Do I Legally Have to Use My NIF When Making a Purchase?

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [More Info]

James Cave / Last Updated: January 9, 2023 / Posted in: QandA are able to arrange a NIF for $150 (or $140 for Portugalist readers). The current turnaround time is one week.

Discount applied automatically (no code needed).

When you go to the checkout at a Portuguese supermarket, the cashier will normally ask you a question like contribuinte? This means would you like to register your NIF number against this receipt. Sometimes you don’t get asked, though, and you also have the option of just saying no — as a non-resident visiting Portugal would. However, when it comes to other purchases like a house or a car, you’re not asked whether you’d like to use your NIF number; it’s a requirement. Why is this?

According to Kathleen Lo from, a company that helps people moving to Portugal obtain a NIF number, ‘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.’

If you haven’t been asked for your NIF number in a shop, you can ask to use it. It’s possible, for example, that the person at the checkout thinks that you’re a tourist. According to Kathleen, ‘if you’d like to use your NIF, simply ask the cashier for your NIF to be included on the receipt.’

For more information, read our guide to getting a Portuguese NIF.



  1. Another reason to use your NIF (if you're non EU) is SEF or Portuguese Borders and Immigration.

    When it comes time to renew you may be asked to show that you have spent a sufficient amount of time in Portugal. (Some people say 183 days or 6 months some people say 8 months). Either way you could get asked and one of the easiest ways to prove that you have been in Portugal is to show that you have been using your NIF in shops around Portugal. I guess you could give your NIF to someone else to use but SEF could probably request the CCTV for that store if they suspected something.


Leave a Comment