Let’s talk about non-resident bank accounts in Portugal…
In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know before opening an account, who qualifies, and why you might want one.
We’ll also reveal a few lesser-known non-resident banking secrets that might blow your banking mind… and put Portugal on your European banking radar.
Expats have been flocking to Portugal for years. It’s cheap, quality of life is outstanding, and you still get all the perks that come from being in the EU.
Who doesn’t want a European lifestyle at a fraction of the cost?
Plus, there are multiple ways for foreigners to obtain residency. And, there’s even a Golden Visa program.
And that means Portugal attracts an interesting mix of foreigners…
But, residency aside, Portugal has become a hotspot for digital nomads, permanent travelers, and retirees… and a lot of them require local banking.
So it doesn’t matter if you want to live in Portugal forever, visit for a weekend, or have no plans to ever set foot in the country…
If you’re looking for a cheap and easy non-resident bank account in the EU… this might be it!
Before continuing, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide from GlobalBanks. It’s your first step in opening non-resident bank accounts around the world.
There are some really good reasons why certain people (and companies) are interested in opening non-resident bank accounts in Portugal.
But a Portuguese non-resident account isn’t a great idea for everyone.
If you’re desperate for an EU bank account, struggling to bank elsewhere or happen to be in Portugal, then it might be worth considering…
And compared to many of the other European countries that we’ve explored in past articles, opening a non-resident account here can be a lot easier.
To start, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why people open non-resident bank accounts in Portugal:
But, opening a non-resident bank account is still possible at some banks in Portugal.
Unlike banks in other countries where you’re required to have legal residency, prove local ties, have a local ID card, and a local tax ID, non-residents can still access the banking system in Portugal.
Portugal is an EU country. They use the euro. And, Portuguese banks guarantee deposits up to €100,000.
That means, when you open a non-resident bank account in Portugal, you get yourself an EU bank account with all the trappings.
Some people just want to access a stable banking system. Others want access to stable currencies, or the ability to make low-cost transfers via the SEPA system.
And some people just want to get their hands on a debit card that they can use internationally. If you’re a non-EU citizen, these things might not be available in your home country.
Compared to some countries, Portuguese banks have low fees. In fact, if you choose the right Portuguese bank, you can eliminate monthly maintenance fees, debit card fees, and intra-EU transfer fees entirely. So, choose carefully.
Have you ever tried opening a bank account in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Estonia, or Germany as a non-resident? You’re either rejected outright if the bank has a “no non-resident” policy OR your new account comes with painfully high “non-resident” fees.
By contrast, a non-resident bank account in Portugal can be a low-cost EU banking option.
Foreigners come to Portugal for different reasons. Some come here to retire. Others are attracted to Portugal’s Golden Visa program. Some like Portugal for the low cost of living & European lifestyle.
And some people invest in real estate for the purpose of qualifying for Portuguese residency and eventually getting citizenship.
If you’re planning on living, investing, or applying for residency, you’ll need to open a bank account in Portugal.
Portuguese debit cards are like magic. And, to unlock life (and convenience) in Portugal, you’ll want one.
International credit and debit cards aren’t always accepted in Portugal. Some European debit cards are commonly rejected too. And, a large part of the Portuguese economy still revolves around cash and the national debit card system, called Multibanco.
So, if you’re spending time in Portugal, you’ll either need to carry a pocket full of cash for day to day purchases or get yourself a Portuguese debit card. We recommend the latter. With it, you can do everything the locals do – pay utility bills, buy phone credit, shop at small businesses, and beyond.
If you’re going the traditional route and showing up in person, here’s what you’ll have to do…
Take the day, acquire your documents, get an NIF (more below), and open it yourself like it’s 1995.
Are you a DIY’er who is planning on physically traveling to Portugal? Check.
Do you have 12+ hours to kill during business hours? Great.
You’ll have to visit a local Finanças, or Portuguese government office, and get your NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal). The Portuguese government issues NIFs to non-residents, so you’ll have no problem getting one.
This is your tax ID or social security number in Portugal and you’ll use it for all types of transactions and purchases. It’s free. And, you’ll need an NIF to open a non-resident bank account in Portugal, so don’t forget.
You’ll need to bring a Portuguese friend (or lawyer) who can act as your representative and communicate with the authority for you.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might do what others have done in the past and bring your Tinder date to the Financas. Or if you’re really in a jam, you could take your landlord.
But before doing all that, you’ll need to spend time acquiring proof of address. Some banks are strict about these documents, others aren’t. Others want them translated into Portuguese by a certified translator, others don’t care.
Some non-residents are surprised when banks reject their documents for having minor errors, not being in the right language, or not being authenticated properly.
But this isn’t just a “Portugal problem,” it happens all over the world… so make sure you know what documents you need before applying.
There are countless articles on the internet that explain how to get an NIF, which Finanças to go to, and which documents are needed to open a non-resident bank account in Portugal.
But, what if you don’t have 12+ hours to kill during regular business hours?
What if you don’t want to stand in line for an NIF?
Better yet, what if you have zero interest in flying to Portugal or dealing with the gymnastics of opening a non-resident bank account in a foreign language?
Most people would tell you to pick a different country, skip Portugal, take your money elsewhere…
Instead, you’ll just need to modify your account opening approach.
In fact, there are several 100% remote methods that you can use to open a non-resident bank account in Portugal. And unlike many of the rumors you may have heard, they won’t cost you thousands of dollars to access.
This is true for personal accounts for non-residents and also business accounts for non-resident foreign businesses.
You’ll still need to provide the same documentation that would be required of you in person, but the big benefit is saving time and skipping the backpacker-style account opening process.
Likewise, you’ll get to skip out on the 12 hours waiting time to acquire your local documents and get the account open.
We share these remote account opening strategies and alternative banking options in detail with our GlobalBanks Insider.
Entrepreneurs and digital nomads who regularly stop in Portugal sometimes attempt to open business bank accounts here for their European companies. Many are disappointed.
After all, opening a bank account for any non-resident company that operates remotely and has no ties to the bank’s country is extremely difficult in any country.
For example, if an Estonian company with an online business tries to open a business bank account in say, Germany, the German bank will want proof that the Estonian company has real ties to Germany. If Estonian company has no connection to Germany, you’re rejected or politely told to go elsewhere.
So if you recently acquired Estonian e-residency, created an Estonian company and discovered that you can’t open a bank account in Estonia and have been rejected by several European banks, you might feel stuck.
Newly ordained Maltese residents with brand new Maltese companies doing international business are also struggling to find banking options.
If you have the right information, know which banks and branches to go to, and deal with the right bankers, opening a business bank account in Portugal for a non-resident company is entirely possible.
In fact, we think it’s one of the most interesting pockets of opportunity in Portugal right now.
Similar to personal accounts, some are even willing to open accounts remotely. We detail these options for GlobalBanks Insiders, helping them access the best accounts with the least amount of effort.
We’ve talked a lot about the relative ease to open a non-resident bank account in Portugal. But, it’s not without its challenges.
You still need to fly to Portugal, acquire a local tax ID number (NIF), acquire documents, get a local SIM card to apply for a non-resident bank account.
And certain non-resident bank accounts in Portugal have restrictions and limitations.
Every expat you speak to in Portugal is going to tell you that they have the “best lawyer”… and you just have to use them!
At least not without shopping around and doing your own due diligence. While your friends are undoubtedly just trying to be helpful, chances are they paid an inflated expat price.
This is common in many expat hotspots all over the world that require foreigners to hire local professionals to checkboxes, translate, submit forms, and deal with local bureaucracy.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. But just make sure you know the real market prices before jumping in headfirst into a service contract.
Fortunately, if you’re looking to open a non-resident bank account in Portugal for yourself, aren’t sure how to go about opening a business bank account for a non-resident company, or just want to sort out your banking options, we can help.
If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
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