Comparing Golden Visa Spain vs Portugal: Which Offers the Best Residency Program?

Are you considering obtaining a Golden Visa to gain residency in an EU country? Spain and Portugal are both popular choices for their attractive residency programs. However, with recent updates in 2023, which country offers the best option for investors? In this article, we will compare the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal, considering factors such as investment options, minimum stay requirements, path to citizenship, and more. Keep reading to discover which country may be the better choice for your residency goals.


When it comes to Golden Visa programs, Spain and Portugal are both popular choices for individuals seeking residency by investment in an EU member state. These programs provide an attractive opportunity for non-EU citizens to obtain residency or citizenship through various investment options. Portugal and Spain both offer favorable climates, rich cultural heritage, and strategic locations, making them appealing options for investors looking to relocate to Europe.

While the two programs share some similarities, there are also distinct differences that set them apart. Understanding the key aspects of each program is essential for potential investors to make an informed decision that aligns with their investment goals and personal preferences.

In this comprehensive comparison, we will delve into the essential factors that should be taken into account when evaluating the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal. From investment and thresholds to minimum stay requirements, access to other EU countries, and tax implications, we will provide an in-depth analysis to help you navigate the complexities of these residency by investment programs.

By examining the real estate options, processing times, and cultural considerations, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to weigh the various factors and make a well-informed decision when choosing between the Spain and Portugal Golden Visa programs.

Investment and Thresholds

One of the fundamental aspects of the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal is the investment required to qualify for residency. Portugal holds an advantage in this aspect, offering a wider range of investment options compared to Spain. The minimum investment threshold for the Portugal Golden Visa program is set at €250,000, which is notably lower than the €500,000 threshold in Spain. Moreover, Portugal provides more affordable options, with the lowest threshold of €250,000 allocated for investment in arts and heritage projects, offering a diverse array of investment pathways for prospective investors.

Conversely, while Spain has a higher minimum investment requirement, it is important to note that the country also presents attractive investment opportunities, particularly in the real estate sector. Investors considering the Spanish Golden Visa program may find the higher threshold of €500,000 to be offset by the potential for favorable returns on investment, especially in popular cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

Both countries’ investment thresholds and options play a pivotal role in the decision-making process for potential investors, and careful consideration of these factors is crucial in determining which program best aligns with an individual’s investment strategy and financial capacity.

Minimum Stay and Path to Citizenship

When evaluating the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal, the minimum stay requirements and the pathway to citizenship are significant considerations for prospective applicants. In Portugal, once an investor obtains a residency permit through the Golden Visa program, they are only required to stay in the country for a minimum of seven days in the first year and 14 days in the subsequent two-year periods to maintain their residency status.

On the other hand, Spain’s residency by investment program entails a more substantial minimum stay requirement, mandating that investors spend a minimum of one day in the country to maintain their residency permit. Both countries offer pathways to citizenship, with Portugal and Spain granting the opportunity to apply for citizenship after five years of holding a residency permit. It is important to note that the path to citizenship in both countries is subject to meeting additional requirements, such as sufficient knowledge of the language and a clean criminal record.

Prospective investors should carefully assess their long-term residency and citizenship objectives, taking into account the minimum stay requirements and the specific conditions outlined in each country’s program to ensure that their goals align with the residency and citizenship pathways offered by the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal.

Real Estate for Residency

Real estate investment is a key pathway to residency in both the Spain and Portugal Golden Visa programs, offering investors the opportunity to invest in property as a means to secure their residency status. In Portugal, real estate investment options include the acquisition of property with a value of at least €500,000, or €350,000 for properties more than 30 years old or located in urban regeneration areas. Additionally, the real estate investment option extends to the possibility of investing €280,000 in properties located in low-density areas.

Similarly, the Spanish Golden Visa program also places a strong emphasis on real estate investment as a route to residency. Prospective investors can qualify for residency by investing at least €500,000 in real estate, and the Spanish real estate market offers a diverse range of property investment opportunities, from residential apartments to commercial real estate in thriving urban centers.

Considering the real estate investment options in both Spain and Portugal, investors have the flexibility to select properties that align with their investment objectives, whether they prioritize urban property investments, heritage properties, or real estate in low-density areas. The real estate pathways offered by the Golden Visa programs are designed to accommodate diverse investment preferences and provide a tangible opportunity for investors to secure residency through property investment.

Access to Other EU Countries

An important benefit associated with obtaining residency through the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal is the enhanced mobility within the European Union (EU). Once investors acquire residency in either country, they gain the right to live, work, and study in the respective countries. Furthermore, residency in Spain or Portugal also grants individuals access to the Schengen Area, facilitating visa-free travel to 26 European countries for short stays.

Both Spain and Portugal offer favorable prospects for individuals seeking to establish a foothold in Europe, with their Golden Visa programs serving as gateways to broader opportunities within the EU. The freedom of movement and access to the Schengen Area are valuable advantages that contribute to the appeal of the Golden Visa programs, as they enable non-EU citizens to experience the benefits of living, working, and traveling within the European Union.

Tax Benefits and Obligations

Understanding the tax implications and obligations associated with the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal is a critical consideration for prospective investors. Both countries offer attractive tax regimes for new residents, including provisions for certain types of income and wealth. Portugal, in particular, is renowned for its non-habitual resident (NHR) tax regime, which allows qualifying individuals to benefit from favorable tax treatment on foreign-sourced income, pensions, and certain high-value activities.

Similarly, Spain provides tax incentives for new residents, offering a flat income tax rate of 24% on qualifying income for the first five years of residency. It is important for investors to carefully evaluate the tax benefits and obligations in each country, as well as to consider their specific financial circumstances and long-term tax planning objectives when assessing the potential tax advantages associated with the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal.

Processing Times and Fees

When comparing the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal, the processing times and associated fees are essential factors to consider. Portugal and Spain both have varying processing times for the approval of residency permits, and the fees related to the application, investment, and permits can differ between the two countries.

Portugal’s Golden Visa program has been lauded for its relatively efficient processing times, making it an appealing option for investors seeking timely residency solutions. On the other hand, Spain has also taken steps to streamline its application processes, and while the processing times may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the application, both countries are committed to facilitating efficient processing of Golden Visa applications.

Geographical and Cultural Considerations

Aside from the specific details of the Golden Visa programs, prospective investors should also take into account the geographical and cultural factors that distinguish Spain and Portugal. These factors encompass the quality of life, healthcare and education systems, language, and the overall lifestyle and amenities available in each country.

Spain and Portugal each boast a rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and a high quality of life, making them highly desirable locations for residency and investment. The Mediterranean climate, historic landmarks, renowned cuisine, and vibrant cultural traditions contribute to the allure of both countries, and individuals considering the Golden Visa programs have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the distinct and enriching experiences offered by Spain and Portugal.

Conclusion: Factors to Weigh

When weighing the various factors associated with the Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal, prospective investors must carefully consider their investment objectives, financial means, long-term residency and citizenship goals, and lifestyle preferences. From the investment and thresholds to the pathway to citizenship, real estate options, tax implications, and cultural considerations, there are multiple elements to evaluate to make an informed decision.

By conducting a comprehensive assessment of these factors and seeking professional guidance, potential investors can navigate the intricacies of the Golden Visa programs and determine which program best aligns with their individual circumstances and aspirations. Whether it is the allure of Portugal’s diverse investment options, the robust real estate opportunities in Spain, or the unique cultural and lifestyle appeal of each country, the decision between the Spain and Portugal Golden Visa programs ultimately hinges on a careful consideration of the multifaceted components that shape the residency by investment journey.


In conclusion, while both Spain and Portugal offer attractive golden visa programs for investors seeking European residency, there are key differences to consider. Portugal’s program has a wider range of investment options and lower minimum thresholds, making it a more affordable choice. It also offers a path to citizenship and access to other EU countries. However, Spain’s program may have advantages such as a higher return on investment and a larger real estate market. Ultimately, investors should carefully weigh these factors and their individual needs before choosing between the two programs.

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