Today, we have an unusual story. Ruslan, a former lawyer from Kyiv and today the owner of a successful business in Portugal, will tell us how to change the sphere of activity completely, decide to move to another country, and obtain a residence permit for investment in Portugal.
How to decide to change your life and get a residence permit for investing in Europe
7 years ago, I got my first residence permit in Europe. I was prompted to do so by a not-so-pleasant experience I had in my home country. In 2011, I was working as a lawyer in Ukraine: at that time, I had several cases in which the state was taking business away from our clients. I had to teach businesses how to behave during searches and prepare for such actions by the authorities.
I had to teach them how to behave during searches and prepare for such actions by the authorities.
Then I couldn’t find my place with everything that was going on. Why should a person have to defend himself against the illegal actions of his country? It’s hard to imagine lawyers teaching business people to defend themselves against law enforcement somewhere in the United States or the United Kingdom. In my years of practicing law, I have seen some very unpleasant situations.
Later, it became clear that there was nothing we could do about it; there were simply no effective solutions. So I realized that it was useless to fight against windmills, and I decided to change the field: I invested in my brother’s business, who had been living in Europe for three years.
When I was getting my first residence permit, there were no investment programs yet, and I made the status by opening a business in Europe. I moved to Spain, where I lived for more than three years. When choosing a country, I always rely on personal and business criteria. It is important to me that there is a good education for children, climate, infrastructure for sports and recreation, and quality products. In business terms, I look at the tax system, the quality of service in the banks, and the lack of foreign exchange restrictions.
Spain is a great country to live in, but its tax system is not very convenient if you get your main income outside of it. So after three years of living in Madrid, I decided to move. The next country I decided to go to was the United States. I lived in Toronto, and when I moved I was not particularly worried about the legal status – I planned to deal with everything on the spot. I thought about staying here, but the U.S. also had its disadvantages. The main disadvantage, which cannot be felt from a distance, is the non-serious attitude of the local population. They don’t know how to say no, so they often postpone what they promise to do. After Spain, where everything works like clockwork, it frustrated me.
Locating to Portugal and collaborating at MoveToCascais
Further on, I planned to move to Portugal in early 2020. A seemingly odd choice, but there are reasons for that. Lisbon is a safe big metropolis on the ocean and is perfect for sports. Here you can find the old city, villas and new modern neighborhoods and English-speaking schools. A big plus in Portugal is the tax vacations for 10 years for foreigners who get a golden visa, but about that a little later.
By the time I finally decided to move, I was getting pretty tired of figuring out the immigration programs of a new country on my own every time, so I decided to enlist the help of professionals. That is how I first got acquainted with service MoveToCascais, with which we work to this day. I found the site on the net and ordered a trial consultation. My goal was to minimize time costs and optimize the whole process of moving. In addition, I was thinking about opening a branch of my and my brother’s company on the territory of Portugal. Given my requirements, I was immediately offered the perfect solution – Golden Visa Portugal.
How does the processing of a residence permit for investment work and what is the golden visa of Portugal
The Portuguese Golden Visa program was launched in October 2012. It allows citizens of states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area to obtain a residence permit for a five-year investment. With this visa, you can travel around the countries of the Schengen Agreement. After five years, the residence permit holder may apply for a permanent residence permit and Portuguese citizenship.
The applicant for the “Golden Visa” must not be a citizen of the EU and countries belonging to the European Free Trade Association. During the documentation process, the investor must visit Portugal for a personal interview. In recent years, this step has been facilitated: the Service for Foreigners and Borders (SEF) now allows interviews in any county in Portugal, not just where the candidate invests.
In my case, the requirements for obtaining a golden visa were simple – invest €500,000 in a small business. Taking into account all the costs for renting premises, equipment and purchasing everything necessary, it was exactly the amount I was counting on.
The whole process of starting a business in Portugal includes:
- Online registration at a one-stop service center. The Portuguese government has developed On the Spot Firm (Empresa na Hora) and the Portal do Cidadão (Empresa Online) business portal so that anyone can register their own business in this country. All you need for that is an internet connection and a fee of 360€.
- Confirmation of the registered office of the company with the commercial real estate registry.
- Registration with the state authorities.
Portugal residence permit application
I have heard the popular belief that this is the most difficult and time-consuming stage of all. From personal experience, it’s not. If you have a good reason for the application, and most importantly, a full set of proper documents, the chance of being denied is minimal. As with the visa application, you have to submit your documents to the “service for foreigners and borders” (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF). Here is their complete list:
- certification of identity and proof of criminal record, as with the visa application;
- confirmation of registered business in Portugal. Articles of Association and extract from the commercial register;
- personal tax number – NIF;
- certificate of absence of debts from the social insurance fund;
- tenancy agreement or a guarantee from a resident of Portugal. In general, any proof of permanent residence in the country;
- proof of ability to pay.
There was a short verbal interview waiting for me and that was it. It can take up to six months to review your application. During this time you can stay in Portugal legally and carry out any kind of business activity.
10 Year Tax Exemption Program
Portuguese tax rates are lower than in other countries. But that’s not the only attraction – there’s the option to avoid paying fees entirely for 10 years. Everything is legal and takes place under the “exclusive tax regime” for all residents who do business. The reduction of the cost of doing business for 10 years was a great start for me: it was possible to adapt to the market of the new country and partially cover the costs.
In doing business, taxes on income and profits received in Portugal become important. The preferential rate is 25%. “Greenlight” from taxes is given to creative people, doctors, IT professionals, scientists and owners of large capital, investors under the program golden visa Portugal. Holders of the exceptional tax status can pay no income tax of 20%, tax on employment or business activities, as well as pension income for 10 years.
I think we can summarize at this point. The next year went off without a hitch. The staff doubled in size, so we had to look for new quarters in December, but that was more of a plus than a minus. The quarantine did not hurt business either – Portugal coped very well with its consequences.
I’d like to make a small point. Certainly, I was at risk of failing miserably and being left with nothing, but no one knows where my old life would have taken me. To summarize, my philosophy is simple: don’t be afraid to pursue your goal. There will always be difficulties along the way, but there’s always a way to overcome them. And the only thing that will help you along the way is your ambition. I hope that you will succeed. Thank you, MoveToCascais, for allowing me to share my story. Good luck!