Bordr Answer Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about the NIF Number

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After several years exploring the world as digital nomads, Kathleen Lo and her husband decided to move to Portugal. This was definitely not as straightforward as they expected: some immigration lawyers thought they would be eligible for the D7 visa as young professionals with a non-Portuguese income while others said the opposite. Eventually, they found an immigration lawyer that seemed to think they would meet the D7 visa criteria and so they applied, were successful, and then moved to Portugal.

Since moving here, Kathleen and her husband have established Bordr, a company that helps you with all of the bureaucratic essentials such as getting a Portuguese bank account and obtaining a NIF number. And, seeing as they’re now seasoned experts in the NIF number, we thought it would be interesting to let Portugalist readers ask them all of those burning questions that they’ve ever had about the Número de Identificação Fiscal.

Read the answers below or watch a highlight of those answers in this YouTube video.

Basic Questions

What does NIF stand for?

NIF stands for Número de Identificação Fiscal, which translates to Tax Identification Number. It’s a personal identification number assigned for tax purposes and is used when making purchases and completing official transactions in Portugal. 

Is a NIF number always nine digits long? Can it be longer or shorter?

Yes, a NIF number is always nine digits long – not one digit longer or shorter.

Does my NIF number expire?

Your NIF number does not expire and does not need to be renewed either. If you already have one, you don’t need to get another one. 

How can I get my NIF printed on a card?

The Portuguese Tax Authority no longer issues NIF cards, but you can get a file that you can print out yourself on the e-fatura website. The 2-page PDF issued by Finanças would be the best document to use as proof of your NIF.

I’ve forgotten my NIF number. What should I do?

If you are in Portugal, you can go to a Finanças office to request a copy of your NIF. If you are abroad, please get in touch with the Portuguese embassy or consulate nearest you.

A website is asking me for a NIF, but I don’t have one. What should I do?

If you’re not a Portuguese resident, it can be confusing when Portuguese websites (such as supermarkets) ask for your NIF. Some people put their passport number or a personal tax identification number from their own country. If that doesn’t work, try putting nine zeros e.g. 000000000. 

Can a married couple share the same NIF (like sharing one bank account)?

Each individual needs their own NIF number. As a married couple, you can share a joint bank account, but will still need your own NIF numbers to open it.

Will my children need a NIF? At what age does someone need a NIF?

There isn’t a hard requirement on age, but your child will need a NIF in order to enroll in school.


Will having a NIF help me get residency? 

Although having a NIF number is increasingly becoming a requirement for many residency visas, and not having one could mean your application will be rejected, having one won’t necessarily improve your chances of getting residency if you don’t meet the main visa requirements (e.g. having a sufficient income in the case of the D7). 

How do I change the address of my NIF once I become a resident in Portugal?

Once you become a resident in Portugal, you can easily request for your change of address on the tax office’s website, Portal das Finanças. We put together step-by-step instructions here.

Do non-EU residents need to use a lawyer as their fiscal representative? If I know someone in Portugal can I ask them to get me a NIF and be my representative? 

All non-EU residents need a fiscal representative to apply for a NIF on their behalf. Your fiscal representative does not necessarily need to be a lawyer, but they do need to be a Portuguese tax resident and a Portuguese permanent resident or citizen. If you have a trusted friend or know someone in Portugal who is willing to take on the responsibility, they can absolutely be your fiscal representative. 

When should I change the address on my NIF? Should I do it as soon as I arrive?

You should change the address on your NIF to your Portuguese address as soon as you have proof of address in Portugal.

Do I need to change my NIF to a Portuguese address before I can rent an apartment?

You should be able to use your NIF with a foreign address to rent an apartment. If you are looking to use your long-term rental agreement as proof of address, then you should confirm with your landlord that they will be registering the lease with Finanças.

Using Your NIF

Is it a legal requirement to use a NIF when making a purchase, especially big purchases like a car? Why is it optional in the supermarket?

You are required to provide your NIF when making large purchases like a car or a house because these come with annual tax obligations. In the supermarket, giving your NIF is optional because this simply allows you to have tax deductions on your personal income.

Why am I asked for my NIF in the supermarket sometimes but not other times?

It pretty much depends on the person checking you out at the supermarket. If you’d like to use your NIF, simply ask the cashier for your NIF to be included on the receipt.

Can I use a NIF with a foreign address for residential things like getting internet, paying for utilities, etc?

Yes, you definitely can. There is no address requirement when using your NIF for such services.

Is it still a legal requirement that I carry my NIF on me?

No, you do not need to carry your NIF document with you at all times. For day-to-day things, like at the supermarket, you can simply provide your NIF verbally. For official transactions, you may need to bring the official document, which serves as your proof of NIF. As a Portuguese resident, it would be really helpful to memorize your NIF since it’s used so often.


Will using our NIF help reduce my Portuguese tax obligations?

When you request an invoice/receipt with your NIF for purchases, you can deduct expenses on your personal income tax (known as IRS in Portugal).

What prizes are currently available for using the NIF?

For the Fatura da Sorte (Lucky Invoice) draw, they award Treasury Certificates of 35,000 euros in weekly contests.

Will I have to fill out annual paperwork or a tax return once I have a NIF, even if it’s just a non-resident one?

Generally, non-residents only need to file a tax return for income received in Portugal. We recommend speaking to an accountant to get advice on your personal situation.

I’ve accidentally used someone else’s NIF number but want to correct this so I get the benefits. I contacted the vendors but they said they couldn’t change the receipts. What can I do?

The vendor should be able to cancel the old receipt and issue a new one. If the vendor is not willing to do it, the most that you can do is file a formal complaint in the livro de reclamações (complaints book).

Fiscal Representation 

I’m an EU citizen but will be moving to the US for a few years. Will I need a fiscal representative while I’m away even though I’m from the EU?

If you are an EU citizen and can provide proof of your EU address, you don’t need a fiscal representative while you are away from the EU. 

I’m leaving Portugal forever and moving to a non-EU country. Can I cancel my NIF? I don’t want to pay for a fiscal representative. 

The Portuguese tax office does not allow for the cancellation of your NIF even if you no longer live in Portugal – or if you had gotten your NIF and later decided not to move to Portugal. This means that your assigned fiscal representative will continue to be your fiscal representative indefinitely. At Bordr, we understand that plans change and things can happen that are out of our control. For as long as you do not have any ongoing tax obligations, we can waive ongoing fiscal representation fees for our customers, provided that you agree to not use your NIF for any purposes in the future.

(Editor – Since the publication of this article, the rules have changed slightly and ongoing fiscal representation is only required if you have financial interests, such as a house or car, in Portugal [1]

I’ve left Portugal and moved to another EU country, but I wasn’t able to update my new address because I didn’t know it. Can I change that now? What happens if I don’t?

You should definitely update your address so that you won’t be considered a tax resident in Portugal anymore. If you don’t update the address associated with your NIF, you might be liable for personal income tax in Portugal. You can update your address at Portal das Finanças and we have put together step-by-step instructions here

Someone has asked me to be their fiscal representative. What are the legal and financial ramifications of this and could it end up costing me? 

As someone’s fiscal representative, you are obligated to receive any letters from the Portuguese Tax Authority and forward them to the NIF holder. If you don’t forward these communications or are not able to prove that you have communicated these notices to the NIF holder, you might get hit with a fine.

Other questions 

I’m a freelancer with a client in Portugal (I do not live there and have never visited). Do I need to include a non-resident NIF when invoicing my client in Portugal? 

As a non-Portuguese freelancer, you do not need a NIF in order to invoice a client in Portugal.

I was born in Portugal but no longer live there. Would I have been given a NIF at birth or at what age do Portuguese citizens obtain their NIF?

NIFs are not mandatorily assigned at birth. Parents typically get a NIF for their children when they start school since this is necessary for enrollment. If you are a Portuguese Citizen, one way to check if you have a NIF is by looking at your Cartão do Cidadão (Citizen Card).

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