Azores Golden Visa: Ultimate 2022 Guide

You've probably heard of the Golden Visa from Portugal. But did you know that the Azores archipelago is one of the best destinations in the country to invest in real estate with a Golden Visa?

In this detailed guide, we'll see how the Autonomous Region of the Azores is the hottest Golden Visa destination of 2022 - and why you should look for an Azores Golden Visa now.

We’ll focus (mainly) on the property investment route here, but if you’re interested in exploring other ways to invest in Portugal, check out our detailed Golden Visa guide. 

Portugal is already the best option for those looking to acquire (or regain!) EU citizenship. Portugal offers flexible visa routes, allows for the all-important dual citizenship, has accessible language requirements and a short citizenship term of just five years of residence.

During those five years, there’s no need to physically move to Portugal (although of course you can if you want to). That means you can carry on with your life elsewhere, while your investment spends the time in Portugal on your behalf. 

In fact, a short annual visit to Portugal (7 to 14 days) is enough to maintain your residency status all the way to citizenship.  

Fortunately, there are still many good opportunities to obtain your Golden Visa by investing in Portuguese residential properties. Azores is one of the best options available for this one - and it's not going anywhere in 2022. We've done a thorough survey of the nine islands and we live in this paradise. Here is the summary on how to invest in real estate in the Azores to get the Golden Visa.

What exactly counts as 'rehabilitation' - can I just add some p-handles on the door?

Golden Visa Changes in 2022

Since the Golden Visa scheme started, Portugal’s major cities Lisbon and Porto have been prime real estate investment destinations, along with the Algarve region. Foreign investors have snapped up properties in these areas, boosting Portugal’s economy while also causing dramatic price rises.  

But now the Portuguese government is about to shake things up. Its goal is to redirect foreign investment to underserved regions of the country. As of December 31, 2021, Lisbon, Porto, and some of the Algarve are no longer eligible for Golden Visa residential real estate investment.  Other changes have been made to the Golden Visa scheme, such as higher minimum thresholds for other routes, including the Golden Visa investment funds route.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of good opportunities to get your Golden Visa by investing in Portuguese residential real estate.  Azores  is one of the best options available for this – and it’s not going anywhere in 2022.  We’ve done detailed research on the islands and spent plenty of time here. Here’s the lowdown on investing in Azores property to get the Golden Visa. 

Ponta Delgada
View from Ponta Delgada

Azores  Golden Visa: Property Investment Thresholds

When investing for the Azores Golden Visa, there are two key investment thresholds you should know about. Let’s look at exactly what each one involves.  

€500,000 Golden Visa threshold 

This investment threshold allows you to choose any property, anywhere in Azores. It could be a brand-new development in the center of Ponta Delgada, an old traditional quinta in the middle of a pineaple plantation, or a seafront apartment at one of Azores many beaches. At the €500,000 investment threshold, you’ll get maximum flexibility in your property choices.

€350,000 Golden Visa threshold  

If you’re looking for a bargain and don’t mind getting involved in a renovation project, the second threshold could be a good fit for you. The €350,000 threshold allows you to invest in property for rehabilitation/renovation.  

Let’s look more closely at exactly what that means.  

Property for rehabilitation can fall into one of two categories: 

1.    Over 30 years old 

2.    Located within one of the official rehabilitation zones, as defined by each area’s local council. For example, in Ponta Delgada, the rehabilitation zone incorporates a large chunk of the city’s central area – making it a promising option for investment with holiday rentals in mind.  

It’s important to note that the €350,000 Azores Golden Visa investment threshold includes both the purchase price of the property and the value of any rehabilitation work required.  

What exactly counts as ‘rehabilitation’ – can I just add a few coats of paint? 

There are four officially defined levels of rehabilitation. 

Level 1 (Light rehabilitation) 

This level involves conducting small repairs and improvements to the installations and equipment that already exist in the property. Typically, this is in the bathroom and kitchen.  

For example: 

•    Improving indoor lighting, ventilation and exhaustion conditions 

•    Cleaning and general repair of the roof 

•    Repair of occasional anomalies in the plaster 

•    Repair of existing window frames 

•    General improvement of existing electrical and artificial lighting installations 

Level 2 (Medium rehabilitation) 

This is in addition to the work identified in Level 1. It includes the following: 

•    Repair or partial replacement of carpentry elements (such as window frames, staircase, floors or ceilings) 

•    Repair and possible reinforcement of certain structural elements, such as floor slabs or roof structures 

•    General repair of coverings on interior and exterior walls and roof 

•    Introduction of new electrical installation 

•    Improvement of common parts of the building 

•    Making slight changes to existing forms of space organization 

•    In general, improving functional and environmental conditions of spaces 

Level 3 (Deep rehabilitation) 

This level is in addition to the previous levels and includes the following types of work: 

•    Developing profound changes in distribution and interior organization of building space, with the possibility of increasing or reducing the total number of dwellings 

•    Introduction or adaptation of spaces to create missing facilities and equipment, such as the introduction of sanitary facilities or functional reorganization of kitchens 

•    Changes which involve significant demolition and reconstruction, such as: 

•    Partial or total replacement of floor slabs and partition walls 

•    Structural problem solving 

•    Improvement and restructuring of common areas  

•    Improvement and restructuring of the vertical and horizontal circulation system 

•    General replacement of carpentry elements 

•    Construction of new coatings 

At Level 3, the depth of the rehabilitation work justifies the measured application of new materials and constructive solutions, as well as satisfying deeper functional requirements. 

Level 4 (Exceptional rehabilitation) 

This level of works is less common for typical Golden Visa applicants. It may require the following: 

•    Occasional use of restoration techniques for interventions in the building’s surroundings, or even parts of its interior. 

•    Total reconstruction of the building, based on the value of its contribution to the urban image of the surroundings. This may include partial modernization of aspects of construction, installations and equipment. 

•    Rehabilitation of the buildings to standards much higher than the existing ones. 

The new building is to be constructed according to common current knowledge and with contemporary architecture. The rehabilitation process is to be attentive and careful of the context and cultural value of the surroundings. 

As you can see from reading about the different levels, rehabilitation for the Azores Golden Visa doesn’t always have to be a difficult undertaking. There are several types of rehabilitation that can be done with minimum hassle or expense.  

In Azores, you can find many properties that meet the requirements of Level 1, netting you a convenient pathway to Portuguese citizenship at a very accessible price (€350,000) – especially if you’re selling your existing home in high-value markets such as the UK or US.  

Azores Lagoa Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo - São Miguel

Investing in low-density areas

You may have heard about a further 20% discount available on Golden Visa property investment thresholds, for those choosing to invest in low density areas. That means €400,000 for the regular threshold and €280,000 for the rehabilitation threshold.  

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Alternative Golden Visa Route: Investment Funds

Investing in Portuguese funds is another way to get the Golden Visa in Azores (and anywhere in Portugal).

Many Golden Visa investors prefer the funds route, as it’s faster and more straightforward than property. You can choose your fund and investing it directly, without having to spend valuable time locating the ideal property.

Investing in a fund has the following benefits, when compared to property:

•    Lower overall transaction costs, mainly due to no need to pay property taxes (see next section for details of the taxes involved in property purchase)

•    Better tax efficiency. Investment funds aren’t taxable in Portugal, if you’re not a tax resident. They’re a perfect option for an investor who wants a foothold in the country, but doesn’t want to live there full-time.

•    No need to worry about expensive property maintenance issues, or finding a reliable firm to manage the maintenance for you

•    No need to find, vet and manage tenants

•    Potentially higher return on investment, when compared to property (although Azores’s property market is very much on the upswing)

We’ve prepared a detailed guide to the investment fund Golden Visa route, presenting a range of venture capital and private equity funds suited for the Golden Visa. These funds don’t advertise publicly, but we can give you more information and make an introduction to the fund managers.

Explore Golden Visa investment funds now

Investing in a fund for your Golden Visa still allows you to buy property in Portugal. With your Golden Visa safely secured, you and your family can take up residence in Azores, or anywhere in Portugal, whenever it suits you.

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