Is the Portugal Golden Visa Still Golden Without Tax Breaks?

Portugal golden visa

Winds of Change in Portugal’s Immigration and tax Policies

Over the last decade and a half, this appeal has been accentuated with attractive policies designed to draw affluent foreigners, including the Portugal golden visa program. From artisans and pensioners to the new-age digital nomads, Portugal opened its arms wide. But change is on the horizon. Recently, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) tax regime would come to a close in 2024, signaling a major shift.

The Allure of NHR and the Portugal Golden Visa – A Brief Overview

Introduced in 2009, the NHR program served as a magnet for expatriates. This wasn’t merely a minor tax break; it offered a 20% flat tax on select earned income, a 10% flat tax on pensions (which initially started at 0% but was revised following feedback from the European Union), and a tax exemption on most non-Portuguese income sources. Before this scheme, while many Europeans, especially Brits, fancied Portugal, it was the NHR that catalyzed a surge of interest, especially from Americans. As the world grappled with the pandemic and remote work became commonplace, even the Silicon Valley crowd looked towards Portugal for both business and leisure.

NHR’s Unintended Consequences: The Housing Crisis

Every coin has two sides. The very success of the NHR program became its potential downfall. With a rise in the number of immigrants, particularly from the U.S., Portugal’s housing market boomed. Demand outstripped supply, causing property prices and rents to surge. Initially perceived as a pocket-friendly European haven in 2009, by 2023, Portugal’s real estate scene began alienating its own citizens, pricing many out of their native neighborhoods. This gave rise to considerable unrest, culminating in widespread protests and the labeling of the situation as a “housing crisis.”

portugal golden visa

The Political Undertone and the Portugal Golden Visa ‘s Demise

Pressure mounted on PM Costa, especially from his political comrades in the Socialist party and other leftist factions. This led to the critical rethink on the NHR program. Not long ago, PM Costa had hailed NHR as the “golden goose.” Yet, the very success of this program led to debates on “tax injustice,” eventually marking its imminent end. However, for those already reaping its benefits, there’s some relief as they will continue to enjoy the promised perks. But for potential future expatriates, the scenario remains uncertain, especially concerning any cutoff dates in 2024.

Portugal Golden Visa: A Glittering Attraction Facing Uncertain Times

The Portugal Golden Visa has been a beacon for expats, offering them not just a pathway to residency but also some seriously sweet tax breaks under the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) scheme. Since its introduction in 2009, it’s been a magnet, especially for folks from the U.S., drawing them in with reduced taxes on select incomes and pensions. But the winds are shifting, with Prime Minister Antonio Costa hinting at wrapping up the NHR by 2024. With the housing market in Portugal feeling the pinch and locals raising concerns, the future of this “golden” ticket seems to be in flux.

Europe Beckons: Portugal’s Neighbors Rise to the Occasion

With Portugal phasing out NHR, other European countries are stepping up. Nations like Italy and Greece have introduced programs that echo the spirit of the NHR. Even France, with its romantic allure, is reportedly offering favorable tax benefits to attract the global crowd. Hence, while Portugal’s NHR chapter might be closing, the story of European relocation is just getting a new twist.

Spain Golden Visa program may also look more interesting now too.

Spain Golden Visa: A Viable Alternative to Portugal’s Changing Landscape

As Portugal’s NHR program shifts gears, neighboring Spain stands out as an enticing alternative for those seeking a welcoming and culturally rich European haven. Spain has always been celebrated for its vibrant lifestyle, delectable cuisine, sun-kissed beaches, and a diverse landscape that ranges from the bustling streets of Madrid to the tranquil olive groves of Andalusia. Moreover, Spain offers its own set of attractive residency and tax incentives for foreigners, making it a prime location for those reconsidering their plans in light of Portugal’s policy changes.

spain golden visa

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For English-speaking expats, Spain presents an established community, ensuring a smoother transition. Numerous cities across Spain, such as Barcelona, Valencia, and Malaga, already boast a significant international populace, fostering a sense of camaraderie and mutual support. Additionally, Spain Golden Visa program allows non-EU investors an efficient pathway to residency, provided they invest in real estate or create job opportunities in the country. Given the evolving scenario in Portugal, now might be the opportune moment for potential expats to explore Spain as their next European home.


Portugal’s journey with the NHR program is a classic tale of success, challenge, and evolution. While the impending end of NHR may cast a shadow over Portugal Golden Visa appeal, the country’s inherent charms remain undeniable. Moreover, this transition has opened up vistas in neighboring countries, offering tax-sensitive expats a plethora of choices.

Spain and some other neighbors are rolling out the red carpet. Europe’s still packed with amazing spots and sweet deals for those ready to hop on the next exciting chapter.

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