Investment in the ‘Golden Visa’ residency programme in Portugal aimed at overseas property investors boomed in 2016.
Figures released by the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) reported investment of €874 million, up 87.5 per cent from 2015.
The Residence Authorisations for Investment activity (ARI), as the scheme is officially known issued 1,414 ‘Golden Visas’ and recorded investment of €874,444,320.10, compared to €466,259,797.63 in 2015.
December alone saw €87,482,100.72 invested, from which more than €77 million was in the form of property purchases, with just €10.4 million accounted for by capital transfer.
This led to 141 residence permits being issued in December. 10 were issued for capital transfer, with the vast majority issued for property purchases at 131.
Despite the usual threshold for the scheme being €500,000 a new lower threshold of €250,000 was introduced in September 2015 for urban rehabilitation projects. Four of the 131 December purchases were for this new scheme, making a total of nine in 2016.
The ‘Golden Visa’ scheme was initially launched in October 2012 and has been hailed a huge success over the first few years of availability.
Total investment in the scheme to December 2016 stands at €2.567 billion, of which 2.316 billion is for property purchases and €251 million for capital transfers.
The scheme suffered a blip in 2015 after a criminal investigation into suspected fraud in its administration prompted a crackdown and the programme’s suspension for several months.
Not surprisingly Chinese citizens have secured the most residency permits under the scheme with 3,050 so far, but the scheme could become of great interest to UK overseas property investors dependant on the development of Brexit.
A further 6,637 residence permits have been issued to family members of Golden Visa holders since 2013, making the scheme even more attractive. 576 in 2013, growing to 2,395 in 2014, then the investigation and suspension causing a drop to 1,322 in 2015 and now rising again to 2,344 in 2016.