It can be quite challenging to open bank accounts in several countries, particularly in financial centers such as the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Indeed, many countries in the European Union have hoops that you’ll need to jump through in order to open a bank account with them.

However, if you are looking to open a bank account in Portugal, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the process. The country is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account in, whether you are an EU resident or a non-resident.

Popular-banks-in-St-Kitts-and-NevisIf you are contemplating applying for Portugal’s Golden Visa program, opening a Portuguese bank account is essential.

Stay tuned as we delve into opening a bank account in Portugal. In this article, we will cover the following:

  • Essential info before you open a new account in Portugal
  • The required documents
  • How to open a bank account in Portugal
  • Types of accounts that Portuguese banks offer
  • List of banks in Portugal and the best banks in Portugal to consider
  • Important information about banking in Portugal
  • Bank fees in Portugal

The Portuguese Banking System

The Portuguese banking system is controlled by the Central Bank of Portugal and the European Central Bank. This is what makes banks in Portugal meet high EU standards.

The central bank in Portugal is called Banco de Portugal, and it acts as the regulatory authority for Portuguese banks.

The cornerstone of the Portuguese banking system is the advanced interbank network system as Multibanco, which stands as one of the world’s most sophisticated. This links the local banks through a common network. This includes around 12,000 ATMs, and you will be able to withdraw money from any of these ATMs without having to pay any fees. Alongside this, you can pay your bills, taxes, and social security contributions this way, in addition to being able to transfer money and top up your account. There is also a mobile app called MBWAY that allows you to make payments quickly, perfect for when you are splitting the bill with a friend after dinner.

In recent years, the Portuguese banking system has experienced a positive transformation. Notably, banks in Portugal have significantly bolstered their capitalization, marking a substantial improvement in their financial health. This enhanced capital position contributes to a more stable resource intermediation, reflecting positively on the overall resilience of the banking sector.

Currently, there are over 150 local and international banks in Portugal. The country’s modern banking system includes private national banks, public retail banks, regional cooperative banks, investment banks, and savings banks.

The presence of international banks further enriches Portugal’s financial landscape. International banks operating in Portugal include Banco do Brasil, Banco Sabadell, BBVA, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Credit Suisse, ING, and Deutsche Bank have established themselves within the country. This international collaboration not only promotes diversity but also brings a wealth of expertise and global perspectives to the Portuguese banking sector.

Before You Open a Bank Account in Portugal

Can non-residents open a bank account in Portugal?

Yes, non-residents, including citizens from the United States, can also open bank accounts in Portugal. The first step is obtaining a Portuguese NIF, which stands for Número de Identificação Fiscal.

Getting a NIF number

Before you open a new bank account, you will need to obtain a Número de Identificação Fiscal), known as a NIF number. This is your Portuguese Tax Number, and you will be required to open a bank account and carry out any daily financial transactions in the country.

You can easily get an NIF through a representative in Portugal. This representative can either be a fiscal representative or a lawyer who will be able to apply for a tax identification number on your behalf.

If you would like to get your own NIF number yourself, and you are already in Portugal, then you will need to go to a Finanças office. The process is quite straightforward, although we recommend arriving early to avoid long waits. Check out our Ultimate Guide on how to get an NIF for everything you need to know.

As we mentioned, having a NIF number is essential when moving to Portugal, and you will need to have this number to partake in any governmental activity, run a business, make an investment, or pursue any legal matters.

First, get your NIF number, and then open a bank account. These are the typical steps that you’ll need to take to get set up for your move to Portugal or when applying for the Portugal Golden Visa program.

What Do You Need to Open a Portugese Bank Account?

Documents required to open a bank account in Portugal

So, you’ve got your own NIF number, and you’re ready to open a Portuguese bank account. Regarding the required documents that you’ll need to present, most are pretty easy to collect.

To open a bank account in Portugal, you’ll need to show the following documents:

  • Proof of ID (e.g., passport)
  • Proof of address (e.g., recent utility bill or letter received in the previous three months, with your name and address both visible)
  • NIF number
  • Proof of income or employment (e.g., recent payslip or employment letter). If you are not employed, you can still open a local bank account. You will need to show proof of registration with the Portuguese employment center (Centro de Emprego) or that you have an assured work contract.
  • A Portuguese phone number for SMS activation: This may not be required and is dependent on the bank. Some banks also accept international phone numbers.
  • A minimum deposit of €250-300 in cash is common, although this will depend on the bank.

Please note that these documents may differ depending on your Portuguese bank of choice.

How To Open a Bank Account in Portugal

When you have all the above documents to hand, you will need to decide on which Portuguese bank best fits your needs. Later in this article, we will provide you with a list of Portuguese banks that you can choose from, including their details and associated fees.

Once you have decided on a Portuguese bank, you will need to choose the type of account that you want to open. After making your choice, you just have to go to the bank with the necessary documentation and request the opening of your new account.

Please note that some Portuguese banks allow you to open a Portuguese bank account online. However, in most cases, you’ll be required to visit your local bank branch in person with the necessary documentation.

Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa 2024 Complete Guide

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Types of Bank Accounts in Portugal

Portuguese banks offer three primary types of bank accounts. They are as follows:

  • Current Account (Conta à Ordem):

They are the most common type of bank account used for everyday transactions and financial activities. It can be used for deposits and withdrawals, and it’s ideal for managing day-to-day expenses and conducting various transactions.

This account comes with a debit card and online banking access.

  • Instant-Access Savings Account (Conta Poupança Instantânea):

The Instant-access savings account account is designed for individuals looking to save money while maintaining quick access to their funds. It provides liquidity, allowing account holders to withdraw funds without significant delays, and it also offers competitive interest rates.

An Instant-access savings account is perfect for those who want to earn interest on their savings while retaining the flexibility to access funds as needed.

  • Time-Deposit Accounts (Depósitos a Prazo):

Time-deposit accounts are for individuals looking to invest a specific amount of money for a fixed period, earning a predetermined interest rate. It involves a fixed-term commitment, ranging from a few months to several years.

What Can You do With a Bank Account in Portugal?

If you open a bank account in Portugal, the premise is the same as opening a bank account in any other country. Most of the main banks in the country offer business and corporate banking as well as individual banking. For foreigners opening a bank account in Portugal can be beneficial as it can make the process of paying taxes, getting paid by a Portuguese company, and obtaining permanent residency simpler.

How to open a bank accountSome common services for individual and corporate banking are the following:

  • Loans and overdrafts
  • Mortgages
  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Investments
  • Digital and online banking
  • Services specifically for expats
  • Business banking
  • Mobile banking
  • Insurance
  • Trading services
  • Financial planning support
  • Health insurance

You can choose to get your banking services through face-to-face banking or through online banking. Mobile banking is also an option in many cases.

With an online banking account, you can make transactions and will be able to manage your payments and loans – you’ll be able to access your account whenever you wish.

With a mobile banking account, you can download the banks’ application on your phone and manage transactions from anywhere in the world. Some modern banks serve their accounts solely by mobile apps.

The Best Banks in Portugal

In this section, we’ll delve into the best banks in Portugal, including the largest banks, international banks, online banks, and investment banks.

The largest banks in Portugal are the following:

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

International banks in Portugal

You’ll find that there are many international banks in Portugal. These include Brazilian, Chinese, and Angolan banks, amongst others.

If you are a resident or citizen of any of a country that has a branch in Portugal, you may be able to use your local branch. Some of the most popular international banks in Portugal are:

  • Barclays
  • Abanca
  • ING Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • BNP Paribas
  • Credit Agricole
  • BBVA

List of the best online banks in Portugal

Portugal offers online accounts, which have become more popular in the last few years, as they can be more convenient to use than going to a local branch. Digital and online accounts are typically best suited for those staying in the country for a limited time period.

If you are a non-resident of Portugal but you have a NIF number, you can open a Portuguese account online. In this case, you may be required to have a video call with the Portuguese bank after you have submitted your documents.

Best online banks in PortugalIn the following list, you can find the best online banks where you can open an online account. Usually, the process is quite straightforward, and you can easily open your account with no issues. When you’ve opened your bank account, you’ll be able to make all your transactions online.

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

If you are only planning on staying in Portugal for a short period of time, it can be a good idea to make use of transfer services such as Wise or create an account in a digital bank like N26 and Revolut, which offer debit cards that you can use to withdaw cash with no additional charges if you stay within certain limits.

Digital banks are a great alternative to traditional Portuguese banks, as they allow for quick remote account openings, have extremely low international fees, and will ship your card to Portugal or elsewhere in Europe.

Investment banks in Portugal

The following local banks are good options for investors:

  • Banco Invest
  • Banco Finantia
  • Banco Carregosa
  • BiG (Banco de Investimento Global)

Important Information about Banking in Portugal

In the following section, we’ll delve into some important information that you should be aware of when opening bank accounts in the country.

International money transfers in Portugal

International money transfers and financial transactions through most banks in Portugal will incur a fee. You can speak with your bank about how much an international transfer will cost.

Usually, there is no limit on the amount that you transfer. However, if the transfer amount surpasses €50,000, then the Banco de Portugal (Bank of Portugal) will need to be notified.

Money transfers normally take between three to five working days.

Working hours of banks in Portugal

Generally speaking, the opening hours of most banks in Portugal are 8.30 to 15.00, but banks can stay open later. Some banks are also open on Saturday mornings as well. The bank branches located in malls are often open later.

Bank fees in Portugal

Many Portuguese banks charge their clients a monthly fee for their accounts, which will normally cost between around  €5-7 per month and around €60 per year.

Aside from the monthly maintenance fee, there are also charges on credit cards and overdrafts, but this will vary depending on which bank you choose, the card type, the account type, and other criteria. There is also a charge for mortgages and loans, but this will depend on the Annual Percentage Rate.

Regarding international money transfers, for amounts that are less than €50,000, the bank fee is less than €15. For larger amounts, this will be approximately €30 or more.

One of the most common charges you might see is for ATM withdrawals, which can be as much as 13% of the total amount.

When refused a bank account

Should you fail to meet the criteria or if any of the required documents are missing, the Portuguese bank has every right to refuse your application.

If you disagree with their decision, you will need to consult the bank’s department that deals with complaints or submit your complaint to the Banco de Portugal.

Changing or closing bank accounts

Whether you are changing bank accounts or are looking to close your Portuguese bank account, you will need to visit your bank branch in person or write to your bank. There may be some paperwork to complete, but you should not face any difficulties in changing or closing your bank account.

When your card is lost or stolen

If you are in the unpleasant situation of having lost your card or, worse, having had it stolen, you should contact your Portuguese bank or card provider immediately.

The tax system in Portugal

There are several types of taxes in Portugal, including income tax, corporate tax, VAT, and social security. Note that you are only considered a tax resident in Portugal if you live in the country for at least 183 days per year.

Portugal is a member of SEPA and the currency is the Euro

Currency in Portugal is the EuroThe Euro, the common currency of the European Union (EU), is one of the strongest currencies in the world.

The Euro is the currency in Portugal, having replaced the Escudo in 2002 as the sole currency.

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a payment-integration initiative from the EU. SEPA helps to simplify bank transfers denominated in euros, and the transfer of funds between EU countries usually has no costs and is as fast as local transfers.

Direct debit is also present in the Eurozone, so you can easily use your Portuguese bank account across the EU.

Low maintenance and transaction costs

Portuguese banks usually have quite competitive fees, and you can also find some that have no maintenance or debit card fees, such as Activobank and Banco CTT.

In the Eurozone, standard transactions, including ATM withdrawals and Euro transfers, are normally free of charge or involve negligible fees.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Opening a Bank Account in Portugal

Can I open a Portuguese bank account online?

Yes, you can open a bank account in Portugal online. Some of the best online banks include ActivoBank, Banco N26, and Novo Banco.

What is the best bank to open an account in Portugal?

The best bank to open an account in Portugal for foreigners will depend on what you are looking for. Some of the best banks in Portugal include Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Millenium BCP, Banco BPO, Novo Banco, and Banco Santander Totta.

Is it easy to open a bank account in Portugal?

Yes, it is relatively easy to open a bank account in Portugal. You will need to obtain a NIF number (Portuguese identification tax number) to open an account in Portugal.

What do you need to open a Portuguese bank account?

You will need to have the following documents with you to open a bank account in Portugal: A valid photo ID (this can be your passport), proof of address (such as a utility bill), proof of employment (such as a payslip or work contract), and your NIF number. If you are a non-resident, you should bring proof of your foreign address. A minimum deposit of €250-300 in cash is also common, although this will depend on the bank.

How long does it take to open a bank account in Portugal?

Once you have completed your application and submitted the necessary documents, the process is complete, and you will have a bank account set up. You may need to put a deposit in your account. The process usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

Can a US citizen open a bank account in Portugal?

Yes, as a US citizen, you can open a bank account in Portugal provided you are over 18 and you have valid, identification, a NIF number, and proof of your address.

Can I open a bank account without residency in Portugal?

Yes, you can open a bank account without residency in Portugal. You’ll need to get a NIF in Portugal, and then go to bank branch with proof of your foreign address, a valid photo ID, proof of employment and your NIF number. Then fill out some paperwork and pay the minimum deposit amount (if necessary).

How to open a bank account in Portugal from the US?

The process to open a bank account in Portugal from the US is the same as from anywhere else. It is even possible to get a NIF number and open a bank account remotely before moving to Portugal. 

How to open a bank account in Portugal for the D7 Visa?

Opening a bank account in Portugal for the D7 is the same as opening a bank account for other visa types. You will need to have a NIF number to open a bank account in Portugal.

Can I open a non-resident bank account in Portugal?

Yes, foreigners, expats, and non-residents can open a Portuguese bank account.

Can foreigners open a bank account in Portugal from abroad?

A few Portuguese banks allow you to open a bank account online. However, you’ll need a NIF number, the taxpayer identification in Portugal.

What documents are required to open a bank account in Portugal?

To open a bank account in Portugal, you’ll:

  • Proof of ID (e.g., passport)
  • Proof of address (like a recent utility bill)
  • NIF number
  • Proof of income or employment (a recent payslip, employment letter, or registration with the Portuguese employment center if you are unemployed)
  • A Portuguese phone number for SMS activation
  • A minimum deposit of €250-300 in cash is common

Please note that these documents may differ depending on your Portuguese bank of choice.

Do Portuguese banks offer internet banking services?

Yes, many Portuguese banks do offer internet banking services. Many banks in Portugal have embraced digitalization and provide robust online platforms or mobile apps that allow customers to access a wide range of banking services remotely. Internet banking services typically include features such as checking account balances, transferring funds, paying bills, managing investments, and accessing account statements.

What are the requirements for business banking in Portugal?

Opening corporate accounts in Portugal can be a complex process. The procedure usually varies depending on the bank, but most financial institutions usually require preliminary approval, personal interviews, and the submission of various documents.

In most cases, the banks usually require a non-refundable deposit between €100 to €1,000.

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