How to Open a Bank Account In Portugal

Introduction

It is very easy to open a bank account for non-residents in Portugal, unlike most other EU countries. There are different types of accounts you can open, along with different banks in Portugal. Before elaborating on that, you should know that one of the most important advantages of opening a Portuguese bank account is being free of credit card charges for the payments of utilities and bills. Furthermore, if you are already thinking of having a permanent residency in Portugal as in Golden Visa Program, opening a Portuguese bank account will be very helpful in renting and purchase concerns.

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). It is enough to get a representative (either a financial representative or lawyer in Portugal) to sort out the NIF number, then the representative can open an account on your behalf. You will definitely need this number if you run a business or you deal with legal issues in Portugal. For non-EU residents, while applying for the Golden Visa, the NIF application can be made at the same time.

Required Documents

While a few of the banks in Portugal allow opening your account online, most of them require you to visit their local branch. However, as we stated in the beginning, the process of opening a bank account is very basic, so the documents are easy to collect. It differs from bank to bank, but 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 best bank for your purpose. We recommend you to take a look at the banks’ list below for detailed information about each of them with regards to fees and other details. The next step is to choose the type of account for what you need. Again you can choose from the list below; you can also have one of the online accounts which serve only in the digital environment if you’re staying in Portugal for a short time or if you’re a digital nomad.  remember that you can open a Portuguese bank account even as a non-resident.

What Can You Do with a Bank account in Portugal?

There are many services for individuals and businesses, such as:

  • Current accounts
  • Loans and overdrafts
  • Mortgages
  • Savings and investments
  • Insurance
  • Digital and online banking
  • Mobile banking
  • Business banking
  • Expat services

In addition to that, depending on your priorities, you can choose 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 your own needs. Some of the 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 network. It includes around 12.000 ATMs, and furthermore, you can withdraw money from any of your accounts using these ATMs without paying a fee. In addition to that, you can also pay your bills, taxes, and social security contributions, transfer money and top up your phone.

The Best Banks in Portugal

Most of the banks are Portuguese, yet we will mention the international banks too. You can find the big banks in Portugal below:

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

International Banks in Portugal

Some banks of other countries (such as Brazil, China, or Angola) have their branches in Portugal, too. So you might be able to use your local account if you’re from any of those countries. otherwise, you’ll need an account in Portugal. It is best to look at the international banks below:

  • Abanca
  • Barclays
  • BBVA
  • BNP Paribas
  • Citibank
  • 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 both open your account online and use online banking with these banks:

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

Also, if you plan to stay in Portugal for a short period, it will be a good option to use cloud-based banks 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; yet if there is a transfer amount more than € 50.000, the central bank of Portugal “Banco de Portugal” must be informed about this. Money transfers may take 3-5 working days. If you need to transfer money in a cheaper way, There are also some alternative websites that can help you, such as:

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 an issue, 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 go to its branch to consult your demand. 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 as well.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Portugal?

Yes, they can open an account. 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 customers.

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-class banks in Portugal with varied expertise. So the best bank in Portugal depends heavily on the needs of the customer. Many Portuguese banks offer a large list of 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 2020)

How can non-residents open a bank account in Portugal?

As long as the non-resident can find a representative who can manage to obtain a NIF and open the bank account on behalf of the customer, Portugal allows non-residents to have bank accounts in the country.

Can I use my debit card in Portugal?

Many platforms in Portugal or online allow using debit cards of other countries. However, these services often charge usage fees.

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