When the UK officially left the EU in January 2020 it left a lot of uncertainty around foreign investments and travel, including how it would impact British citizens looking to buy a property in Portugal.
Now more than a year later – and despite even more uncertainty because of covid – we’ve got a much better idea of what that picture looks like following the Withdrawal Agreement and some time to see how the new rules played out.
And in reality, despite all the talk and worry, buying a house in Portugal as a UK citizen isn’t really that different to before.
What are my rights for visiting Portugal?
While free movement of people and unrestricted access to other EU countries ended for UK citizens after Brexit, it’s still easy to travel to Portugal as a non EU citizen.
You can travel to and remain in Portugal for up to 90 days over any six month period.
Although any longer than that and you’ll need to apply for a visa.
That’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking to buy property in Portugal as part of your retirement.
But even that isn’t as restrictive as it might sound.
The fact is, Portugal is one of the most welcoming countries for foreigners looking to invest in property, and the country has a relaxed approach to immigration from outside the EU for investors – which has been extended to UK citizens.
If you’re a UK citizen looking to buy a property in Portugal now, there are any number of visa schemes you can take advantage of to ease your way into Portuguese and EU citizenship, the most popular is Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme
What’s the Golden Visa?
Portugal’s Golden Visa is one of the most popular immigration schemes in the world.
It allows non-EU nationals to get a five year residence permit if they buy property worth 500,000€.
After those five years, provided they’ve met certain criteria, investors then get the chance to apply for permanent residency in Portugal, which also gives them the chance to get an EU passport and benefit from free movement again.
The Golden Visa has long been used by non-EU nationals to fast-track their way to Portuguese and EU citizenship and is now an avenue open to UK residents.
It’s worth noting that there are some changes expected to come to the Golden Visa scheme from January 2022 as the Portuguese government tries to spread investment throughout the country and may restrict where you can buy property as part of the scheme.
If you don’t want to use the Golden Visa scheme, there are others you can take advantage of.
D7 Residence Visa for foreigners
The D7 residence visa is a popular scheme for foreigners with an established income stream who are looking to settle in Portugal with a view to gaining a resident permit.
Retirees looking to move to Portugal have found it particularly appealing because they qualify with proof of a regular pension income.
But it’s also used by others with income from real estate investments or dividends from other investments.
Provided you’re able to prove that you can live off your own means if you move to Portugal (and won’t become reliant on state aid at any point during your residency) then you can use the D7 permit at any age.
You will need to prove that your income is at least on the same level of Portugal’s minimum wage – about 740€ a month – to qualify.
This is usually manageable on a UK pension and because the cost of living in Portugal is so much lower than in the UK, you can actually live a relatively comfortable life.
You’ll need to apply for the D7 visa in the UK first and then you’ll be able to stay in Portugal for four months if you’re successful.
Once you’re in Portugal you’re eligible to apply for a temporary residence permit.
This allows you to stay in Portugal for 12 months and can be renewed every two years.
After five years you’ll be able to convert this into a permanent residency permit.
So has Brexit actually changed if you can buy a house in Portugal?
In reality, no, it hasn’t.
There are no restrictions for foreign nationals looking to invest in Portuguese property so even as a non-EU resident, Brexit hasn’t made it any harder to buy Portugal in property either for retirement or as an investment.
And, because any mortgage decisions are based purely on affordability and not on residency status you could even buy a house in Portugal on a mortgage as long as you can prove you can keep up with payments.
So, really, Portugal is just as accessible to UK residents as it’s ever been.