Opening a bank account in Portugal

Opening a bank account in Portugal

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This guide explains how to open a bank account in Portugal and lists some of the major Portuguese banks.

If you are moving to Portugal you will want to familiarise yourself with the steps to opening a bank account in Portugal. Portugal is a member of the euro-zone and all transactions are in euros, although prices are still sometimes given in escudos in shops, restaurants and on bills.

As an expat, you might want to keep your money with an overseas bank. You are not prevented from doing so, but you will have to have a Portuguese bank account as well. Your utility bills and taxes will be paid automatically from a Portuguese account. It is possible to open a bank account in euros or another currency and there is no restriction on the amount of money flowing into and out of the country.

When you are ready to open up an account you will need to do so in person. Banks generally open at 8.30 am and close at 3pm, from Monday to Friday. If you are unsure of which bank to choose for your new bank account you should ask neighbours or co-workers for recommendations or see our list of banks. You can open either a current account (conta corrente) or a deposit account (deposito a prazo). You will need to be at least 18 years old to open up an account.

What documents do I need to open a bank account in Portugal?

Internationals who wish to open a Portuguese bank account will need to take a set of documents with them when visiting a bank branch to set up an account.

The first step is to fill in a couple of forms. While every bank might have its own requirements, in general you can expect to fill in an application form, client details and acceptance of the bank's rules and conditions. You will also need your passport or identity card, tax number and card, residency card and proof of residence.

Residents of EU countries are required to present:

  • An identity card or passport
  • NIF number
  • Residency card
  • Proof of residence (a utility bill or alternative official document with proof of name and address)

Non-EU expatriates will need to present the following documents:

  • A passport
  • Proof of address in country of origin
  • Tax card and proof of employment

ATMs, called Multibancos, are common throughout the country. A multibanco card can be used as a debit card and a credit card; so you can use it to withdraw or deposit cash, pay bills, and check accounts. Portuguese banks are relatively modern and make use of the latest banking technology, such as internet banking, specialist accounts for paying taxes and pension top-up schemes. It is worth building up good relationships at your bank, especially with the manager (gerente).

Opening a bank account online

Portugal’s banking system is modern and efficient and allows both the Portuguese and internationals to open a variety of accounts (savings, joint, current, business) either online or at a local branch. Here’s a list of banks in Portugal offering online banking:

If you need to open up your Portuguese bank account from abroad you can do so by submitting an application. Once you have your application form completed you will need to send it by mail along with a reference letter from your current bank. Minimum deposits to open accounts are typically around EUR 250.

If you write a check from a Portuguese bank account without having the sufficient funds in your account, you will be charged with fraud. The fine will be 20 percent of the amount of the check. You will also be blacklisted by the banks and will not be able to open a bank account again.

What is a NIF number in Portugal?

A Numero de Identificacao Fiscal (NIF), sometimes refered to as a Numero de Contribuite is a tax identification number. An NIF is issued to anyone who wishes to undertake any official matters in Portugal, such as buying a house or car, or undergoing paid employment. You can also expect to see this number on your tax returns. You might know the NIF as a VAT number. You do not have to be a resident to apply for a NIF, tourists may also apply. To apply for your NIF you will need to visit a taxation office or a citizen’s bureau taking the necessary documents with you.

Transfering money abroad

International bank transfers may result in a fee from both the issuing and receiving bank. As this is a fixed rate, it is typically cheaper than a money union for large sums and more expensive than online payment systems, such as PayPal and Transferwise, for small amounts. In addition, some banks may not be willing to send funds to certain countries, such as Somalia. Currency exchange brokers are increasingly offering cheaper options for money transfers and currency exchange. You can find out more about how to transfer money internationally here.



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