Home Finance Banking How to open a bank account in Portugal
Last update on December 05, 2019
Written by Gary Buswell

This guide highlights the types of banks in Portugal and explains how to open a bank account in Portugal so that you may send money from and to Portugal securely.

If you are an expat living or working in Portugal, opening a Portuguese bank account will make things easier when it comes to receiving your salary and paying monthly or regular bills. There are several Portuguese banks that you can open an account with, as well as international banks with branches in Portugal. Each offers a range of accounts as well as additional services.

This guide, provided by online bank N26, explains how to open a bank account in Portugal, and includes information on:

N26

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Banking in Portugal

Portugal has a modern banking system which includes one of the most advanced inter-bank networks in the world through Multibanco. There are currently over 150 banks in Portugal. This includes:

  • private national banks
  • international banks
  • public retail banks
  • regional cooperative banks
  • investment banks
  • savings banks

The majority of banks in Portugal belong to the Portuguese Banking Association. The central bank in Portugal is the Banco de Portugal, which also serves as the regulatory authority for Portuguese banks.

See our guide to banks in Portugal for more information.

Do you need a bank account in Portugal?

Having a bank account in Portugal is not a legal requirement and it is possible to manage your finances from an overseas or offshore account. However, having a Portuguese bank account will make life much easier if you have relocated to the country long-term. It will save you time and money on your daily financial transactions. In addition to this, it will make things such as paying household bills, receiving wages and getting a mortgage much easier.

Before you open a bank account in Portugal

If you move to Portugal before opening a Portuguese account, you will still be able to manage your money and carry out financial transactions from an overseas account, as long as you have an international bank card such as Visa or Mastercard.

However, this may prove expensive so it’s a good idea to sort out a bank account in Portugal as soon as you can. One option is to look into opening an account before you move. There are a few options for doing this, including:

  • Opening up a non-resident account. Some Portuguese banks offer this option, meaning that you can open the account before moving and then transfer the account to a full resident account.
  • Choosing an international bank that has branches in Portugal and your home country. You will then be able to open the account before moving and just change the address on the account once you relocate to Portugal.
  • Opening a mobile bank account, which can be done from any country.

Types of bank account in Portugal

There are three main types of bank account in Portugal.

Current account

A standard Portuguese bank account for day-to-day banking. Most current accounts are free but some banks may charge fees (usually around €5 a month) and stipulate that a minimum deposit needs to be paid into the account.

Banking in Portugal

Instant-access savings account

A Portuguese bank account with higher interest rates for saving money but with easy access to funds. Standard savings accounts in Portuguese banks are easy-access and some bank accounts have the function of merging a current account with a savings account (so that funds above a certain balance will automatically transfer into a savings account).

Time-deposit accounts

Savings accounts with the highest interest rates but with conditions on minimum deposits and time periods that funds must stay in the account.

You can see a list of banks in Portugal in our handy guide to banking in Portugal.

Opening a bank account in Portugal as an expat

Most banks in Portugal require you to visit a local branch to open a bank account, although a few allow you to open a Portuguese bank account online. How to open a bank account in Portugal varies slightly from bank to bank, but as a rough guide you will need to go through the following procedures.

To open a bank account in Portugal, you will first need to find the local branch near you. Most bank websites have a branch finder option which you can use for this. If your Portuguese is not fluent, it is a good idea to find out if there are any English-speaking staff at the branch. If not, you may want to take an interpreter or a phrase book with plenty of bank-related phrases with you.

Documents usually needed for opening up a bank account in Portugal are:

If you are opening up a non-resident account in Portugal, you will usually have to provide details of your overseas address used for tax purposes.

You will also need to provide any information specific to the account you are opening, like proof of studying if opening a student bank account in Portugal, along with the minimum deposit (if there is one). Some banks may ask for a residency or citizens card if they stipulate that you must be a Portuguese resident to open an account.

Once you have completed the application and submitted the necessary documents, the process is complete and your account is open. The whole thing usually takes around 20-30 minutes. You will receive any credit, debit or cash cards associated with the account within a few days.

Opening a mobile bank account in Portugal

If you don’t want to go through the procedure of applying for a traditional bank account in Portugal,  a simpler and faster alternative is to open an account with a mobile bank. These accounts can usually be opened in minutes from your smart phone or over the internet.

International mobile banks that operate in Portugal include:

You will usually need to provide personal details such as mobile number, email address and physical address but won’t need to provide the full list of documentation required by standard banks. Any documentation needed can usually be sent online using a scan or photo. See our guide to mobile banking in Portugal for more information.

Opening a corporate account in Portugal

Most of the main banks in Portugal offer business and corporate banking as well as individual banking. General administration fees are usually higher for business bank accounts, and services will be tailored towards business needs, size and type. For example, some banks may offer specific accounts for start ups or small businesses.

If you are a freelancer or registered business looking to open up a bank account in Portugal, you will have to provide similar documentation to when opening up a personal account. Additional requirements will depend on the legal status of the business. For instance, limited companies will need to provide official registration documents as well as names and addresses of the owners/directors.

Some Portuguese banks now offer mobile banking capabilities for businesses, although you will usually need to open the account at a physical branch. See our guide to business banking in Portugal for more information.

Bank account for children in Portugal

Many Portuguese banks offer specific accounts for children and young people, but these will usually be junior savings or investment accounts. If you want to open any type of Portuguese bank account for your child, you will usually need to do this at a bank branch. The best way of doing this is to arrange an appointment at the bank branch along with your child, taking the necessary ID for both yourself and your child.

If your child can’t attend the appointment, you might still be able to open an account on their behalf if you can provide the required documentation. The exact process depends on the individual bank and type of account you want to open, so call ahead if you’re unsure.

With most junior accounts, the parent or guardian will be legally responsible for the account until the account holder turns 18.

What to do if you are refused a bank account in Portugal

Portuguese banks can refuse to open an account for you if you fail to meet the required criteria or provide the required documentation. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by a Portuguese bank, you can:

  • contact the complaints department of the bank in question to see if it can be resolved.
  • if you are not satisfied with the response, you can complain to the Banco de Portugal, the central bank in Portugal which regulates the banking industry.

Choosing a bank in Portugal

There are a number of different options to choose from if you decide to set up a bank account in Portugal, including several local Portuguese banks and Portuguese branches of international banks. See our guide to banking in Portugal for a list of banks in Portugal.

Which bank you decide to open an account with will depend on the factors that matter most to you, but it’s advisable to do some research into the options on the market. Things that you may want to consider when opening a Portuguese bank account include:

  • Reputation: ask for recommendations based on personal experience.
  • English-speaking services: if you are a foreigner who doesn’t speak Portuguese, you may want a bank that has English-speaking staff.
  • Range of services on offer: this might include online banking or other services such as insurance and mortgage options.
  • Costs: what are the costs in bank fees and charges and do you need to make minimum regular deposits?
  • Account types: what is on offer (e.g., is there a good option for non-residents or students)?
  • Incentives: are there any sweeteners on opening the account (e.g., free gift or overdraft facility)?
  • Convenience: how easy is it to open the account or make international transfers?

If you are looking to open a time deposit account in Portugal, you can compare accounts using this EU comparison tool.

Banking services in Portugal

You will find a similar selection of financial services in Portuguese banks as elsewhere in Europe. In addition to current accounts and savings accounts, banks in Portugal also provide:

  • lending services such as loans and overdrafts
  • mortgages
  • insurance
  • credit cards and debit cards
  • investment options including stocks, bonds and pension plans

International money transfers in Portugal

International money transfers in Portugal between banks in Portugal and banks within the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland cost no more than a money transfer between two banks in Portugal, providing the money is paid in Euros and is less than €50,000.

You will need the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and SWIFTBIC (Bank Identifier Code) for the bank that is receiving payment.

Transfers to or from outside the EU/EEA will be subject to fees applied by Portuguese banks. You will need to check with your Portuguese bank what the charge rates are to and from different countries.

There are no limits on sums of money travelling in and out of Portugal but anything above €50,000 needs to be declared to the Banco de Portugal.

For international money transfers, there are alternative solutions to banks which could prove cheaper and more convenient, such as:

You can also use Monito’s online comparison tool to save on fees, obtain the best exchange rates and find the cheapest option for your international money transfers.

See our guide to international money transfers for more information.

Managing your bank account in Portugal

You can choose how to manage your money and finances with your Portuguese bank account. Options include:

Face-to-face banking

Although many Portuguese banks have closed branches in recent years, the main banks in Portugal still have plenty of high street facilities. According to 2018 World Bank statistics, there are 36 bank branches per 100,000 people in Portugal, nearly three times the global average of 12.73. You can carry out financial transactions at a Portuguese bank branch, as well as set up a meeting to discuss your finances. You might need to check that English-speaking staff are available first, though.

Online banking

This feature available with most banks will give you 24/7 access to your account. You can also arrange payments and make other transactions, with some banks even allowing loans to be organized online. See our guide to digital banking in Portugal for more information.

Mobile banking

Banks also now offer banking apps which can be downloaded onto your smartphone so that you can do all your banking using your mobile. There are also mobile-only banks offering features such as instant P2P payments and easy-access money management tools. See this guide to mobile banking in Portugal for full details.

Changing banks or closing a bank account in Portugal

If you want to close an account or switch banks in Portugal, contact your bank in writing or go into the bank branch to inquire about closing the account. Each bank will have its own procedures, but you will usually need to fill out and sign a short form. If visiting a branch, take ID with you in case you are asked for this.

If you are switching accounts to another bank, ask if either bank provides a transfer service. Some banks offer this, where they take care of sorting out transferring direct debits and standing orders. If you have to arrange things yourself, open the new account first if you can, so that you don’t end up leaving yourself with a period with no bank account.

When closing a bank account in Portugal, make sure that you:

  • get confirmation in writing that the account is officially closed so that you don’t accrue any additional charges on the account;
  • check that there are no penalties for closing the account before any particular time period. This usually only applies to certain savings accounts;
  • notify your employer and anyone else making regular payments that you are no longer using this account;
  • have no outstanding payments coming out of the account. If a bank is not dealing with transferring direct debits and standing orders to another account, don’t forget to cancel existing regular payments made from this account.

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