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Why are Americans choosing Portugal as their “Plan B” for citizenship?

For almost the last two years, America’s share of applicants for Portugal Golden Visa has soared inexorably. In 2022, Americans have invested 70% more in Portugal’s Golden Visa compared to 2019.

Like Portugal, many other European countries offer the Golden Visa program for non-EU citizens seeking residency in Europe. Many wealthy Americans are leveraging this route to move overseas through various investment options these countries offer.

And Portugal has become a top choice for this. But why are Americans leaving their homeland and finding a second home in Portugal? This is what we’re going to answer here:

Portugal’s Tax Attractions for the US Nationals

Americans who move to Portugal can apply for the non-habitual residency (NHR) tax scheme. The program grants preferential tax treatment for ten years to those who haven’t been taxed as Portuguese tax residents during the last five years.

The scheme offers benefits like tax exemptions from non-Portuguese sourced income in most categories, including salary, real estate, foreign dividends, and even cryptocurrency investments.

Now, as of 1st July 2022, non-European residents with no tax obligations don’t even need to work with a Portuguese tax representative.

Ideal for Americans with Limited Vacation Time

Portugal’s Golden Visa requires you to live for seven days (on average) every year in Portugal. This is useful for people who want to spend some vacation time while continuing to live in the US.

The 7-day requirement is also helpful for the citizens who want the freedom to move to Portugal but travel whenever they want. With other visa types, the general average required stay time is 8+ months.

With such benefits, the trend for Portugal’s Golden Visas has been boosted among US citizens. Eventually, 102 American investors obtained Portugal’s Golden Visa in 2021, which is 32% up year-on-year.

Political Unrest in the USA

Well, the recent uptick in American applicants can largely be attributed to constant conflict between Republicans and Democrats. People are concerned about things like the possible return of the Trump administration in 2024 and the recent revoke of Roe v. Wade.

Americans are choosing Portugal as an ‘insurance’ against the possible consequences of toxic political polarization in the US.

Portugal appears more stable. It’s a peaceful and safe country for all people of nationalities. According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, Portugal is sixth on the list of the safest countries in the world. 

It’s worth mentioning that many Americans aren’t planning to give up their US citizenship altogether. Instead, they see Portugal’s Golden Visa as a Plan B. They see it as an insurance policy if the US political environment becomes intolerable.


Americans want Global Mobility

At the beginning of 2020, a US passport holder could travel to 171 countries. Then, after 12 months, this figure dropped to 103 due to pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

In some very strict lockdowns,you could not enter Europe with an American passport. This made many affluent Americans realize their restricted mobility. Therefore, the pandemic somewhat fuelled demand for a second passport. Investor migrants typically look for safer, simpler, and more stable immigration destinations, like Portugal.

As a Portuguese citizen (within five to six years of getting the Golden Visa), you get access to the entire Schengen zone. So you can travel across Europe for as many days as you want. You can even shift freely to any other EU nation in case Portugal doesn’t seem fit.

Other Reasons

Depending on the treatment, you can get free or low-cost medical treatment in Portugal. It’s worth getting an SNS (Servicio Nacional de Saúde) number to join the Portuguese healthcare system or get affordable health insurance.

You’ll also benefit from stricter sanitary and animal welfare standards and significantly lower living costs than in the US. Put simply, Portugal offers an awesome combination of safer, healthier, and more peaceful life than the US.

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