The system of the golden visa
: a comparative analysis of foreign investment based on the notion of tax evasion and the conception of tax havens : does the golden visa foster tax evasion?

  • Maria Inês Peralta e Mello de Sousa Mendes (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This paper is a study of the impact of the Golden Visa, a special residence permit for foreigners obtained through investment activity in Portuguese territory, in the perspective of Tax Law and Tax Evasion, with special consideration for the structure of Tax Havens, in order to understand if there is any connection between them and if so, what can be done to limit it’s the negative consequences. At first sight, the Golden Visa program has many advantages for the economy and even for real estate taxes, as it generates more income for, at least, the real estate market. On the other hand, it does so by opening the door to possible scenarios of Tax Evasion, considering that there is only a declarative obligation from the tax payer to register him or herself as a permanent resident, which means that he or she will not be paying personal income taxes in the country. Recently, investors have been opting for the use of investment funds, in order to obtain a Golden visa and its advantages with significantly less investment capital. These investment funds can be located in Tax Havens and I will try to analyze if that is, at all, an issue because, even if the investment fund is based in a Tax Haven, the investor who is attempting to obtain the Golden Visa will, nonetheless, have to invest in property or equity in the Portuguese territory. The creation of the Beneficial Owner Regime was, among other reasons, intended to prevent investments made by certain persons through companies or any other entities, where the identity of the ultimate investor is unknown and, as such, the new regime prevents investments made through entities based in Tax Havens without the Portuguese State being aware of it. It is now possible to track the exact origin of the investment, in abroad sense. There are concerns with the Golden Visa program, one of them being that the type of investment attracted does not materialize into a system that allows the country to collect personal income tax. Ultimately, I believe that the Golden Visa program is a very smart way of attracting foreign investment, in a scenario where it is much needed, while utilizing what Portugal has best to offer, which is, its real estate and stable political and social environment. Although the Golden Visa program is beneficial, it risks jeopardizing the international economic image of the country, since that there is a risk of other countries considering Portugal solely as a destination that sells European citizenships, in return for foreign investment.
Date of Award22 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorAna Paula Dourado (Supervisor)


  • Golden visas
  • Tax evasion
  • Tax havens


  • Mestrado em Direito Transnacional

Cite this