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EU permanent residency vs. citizenship: What’s the difference?

permanent residency vs citizenship

Wondering about the difference between permanent residency vs. citizenship in Portugal?


It’s time to explore these two important concepts.


If you are planning to get a Portugal golden visa, give this post a full read. We often get people asking about the different rights granted under an EU permanent residency vs. citizenship.


In this post, we’ll guide you through the implications of permanent residency vs citizenship in Portugal and how you can get each.


In short, the two statuses offer similar benefits, but there’s a slight difference between them.

Table of Contents

Permanent residency vs citizenship: How are they different?

The main difference between permanent residency and citizenship is that citizenship it’s the only status that gives you the right to apply for a passport.


Once you become a citizen of any country, you’ll have the right to apply for a passport. 


For example: If you apply for Portuguese citizenship, you’ll get a powerful passport that gives you full freedom of movement rights, like any other EU citizen.


Not only for tourism purposes but also for the right to live, study, work, and retire across the whole Schengen area.

permanent residency vs citizenship

Imagine putting a bit of effort now into applying for the Portugal golden visa. Generally, it’ll take six to ten months to have a resident permit. 


If you hold your investment for five years, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship.


You can have it with minimal paperwork, AND you don’t get to fight with the local bureaucracy – if you have a local team assisting you through the process of getting a golden visa.


Contrast that with the long-winded immigration processes for non-EU citizens every time they decide to visit another country.


On the other hand, permanent residency in an EU country only allows you to stay indefinitely in that country.


Permanent residency doesn’t make you an EU citizen and doesn’t grant you indefinite freedom of movement right across the entire Schengen area.

How to get the Portuguese residency vs citizenship

There are many ways to get a permanent Portuguese residency. 


First, they’re granted in smaller blocks, and you’ll have to renew them 2 – 3 times before you reach year five, at which point you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship.


Portugal offers a residency by investment program, this visa program gives you residency in the country in return for investing in the Portuguese economy.


The most common type of investment is to buy property in Portugal and get residency, and there are more investment options, but investors feel more attracted to real estate because it is familiar and they enjoy their investment.


Buying property in Portugal doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay all year round in the country. 

permanent residency vs citizenship

You can buy property in a low-density area in Portugal for €280k (the minimum investment), and you can rent it out when you’re not in the country.


Or, if you want a property in larger cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, you can make a hotel investment


What are the options after year five?

If you hold your investment until year five, you have three options to apply for:


  • Permanent residency

  • Citizenship

  • Renew your golden visa to continue with a temporary residency



Hopefully, you’re now clear on the differences between permanent residency vs citizenship.


The two statuses have similar benefits, but only citizenship allows you the benefit of freedom of movement across the EU and EEA.


Golden Port Visa helps families, business people, entrepreneurs, and freelancers to get the Portugal golden visa via real estate investment. 


Any questions? Send us an email or schedule a free call to know more about the Portugal citizenship by investment program.

  1. hey, thank you for the informative blog post. So, if i understood correctly, if i get the portugal golden visa application confirmed, then i can decide to be a tax resident in Portugal if i want, but its not an oblogation and i can have the portuguese residency as well as keeping my tax residency in my home country of south africa? Thank you for your answer

    1. Hi Victor, thank your for the question. The answer to your question is yes, once you get the portugal golden visa application confirmed, the decision to be a tax resident in Portugal is entirely yours, and there is no obligation to do so, which in turn does allow for you to have the portuguese residency as well as keeping your tax residency in your home country. We hope this clarifies your doubts. Feel free to message us anytime.

      Best Regards,
      Golden Port Visa

  2. Useful. Would you be able to develop more on other possible matters of interest about these, such as if its more convenient to certain nacionalities, such as USA, to chosee residence over citizenship?

    1. No problem Antonio! If you would like more in depth assistance please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. Our team would be more than glad to answer any questions you might have.

  3. Hello, i have a question, is there a limit of how many family members i can apply with me for golden visa? I would like to includ my wife and 4 kids in this citizenship program. Also what would be the estimate cost for this? Thanks

    1. Hi Muhammad. That would be fine as there’s no limit for the number of family members that you can apply with for the program. They must however meet the requirements present in this article: https://goldenportvisa.com/golden-visa-portugal-requirements/
      Regarding the cost, you may check our Cost Calculator for an estimate cost of the whole process with all of your family members: https://goldenportvisa.com/portugal-golden-visa-cost/
      We hope this answers your question. In case you need more details please feel free to contact us.

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