How to Open a Bank Account in Portugal in 2022

This step-by-step guide will take you through everything you need to know to open a bank account in Portugal.

How to open a bank account in Portugal

If you’re moving to Portugal, one of the first things you’ll need to do is set up a bank account. This can be tricky for expats trying to navigate a new system, but don’t worry – this guide will walk you through the entire process.

We’ll also discuss the different types of bank accounts available in Portugal, including some tips for entrepreneurs, so you can choose the right one for your needs.

There will be different options available to you depending on where you’re coming from and whether you have already made the move to Portugal. Lastly, those who want to set up a business bank account in Portugal will find the relevant information towards the end of this guide.

Why can’t I just use my overseas account?

Most foreigners in Portugal start out by using their overseas bank account and then open a local account once they’re settled. And that’s completely fine to begin with, and it’s not written into Portuguese law that you must have a Portuguese bank account while residing in Portugal.

In fact, many US expats use their Schwab or Fidelity accounts without problems during the relocation phase. Online banking options like Wise and Revolut are also good choices for those who need a Euro account before arriving in Portugal. You can use a foreign bank account and transfer money from it as needed. You can also easily spend with a foreign debit or credit card in Portugal, and Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most places.

Banking strategies for foreigners in Portugal.

In practice, it quickly gets annoying to rely on a foreign bank account in Portugal, especially one that’s not denominated in Euros. Spending from a non-Euro bank account can become expensive, as you’ll be charged foreign transaction fees every time you make a purchase. And if you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, you’ll also be hit with ATM fees. Card rejections are also not uncommon, as some businesses only accept cards from Portuguese banks. Foreign transactions may also raise red flags with your old bank, leading to account freezes or other problems.

Like in every other country, there’s also an implicit scepticism against foreigners in Portugal, and having a Portuguese bank account is one way of demonstrating that you’re serious about living in the country. Landlords and businesses prefer individuals who have a local bank account. This makes them easier to work with and eliminates the trouble their own bank might have processing foreign transactions. So, while you’re not legally required to open a bank account in Portugal as a foreigner, it’s still the best way to go.

How to open a bank account in Portugal

Here are the steps you need to follow to open a bank account in Portugal:

Step 1: Get a NIF

Anyone living in Portugal or interacting with the Portuguese financial services sooner or later needs a Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF). The NIF is a Portuguese tax number, but having one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re liable for Portuguese taxes.

You need a NIF to open a bank account, buy property, sign a lease, or do anything financial in Portugal. It’s your starting point for anything ‘official’ in Portugal, and you’ll need it sooner or later, so you might as well get it over with.

The easiest way to get a NIF will depend on whether you’re an EU citizen or not and whether you can travel to Portugal to apply in person. Here are the steps to get a NIF for your bank account.

EU citizens

EU citizens don’t need a lawyer or other local representative to get a NIF. All you’ll need is (a) an official identity document or a passport from your home country, (b) plus a utility bill, bank statement, or rental contract that proves your address in your home country or in Portugal. Apart from these official papers, it’s sometimes necessary to include a covering letter that explains the purpose of your request for a Portuguese NIF.

With these documents in hand, simply go to any Finanças or Loja do Cidadão (tax office) in Portugal, queue up, and request a NIF. At the entrance, find the ticket machine and select “Numéro de Contribuinte.” When your number is called, go up to the counter and inform them that you’d want a NIF.

Alternatively, you can try requesting a NIF over email or through the Finanças online portal with the help of someone living in Portugal.

  • An in-person visit to the Finanças or Loja do Cidadão: Find the nearest branch on Google Maps and bring your passport and proof of address (utility bill, bank letter, etc.) from your current country. A NIF will be issued to you on the spot.
  • Through the Finanças Portal: If you know someone who already lives in Portugal, they can request a NIF on your behalf. They can apply for a NIF for you through the Portal das Finanças website. Make sure you trust the person you’re asking to help you, as they will need your personal information.
  • By emailing Finanças: This option was introduced informally due to the pandemic, and it’s a hit-and-miss whether it will work for you. Try emailing a Finanças branch (it can be any of them) one at a time until you find one that finds your persistency so annoying they just give you the NIF number over email to get rid of you. Don’t email all branches at once, but wait for a response from one before trying another.

Non-EU citizens

If you’re not an EU citizen or don’t have a residence permit in the EU, you’ll need the help of a Portuguese lawyer or another local tax representative to get your NIF. A tax representative is a company (legal entity) or (natural) person in Portugal who the Portuguese tax agency can contact on your behalf. 

If you know someone who lives in Portugal, they can act as your tax representative and request a NIF for you. If you don’t know anyone in Portugal, you need to hire a lawyer or firm specializing in fiscal representation. At any Finanças office in the country, this individual or business may obtain a NIF on your behalf.

  • You can travel to Portugal or already live there: You can go to the Finanças office and get a NIF on the spot if you have an address and legal residency in the EU (including Portugal). If you don’t have an EU/Portuguese address, you need to bring a Portuguese resident or lawyer with you, as they will act as your correspondent until you have a Portuguese address.
  • You cannot travel to Portugal, or the cost is higher than the representative’s fee: Travelling to Portugal from far away isn’t exactly cheap as accommodation costs and airfare add up. If flying to Portugal for the NIF is within your budget, then that’s great. If not, then using a representative is probably your best option. You might as well let the representative handle everything and save yourself the trip.
  • You’re an EU citizen but live outside the EU/EEA: Aside from the two above options, you can get a NIF with a little creativity. If you have your old bank account or utility bill with your old EU/EEA address on it (perhaps with a family member), you can use that as your proof of address. Or, if you can change your address for a day, that might just do the trick.

If you use a lawyer or company to help you with the NIF, they will charge a fee for their service. Once you move to Portugal, you can remove them as your representative and stop paying them for this service. You need to manually update your NIF address by visiting a Finanças physically or logging into the Finanças web portal. The latter is a little more complicated due to the number of steps involved, but it’s definitely doable.

Step 2: Pick a bank

Getting a NIF is only the first step in opening a bank account in Portugal. The next thing you need to do is to pick a bank. This can be tricky, but you want a combination of low/no fees and size/location. On the one hand, you don’t want to be charged fees for every little thing. On the other hand, you want a bank that can handle your needs as a foreigner and has locations convenient for you.

Portuguese traditional vs. online banks pros and cons. Many choose to combine a brick-and-mortar bank with an online bank for optimal flexibility.

Luckily, Portuguese banks are used to dealing with foreigners. Plenty of Portuguese nationals live and work abroad, and the country has experienced a fair share of incoming migrants and expats in recent years, so most banks have streamlined the process of opening an account for newcomers.

ActivoBank is one of the most popular banks for foreigners in Portugal. Their basic current account ‘AB Free’ has no monthly fees or account activity fees. They’re marketing to younger adults, but the account is good for anyone. Millenium (which owns ActivoBank) is an excellent, more serious alternative if you don’t mind paying a small monthly fee.

Here’s a list of the best banks in Portugal for foreigners:

Free online banks in Portugal

While it’s preferable to have a traditional brick-and-mortar bank in Portugal for serious financial matters, an online bank can be a good option for day-to-day banking. Online banks often have lower/no fees, no ATM fees, offer more advanced features, and are better at handling currency conversions. So, if you need a Euro account to get off the ground in Portugal, these online-only banks are definitely worth considering.

Keep in mind that each bank has its own restrictions on the number of free ATM withdrawals and fee-free currency conversions you can do each month. Check the limits before use to avoid any surprises, and consider combining them to make the most of your fee-free limit.

Here’s an overview of the largest banking groups in Portugal:

  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD)
  • Banco Comercial Português (Millennium BCP, ActivoBank)
  • Santander
  • Novo Banco
  • Banco Português de Investimento (BPI)

Step 3: Prepare the necessary documents

The bank will require some documents from you to open an account. They don’t request these to annoy you (although it can sometimes feel like it) because they have to. The paperwork is typically the same, no matter which bank you go with. Here’s what you need:

  • NIF, the Portuguese tax number. We went through the process of obtaining the NIF above. You need it to open a bank account, regardless of whether you’re a resident or non-resident.
  • Proof of address. The bank will want to see proof of your residential address, whether it’s in Portugal or somewhere else. This can be a utility bill, bank statement, or government-verified document. Depending on how liberal the bank is, ordering a SIM card or internet router to the address where you’ll be staying in Portugal may suffice as proof.
  • Passport. If you apply in-branch, you’ll need to bring your passport as they will need to make a copy. If you apply from abroad, they may require that you send a copy via email or upload it to them.
  • Proof of income. If you’re employed, the bank will want to see your employment contract or payslip. If you’re retired, they’ll want to see your pension statement.
  • Latest tax return (varies). Some banks will request your latest tax return. This seems to depend on the bank and your customer profile. If you’re self-employed, they’ll want to see this and your business registration documents.

If you’re not currently employed, don’t worry. You can still open a bank account, although the manager may ask a few more questions. You’ll just need to provide additional documents such as your student ID, proof of investments or savings, or business documents if you’re self-employed. In case you have worked lined up, bring a signed employment contract (a job offer letter typically isn’t enough).

Checklist of what's needed to open a bank account in Portugal
Checklist of what you need to open a bank account in Portugal.

Step 4: Apply for the account

Many banks have moved the process of opening a bank account completely online, such as Activo, while others require that you visit a branch. The required documents are typically the same, but you may be asked to go through a verification process using your webcam to confirm your identity with the online process.

Non-EU/EEA residents who apply with the help of a Portuguese law firm or service provider may be requested to do a video call with the bank together with their representative to confirm their identity, which would replace the need for an in-person visit.

Step 5: Wait for approval

It shouldn’t take more than a few weeks to hear back from the bank. If they need more information, they will get in touch with you. If everything goes smoothly, you should receive an agreement in the mail that you need to sign and return. Some banks require that you come in person to do this, but you can do this either way to speed up the process.

There’s also a chance it requires an initial deposit to finalize the account opening. This is typically a small amount, around €250. It’s not a fee but a way to ensure that you’re a committed customer. The money can be spent right away.

Are Portuguese banks safe?

The money you hold in a Portuguese bank account is protected by up to €100,000 by the Portuguese Deposit Guarantee Fund (‘Fundo de Garantia de Depósitos’). Deposits are protected for each depositor, so married persons with joint accounts are insured up to €200,000 per account.

Portuguese bank accounts are protected up to €100,000 per depositor, regardless whether the depositor lives in Portugal or not. Source: Banco de Portugal.

The guarantee fund is jointly financed by all the credit institutions operating in Portugal. It is designed to protect savers in the event of a bank failure. The guarantee fund operates under the EU Directive 2014/49/EU on deposit guarantee schemes covering all EU member countries.

€100,000 is not what it used to be, but it’s still a good safety net. Suppose you have more than that saved up. In that case, it’s worth considering spreading your money around by opening accounts with different banks or by investing in other types of assets. You should also know that the insurance is per banking group, so make sure that the accounts you open are with different banks to maximize your protection – not just the same institution operating under different names.

EU residents vs the US and other non-EU residents

If you’re an EU resident, then opening a bank account in Portugal is relatively straightforward, while if you’re a US or other non-EU resident, the process can be a bit more difficult. In both cases, you need a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) to start the application.

EU residents

If you’re an EU resident, you have the legal right to open a bank account in Portugal without any fuss. You’re positioned to open a basic account the same way as a Portuguese national, so the process should be straightforward. Banks cannot refuse you a basic account in Portugal because you don’t live there.

If the bank rejects you on the grounds that you’re not a resident, you should inform them about your rights. If they still don’t want to work with you, you can file a complaint with the Portuguese banking regulator (Banco de Portugal). However, this is usually unnecessary, as the banks are generally well aware of the rules. Even if you file a complaint, it’s best not to wait for the regulator to take action, as this can take years. You can simply go to another bank and try your luck there.

US and other non-EU residents

For US and other non-EU residents (UK, Australia, India, Hong Kong, etc.), it’s a little more complicated. To open a bank account in Portugal from abroad, i.e. before you have an address there, you’ll need the help of a lawyer, relocation firm, or from someone already living in the country.

If you have already moved to Portugal and have a residential address there, it’s much easier: You can go into the branch of of the major banks and apply for an account in person. The information below should help you with the process.

How to open a business bank account in Portugal

The best place to open a traditional business bank account in Portugal is most often with the institution where you have your private account. This is because your account manager will already have access to your private finances and be able to onboard you more easily and give you a smoother business banking experience. You may also get a better rate because you’re already a customer with the bank.

If you’re self-employed or a freelancer in Portugal, there is no requirement to have a separate account. However, it’s still highly recommended to have one to keep your personal and business finances separate. This will make your bookkeeping and tax declarations much easier. If you do business through a legal entity such as a limited company, then you are required to have a business account.

The problem with opening a business account with a Portuguese bank is that it can be very expensive. Almost all banks charge a monthly fee, ranging from €15 to over €100. You’re also likely to be charged for transactions, such as withdrawals and transfers in Portugal and abroad. That’s why many small business owners choose to go with an online business bank that does not charge these burdensome costs. 

Revolut and Wise are two European online banking providers that work well for Portuguese businesses and freelancers. Both give you an IBAN number that can be associated with your tax profile and allow you to send and receive payments in euros. You can hold, send, and receive money in multiple currencies with good exchange rates.

Wise (TransferWise) Business Bank Account
Wise Business

Why you need a Portuguese bank account

A Portuguese bank account is essential for managing your finances while living in Portugal, just like a US account is necessary for living in the United States, a UK account for living in the United Kingdom, and so on. A Portuguese bank account makes things like renting an apartment or buying a house, signing up for utilities, or getting a cell phone plan much easier. And if you’re employed in Portugal, your employer will almost certainly require that you have a local bank account so they can pay your salary.

1. Buying property

Buyers from outside of Portugal often ask whether they can buy a property without having a Portuguese bank account. The simple answer is no – you will need a local bank account to complete the purchase. You don’t have to have your account ready before you begin the purchase process; however, the bank that finances your mortgage will require that you open an account with them before they continue with the loan process.

2. Renting

Suppose you’re planning to rent an apartment in Portugal. In that case, your landlord will almost certainly require that you have a local bank account so they can receive your rent payments. In theory, they should be happy with a foreign bank account, but they want to see the funds coming from a Portuguese bank in practice.

3. Gold Visa investment

Portugal’s popular Golden Visa Program requires you to invest in the country from a Portuguese bank account. All routes that grant a Golden Visa (and eventually citizenship) involve investing in real estate, funds, or projects from a Portuguese-domiciled bank account. If this is your plan, you’ll need to set up a Portuguese bank account before making your investment.

4. Utilities and phone service

To sign up for utilities like electricity, gas, or water, you need a local bank account. The same goes for cell phone service – most providers will require that you have a Portuguese bank account to set up an account. More than half the population use the domestic multibanco system to pay telephone, electricity, gas and water bills, and other charges such as TV license and car tax.

5. Running a business

Many retirees and expats choose to open a small business in Portugal, whether it’s a simple rental property or something more ambitious. If you’re planning to start a business in Portugal, you’ll need a business bank account. This is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate, making tax time much simpler.

You don’t need a Portuguese bank account to run your business that’s incorporated in Portugal. In fact, you can also use a foreign bank account or online business account. However, foreign brick-and-mortar banks typically only work with domestic businesses. So, if your company is registered in Portugal, the most convenient way to handle your business banking is with a local bank account.

Important details about banking in Portugal

Mabucz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whenever you open a bank account, there are certain things you should be aware of. This is especially true when you’re new to a country, where opening hours, banking fees, products and services may be different than what you’re used to. Here’s what you need to know about banking in Portugal:

Portuguese banks opening hours

Banks in the cities are generally open between 8:30 and 15:30 on Mondays through Fridays. Some of them close for lunch, which is usually between 13:00 to 14:00. Banks in the major cities, such as Lisbon and Portugal, sometimes remain open until 19:00 or 20:00. It’s best to check Google Maps or the bank’s website to be sure.

Account fees

Unfortunately, several banks in Portugal charge a monthly fee, which is generally between €2.50 and €6 per month. This fee is usually non-negotiable, so if you’re not happy with it, you should switch banks. There are some good options that don’t charge a monthly fee, such as ActivoBank and online banks like Revolut.

Currency exchanges

If you’re moving to Portugal from a country outside of the Eurozone, you’ll need to exchange your currency for Euros. Portuguese banks usually offer acceptable rates for currency exchanges, so this is an OK option but not always the best. There’s usually a great deal to be saved by using a currency exchange service like Wise or Revolut as an intermediary.

Cards and ATMs

All Portuguese banks offer debit cards connected to the Multibanco ATM network. This is a nationwide network of over 11,000 ATMs available in almost every town and city in Portugal. You can use your bank card to withdraw cash or pay bills at these ATMs.

I’m self-employed – how can I prove my income?

In the checklist the bank uses to assess your application, the work contract and payslips are mandatory documents. But if you run a small one-person business, you probably don’t have either. There’s little flexibility here from the bank’s side, so if you’re self-employed you’ll need to get a little creative. How much you should tell the bank about your situation largely depends on the bank representative you talk to. Assess the situation and use your best judgement.

One of the many free employment contract generators available on the web. This one is by LawDepot.com for the UK.

You can easily create an employment contract from a template. Search in your local language, and you’ll find plenty of websites with generators or PDFs you can fill out. Make sure the contract states your business as the employer and you as the employee, your job title, the start date of the contract, and it fulfils other legal requirements. Remember to sign and date it. Payslips can be created with a generator based on the withdrawals you’ve made from your business account.

What are the best banks in Portugal?

Portuguese banks are quite similar, but some are better than others like anywhere else. The “big five” banking groups in Portugal are Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), Banco Comercial Português (Millennium BCP, Banque BCP and ActivoBank), Banco Santander Totta (Santander), Novo Banco, and Banco Português de Investimento (BPI). All five of these banks have a good reputation and offer a range of services for expats. Santander is known to be more averse to international customers but seems to work fine once you’re actually a customer.

What is the safest bank in Portugal?

Banco Santander Totta S.A. was named the Safest Bank in Portugal by Global Finance, while it was recognized as the Best Bank by Euromoney. However, these rewards don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. All of the “big five” banks in Portugal are safe and reliable, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. It wouldn’t be wise to base a decision on these awards alone and not to consider other factors such as fees, customer service, and whether the bank has a good reputation among foreigners in Portugal.

If you are refused a bank account in Portugal, what should you do?

Portuguese banks can refuse your application if they think you’re a high-risk customer, from a sanctioned country, or if they don’t have enough information about your financial situation. If you feel unfairly rejected, file a complaint with the bank’s complaint department. If that doesn’t help, submit a complaint to Banco de Portugal, the Portuguese banking regulator. Include as much documentation as possible to support your case.

How to complain about a bank in Portugal
You can submit a complaint about any Portuguese bank to Banco de Portugal, the central bank of the Portuguese Republic.

How to manage your bank account in Portugal

Portugal is moving away from physical bank branches and towards digital banking. This is convenient for the most part but can be a problem if you don’t have a good grasp of the Portuguese language or are not comfortable using online banking. Luckily, physical branches are still available in most cities and towns, so you can always go there to withdraw cash or speak to a human being if you need help.

In-person (face-to-face) banking

In 2004, there were 66 commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults in Portugal. Today, there are 32. The direction is obvious: Portugal moves away from face-to-face banking and cash into the digital realm. But for complex matters like a mortgage, you’ll still need to go into a branch. As a foreigner, you’ll also find that setting up an account is easier in person as the staff will get a human feel for you that would be lacking over the phone or online.

Online banking

All Portuguese banks have online banking platforms that you can use to manage your money. This is the most convenient option as you can do everything from home (or anywhere else with an internet connection). You can check your account balance, transfer money, pay bills, etc. The downside is that you need to be comfortable using a computer and the Portuguese language, as the platforms are not always available in English.

Mobile banking

In addition to online banking, all of the main banks in Portugal have mobile apps that you can use to manage your money on the go. This is a good option if you’re comfortable with smartphone banking or if you want to be able to check your balance quickly and easily. The downside is that mobile banking can be less secure than online banking, as your phone could be lost or stolen. Definitely make sure that the banking app has a good security system before entrusting it with your money.

What can you do with a Portuguese bank account?

Portuguese banks offer more or less the same services as banks in other countries. You can use your account to save money, transfer money, pay bills, invest in the stock market, and more.

  • Checking accounts
  • Loans and mortgages
  • Investment and savings accounts
  • Insurances

The larger banks have staff dedicated to serving foreigners and expats, which can help when you’re just getting started in Portugal. This can be a lifesaver if you don’t have a good grasp of the Portuguese language.

FAQs

Can I open a bank account in Portugal if I’m not yet a resident?

If you’re an EU citizen, you can open a basic bank account in Portugal regardless of your residency status. However, suppose you’re from the US, Hong Kong, Australia, or another non-EU country and you’re not yet living in Portugal. In that case, you’ll most likely need to go through a Portuguese lawyer. This person is someone you grant power of attorney to, which gives them the ability to open a bank account on your behalf.

Is it possible to open a Portuguese bank account online?

Yes, more and more Portuguese banks offer the option to open an account online and complete the entire process remotely. This is a great option if you’re not yet living in Portugal or don’t have time to go into a physical branch. The documentation needed to open an online account is the same as what’s required for a regular bank account.

Can I open a Portuguese bank account from the US?

You can open a bank account in Portugal from the US, but the process is more complicated:

  1. The bank must comply with FACTA regulations, which only a handful of banks are willing to do. You must have a valid reason to open the account, such as the intention to buy property in Portugal.
  2. You’ll need to have a Portuguese lawyer or someone with a power of attorney open the account on your behalf. You need a Portuguese NIF (fiscal identification number) to open a bank account, and non-residents living outside the EU can only get this number through a legal representative.
  3. The bank will require additional documentation from you, such as proof of address and income tax returns.

Which Portuguese banks work with US citizens?

Most of the large Portuguese banks, including Banco Santander Totta, BPI, Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), and Millennium BCP, work with US citizens. You can open an account with any of these banks as long as you have the required documentation and follow the bank’s specific process for US customers. If you want to invest in Portugal through the Golden Visa Program, you need to find a bank that is FACTA compliant with regard to reporting American investment account holders.

Can I use an Airbnb address as proof of residence?

No, an AirBnB or hotel address cannot be used as proof of residence. You’ll need to show a utility bill, lease agreement, or similar document with your name and Portugal address. An Airbnb host will not give you tenant rights and will likely reject the attempt to use their address as your own. They may get angry with you and report you to the migration office and city council, permanently ruining your chances of getting a residency permit.

Can I change my address later on?

Yes, simply write to your bank or update your information online (if available) and provide them with your new address. You may need to show proof of residency again, so make sure you have a utility bill or similar document handy.

If you are changing from a foreign address to a Portuguese one, you may need to provide additional documentation, such as a long-term lease. Those who rely on power of attorney to manage their affairs in Portugal may also need to have this person confirm the change of address in writing.

Why does the bank want so many documents from me?

It’s not only you; it’s everyone. In recent years, the Portuguese government, and all other governments for that matter, has been cracking down on money laundering and tax evasion, so banks are now required to perform due diligence on all new customers. This means they need to collect a lot of information and documents from you to open an account. Don’t feel victimized by this process; it’s just the new reality of banking.

What is accepted as proof of income?

Your proof of income can be in the form of a pay stub, pension statement, tax return, or bank statement. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide additional documentation, such as a statement from your accountant. If you’re the director and owner of a limited company, you can provide proof of income in the form of your company’s last set of audited accounts.

If you have NHR (Non-Habitual Resident) status in Portugal, it’s recommended that your payslip states your profession. This doesn’t have anything to do with the bank but can be useful if the Portuguese tax authorities ever question whether your job is regarded as ‘high added value’.

Can bank accounts in Portugal be joint accounts?

Yes, bank accounts in Portugal can be joint accounts. You’ll just need to provide the same documentation as you would for a single account, just for both people. Joint accounts are widely used by married couples in Portugal, which is still traditional in this regard.

Which banks in Portugal are crypto-friendly?

Portugal is considered one of the most crypto-friendly countries in Europe, thanks to Portugal’s Tax Authority, which has stated that cryptocurrency gains are not subject to capital gains tax as they are in most other countries. It’s difficult to say which Portuguese banks are positive towards fiat withdrawals from exchanges because they all have different policies that can change at any time. The best way to find out is to contact the banks directly and ask about their stance on cryptocurrency.

Can I use a foreign telephone number to sign up?

It depends on the system of the individual bank. Most of the large banks can accept non-Portuguese phone numbers, but this is not always the case for smaller banks. It’s not that international numbers aren’t allowed. Still, the bank may not have a way of verifying them or an IT infrastructure that can handle them. Google Voice and other virtual number services typically work fine.

What is the best time to show up at the bank?

Like elsewhere in the world, physical bank branches are slowly becoming a thing of the past as more and more people in Portugal move to online banking. However, if you need to go into a physical bank branch, the best time to show up is half an hour before it opens. This way, you can avoid the long lines that form later in the day.

Try visiting a branch outside of the city centre as well. City centre branches are always packed, and you’ll have a better chance of getting help if you visit a branch in the suburbs or in a less densely populated area. Bank employees are typically also more friendly and helpful away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Do Portuguese banks have safety deposit boxes?

Yes, most major banks in Portugal offer safety deposit boxes to their customers. The cost of renting a box varies from bank to bank, but it’s typically not cheap. The storage place may not be at the same branch where you do your banking, so be sure to ask about this when you’re inquiring about renting a box. Make sure you research the annual fees and what kind of insurance is included before you commit to renting a box.

Final words

As a foreigner, opening a bank account in Portugal is a simple process for most people as long as you have the necessary documentation. The best way to make sure everything goes smoothly is to visit a branch of the bank you want to open an account with and inquire about their requirements. Once all the documents are in order, opening an account should be quick and easy.

Portugal is experiencing an influx of expats, and Portuguese banks are typically very helpful to foreigners, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you need it. And once you have your new bank account set up, enjoy the benefits of living in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

What has been your experience with opening a bank account in Portugal? Leave your experience, tips and advice in the comments below.