Opening a bank account in Portugal as a foreigner is quite a simple process. While many countries make it difficult to open a bank account, opening one as a non-resident in Portugal is easy. All you need is to obtain your NIF number (your tax identification number) and head to a bank to open your account. There are also ways to do all of this remotely – although it will cost you more money.
Why should you open a bank account in Portugal as a foreigner? Banks in Portugal offer low maintenance and transaction costs, with many charging at all for ATM withdrawals, SEPA transfers, and more. Having a Portuguese bank account also allows you to use your account anywhere in the eurozone. Additionally, if you are thinking about investing in property in Portugal to qualify for a Golden Visa or looking at other visa options, you will probably need to open a bank account. This guide will guide you through the process of opening a bank account in Portugal as a foreigner.
Documents Required for Opening a Bank Account in Portugal
The documents necessary for opening a bank account in Portugal vary depending on the bank, but generally, here is the main paperwork required:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of address (the address can be overseas if you are a non-resident)
- Proof of employment (Contract or payslip)
- Proof of Portuguese tax number, known as NIF (we will address this in the next section)
- There might be additional documents needed such as proof of enrolment in a university if you are getting a student account
- A deposit is sometimes required, around €250
Steps for Opening a Bank Account in Portugal
There are two main steps to opening a bank account in Portugal as a non-resident: getting a NIF and applying for your account with a chosen bank.
Before applying for a bank account, you need to get a fiscal number, or Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF). You obtain one of these from the tax authority physically in Portugal with a passport and proof of address. However, there are companies online that will attribute you a fiscal representative for a price and request your NIF on your behalf, without you having to visit Portugal.
Once you have your NIF, head to the local branch of the bank of your choice and ask for English-speaking staff. Bring all your documents: proof of identity, proof of address, proof of employment, NIF, and cash to deposit into your new account. This is a fast process and your bank account should be ready in less than an hour. However, if you are not physically present in Portugal, you can once again, pay for a fiscal representative with your power of attorney that will open the bank account for you. Moreover, there are some banks that allow you to open certain accounts remotely such as Novo Banco and Santander, although this is still uncommon in Portugal.
If for some reason the bank refuses your application and you think this decision is unfair, you can submit a complaint to Banco de Portugal which is the central bank in Portugal.
Can you open a bank account in Portugal online?
You can open a bank account online with a financial representative or lawyer with a power of attorney who will obtain your NIF for you and open the account with your bank of choice. You can also choose to obtain your NIF via power of attorney and then set up a bank account online. While most banks in Portugal require you to visit in person, there are some banks where you can open accounts online such as Novo Banco and Santander, for certain accounts.
Banks in Portugal
There are multiple national and international banks operating in Portugal, including private national banks, regional cooperative banks, and public retail banks. Here are the most popular banks in Portugal:
- Caixa Geral de Depósitos
- Novo Banco
- Banco BPI
- Credit Agricole
- BNP Paribas
- Activo Bank
- Banco N26
Bank Services in Portugal
Portuguese banks provide a number of services for both personal and corporate accounts. The most common services include checking accounts, loans and overdrafts, mortgages, savings and investment, trading services, and insurance. All banks offer digital and online banking, as well as mobile banking. Portugal also has an interbank network system called “Multibanco” which unites Portuguese banks through a common network. This includes over 12,000 ATMs across the country where you can withdraw money without paying fees. Also, most banks will charge clients a monthly fee for an account, usually costing around €5 a month.