In this article, we’ll detail the requirements and application process for the D2 Portugal Visa – the so-called “immigrant entrepreneur” visa for non-EU citizens wishing to commence investment activity in the country. The D2 is a much sought-after European visa, but what’s the attraction of this sunny land on the Iberian Peninsula for foreign entrepreneurs?
What’s the D2 Visa Portugal?
Back in 2009, Portugal introduced a wide range of tax benefits for EU and non-EU citizens alike. A decade on, it’s looking like that might just have been one of the wisest decisions the Portuguese government has ever made. Long valued by holidaymakers and tourists for its amenable climate, vibrant culture, and the beauty of its ancient cities, it has for some time now also been a top spot for expatriate investment.
At a top-tiered rate of 42% and a whole range of other incentives, Portuguese taxes tend to be lower – and the economic climate generally more friendly – than the vast majority of European nations. It’s little wonder then that PWC saw fit to commission a report on the country, dubbing it “Europe’s best kept secret”. Forbes quickly followed suit with a timely article on the skyrocketing popularity of the country for foreign investment.
This article makes for tantalising reading, reporting on the massive influx of both EU and non-EU investment, with British, French, Swedish (all EU), American, Brazilian, and Middle Eastern (all non-EU) being particularly significant. The benevolent tax climate has also attracted much Chinese interest. It would appear that all of the major players are looking towards Portugal.
The country itself has also felt much of the benefit of this interest. Property markets from Lisbon to Porto to the Algarve are showing healthy, steady growth – and Lisbon is gaining a real international reputation as a tech start-up hub.
Relatively friendly visa requirements are certainly part of this picture. For most foreign investors of moderate size, the D2 visa is the way to go (there is also the much sought after Golden Visa for larger investments which offer more residency freedom). Although no walk in the park, this visa poses less obstacles and difficulties than many others and will in turn allow you to get a residence permit – at which point the investor is all set to do business in Portugal.
What are the main requirements to get the D2 Visa Portugal
To get the D2 Visa, you will need to show the Portuguese government that you have intentions of hosting your business in Portugal long term – and that the enterprise has value, and you have the means to carry it out. The D2 Visa is for small- to medium-sized enterprises roughly related to social, scientific, technological, cultural, or economic areas. This has, however, been codified into a set of essential requirements. These are:
Proof of Business Viability
The main things you’ll want to demonstrate here are that your business has a clear purpose (clearly associating it with one of the aforementioned enterprise areas will help) and also that it is fairly unique. Simply copying countless other Portuguese businesses is not the way to go.
A Business Plan
This must be clear, concise yet sufficiently detailed. Outlining the main steps in establishing your business is a must.
The government has not set any official requirements on social capital for immigrant entrepreneurs, but in the competitive environment of seeking approval for your investment, this cannot be ignored. You should aim to demonstrate how your business will be socially cohesive – both internally among employees and within the community that you wish to establish it in.
Reasons You Have Chosen Portugal
Tax incentives aside. For this requirement, you will need to demonstrate what your business has to do with the country you wish to establish it in. The previous requirement for social capital is closely related to this, but you should also outline what it is about the Portugal that is particularly suited to your business – and how your business is suited to Portugal.
Steps to Getting Your D2 Visa and Residence Permit
Having established how you will convince the Portuguese government to welcome your business, it’s time to begin the official progress. The application process begins in your country of residence, so you will have to make your case at a Portuguese consulate or embassy. Further details on this can be found on the Portuguese Foreign Affairs website. Once you have a watertight pitch and business plan, you will have to collect the following official documentation ahead of your appointment:
- The official form (the embassy/consulate will provide this)
- Passport/other valid travel document (and two up-to-date passport photos)
- Valid travel insurance
- Proof of being in a regular situation in your current country of residence
- A request for a criminal record enquiry by Portugal’s Immigration and Border Services (the SEF)
- A Criminal record certificate from your country of residence
- Proof of means of subsistence (this varies depending on where you live, but you will also need to provide a statement of responsibility and have it signed by a Portuguese national or someone resident in Portugal).
The Residence Permit and Beyond
After you get your D2 visa, you will have four months to move to Portugal and get your residence permit. Becoming a legal citizen can take a while in Portugal – sometimes more than four months. However, all you need to do within that time window is to get an appointment. Should your appointment be months down the line and your visa expires, mere proof of the appointment is enough for you to be considered a legal resident – and able to do business.
If you are a non-EU citizen seeking to relocate to Portugal with your own funding and you are not looking to set up business here, the D7 visa — also known as the Portugal Passive Income Visa — is a perfect option for you.
Since December 2020 there have been many changes to the residency application for non-EU citizens.
The Portuguese Financas office now request the following:
- For residents of the European Union who do not come in person to their fiscal representative’s office:
- Certified copy of passport
- Power of Attorney with notarised signature
- Proof of address can be sent by email
- For residents outside the European Union who do not come in person to their fiscal representative’s office:
- Certified and Apostille copy of the passport
- Power of attorney with recognised signature and handout.
- Proof of address can be sent by email
Our legal team at RHJ assists non-EEA nationals to obtain residency in Portugal. Our English-speaking accountants specialise in helping entrepreneurs to set up, manage and grow their businesses in Europe.
Ensure that your transition to Portuguese residency is hassle-free.