Let’s talk about non-resident bank accounts in Portugal…
If you want to open a bank account in Europe as a non-resident, Portugal might be a suitable option.
In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know before opening an account, who qualifies to bank here, and why you might open a bank account here.
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.
- It is 100% possible to open bank accounts online with certain Portuguese banks
- Non-residents can acquire Portuguese residency by investing in local real estate
- It is possible to open bank accounts for foreign non-resident companies
- For some, Portuguese residency can lead to an EU passport in 5-6 years
- You can fast-track Portuguese citizenship if you can prove your family descends from Sephardic Jews who were kicked out of Portugal in the 1500s
Portugal Bank Accounts 101
Non resident individuals and foreign business owners have been flocking to Portugal for years. It’s cheap, the 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 Portugal 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.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Why Open a Portuguese Bank Account as a Non-Resident?
- How to Open a Portgual Bank Account
- Business Bank Accounts for Foreigner Companies in Portugal
- Challenges of Opening a Portugal Bank Account as a Foreigner
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Open a Portuguese Bank Account as a Non-Resident?
There are some really good reasons why certain people (and companies) are interested in opening non-resident bank accounts in Portugal.
But a Portuguese bank 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 European bank account for non-residents here can be a lot easier.
To start, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why people open bank accounts in Portugal:
Non Resident Banking Is Difficult Everywhere, Not Only in Portugal
Opening a bank account as a foreigner 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.
Use Portugal to Unlock an EU Bank Account & the EU Banking System
Portugal is a European Union 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 a European Union 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-European Union citizen, these things might not be available in your home country.
Banks in Portugal Have Low Fees
Compared to some countries, a Portuguese bank often has lower 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 foreign bank account in Portugal can be a low-cost European Union banking option.
Living, Investing, or Applying for Residency in Portugal
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 Portugal 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.
Debit Card System 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.
How to Open a Portugal Bank Account
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 a NIF (more below), and open the bank account 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.
If you’re not an EU or EEA citizen, things get a little more complicated…
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 a 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 a NIF?
Better yet, what if you have zero interest in flying to Portugal or dealing with the gymnastics of opening a bank account in a foreign language?
Most people would tell you to pick a different country, skip Portugal, take your money elsewhere…
But, this is GlobalBanks… so you know that’s not the case.
Instead, you’ll just need to modify your bank account opening approach.
In fact, there are several 100% remote methods that you can use to open a Portugal bank account online. 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 bank 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 of waiting time to acquire your local documents and get the bank account open.
We share these online account opening strategies and alternative banking options in detail with our GlobalBanks Insider.
Business Bank Accounts for Foreign Companies in Portugal
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 foreign 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 an Estonian company has no connection to Germany, you’re rejected or politely told to go elsewhere.
So if you recently acquired an 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.
For some business owners, opening Portugal bank accounts might be the answer…
If you have the right information, know which Portuguese banks and branches to go to, and deal with the right bankers, opening a business account in Portugal for a foreign 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 bank accounts, some are even willing to open business accounts online. In other words, 100% remote. We detail these banking options for GlobalBanks Insiders, helping them access the best bank accounts with the least amount of effort.
Challenges of Opening a Portugal Bank Account as a Foreign
We’ve talked a lot about the relative ease to open a 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 foreign bank account.
And certain non-resident bank accounts in Portugal have restrictions and limitations.
But one of the greatest challenges of opening an account in Portugal that you need to be aware of is…
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Foreign Open an Account in Portugal?
Foreigners, non-residents, expats, and business owners can open bank accounts in Portugal. It’s important to find a bank in Portugal that caters to similar client groups and offers the type of account you’re after.
What is Required to Open a Portugal Bank Account?
Requirements can vary from bank to bank. But, generally speaking, you will need to provide two forms of government identification, proof of source of wealth, Tax ID, and an account opening deposit.
Can I Open a Portugal Bank Account Online?
Although some banks in Portugal do require an in-person visit to open an account, there are some banks that will accept remote online account opening. It’s important to seek out which banks will allow you to open a bank account remotely before applying.
Ready to Open an Account in Portugal?
Fortunately, if you’re looking to open a Portugal bank account for yourself (online or in-person), aren’t sure how to go about opening a business bank account for a foreign company, or just want to sort out your banking options, we can help.
If you’re ready to take action and start opening Portugal bank accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
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