Why you should invest in Portuguese citizenship

Cyrus Sethna
5 min readMay 27, 2021

If there is one thing I am grateful for, it is my privilege. To me, privilege is living in a house that was paid for by my parents, having access to a good education, and the comfort to run my own business - to name a few. Funnily enough, what I am most grateful for is my ‘lifetime-access membership’ to sports clubs in Mumbai, which my forefathers acquired several years ago. The cost of which, I am sure, at the time, seemed like a handsome sum. Had I not been born with this privilege, I would need to either marry into, or pay a high price (at today’s inflated rates), to gain access to any of these clubs.

Now you may be wondering what any of this has to do with an article entitled, ‘Why you should invest in Portuguese citizenship’. I, however, see a trend and therein, an opportunity - similar to that of my sports club membership, without which, I would be, albeit obliviously, robbed of the joys that I currently savour. The trend I see is that migrating to a country of your choice is getting harder. The most current example is the ramifications of ‘Brexit’ on the immigration landscape. The opportunity is the availability of different citizenship, or residency via investment programs across the world. An apt example of this is Portugal, which has the most investor-friendly investment structures and residency requirements. Well, for now, at least (more on that later).

Popularly known as Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa Program’ , the basic idea is to become a resident, or eventually a citizen of Portugal, by investing in the country via various mediums, which are approved by the immigration authorities. Spouses, dependent parents and children can also avail of all these benefits, under a single investment. A comprehensive list of these investments categories can be found here.

However, allow me to quickly touch upon the two most frequented investment vehicles and explain why they are popular, what the downsides are, and things you should look out for, while evaluating your options.

  1. Investing in Real Estate: Perhaps the most popular option, especially for Indians, like me. I attribute this to our desire of wanting a physical asset, something tangible that we can actually see and own. Nothing wrong with that mindset, except in terms of the Portugal Golden Visa, there are a couple of drawbacks. For starters, you need to pay several fees & taxes, that come with owning a property. Not to mention the responsibility of maintaining a house, which of course you could outsource to a rental management company (more fees!). Then comes the choice of categories of minimum real estate investments: (a)€280k (this has to be in a ‘low density area’ in Portugal); (b) €350k (this has to be in buildings constructed more than 30 years ago); (c) €500k (this can be any property with a value €500k & above). With all this information, one might think that option (a) makes the most sense, or even option (b). But quite frankly, they come with an uncertain resale value, primarily because the property you are buying will most likely be inflated, due to the Golden Visa eligibility that comes along with it. However, I find that with option (c), an investor could get excellent apartments, and even villas, which are ‘golden visa eligible’ and well worth the price. With this higher cost, comes the assurance that your property is a constant, if not appreciating asset, and that you get what you pay for. That is, at least if you are dealing with the right property developers. Which is the other point to consider- trusting the right people to buy property from is difficult, especially if you are miles away. There are only a few I would trust, a notable mention goes to my fellow Indian developers Sugee, who sell their Lisbon homes through their Portuguese subsidiary, Stokes & Ground. Check them out.
  2. Investing in a Venture Capital Fund: This route is relatively newer and is, therefore, still gaining traction. While the first thing that may come to mind is the volatility associated with ‘Venture Capital’, don’t write this path off yet. The reason why investing in a fund also makes sense is because the minimum amount is €350k and you do not have to deal with the taxes & hassles that come with owning a property. The trick here is to closely study all the funds in the market and ask them these important questions: a) How is your investment strategy going to safeguard at least my principal amount?; b) Why is your team qualified to manage my money?; c) Have the fund managers themselves invested in the fund?. While you can’t predict the future, a close analysis of these 3 aspects, will likely boost your chance of a secure investment. Lastly, be wary of fly-by-night fund managers. There are some good funds, but I’d always vet them with a healthy dose of skepticism.

A key benefit of the Portugal Golden Visa Program is that it gives you access to the entire European Union (EU)- something that has led to an increase in its popularity. Sadly, economics dictates that as the demand rises, prices will rise too, or the supply tends to decrease. And in Portugal, both are slated to happen. From January 1, 2022, properties acquired along the coastal region of Portugal will be no longer be eligible for the Golden Visa Program, and the minimum investment required in venture capital funds will increase from €350k to €500k. In the years to come, I am sure there will be several people who will look back and wish they had invested today, in this geographic & financial ‘sweet-spot’

If you have an ‘immigration intent’, or are looking for a potential ‘Plan B’, and you have more than the minimum funds required to invest in Portugal, I wouldn’t think twice. It opens doors for you and even leaves a window of opportunity for your family & future generations. And that privilege- is priceless!

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Cyrus Sethna

Co-Founder at EASA. We deal in all visa related needs for Indian passport holders as well as Citizenship via Investment Programs across the world