How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal

How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal | Open bank account Portugal as a foreigner or non EU Citizen

How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal | Open bank account Portugal as a foreigner or non EU Citizen 

It is quite difficult to open bank accounts in most countries. That is particularly the case for financial centers like the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The same goes for most 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 of 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.

Required Documents:

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 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
  • Mortgages
  • Savings and investments
  • Insurance
  • 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:

  • 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 easily open your account online and do all your transactions online with the below 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 may be a good idea to use banks or fintech solutions such as N26Revolut, 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 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 that 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 a contract, and 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.

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