years. A project that generates a higher return 3 years into the investment may not be as attractive as other options that starts generating income earlier but at a lower rate.

In the case of most hotel buy back projects, they are only in the initial phase of construction, and you will need to wait a couple years before it starts to operate and generate income.

The capital guaranteed investment funds has the advantage on this point in that it starts generating income from day 1 of subscription.

When can I get the money back?

All the above options have the investment timeline that matches a golden visa (ie. investor can exit the investment at around year 6 – 7, when they get their citizenship and permanent residence).

What are the related cost?

Normally fund is more cost efficient than property. Typically, there is no cost related to fund other than the fund subscription fee. For property, it normally involves IMT, stamp duty and notary fee, which can add up to ~7.5% of the property price.

For all of the options, the guaranteed income, if applicable, is already net of all maintenance/ management cost. That is, you do not have to pay other expenses during the whole term of holding the asset.

What are the income tax for each options?

Rental income and capital gain for property is taxed at 28%, while income tax for fund dividends or capital gains from funds are tax exempted (0%) for non tax residents.

We provide detailed cost analysis of each option.

Type 3 – You want to build a portfolio of assets, and expand your investment in Portugal

You want to build a portfolio of asset and to hold mid – long term, for cash flow and/ or capital appreciation.

There are many reasons why you may want to invest in the real estate or fund markets in Portugal. You may be in the process of diverting your portfolio from stock to property or vice versa; or from a certain currency (eg. US$ assets, GBP assets) to Euro assets; or you may want to balance your portfolio with more or less risky assets; or you want to diversify your assets geographically.

You want to make good use of your money and invest and at the same time get the Portuguese residency with the Golden Visa.

If this is your main goal, then there are many more decision points you should ask yourself:

How long do you want to hold these asset? Mid term? Long term? Maybe even to pass it on to your children?

Funds have a limited, and somewhat a fix holding period, you would want to see this on a case by case basis and see if the holding period matches your investment timeline. With a property (no buy back option) you will have much more autonomy on the holding period.

One of the many advantages of holding a Portuguese asset is that the inheritance tax is 0% to spouse and direct descendent/ ascendent. Meaning that you can pass on your property to your kids without paying any tax! (note: you may still have to pay tax in your residence/ home country according to its laws).

How involved do you want to be on managing the asset?

Funds are managed by fund managers and are totally passive assets. Properties could be passive or active. You have a whole spectrum of involvement in property — you can

  • managing the property yourself; or
  • hire a property management company to handle it for you; or
  • buy a property that is fully managed by the developer or a hotel chain

If you are interested in fully managed properties, here is a comparison of different options.

Do you want to ensure a steady income/ cash flow?

If you want your investment to generate cash flow, there are income guaranteed options in the market which gives you peace of mind. You will be sure your asset is generating income and won’t become a liability (no income but expenses like management fees, maintenance fees, etc) in testing times

  • income guaranteed funds
  • income guaranteed properties
  • income guaranteed hotels

Do you want something tangible and something you can enjoy?

Property is a tangible asset, while fund is not. If you buy a property, you will be able to use it for some period of time. One of the perks of hotel projects is that it has owner’s usage right, where owner can use the hotel for several nights per year, to enjoy a nice vacation.

What is your risk profile?

If you have a higher risk tolerance and appetite and are looking for a higher return, then the guaranteed income may not appeal to you. But there are funds that have a higher expected return (eg. ~15%), for those who is more risk tolerant.

Also you may not have your capital guaranteed when buying a property or hotel unit without the obligatory buy back, but you would get the upside for any capital appreciation.

Do you want to diversify your investment?

Fund is a better alternative to diversity your investment. instead of owning one or two units, funds invest in different companies that hold different assets, from real estate developments and rental properties, to other businesses in a variety of industries. You can choose funds that invest in a specific industry such as growth companies, medical science and so on.

What else?

Don’t forget to take other decision points into considerations, like the cost and tax, as discussed above for the Type 2 categories.

How to pick the Portugal Golden Visa investment options best suited to me?

These are a lot of information to digest, and a lot of options to choose from. we specialises in finding the appropriate Portugal Golden Visa investment options/ projects according to your need and providing detailed analysis on the different investment options for you to make an informed decision.


Another great article by Susan. I enjoy the articles that are more than simply superficial talking points by the marketing department. This article actually has some decent analysis.

Thanks for your kind words and encouragement! You made my day. I am happy that you find it useful, and not just selling points. :smiley:

Excellent article! You start by saying “I’m reposting one of our latest articles”. Who is “our”? Are you part of a company that assists with GV investments?

1 Like

Thanks Tom for your encouraging and kind words!

We are a immigration consultant company that specialised in Portugal Golden Visa. We provide a one stop solution on GV application, from bank account opening/ NIF application/ to sourcing qualified property or fund investments, to the actual GV submission.

Our main differentiations from other firms are

  • our experience spectrum is wider on the whole GV application process than just a lawyer firm or fund manager or real estate broker as we walk the whole process of the GV with the client
  • we have a legal panel on GV with 3 different lawyer, and will be able to get second and third opinion for our clients if situation arises. The same goes for banks.
  • we work as a central coordinator with the lawyer, fund manager, bank, etc to smooth out and speed up the process
  • my partners and I have strong financial experience and training, one of my partner is especially experienced in the financial industry in Portugal, we can provide clients insights on the general financial landscape and more in-depth analysis on the different investment options
  • we are neutral as of the investment options you pick

We have seen/ heard lawyers providing fund lists, and also real estate broker referring lawyers, but they don’t have the wholistic view/ experience of whole GV process, which may turn the application / investment into a disaster.

And that’s why we are here!



Very helpful information, thanks a lot! :heart:

Could I just ask a basic timing question with the increase of the fund investment minimum on 1/1/22? What steps in the application process have to happen before 12/31/21? Must you be pre-approved by SEF, or also have your biometric appointment and get the final approval by then? (If so, it seems unreasonable to expect that to have happened in the 5-6 months remaining this year, so we should assume the minimum investment is 500k euros.)

Also, what happens in this biometric appointment? I understand the applicants don’t have to be there in person, so what is being evaluated? (Biometric sounds like a medical exam!)

Do you have a website where I can learn more about your company?


The deadline of end December is for online application. Where by You already have all your personal documents and the related investment documents ready and submitted online.

After that it’s around 3 months to get the pre approval, which after that Yiu can make an appointment for the biometrics.

All applicants need to come to Portugal for the biometrics. It’s the time where Yiu sum it all your original documents and do the fingerprints and photos.

And only after these you will get your resident card, and the 5 years only start counting

1 Like

Hi Tom,

You can contact me via nomadgate.com/verified/susanayang/

I am not allowed to promote my company with website or contact details here. Only via form.

Hi Susana,

Thanks for a very informative article.

You mentioned Capital Guaranteed Funds. Is it possible to provide the names of the funds?


Hi, You can contact me via nomadgate.com/verified/susanayang/

Hi all,

I feel that most people are not too familiar with funds in general or the fund industry in Portugal. Here is a new post by us on funds. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information!

Unlike previous years, in 2021, over 75% of our clients have chosen to go with the fund route. We are not only seeing Americans, but also clients from Asia like Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and India are choosing fund over property.

This shifting of trend is likely caused by the following reasons:

  • With the pandemic, many clients couldn’t come over to view the property in person and are not confident in buying a property without seeing it, or knowing the area
  • Not too certain where property market in major cities will head from next year on when residential properties will no longer be qualified for Golden Visa in major cities like Lisbon and Porto and other coastal area
  • Residential properties in Lisbon, Oporto and most of the costal areas will no longer be qualified for Golden Visa in 2022, which could make it riskier (if you are not able to catch the online submission deadline of December 31, 2021) for a Golden Visa process that starts in the later part of 2021
  • A wider selections of funds in terms of quantity, investment scope and strategy

We have written an article about fund and property options where you can take a closer look of these two alternatives.

In this post, we will focus on the two most notable advantages of funds over properties and drill into details.

Fund is More Cost Effective

Lower entry cost

  • Subscription fee of average 1%-2.5% on funds vs. IMT + stamp duty of 5%-7% on property

Lower initial fee outlay

  • Sometimes, the fund subscription fee (depending on fund) are deducted from the 350k of fund invested, whereas the IMT + stamp duty are paid on top of the investment

Lower exit cost

  • 0% on the exit of fund vs. 5% on real estate agent commission

Lower tax

  • 0% tax on income and profit from fund vs. 28% tax on income and capital gain from property

Lower ongoing cost

  • While the management fee can range from 1%-2% on average for funds (most are paid by the fund, no need for investors to pay on top),
  • A typical property management company charges 1 month rent for long term rental and 20% - 30% of revenue for short-term rental.
  • On top, real estate agent normally charges 1 to 1.5 month rent for commission of getting long term rental.
  • Additionally, maintenance fee for a property when things break down can be expensive and a big hassle. In fund, there is no maintenance needed.
  • Lastly, properties pay property tax of around 0.5% - 1% per year.

Simulation of profit/ loss comparison

We have done a simulation below on income and expense of going through fund and property with 350k investment.

The below calculation didn’t take into consideration of the following

  • properties may be a new built and won’t be completed until 1-2 years later, meaning the rental income won’t come in until then
  • any vacancy period for rental
  • any maintenance fee

Assuming no gain / loss on the captial invested. For property route, you get a loss of 7,433€, while for fund route, you achieve a gain of 45,500€.

The difference of the profit/ loss for a typical property and fund investment comes to 61,000€!

Fund is More Diversify

Having said enough about the big differences on profit. We now introduce the single one biggest advantage of fund investment over property/ hotel project investment - diversification of asset investment. And it is also one of the utmost concern of Golden Visa investors - to diversify, and in turn, lower the risk.

By regulation, Golden Visa qualified fund can’t invest more of 1/3 of its capital in any single company/ asset. Most funds invest in 3 - 20 different assets/ companies. Whereas in property, most people just buy one property, or one project.

Further diversification

Clients can easily further diversify their risk by investing into more than one fund. For example, they can combine a low risk fund with a higher risk fund to gain some upside while having a conservative fund as a foundation. Or they can choose two to three low risk fund but invest in different areas to further diversify the risks.

This is not easy to do with property or hotel projects, with the limitation of the followings

  • budget - 280k, 350k or 500k can only get you as far as 2 to 3 properties
  • location - you can buy in different cities, but management would be a headache
  • types of property - the budget of 350k or 500k limits the choices you can have on the type of real estate assets (most clients just focus on residential, the budget won’t allow you to buy a commercial space for supermarket or agricultural land for corporate farmers). The budget also limits the size of your properties, meaning you may end up buying only studio apartments.

Clients may end up buying 2 residential properties in the same city. But the diversification is just on the number of properties, but not on the size, the location, or the asset type of the properties.

With funds, you can invest in areas where you as an individual won’t have the budget or the expertise to invest in. Just under the umbrella of real estate, you can choose from rehabilitation residential to luxury residential, from commercial to agricultural and logistics assets, from development projects to rental premises. You can also easily diversify into other business scope such as environmental, IT and so on.

More and more of our clients is choosing to invest in more than one fund. We anticipate that this trend will be very prominent next year, when the minimum threshold goes up to 500k.

What should I consider when choosing a fund?

Choosing what to invest in for a one-off 350k investment is no easy task. Here are a few points to think about as a starting point.

  • To start with, you should know your own risk profile, what is your objectives in the investment, how much return are you looking for and how much risk can you take?
  • Then, you should look at the return potential of the asset class where the fund invests
  • You should also look at the leverage of the fund. The more leverage they use the more pressure they will have to generate income or sell the asset to pay off loans.

Happy reading!!

With only a little more than 3 months, those of you who haven’t started the process yet may be asking yourself, do I still have time to catch the deadline of December 31st?

In short, starting next year, if you want to invest in real estate or investment funds for Golden Visa,

  • Residential properties in Lisbon, Porto, and other coastal areas will no longer be qualified
  • The minimum investment threshold for funds will be increased to 500k

If you want to invest just 350k euros in funds or a residential property in Lisbon, Porto and certain coastal areas, the time is NOW!

We have received in numerous questions from our clients on this matter, we will try to summarise our answers here:

Do I still have time to catch the deadline if I am starting from ground zero?

The short answer is yes.

The deadline of December 31, 2021 is the time for submitting your Golden Visa application online, not getting your approval from the SEF (immigration office).

You still have time, but not too much.

Where shall I start? What are the steps and procedures to apply for the golden visa?

Step 1 - NIF

The NIF is essential for almost everything you do in Portugal.

Getting a NIF doesn’t mean you are liable for paying tax in Portugal, you don’t need to pay taxes in Portugal for income obtained out of Portugal. You can get your NIF months, even years, before you actually submit your visa application. It is recommended to get this as soon as possible.

All adult applicants will need an NIF. We will apply the NIF for you remotely, and our company will be your tax representative.

  • Personal documents needed: passport and address proof
  • Other documents: declaration forms for appointing your NIF representative, NIF application submission form - We will prepare this documents for you to sign

Note: Documents needs to be either certified by your lawyer (in Portugal) or by a notary.

Step 2 - Open bank account

Only the main investor is needed to open a bank account in Portugal. We will introduce you to a bank for account opening. Please note that banks have their own regulations, and process. Some banks don’t take on clients for certain nationalities and/ or certain investment routes. And not all banks can open bank account remotely.

We will introduce some banks (and the bank account manager that will be taking care of you) that can work with you based on your nationality, and investment route.

  • Personal documents needed: depending on the bank, but normally, in addition to your passport and address proof, tax return, employment letters and pay slip

Note: Documents listed in step 1 & 2 needs to be either certified by your lawyer (in Portugal), or by a notary using the Hague convention (apostille) for most banks.

Note: To open bank account remotely, you need to mail the original bank account opening forms to the bank. We have been experiencing delays in mailing/ posting from some countries.

Step 3 - Personal documents

At the same time, you should start preparing personal documentations for the online application, like the police report, marriage certificate and birth certificate. Please note that all these documents need to be apostilled. After which you would also need to get it translated and certified.

The critical one is the criminal record. Countries differ in how they issue the criminal record for their residents. Some countries even require a request letter from the Portugal Consulate in order to process the issuance of the criminal record, therefore a trip to the nearest Portugal Consulate to where you live is an extra step. Getting the document and getting it apostille alone may take 2-3 months. However, getting the documents is not always the sooner the better. For example, the police report only has a 3-month validity period (from the issuance date to the online submission date). In between this 3 months, you would also need to get those documents apostilled in your home country, and then translated in Portuguese and certified. Refer to the below table to the validity period of the documents and requirements for apostilled.

Note: Please note you should get police report from all the countries that you have resided for more than 1 year, or at the very lease from the country of your nationality (from which you hold the passport) and the country that you are residing in. For more details on this, please contact us.

Note: If your country is not in the Hague convention, you should certify your documents in the nearest Portugal consulate/ embassy.

Note: The above is not the full list of documents, as other documents may be needed for your dependents (eg. proof of student status, single, and dependent, retirement status and so on)

Other than documents from your original country, you would also need to get documents in Portugal, such as the below

  • Applicant’s permission for the authorities to access his/her Portuguese criminal record.

  • Certificate of no debts from the Portuguese tax and national insurance offices.

  • Signed statement by the applicant that he/she will fulfil the investment requirements.

  • Evidence that the minimum investment has been made (property purchase documents; renovation contract + invoice/ receipts; declaration letter from fund manager)

  • Declaration letter from your Portugal bank confirming the transfer of the required funds

The Golden Portugal will be helping you to request the above mentioned informations.

Step 4 - Bank transfer and investment fund subscription/ purchase property

Investment fund is more straightforward then property purchase, and the process is quicker.

We can provide you an overview of the investment funds and walk you thru the most important aspects of each funds. We can also arrange calls with fund managers.

Property purchase is a little more time consuming due to:

  • there are many more choices on the market

  • there are many more criteria to consider (eg. neighbourhood, size, state of the property, amenities, etc)

  • there maybe negotiation on the price

  • the purchase process of property takes longer

  • you would need a POA in place for your lawyer to act on your behalf

  • there is a counter party (the seller) in second hand property, which may add complications / delay the process

For property purchase, if you travel in person to Portugal, viewing of your short-listed properties and choosing the property can typically be done in a few days. You would need to get a lawyer for the purchase of the property. With a power of attorney, all other process can be handled by the lawyer, so you do not need to be physically in Portugal during the purchase process. It is crucial to shortlist your properties and pre-arrange with viewing date and time ahead of time before your trip to Portugal.

With the pandemic, more and more clients choose to view and buy properties remotely. If you are to buy properties remotely, it is crucial to have a buyer agent to act on your behalf, to walk you through the neighbourhood, to look at the properties in details. We are here to act as your buyer agent and to help you make virtual viewings via video calls or video tape of the property and the surrounding areas.

We also help to you on the transition phase if you are not in Portugal to handle it yourself (eg. change names on water, gas and electricity).

Note: if you are purchasing property remotely, you must have a POA to have your lawyer to make the purchase and sign documents on your behalf. Please note this POA needs to be certify at a Portuguese embassy/ consulate, or at a notary with Hague convention (ideally in Portuguese).

How long does a typical property purchase takes?

There are 2 steps to the purchase of a property - the promissory contract and final deed. Usually we need to wait around 15 days between both, to allow the City Council to exercise the rights of purchases preference (just as a standard procedures). In addition, if the property has a current mortgage, it takes around 10-15 days for the bank to prepare the mortgage distract.

Step 5 - Online submission

You will need to translate all documents into Portuguese. Fill in the necessary forms and submit them online to the SEF portal. Your lawyer should be able to help you on this step.

With such a short time frame, we are advising you to do step 1 - 3 in parallel.

Our role as your consultant is to be there along the whole journey of the Golden Visa process. We will be the main coordinator between you and the bank, fund manager/ property owner/ seller agent and lawyer.

How long does the whole process takes?

The whole process, from start to finish, can be done in 3 to 4 months as with the below timeline. Let’s take a look of at the timeline of the whole process.

Please note that every case is different, here are some examples (non-exclusive) where you may able to speed up or encounter delays

  • If you live in a place where the Portuguese bank has a representative office, you can speed up your bank account opening process
  • If your country is not in Hague convention, it may delay your process as you would need to get your documents certified in the nearest Portuguese embassy/ consulate
  • If you have lived in several countries, it may delay your process as you would need to get your police report in all those countries and most probably you would have to get them remotely
  • Posting could delay your process, as we have been experiencing extremely slow posting from certain countries
  • Complication on the property purchase process may causes delay
  • A missing signature/ signature not conformed to your passport signature on fund subscription forms or bank account opening forms may cause delay
  • COVID could delay your process as some government offices are closed

A last note with getting pre-approval and biometric appointment.

Pre-approval takes around 2 - 3 months.
Biometric really depends. If you live in Portugal or if you can fly immediately here under a short notice, you may be able to get those last minute cancellation appointments. Otherwise, the lawyer would need to wait for the SEF appointment to open up, which is like a lucky draw. They last opened in May for appointments in Octobers. Let’s see if they will open again soon.

SEF is going thru reform at the moment, and maybe is the reason why things are so slow.


Just to let you know, Bison already closed for new account opening in mid October. BIG, the other bank that takes Americans for fund investment options has stopped taking in new customers catching the year end deadline as of this week. But you can still do it in person.

This means if you want to catch this year’s deadline and

  • if you want to invest in fund, you need to come in person to open the bank account if you are American. If you are of other nationality, there are still banks that take in customers, we still are onboarding customer opening bank account remotely and catching this year’s deadline)

  • if you want to invest in property, you can still open bank account with another bank, but you have to be quick in deciding the property.

To further mitigate the risk of buying a property in Lisbon at the 11th hour. There are developers where they allow you to switch to another GV qualified property of their for next year (eg. touristic apartments in Lisbon and Madeira, other residential property in low density area), in case you are not able to make it by the year end deadline.