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Portuguese vs. Greek Golden Visa: The Two Best Golden Visa Programs in Europe

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Portuguese vs. Greek Golden Visa: The Two Best Golden Visa Programs in Europe

The Portuguese and Greek Golden Visas have become two of the world’s most popular investment migration programs and the most popular investment visa options for people looking to move to Europe.

Both programs have gained a lot of traction, primarily due to their relatively affordable real estate investment options, great weather all year round, and flexible residency requirements.

Golden Visa to Portugal has been around since 2012 and has seen thousands of successful applications since then.

with it becoming the most established Golden Visa available, boasting a lot of success among retirees in particular.

The Greek Golden Visa, established in 2013 however, didn’t see so much popularity in its early years.

but it has since picked up a lot of interest and was even Europe’s largest Golden program in 2021 with 1,035 approvals.

Both are great options for immigrating to Europe with any immediate family, and aside from whether you prefer the stunning Greek islands to the jaw-dropping coast of Portugal’s Algarve, both programs come with key differences that are worth considering.

Minimum Investment and Options

Overall, the Greek Golden Visa boasts the most affordable option out of the two programs, but the Portuguese Golden Visa has way more options for investors to consider overall.

The route that both programs have in common, as well as being the most popular investment route in general, is through the purchasing of local real estate.

However, there are other investment paths with varying investment thresholds, such as capital contribution, investment in funds, or job creation.

For the Greek Golden Visa, the program with the fewer options, you can either:

  • Invest in at least €250,000 worth of real estate. Note that the Prime minister of Greece announced in September, that the minimum amount will be doubled to €500,000. No steps have been taken in terms of policy implementation so far, but the estimated time of change is probably the first half of 2023.
  • Make a capital contribution of €400,000. At the moment it’s unclear if this amount will also change.

Compare this to the Portuguese Golden visa, with more options but also at a higher threshold:

  • Invest in at least €500,000 worth of real estate*
  • Invest in at least €350,000 worth of real estate if you are rehabilitating a 30+-year-old property (or property located in an Urban Regeneration Area)
  • Invest in at least €400,000 worth of real estate in a low-density area (€280,000 if that property also counts as needing rehabilitation)
  • Invest at least €500,000 in investment funds
  • Capital contribution of €1,500,000
  • Invest at least €500,000, to incorporate or increase the share capital of a company registered in Portugal, creating at least five full-time jobs, for a period of three years.
  • Invest at least €500,000 in research and development carried out by public or private scientific research institutions, as part of Portugal’s national scientific and technological system.
  • Invest at least €250,000 in support of national heritage, arts, and culture.

*One additional thing to bear in mind is that residential real estate investment in Portugal is limited to certain interior regions, excluding Lisbon, Porto, and most of the Algarve. With real estate investment in Greece, there are no such limitations.

Residency

Both programs offer visa-free travel within the European Schengen Area, as well as the right to live in their respective countries.

One major caveat to the Greek Golden, and potentially a deal breaker for many people, is that it doesn’t give you the right to work in Greece, unlike Portugal, which will allow you and your family members to take up local employment.

So, perhaps this makes the Greek Golden Visa more suitable for retirees without dependents.

While it stops you from taking up local employment, there is nothing against starting or operating an independent business in Greece, so this is also an option.

In order to keep your residency, you will need to spend at least seven days per year on average in Portugal, whereas there are no stay requirements at all for Greece.

Note that this is only for maintaining residency in the country.

Citizenship can come with much greater expectations regarding how long you stay in the country – as you will see in the next section.

Finally, most of your immediate family will be able to join you in applying for the Golden Visa both in Portugal and in Greece, with slightly more family members qualifying in Greece:

  • For the Portuguese Golden Visa, your spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents can join you.
  • For the Greek Golden Visa, your spouse, dependent children, parents, and parents-in-law can join you.

Citizenship

With Citizenship, Portugal is by far more lenient than Greece and also has a better passport with visa-free travel to 186 countries (compared to 171 countries with Greece).

For Portuguese citizenship, you will need to be a resident for a total of five years, spending at least seven days per year on average in Portugal – the same as the minimum stay requirements for residency.

For Greek citizenship, though, you will need to be a resident for a total of seven years, and you will need to have spent at least 183 days per year in Greece within that time.

In other words, Greece requires a lot more ties to the country in order to successfully gain citizenship.

Both countries will require a language exam (plus a citizenship test for Greece), so regardless of where you go, you will need to learn the language if citizenship is your goal.

Portuguese is probably easier to learn for most people compared to Greek as well since it has more similarities with other languages, as well as simpler grammar and uses the Latin alphabet.

Taxes

Both programs offer a tax incentive program for foreign residents.

Portugal’s NHR (non-habitual residency) scheme is one of the most competitive tax schemes for foreigners in Europe and allows several tax exemptions and more favorable rates for the first ten years.

Greece has a similar program where foreigners only pay a flat 7% rate for the first ten years (bear in mind again, though, that you cannot take up local work with the Greek Golden Visa).

Aside from these special incentives, usual income taxes in Portugal can be between 14.5% and 45%, whereas Greek income tax rates can be between 9% and 44%, so relatively similar and progressive taxation in both countries.

One noteworthy thing to consider is that Portugal has no gift tax or inheritance tax, whereas, in Greece, you will pay anything between 10% and 40% depending on your relationship with the person.

Application costs, renewal, and general bureaucracy

The cost of applying for the Portuguese Golden Visa is much higher than the Greek Golden Visa.

Due to its ever-growing popularity, the Portuguese government keeps increasing the fees.

For Portugal, you will need to pay:

  • An application fee of €539.66 per person, plus a residence permit fee of €5,391.56, also per person.
  • A fee of €2,696.29 per person for each renewal. You would need to do two renewals to get permanent residency or citizenship, as each permit is valid for two years.

This means a total of €12,403.12 per person to reach citizenship or permanent residency (initial application plus two renewals)

For Greece, you will need to pay:

  • A €2,000 application fee for the main applicant, plus €500 per family member over 21 and 150 euros per family member under 21.
  • The same again for each renewal, although each initial permit is valid for five years, so you would only need to do one renewal.

This means a total of €4,000 for the principal applicant and either €300 or €1000 per family member, depending on age, to reach citizenship or permanent residency (application plus one renewal).

Both countries have their fair share of bureaucracy involved in the applications.

Yet, it is easier to find information about the Portuguese Golden Visa due to being more popular.

It will be easier to find lawyers who know about the program at length and fulfill needs such as opening up a local bank account remotely and getting a tax number.

That said, processing times tend to be longer for Portugal than for Greece. Normally, you can expect your application to be processed in 6-12 months for Portugal and 3-6 months for Greece.

Of course, many things can impact this, and times can vary significantly.

For example, Covid-19 had an impact on the processing times for both countries.

Conclusion

Both programs have seen ever-growing numbers and still remain attractive options for people who wish to settle in Europe’s Schengen area. While they are both great investment migration options, they are not suited to everyone with key pros and cons.

To summarize, Portugal’s Golden Visa has shorter stay requirements for citizenship and more investment options, although there are higher fees and higher investment thresholds to reach in order to qualify.

Greece’s Golden Visa, on the other hand, has lower investment thresholds (although it’s about to change soon) and application fees, faster processing times, and allows more family members the chance to join you.

That said, you cannot legally take up any work in Greece during that time and require spending at least 183 days per year in Greece in order to reach permanent residency or citizenship later down the road.

Whichever path seems more attractive to you, Nomad Gate can offer plenty more information on both options and how to get started with your application.

We also have numerous forum threads where our readers express their own experiences with Golden Visa programs, as well as other topics related to living a global lifestyle.

Visit us to find out more about these topics, and feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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