This article was contributed by José Mineiro
Announced by Prime Minister Antonio Costa last November and formally opened on March 15th this year, Portugal’s new Startup Visa program aims to attract intellectual capital for the purpose of generating wealth and qualified employment through innovation and know-how.
Unlike conventional residence-by-investment programs, the Startup Visa is tailored specifically to entrepreneurs and does not impose a minimum capital requirement.
According to the program’s official website, you can apply for a startup visa if:
- You are an entrepreneur who intends to develop your startup in Portugal, even though you might not have started your business yet;
- You are an entrepreneur who has already launched a startup in your country but you want to set it up in Portugal;
- You do not have residence in the Schengen area;
- You have tax obligations fulfilled concerning tax administration and social security, when applicable;
- You do not have criminal records;
- You are not under 18 years old;
- You have enough funds in your bank account in a total amount of 5146.08€ for 12 months (per person);
You’ll further need to demonstrate that:
- Your project/startup is focused on tech;
- Your startup shows potential to the creation of jobs, besides the entrepreneurs you include initially, along with yourself, in your application;
- Your startup shows the potential to generate a turnover of 325,000€/ year and/or assets value over 325,000€/ year, within 5 years after the start of the contract with your chosen incubator;
- You have the capacity to establish a company, when applicable, during the undergoing of the program;
You’ll also need a declaration of interest from a Portuguese incubator.
Entrepreneurs will have exactly the same rights as Portuguese citizens in terms of access to non-refundable EU grants and incentives, which constitutes a non-negligible advantage when compared to similar programmes in other countries.
The program’s chief advantages over conventional golden visas is the absence of a minimum capital requirement, coupled with the eligibility to apply for EU grants. In theory, an entrepreneur with a good enough idea and the faith of incubators that he/she will be able to turn a profit within three years, can get a visa and start a company with virtually no money down.
The disadvantage is that it requires, if not de jure then at least in practice, physical residence in Portugal in order to manage the firm and reach the financial targets.
The program is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to enjoy Portugal’s quality of life, sun, surf, and food while developing a business idea with the support of public funds if necessary.