Portugal’s “Movie Producer” Visa Could Net Guaranteed Returns

Portugal’s “Movie Producer” Visa Could Net Guaranteed Returns

Despite big changes to its visa and tax programs in 2023, Portugal remains one of the most popular destinations for potential expats around the world.

Between 2012 and 2023, Portugal granted 12,700 golden visas. Over 40% went to Chinese applicants, 15% went to Brazilians, 9% to Americans, 7% each to Turks and South Africans. The remaining 30% went to a mix of other countries.

Ninety-five percent of those visas were granted for investments in real estate. Although investment in business, investment funds, research and capital deposits have always been an option, they attracted little interest.

Now those disregarded options are the only ones left. The question is which categories will emerge as the most popular.

There is much speculation in investment migration circles that parking €500,000 or more in an approved investment fund will take the top spot, since it promises the possibility of solid financial returns in addition to residency. I'm currently researching this option and we'll have more to say about it in the coming months.

Another possibility is an outright donation of half a million euro to technological or scientific research in Portugal. But that’s a steep donation and doesn't offer any return other than residency.

That's why I've started looking into the “cultural production” option—which has resulted in only four golden visas in the last decade.

There are actually two sub options here:

  • Donate

    €250,000 euros towards the preservation of Portuguese cultural heritage, such as historical landmarks, archives or archaeological sites.

  • Invest

    €250,000 in artistic projects like films, theatre productions, art exhibitions, concerts, or literary events.

For both of these sub options, the minimum investment falls to €200,000 if the activity is in a rural area.

Like the option to fund scientific or technical research, #1 is a giveaway, and there won't be any return other than residency. But at least it's only half the amount required for the former.

On the other hand, #2 offers potential financial return. But unlike an established business or investment fund, evaluating that potential would be extremely difficult for most people. As any movie or theater producer will tell you, investing in the arts is a hit or miss proposition. You could earn some money back, but you could also lose it all.

However, my contacts in Portugal tell me that some of the cultural production options involve film and theatre properties that will be pre-sold to develop a database of potential projects sold to media outlets and distribution channels. For example, a television production house might pitch an idea for a series to the Portuguese division of Netflix and get a deal with a guaranteed return. As an investor in the production, you would get a share of rights to the film or tv show as well as proceeds from recurring showings.

Investing in a project like that is much safer and easier for ordinary people. However, by definition ordinary people don't know how to score streaming deals with Netflix.

That's why Portuguese residency consultancies are getting creative, establishing links with the creative community, and developing databases of potential projects.

Encouragingly, any investment in the cultural production golden visa realm requires explicit approval from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture. Only once they've given the green light for a project can it be marketed to potential golden visa applicants. Getting the government’s approval depends on the producers scoring a presales agreement, which is exactly what you want if you’re going to be investing in it.

Like other Portuguese golden visas, the cultural production option gives you visa free travel throughout the Schengen area, the ability to bring family along, and a pathway to Portuguese citizenship after five years. The minimum time in Portugal is seven days per year.

So if life in Portugal—and the life of a big shot movie producer—appeals to you, this could be just the ticket.