It is quite difficult to open bank accounts in most countries. That is particularly the case for financial centers like the UK, Singapore, or Hong Kong. The same goes for most of the European countries. As you will soon read in this article, Portugal is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account if you are a non-resident in the EU.
Furthermore, if you are already thinking of having a permanent residency in Portugal through Portugal’s Golden Visa Program, opening a Portuguese bank account will come in handy in your investment and your application process.
Before You Open an Account
If you wish to open a Portuguese bank account, you need to get a NIF (“Número de Identificação Fiscal” = Portuguese Tax Number). You can easily get a NIF through a representative in Portugal. This representative can either be a financial representative or a lawyer that will apply on your behalf. You must obtain this number for any governmental activity, running a business, making an investment, or pursuing any legal matters in Portugal.
Obtaining a NIF number and then opening a bank account are typically the two steps taken by prospective applicants of the Golden Visa program in Portugal.
While some of the Portuguese banks allow opening your account online, most of them require you to visit their local branch in person. Nevertheless, the process is easy and the required documents are quite easy to collect. Although it may depend on your choice of bank, in general, the documents you need are as follows:
- Proof of Identification (e.g.; a passport would be sufficient)
- Proof of address (e.g.; a recent utility bill or letter received in the last three months with your visible name and address)
- Portuguese NIF Number
- Proof of Income/Employment (e.g., recent payslip or an employment letter)
- If you are not employed, you can still open an account, provided that you have proof of registration with the Portuguese employment center (Centro de Emprego) or you have a work contract assurance
- Portuguese Phone Number for SMS Activation
- Additionally, a deposit of € 250-300 in cash (typically asked for new accounts)
How to Open a Bank Account in Portugal
After Obtaining the necessary documents above, the next step is to choose the bank that best fits you. We recommend you to take a look at the list of banks below for details and associated fees.
Once you decide on the bank, the next step is to choose the type of account you will open. Below, you can find a list of your account options. You can also have one of the online accounts, which recently gained more popularity. Digital bank and online accounts typically serve those staying in Portugal partially, expats, frequent travelers, or digital nomads. Remember that you can open a Portuguese bank account even as a non-resident.
What Can You Do with a Bank account in Portugal?
Portuguese banks, just like any other bank in the world, provide a number of services for personal accounts and corporate accounts. Some of the common services include:
- Checking accounts
- Loans and overdrafts
- Savings and investments
- Digital and online banking
- Mobile banking
- Business banking
- Expat services
- Trading services
Depending on your case, you can choose to get your services through face-to-face banking, online banking, or mobile banking. With an online banking account, you can make transactions and manage your payments, or even your loans. You have access to your account whenever you wish. With a mobile banking account, you can download the banks’ application to your phone and can manage your transactions through your phone. There are also some banks that serve their accounts only by mobile apps.
List of Banks in Portugal
In Portugal, it is easy to find a suitable bank for whatever needs you may have. Some of the types of banks are:
- Private national banks
- International banks
- Public retail banks
- Regional cooperative banks
- Investment banks
- Savings banks
It is also good to know that there is an interbank network system in Portugal called “Multibanco”, which links the Portuguese banks via a common network. It includes around 12,000 ATMs, and furthermore, you can withdraw money from any of your accounts using these ATMs without paying any fees. Additionally, you can pay your bills, taxes, and social security contributions, transfer money and top up your account.
The Best Banks in Portugal
You can find pretty decent Portuguese banks. We will, however, mention international banks as well. The largest banks in Portugal are:
- Caixa Geral de Depósitos
- Millennium BCP
- Novo Banco
- Banco BPI
- Banco Santander Totta
International Banks in Portugal
It is also common to find international banks in Portugal. These include banks from Brazil, China, Angola, and other countries. If you happen to be a resident or citizen of any of these countries, you may be able to use your local bank in Portugal as well. Some of the most popular international banks in Portugal are:
- BNP Paribas
- Credit Agricole
- Deutsche Bank
- ING Bank
List of the Best Online Banks in Portugal
If you are a non-resident but have a NIF number (Portuguese tax number), you can open your account online. In this case, you’re required to do a video call with the bank after you submit your documents. The list below offers the best online banks you can use to open your bank account. You can easily open your account online and do all your transactions online with the below banks:
- Banco N26
- Caixa Geral de Depósitos
- Millennium BCP
- Novo Banco
Also, if you plan to stay in Portugal for a short period, it may be a good idea to use banks or fintech solutions such as N26, Revolut, or Transferwise.
Investment banks in Portugal:
The banks below can be good options for investors:
- Banco Carregosa
- BiG (Banco de Investimento Global)
- Banco Finantia
- Banco Invest
Important Information About Banking in Portugal
International Money Transfers in Portugal
International money transfers require a fee by the Portuguese banks. You can consult your bank about the details of the fees. Generally, there is no limit on the amount of transfer. However, if there is a transfer amount of more than € 50.000, the central bank of Portugal “Banco de Portugal” must be informed. Money transfers may take three to five working days. If you need to transfer money in a more affordable and faster way, the below alternatives may also be helpful:
Working Hours of Banks in Portugal
In general, it is between 8.30 and 15.00. There are some banks which are open on Saturday mornings, too.
The bank branches located in malls tend to be open until later hours.
Bank Fees in Portugal
Most Portugal banks charge their clients a monthly fee for their accounts. A Portuguese bank account generally costs between € 5-7 a month, and around € 60 a year. There are also charges on credit cards and overdrafts, and it varies according to the card type, the bank, and other similar criteria. Another charge is for loans and mortgages. These depend on the Annual Percentage Rate.
With international money transfers, for amounts less than € 50.000, the bank fee is less than € 15, and for larger amounts, it may be around € 30 and more.
When Refused a Bank Account
If you do not meet the criteria or if you do not submit the required documents, the Portuguese bank may refuse your application. If you think there is a problem with this decision, you’ll need to either consult the bank’s department which deals with complaints or submit your complaint to Banco de Portugal, the central Portugal bank.
Changing or Closing Bank Accounts
In both cases, you need to write to your bank or visit your branch in person. After some paperwork, you can close or change your bank account.
When Your Card is Lost or Stolen
You need to contact your Portuguese bank or card provider. Also, if you use a Multibanco card, you can call +351 21416 9314. If it is stolen, you should inform the police immediately.
Getting a NIF in Portugal
As stated among the required documents, you first need to get a NIF, Número de Identificação Fiscal in Portugal, in order to open a bank account. A NIF number is quite essential in many aspects besides opening a bank account as well. These include getting a phone number, signing any contract, setting up utilities, among others.
Luckily, it is quite straightforward to obtain. You just need to go to Finanças, the tax agency. In order to find out the complete process of getting a NIF, read our article on how to get a NIF number in Portugal.
Tax System in Portugal
There are several types of taxes in Portugal. The most common ones include income tax, corporate tax, value-added tax (VAT), and social security.
You are only considered a tax resident if you live in Portugal for at least 183 days annually.
Member of SEPA & Currency is Euro
Regardless of all the rumors and speculations, the common currency of the European Union, the Euro still remains to be one of the strongest currencies in the world. There are 19 EU states and ten other countries using the currency.
The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a payment-integration initiative by the European Union. It helps simplify bank transfers denominated in Euro. The transfer of funds between EU countries typically has no cost and is as fast as local transfers. Direct debit also works across the Eurozone. So, you can use your Portuguese bank account easily all across Europe.
Low Maintenance and Transaction Costs
Depending on your bank of choice, the Portuguese banks typically have quite competitive fees. You can still find some banks in Portugal that have no maintenance fees or debit card fees. Activobank and Banco CTT are among these options.
Within the Eurozone, standard transactions such as ATM withdrawals, and Euro transfers are also either free of charge or involve negligible fees.
Bank Account for Portugal Golden Visa Holders
In order to apply for a Golden Visa in Portugal, you will need to open a bank account. As mentioned above in the article, it is pretty straightforward to do so, once you get your NIF number in Portugal.
Tip: It is a good idea to work with the recommended bank and branch of your law firm or immigration advisor. They will typically have good relations with a specific bank or two and it can save you time along the process.
Get Golden Visa: Who We Are And What We Do
Get Golden Visa is a full-service investment immigration agency & investment advisory company. We provide end-to-end solutions on residence and citizenship by investment programs in numerous countries worldwide.
We have a local office in Portugal with legal professionals and chartered real estate professionals in our team.
We work with clients from all around the world, interested in obtaining Portugal Golden Visas or in making real estate investments in Portugal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a foreigner open a bank account in Portugal?
Yes, a foreigner, an expat, or a non-resident can open a bank account in Portugal. Although it is much easier for an EU member state citizen to open a bank account in Portugal, the country does not apply any restrictions on the eligibility of banking clients.
What documents do you need to open a bank account in Portugal?
The documents you need for opening a bank account in Portugal are the proof of address in Portugal, a mobile phone number with activated SMS, ID number (passport, etc.), and NIF (tax identification number). You might need to appear in the branch in person, or might be able to open the account over a video call, depending on the bank.
Which is the best bank in Portugal?
There are many top-notch banks in the country with varied levels of expertise. The best bank depends heavily on the needs of the client. Many Portuguese banks offer a large list of banking services. So as long as you find one that fits best with what you need, the name of the bank does not matter that much.
What is the interest rate in Portugal?
The current interest rate in Portuguese banks is 0.25% for most bank accounts. (As of 2021)
How can non-residents open a bank account in Portugal?
Portugal allows non-residents to open a bank account in Portugal. As a first step, the non-resident needs to obtain a NIF in Portugal and then go to a branch and open a bank account.
Can you open a bank account online, without going to the bank?
It really depends on the bank. The banking system has no rules against opening an account without going to the bank. With digital banks like N26 or Revolut, you can open the account line. Some banks allow opening an account for residents and non residents with a power of attorney from the client, but the clients need to provide the necessary documentation and a lawyer needs to be present.
Can I use my debit card in Portugal?
You can mostly pay with international debit cards across Portugal. Most vendors accept MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. However, most of them will charge usage fees.
Can I get a credit card from a Portuguese bank?
Once you already open a bank account as a non-resident, you can then apply for one. The banks then make sure they obtain all the information they need to know to see if you are credit-worthy. If it is a new account, some banks may require you to place a minimum deposit in order to benefit from all banking services such as a credit card or a mortgage. Bank accounts in Portugal provide you with everything you need and want from a bank account.