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Golden visas – what are they and how can investors benefit?

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, many of the countries worse hit – reliant on tourism and outward investment to aid their recovery – decided to launch schemes designed to encourage overseas investment. Many of these initiatives have proved successful and are still in place today.

These programmes are known as Golden Visa schemes, which promote non-EU investment into some of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, including Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

Such schemes – which are only open to non-EU nationals – will soon be open to British investors when we reach the end of the Brexit transition period and Brits are no longer counted as EU citizens from January 1 2021.


The nuances vary, but a Golden Visa is effectively a permanent residency visa issued to individuals who invest, typically through the purchase of property, a certain sum of money into the issuing country.

Here, in this short guide, we outline some of the most popular Golden Visa schemes and what they offer to investors.


Portugal’s Golden Visa programme was launched in 2012 and has proven to be one of Europe’s most popular, with investors attracted to its flexibility and benefits.

The investor visa scheme, actively promoted internationally by the Portuguese government, usually requires an investment of €500,000 (or €350,000 for the reduced option) in real estate in Portugal. This will gain a residency permit for a family including dependent children, while the golden visa can be renewed every two years providing the applicant spends two weeks in the country every two years.

As well as the Golden Visa, investors in Portugal can benefit from other tax incentives, including the country’s non-habitual residency (NHR) tax regime.

You can find out more about its Golden Visa scheme here.


In an attempt to recover from its devastating economic collapse, Greece launched its Golden Visa programme in July 2013, which grants a five-year residency visa in return for an investment in real estate. Children up to the age of 21 are included in the family application and there is no minimum stay required to be eligible for the scheme.

The visa is granted for five years and renewed every five years if the property investment is retained. However, there is no obligation to live in the country to retain and renew the investor visa.

For those who wish to receive citizenship, this can only be granted after seven years of residency.

The minimum investment is €250,000 plus extra costs. Those purchasing in Greece should be aware that additional taxes apply when buying property, ranging from 3% to 24%. These will need to be budgeted for.

The programme offers the lowest cost residency in Europe at €250,000 plus taxes and fees (leading to a final total of just over €300,000), and the Greek residency programme is relatively quick, with residency cards normally issued in around 40 days.

More information can be found here.


Another popular holiday destination which suffered economically as a result of the 2008-9 global financial crisis, Spain launched its Golden Visa in 2013, with a minimum investment of €500,000 plus costs in real estate gaining full family residency.

The visa can be renewed every two years and, after five years, investors could secure permanent residency if desired. After a decade, citizenship is on the table.

Investors are not required to reside in Spain to retain and renew their Golden Visa.

For more information, please click here.


The island with historical links to Britain has two Golden Visa schemes through property investment on offer – one of which leads to citizenship, the other of which leads to permanent residence.

In order to obtain permanent residence, the investment requirement is only €300,000, while to get Cyprus citizenship by investment, the applicant must purchase real estate property worth at least €2 million.

The Cyprus Golden Visa program offers the quickest route to citizenship of all European countries – investors can become a Cypriot citizen (and therefore an EU citizen) within just six months.

There are no obligations to live in Cyprus before applying for citizenship and no language proficiency test is needed. If you fulfil the criteria, you can be a citizen of Cyprus within six months.

You can find out more here.


In 2016, Turkey announced its citizenship by investment programme, which grants residency, citizenship and a second passport to applicants investing either in real estate or a bank deposit.

The real estate route is seen as particularly attractive for investors, requiring a minimum property purchase of $250,000 plus fees, ensuring Turkey is one of the lowest cost citizenship by investment programmes on the market. 

The real estate investment amount was originally set at $1 million, but was drastically slashed in September 2018 to a quarter of the original amount.

You can find out more here.

*The above is only intended as a guide – it’s recommended that you get in touch with a tax expert or a specialist overseas property firm before committing to any decisions

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