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

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Last updated on May 16, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

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 Bordr, 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 Portuguese fiscal 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.’

However, you may want to use your tax number whenever asked for it as doing so could enter you into a weekly lottery. Another benefit is that, in certain instances, using your NIF could reduce your income tax bill.

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

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal. This article includes contributions from Kathleen Lo, co-founder of Bordr.io.