Open a Bank Account in Portugal: Your Essential Guide

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The process of opening a bank account in most countries can be quite complicated, particularly in financial centers such as the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Indeed, many EU countries have many hoops that you’ll need to jump through in order to open a bank account with them. However, if you are looking to open a bank account in Portugal, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the process. The country is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account in, whether you are an EU resident or a non-resident. 

If you are contemplating applying for Portugal’s Golden Visa program – before the program comes to an end, opening a Portuguese bank account is essential. 

Stay tuned as we delve into how to open a bank account in Portugal. In this article, we will cover the following:

  • Before you open an account
  • Required documents
  • How to open a bank account in Portugal
  • Useful resources about Portugal
  • What you can do with a Portuguese bank account
  • List of banks in Portugal and the best banks in Portugal to consider
  • Important information about banking in Portugal
  • Bank account for Golden Visa holders
  • Speak to a professional advisor in Portugal

 

Before You Open an Account

Before you open a bank account in Portugal, you will need to obtain a Número de Identificação Fiscal), known as a NIF number. This is your Portuguese Tax Number, and you will require this to open a Portuguese bank account and carry out any financial transactions in the country. 

You can easily get a NIF through a representative in Portugal. This representative can either be a fiscal representative or a lawyer who will be able to apply for a NIF number on your behalf. 

If you would like to get your own NIF number yourself, and you are already in Portugal, then you will need to go to a Finanças office. The process is quite straightforward, although we recommend arriving early to avoid long waits. 

As we mentioned, having a NIF number is essential when moving to Portugal and you will need to have this number to partake in any governmental activity, run a business, make an investment, or pursue any legal matters. 

First, get your NIF number, and then open a bank account. These are the typical steps that you’ll need to take to get set up in your move to Portugal or when applying to the Portugal Golden Visa program. 

 

Required Documents

So, you’ve got your own NIF number, and you’re ready to open a Portuguese bank account. Regarding the required documents that you’ll need to present, most are pretty easy to collect. 

You’ll need to show the following documents, although this may differ depending on your Portuguese bank of choice.  

  • Proof of ID (e.g., passport)
  • Proof of address (e.g., recent utility bill or letter received in the previous three months, with your name and address both visible)
  • NIF number
  • Proof of income or employment (e.g., recent payslip or employment letter). If you are not employed, you can still open a Portuguese bank account. You will need to show proof of registration with the Portuguese employment center (Centro de Emprego) or that you have an assured work contract. 
  • A Portuguese phone number for SMS activation: This may not be required and is dependent on the bank. Some banks also accept international phone numbers. 
  • A deposit of €250-300 in cash is common, although this will depend on the bank. 

Note that some Portuguese banks allow you to open a Portuguese bank account online. However, you will need to visit their local branch in person in most cases.

How to open a bank account

How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal

When you have all the above documents to hand, you will need to decide on which Portuguese bank best fits your needs. Later in this article, we will provide you with a list of Portuguese banks that you can choose from, including their details and associated fees. 

Once you have decided on a Portuguese bank, you will need to choose the type of account that you want to open. There are also online accounts, which have become more popular in the last few years. Digital and online accounts are typically best suited for those staying in the country for a limited time period. 

Remember, non-residents of Portugal can also open a Portuguese bank account in the country. 

Useful Resources About Portugal

The following article may also be of interest to you:

 

What can you do with a bank account in Portugal?

If you open a bank account in Portugal, the premise is the same as opening a bank account in any other country. Bank accounts will provide many different services for personal and corporate accounts. 

Some common services for personal accounts and corporate accounts are the following:

  • Loans and overdrafts
  • Mortgages
  • Checking accounts
  • Savings and investments
  • Digital and online banking
  • Services specifically for expats
  • Business banking
  • Mobile banking
  • Insurance
  • Trading services

You can choose to get your services through face-to-face banking or through online banking. Mobile banking is also an option in many cases. 

With an online banking account, you can make transactions and will be able to manage your payments and loans – you’ll be able to access your account whenever you wish. 

With a mobile banking account, you can download the banks’ application on your phone and manage transactions from anywhere in the world. Some modern banks serve their accounts solely by mobile apps.

 

List of Banks in Portugal

Below is a list of Portuguese banks for you to consider:

  • Private national banks
  • International banks
  • Investment banks
  • Regional cooperative banks
  • Public retail banks
  • Savings banks

You’ll find that in Portugal, there is an interbank network system called Multibanco. This links the Portuguese banks through a common network. This includes around 12,000 ATMs, and you will be able to withdraw money from any of these ATMs without having to pay any fees. 

Alongside this, you can pay your bills, taxes, and social security contributions this way, in addition to being able to transfer money and top up your account. 

There is also a mobile app called MBWAY that allows you to make payments quickly, perfect for when you are splitting the bill with a friend after dinner.

 

The Best Banks in Portugal

In this section, we’ll delve into the best banks in Portugal, including the largest banks, international banks, online banks, and investment banks. 

The largest banks in Portugal are the following:

  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  • Millenium BCP
  • Banco BPI
  • Novo Banco
  • Banco Santander Totta

International banks in Portugal

You’ll find that there are many international banks in Portugal. These include Brazilian, Chinese, and Angolan banks, amongst others. 

If you are a resident or citizen of any of a country that has a branch in Portugal, you may be able to use your local branch. Some of the most popular international banks in Portugal are: 

  • Barclays
  • Abanca
  • ING Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • BNP Paribas
  • Credit Agricole
  • BBVA

List of the best online banks in Portugal

If you are a non-resident of Portugal but you have a NIF number, you can open a Portuguese bank account online. In this case, you may be required to have a video call with the Portuguese bank after you have submitted your documents. 

In the following list, you can find the best online banks where you can open a Portuguese bank account. Usually, the process is quite straightforward, and you can easily open your account with no issues. When you’ve opened your bank account, you’ll be able to make all your transactions online. 

Best online banks in Portugal

  • ActivoBank
  • Banco N26
  • Millennium BCP
  • Novo Banco
  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos

If you are only planning on staying in Portugal for a short period of time, it can be a good idea to make use of banks and transfer services such as N26, Transferwise, and Revolut.

Investment banks in Portugal:

The following banks are good options for investors:

  • Banco Invest
  • Banco Finantia
  • Banco Carregosa
  • BiG (Banco de Investimento Global)

 

Important Information about Banking in Portugal

In the following section, we’ll delve into some important information that you should be aware of when you open a bank account in Portugal. 

International money transfers in Portugal

International money transfers through Portuguese banks will incur a fee. You can speak with your bank about how much an international transfer will cost. 

Usually, there is no limit on the amount that you transfer. However, if the transfer amount surpasses € 50,000, then the Banco de Portugal (Bank of Portugal) will need to be notified. 

Money transfers normally take between three to five working days. 

If you are looking to transfer money in a faster and more affordable way, then the following alternatives may prove helpful:

Working hours of banks in Portugal

Generally speaking, the opening hours of banks in Portugal are 8.30 to 15.00, but banks can stay open later. Some banks are also open on Saturday mornings as well. The bank branches located in malls are often open later.

Bank fees in Portugal

Most Portuguese banks charge their clients a monthly fee for their accounts, which will normally cost between around  €5-7 per month and around €60 per year. 

Thee are also charges on credit cards and overdrafts, but this will vary depending on which bank you choose, the card type, the account type, and other criteria. There is also a charge for mortgages and loans, but this will depend on the Annual Percentage Rate. 

Regarding international money transfers, for amounts that are less than €50,000, the bank fee is less than €15. For larger amounts, this will be approximately €30 or more. 

When refused a bank account

Should you fail to meet the criteria or if any of the required documents are missing, the Portuguese bank has every right to refuse your application. 

If you disagree with their decision, you will need to consult the bank’s department that deals with complaints or submit your complaint to the Banco de Portugal.

Changing or closing bank accounts

Whether you are changing bank accounts or are looking to close your Portuguese bank account, you will need to visit your branch in person or write to your bank. There may be some paperwork to complete, but you should not face any difficulties in changing on closing your bank account. 

When your card is lost or stolen

If you are in the unpleasant situation of having lost your card or, worse, having had it stolen, you should contact your Portuguese bank or card provider immediately.

 Getting a NIF in Portugal

As mentioned earlier, you will need to have a NIF number to open a bank account in Portugal. This number is also required to get a phone number, sign a contract, set up utilities, and for other financial transactions in Portugal.

You can find out more in our article: How To Get a NIF (Tax Identification Number) in Portugal.

The tax system in Portugal

There are several types of taxes in Portugal, including income tax, corporate tax, VAT, and social security. Note that you are only considered a tax resident in Portugal if you live in the country for at least 183 days per year. 

Currency in Portugal is the Euro

Portugal is a member of SEPA and the currency is the Euro

The Euro, the common currency of the European Union (EU), is one of the strongest currencies in the world. The Euro is the currency in Portugal, having replaced the Escudo in 2002 as the sole currency. 

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a payment-integration initiative from the EU. SEPA helps to simplify bank transfers denominated in euros, and the transfer of funds between EU countries usually has no costs and is as fast as local transfers. 

Direct debit is also present in the Eurozone, so you can easily use your Portuguese bank account across the EU. 

Low maintenance and transaction costs

Portuguese banks usually have quite competitive fees, and you can also find some that have no maintenance or debit card fees, such as Activobank and Banco CTT. 

In the Eurozone, standard transactions, including ATM withdrawals and Euro transfers, are normally free of charge or involve negligible fees. 

Bank Account for Portugal Golden Visa Holders

In order to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa, you will need to open a Portuguese bank account. As we mentioned previously, it is pretty straightforward to open a bank account once you have obtained your NIF number. 

As we mentioned previously, the Golden Visa program is coming to an end. If you are interested in applying for the program, you should begin your application now. 

 

Speak to a Professional Advisor in Portugal  

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right relocation, residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens. 

If you are considering moving to Portugal, we can assist you, from choosing the right pathway to residency to advising you on which bank to open an account with.

Frequently Asked Questions about Opening a Bank Account in Portugal

Can I open a Portuguese bank account online?

Yes, you can open a bank account in Portugal online. Some of the best online banks include ActivoBank, Banco N26, and Novo Banco.

What is the best bank to open an account in Portugal?

The best bank to open an account in Portugal for foreigners will depend on what you are looking for. Some of the best banks in Portugal include Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Millenium BCP, Banco BPO, Novo Banco, and Banco Santander Totta.

Is it easy to open a bank account in Portugal?

Yes, it is relatively easy to open a bank account in Portugal. You will need to obtain a NIF number (Portuguese identification tax number) to open an account in Portugal. 

What do you need to open a Portuguese bank account?

You will need to have the following documents with you to open a bank account in Portugal: A valid photo ID (this can be your passport), proof of address (such as a utility bill), proof of employment (such as a payslip or work contract), and your NIF number. If you are a non-resident, you should bring proof of your foreign address. 

How long does it take to open a bank account in Portugal?

Once you have completed your application and submitted the necessary documents, the process is complete, and you will have a bank account set up. You may need to put a deposit in your account. The process usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes. 

How to open a bank account in Portugal from the US?

The process to open a bank account in Portugal from the US is the same as from anywhere else. It is even possible to get a NIF number and open a bank account remotely before moving to Portugal. 

How to open a bank account in Portugal for the D7 Visa?

Opening a bank account in Portugal for the D7 is the same as opening a bank account for other visa types. You will need to have a NIF number to open a bank account in Portugal. 


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