Find out everything you need to know about setting up internet, television, and home phone in Portugal with our helpful guide.
Whether you’re moving into a rural villa on the beautiful Algarve or relocating to a city center apartment in Porto’s trendiest neighborhood, you’ll still need to sort out the essentials. As well as getting connected to local utilities, you’ll also need to think about setting up the internet, TV, and home phone in Portugal.
As a new arrival, this can be a daunting process, particularly if you don’t speak much Portuguese. However, it doesn’t have to be because thankfully, setting up the internet in Portugal is pretty straightforward. To give you an idea of what to expect, this guide lays out everything you need to know about getting online, including the following:
- Communications in Portugal
- Getting connected in a new home
- Getting a landline telephone in Portugal
- Setting up the internet in Portugal
- Setting up Portuguese TV
- Paying your bills
- Making a complaint about a Portuguese telecoms company
- Useful resources
Communications in Portugal
Like many other countries in Europe, the Portuguese telecoms market is liberalized. This means that you have plenty of options when it comes to getting connected. Indeed, whether you’re setting up a home phone, the internet, or TV in Portugal, there’s a well-stocked market of companies vying for your business. This makes it easier to find the right connections for you, that meet both your needs and your budget.
Portuguese telecom companies typically offer a range of products for the home, meaning you can get your landline, internet, and TV services from the same provider. In addition to this, some also offer mobile phone contracts and SIM cards, so if you need one, make sure to check which providers offer the best deals if you bundle your subscriptions together. After all, this can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Some of the leading telecoms providers in Portugal include:
Getting connected in a new home
Just landed in Lisbon? Or maybe you’ve found an amazing little home-from-home in the Algarve? Wherever you’re heading, it’s safe to say that setting up the internet will be on your to-do list during your first week in Portugal. But what you actually need to do will largely depend on your individual circumstances.
Generally speaking, if you’re buying a property in Portugal, then you’ll need to set up your own TV and internet connections once you move in. If the property has an existing phone line, then you’ll need to check it actually works first. Typically, lines are operated by MEO, which is owned by Altice Telecom (formerly Portugal Telecom). That said, you may be able to choose your provider.
If there is no existing line, however, then you’ll need to contact the local line operator to set one up; again, this is typically MEO. Just bear in mind that this can take up to a couple of weeks, depending on your location. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start the process as soon as possible. An alternative is to opt for mobile broadband. This might be a better option for more rural locations as it’s not dependent on a fixed telephone line.
If you’re renting a property in Portugal, your new place might already have internet, home phone, and TV services connected. Costs may then be included in your rent, but be sure to check this with your landlord before signing the contract. You might be able to switch providers when you move in, however, this isn’t necessarily the norm. Serviced apartments will generally include all telecom connection costs in the rental price, so you won’t need to find your own provider.
Getting a landline telephone in Portugal
These days, it feels like we spend most of our lives on our cell phones. However, for many new arrivals in Portugal, setting up a landline connection is an important part of making a house a home. After all, fixed-line calls are typically cheaper, especially if you’re calling friends and family abroad. Therefore, getting a home phone connected in Portugal may be high on your to-do list when you arrive in the country.
Historically, MEO has dominated the fixed-line home landline market in Portugal. This is due to the fact that its parent company, Altice Telecom, was the former state-owned provider, Portugal Telecom. Despite liberalization, MEO remains the biggest player in the Portuguese landline market and operates much of the country’s fixed-line network. While you are technically free to choose another provider for your landline service, you will still likely need to pay line rental to MEO. This may be something to consider when choosing a provider.
Providers offering home phone (voz) in Portugal typically offer additional services such as internet (net), TV (TV), and even mobile phone SIM cards and contracts (móvel). It is usually cheaper and easier to take out these services from the same provider. Therefore, make sure you do your research ahead of time to work out which is the best and most cost-effective option for you.
How do I set up a phone connection in Portugal?
If you’re moving into a property in Portugal that doesn’t have an existing phone line or connection, then you’ll typically need to set one up through MEO. This is regardless of whether you actually end up choosing MEO as your provider, due to their operation of the network. However, remember that if you don’t sign up with MEO, you may still need to pay the line rental.
The sign-up process can take several weeks, depending on your situation and location, so it’s a good idea to get the ball rolling as soon as you can. If your new home already has a functioning phone line, you should be able to transfer the existing account into your name or sign up for a new contract with your chosen provider. As with any contract, be sure to read the small print carefully before signing up to avoid any frustrations later on.
When signing up with a landline provider in Portugal, you’ll likely need to provide the following information:
- Identification (most likely a passport)
- Proof of address
- NIF (numero de identificação fiscal)
- Bank account details
- Contact details
It may take a few days to activate your account and you’ll likely be informed when it happens. If you are moving within Portugal, then your provider might let you move your existing contract to your new address. Depending on the move, you may even be able to keep your phone number. However, again, be aware that this may take longer than you expect; so start the process ahead of time to avoid any unforeseen surprises.
Setting up the internet in Portugal
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, having a reliable internet connection at home is more important than ever. Indeed, whether you’re streaming the latest movie releases, shopping for groceries, or chatting with friends around the world, you’ll need Wi-Fi you can depend on. Luckily, Portugal has a surprisingly good internet network, with fiber readily available across much of the country. However, should your home not be connected to the fiber network – or your provider of choice not offer fiber – there are alternatives. These include ADSL connections and satellite internet, which can be particularly helpful in more rural areas.
The leading internet providers in Portugal include:
Be aware that your choice of both provider and connection will largely depend on your location. Some providers let you search for local availability on their websites. However, in more rural areas, you may need to visit your nearest operator outlet to be sure of what’s on offer.
When it comes to market share, the former state-run telecoms provider MEO has around 40%. This is just ahead of NOS, with 35%, and Vodafone with 20%. Before you sign up with a provider, be sure to shop around to find the right deal for you as all providers offer a range of tariffs for all budgets and needs. For example, if the kids play a lot of online games, you’ll need a slightly higher download speed. However, if you only go online for social media and subscription TV services like Disney+ and Netflix, then you’ll probably be fine with a lower download speed. Of course, before signing a contract, do a speed test for your new home and read the small print to ensure that you’re not signing up for anything you can’t use.
How do I set up an internet connection in Portugal?
Once you have chosen a provider, settled on a tariff, and added any extras (such as a TV subscription), it’s time to get connected. While this is relatively straightforward, the process will largely depend on your individual circumstances. For example, if you’ve signed up with your home’s previous provider or a mobile internet tariff, you may only need to plug in your router to get online. However, if you’re setting up a brand new installation or waiting for a new phone line, this could take a few weeks. Therefore, it’s important to contact your new provider ahead of time and check your options. After all, you don’t want to be left offline after moving in.
You can typically complete the sign-up process online by visiting your provider’s website. Alternatively, you can visit the nearest retail outlet of your chosen provider and sign up there. When signing up in person, you may need to practice your Portuguese language skills, so take along a phrasebook if you’re not feeling confident. As part of the registration process, you’ll also need to provide proof of identity and residence (such as your NIF number), along with your bank details for payments. You might also need to pay a one-off activation or set-up fee.
Internet contracts in Portugal are usually for 24 months. and can be difficult to get out of once you have signed up unless you can prove that you are leaving the country. With this in mind, be sure to make the right choice when you sign up. If you’re moving house within Portugal, then your provider might be able to move your contract to your new address. You should do this as soon as you know your new contact details and moving date. This will help you manage the move and take the stress out of the process.
Getting a VPN in Portugal
When moving abroad, it’s more important than ever to maintain your privacy and security while surfing online. For many expats living in Portugal, this means getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs can help you browse with more anonymity and privacy wherever you are in the world. They can also help unblock online content, letting you access your favorite sites and platforms from home and abroad.
Some of the VPNs available in Portugal include:
Setting up Portuguese TV
If you feel like spending your evenings curled up in front of the latest US dramas or European comedies, then you’ll be interested to know what’s on Portuguese TV. As with other European countries, most households in Portugal receive their TV through the digital terrestrial platform. However, many Portuguese residents also sign up for additional TV packages. These are typically supplied by their internet provider and can be bundled together with home phone and mobile services. Competition can be fierce among providers, with options for all budgets, tastes, and viewing habits.
Some of the leading TV providers in Portugal include:
What you end up paying for your TV subscription will largely depend on the package you choose and what you want to see. Most providers offer packages that include the most popular Portuguese channels and a handful of international options. However, if you’re looking for additional channels, then you’ll typically need to pay more. This includes international, sport, and children’s channels. For a great choice of international channels, you may need to sign up for a dedicated satellite service. You can find more information about this in our guide to Portuguese TV.
Paying your bills
Regardless of which Portuguese internet provider you sign up with, you will typically need to pay for your telecoms bills on a monthly basis. Therefore, you’ll need to sort out a monthly automatic collection (direct debit) or a bank transfer when you sign up for your contract. Other methods may be available, but you’ll need to speak to your provider to find out more. The easiest way to ensure that you don’t face any unexpected issues while setting up these payments is to open a local bank account. This will also make life a lot easier in the long run.
Making a complaint about a Portuguese telecoms company
If you have an issue with your internet, TV, or landline phone connection in Portugal, your first point of contact should be your provider. Each provider has its own complaints process. You can find information about this on your provider’s website. However, should you have an issue with the company itself, or your initial problem has not been dealt with appropriately, you can contact the regulatory body. In Portugal, this is ANACOM (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações), the independent telecommunications watchdog based in Lisbon.
- ANACOM (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações) – Portugal’s telecoms regulator