4 Ways to Get a Portuguese NIF (Including Online)

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If you’re planning on moving to Portugal, you’ll come across the word NIF a lot. NIF is short for Número de Identificação Fiscal and it’s sometimes called a Número de Contribuinte as well. It’s a 9-digital tax number that’s used when you make payments in Portugal. 

For example, at the supermarket checkout, the checkout assistant may say “contribuinte?” What she’s asking is whether you want to register these purchases against your personal financial number or NIF

A NIF isn’t something that you just use when paying for your groceries, though. In fact, you don’t have to give over your NIF when doing your shopping, but you will likely need a NIF if you decide to buy a house or car, to open a bank account, get broadband or a mobile phone contract, or to use many Portuguese online shops. 

You may wonder what the purpose of the NIF is. Basically, as dystopian as it is, it’s a way for the Portuguese government to track spending and, in particular, to prevent companies from dodging taxes: you ask for a receipt with your NIF and a company has to issue you an official receipt. But why would you ask for a receipt with your NIF? Well, when you use your NIF against certain purchases (such as food and haircuts) you get some taxes back. You are also entered into a draw to win prizes as well[1]https://www.portugal-accounting.com/post/benefits-of-including-your-portuguese-nif-on-receipts, which in the past has included family cars.

There are a few different numbers that you’ll need in Portugal, but the NIF is the main number and the first one that people get. The way in which you obtain one will depend on a few factors, but primarily whether you’re an EU or non-EU resident.

EU Residents: You don’t always need a representante fiscal (fiscal representative) to get a NIF and you can get a NIF simply by going to Finanças. Since the outbreak of Covid, it’s also been possible to get a NIF over email (persistence needed) or to ask someone else who’s a resident to get one for you only.

Non-EU Residents: If you’re not resident in an EU country, you’ll normally need a representante fiscal (fiscal representative) in order to obtain a NIF. This can be a person or company but since you most likely don’t know anyone in Portugal yet, it’ll probably end up being a company. Like EU citizens, you can obtain this NIF at a Finanças office with your fiscal representative or you can do everything online through power of attorney.

In this article, we look at the different ways you can get a NIF, which are:

  • Pay a company to get you a NIF
  • Ask someone living in Portugal to be your tax representative
  • Go to an appointment with Finanças
  • Email Finanças (EU citizens)

Once you have a NIF, you can then move onto the next stage of your Portuguese admin journey like opening a Portuguese bank account. 

4 Ways to get a Portuguese NIF

Get a NIF online

Cost: €50-1000

There are an increasing number of companies and individual lawyers that can get you a NIF by giving them power of attorney and letting them act as your fiscal representative. Prices range considerably with the average price being around €200, although some companies charge as much as €500 or even €1,000.

Paying €1,000 for a NIF doesn’t normally make sense. Unlike say filing your tax return or assisting with your visa application, there really isn’t any skill or expertise involved and paying more doesn’t mean a better quality of service. That said, if you need ongoing fiscal representation (typically if you need a NIF but aren’t moving to Portugal) then you should focus on a company with good customer service as you’ll need them to reliably forward on any correspondence from Finanças.

Bordr.io are able to procure a NIF for $150 (or $140 if you use the code PORTUGALIST). The current turnaround time is one week, customer service is excellent, and Bordr can also help obtaining a Portuguese bank account as well.

Others have had success with NIFonline.pt. The service is cheaper at €59.90 + VAT, but many report it taking more than a month to receive their NIF and struggling to get answers to their messages in between.

Ask someone to be your tax representative (also online)

Cost: Free for EU citizens / €10.20 for Non-EU/EEA

Since Covid, it’s possible to get a NIF online through the Finanças Portal rather than having to go to the Finanças office. The downside of this is that you need a person who’s permanently resident in Portugal to be your tax representative.

Asking someone to be your tax representative does mean they take on a certain amount of liability, so it’s not something you can ask a stranger. They will be responsible for communicating with Finanças on your behalf should Finanças need to get in touch with you for anything. 

This application can be done via the Portal das Finanças website

Visit Finanças/Loja do Cidadão

Cost: Free for EU citizens / €10.20 for non-EU citizens. There is an additional fee if you want the NIF printed on a card rather than just on a piece of paper. 

The most common way to get a NIF is simply to visit a Finanças office (or alternatively a Loja do Cidadão). Use Google Maps to find the one nearest to you. 

You will need to bring your passport (or ID card for EU citizens) and proof of address (bank statement or utility bill, for example). EU citizens do not need to bring a tax representative with them, but non-EU citizens will.

Ideally, do it first thing and get there at least 10 minutes before it opens. You will need to take a senha (ticket) and wait your turn. The button you need to press will probably say “NIF” or “Número de Contribuinte.” Wait until your number is called and then explain that you are here for a NIF.

While it’s likely that the person you speak to will speak English, the people who work in Finanças are not known for being helpful so try to make an effort in Portuguese. 

Non-EU/EEA citizens do need to bring a tax representative with them and, because of this, may want to look at one of the other options (e.g. paying a company to do it online or getting your friend to do it online through the Finanças portal). If you decide to go to the Finanças office, however, remember that your fiscal representative needs to bring their ID and proof of address with them. 

Note: Due to covid, it’s no longer possible to simply visit your nearest Finanças office or Loja do Cidadão. You’ll need to make an appointment.  

E-mail Finanças

Cost: Free 

If you’re an EU resident (i.e. the address you live at is in the EU), you might be able to get a NIF simply by emailing Finanças – and at no cost to yourself. Many people have had luck emailing the Portimão office ([email protected]), for example, but, if you don’t get a response from them, you’ll need to contact another office – and so on.

One of the downsides of this approach is that you’ll need to email each office one-by-one and also give them a few days to reply before moving on. It’s not practical if you need a NIF quickly.

You will need to email over a scan (or photo) of your passport or ID card along with proof of address (such as a bank statement or utility bill). You should also send a short cover email (in Portuguese) explaining that you want to apply for a NIF. If you don’t speak Portuguese, Deepl.com is useful as it translates into either European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese.

NIFs & Tax Residency

When you get a NIF, you’ll need to register with your address. If you use a Portuguese address, it’s assumed you are now tax resident in Portugal. If you use a foreign address, it’s assumed you’re not.

If you’re not planning on becoming tax resident in Portugal (for example: you normally live in the UK but are buying a holiday home in Portugal) be sure to register your NIF to your non-Portuguese address. 

If you are already tax resident in Portugal, you should use your Portuguese address. 

“Unlinking” yourself from your tax representative

If you use a tax representative, either a friend or a lawyer, you will probably want to unlink yourself from that person at some point. Most lawyers charge an annual fee for representation and you will probably want to unburden your friend of any responsibility as well. 

However, if you are resident outside of Portugal or another EU country (or become resident), you will need a fiscal representative (see below).

To unlink yourself, which you can do once you have your temporary residence permit, simply take your residence card and NIF to your nearest Finanças office to make the change. 

Do I need a NIF Number to live in Portugal?

Technically, it’s something you’re supposed to have if you’re resident here (as opposed to being a tourist). As mentioned, you don’t need to use it in the supermarket, but you may need it for a lot of other things.

If you’re not planning on buying a house or car, opening a bank account, or anything else official, you can get by without it. Normally you need it when renting an apartment but, since so few landlords offer contracts, it isn’t completely necessary.

Do I need a fiscal representative?

If you have financial affairs in Portugal (you own property or run a business there, for example) but aren’t resident in either Portugal or another EU country, you need a fiscal representative. Due to Brexit, this now applies to UK residents who own property or have other financial affairs in Portugal.

This doesn’t normally apply to people who move to Portugal. If you apply for a NIF in order to get a residence visa (such as the D7) and then you move to Portugal and change the registered address to your address in Portugal, you won’t need fiscal representation. If, however, you leave Portugal and continue to have financial affairs in Portugal (e.g. a property here) then you will need fiscal representation, whether from another person or company.

The company that obtains your NIF will normally offer a fiscal representation service. Costs vary, but are typically several hundred Euros per year. In the example of Bordr.io, mentioned above, the cost is $140 for the first year when you use the code PORTUGALIST (which includes the NIF) and $150 for each year of fiscal representation after that. If you make friends with someone in Portugal who’s willing to be your representative, you can also unlink yourself from your current fiscal representative (e.g. Bordr) and ask that person to be your representative instead.

Read more about fiscal representation

Notes

Notes
1 https://www.portugal-accounting.com/post/benefits-of-including-your-portuguese-nif-on-receipts
Written by
Article originally published on 12 July, 2021

45 thoughts on “4 Ways to Get a Portuguese NIF (Including Online)”

  1. Hello,

    I am a resident of the EU and emailed the Finanças de Loures 3 and received a response that it was done and I could pick it up in person. When I responded, I requested it be emailed to me and they responded that it must be signed for in person.

    I am unable to get to Portugal because I’m not yet fully vaccinated but I just wanted to update you that the rules may have changed on that option.

    Thanks

    Reply
  2. Hi, I ‘m a EU citizen, but i’m living in UK. I’ m planing to buy a property in Azores in a few months and i would like to prepare in advance. If i choose to eMail Financas can i send them a copy of my EU country National ID card, and as a proof of address a copy of my bank statement or utility bill from the UK(the place i’m living but it is different from the address in my National ID card)? Thank you for your time, George

    Reply
    • Hi George,

      Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I think emailing Finanças is only an option for EU residents. I think the fact that you’re resident outside of the EU (regardless of the EU passport) will mean you need a fiscal representative. See the article for details.

      Reply
  3. Hi James –
    I do have another question that I hope you might help me with.
    When I am a citizen and living in Portugal permanently or for 6 months or so, would I and my non-citizen wife be liable to pay taxes in Portugal if we do not work there?
    We both have 2 pensions and social security.

    Thanks

    Reply
  4. James –
    I submitted my paperwork for Portuguese citizenship, (my father was born in Portugal), in March 2020 through an attorney. In May 2021, I was notified that my parents marriage application was registered in Portugal, but there is no information concerning the status of my and my mother’s birth certificates being registered.
    In June 2021, I was notified that the Portuguese government created a web link for people waiting for citizenship to check the status of their citizenship applications. I was given a unique number to check my status. The government did this because of the number of applications, (130,000), was so high and people were constantly calling about their applications taking up valuable time. The message said the process could take 1 to 2 years to complete.
    There are 7 steps for the citizenship process and in spite of my application being submitted 16 months ago, my status was still on step 1. Granted, COVID slowed things down, but it’s frustrating. I know time moves a lot slower in Portugal.
    My wife, (who is not applying for citizenship), and I do plan on spending at least 3 to 6 months in Portugal.
    1. Once I am a citizen, would getting the NIF number be easier and would I still need to have a tax representative?
    2. Once I am a citizen and assuming I don’t need a tax representative, could I be the tax representative for my wife.
    3. If we had an arrangement with a landlord to rent the same apartment from him/her every time we are in Portugal, ( 3 to 6 months), and had an address, would we still need a tax representative?
    I hope this makes sense and thank you in advance.

    Reply
  5. Hello James,

    I will be looking to apply for a D7 visa so my understanding is that I need to get a NIF for this. My options are I will need a local resident or a company (nifonline.pt. or bordr.io). Please confirm if this is correct, once I have this NIF I should then be able to apply for D7 Visa.?

    Do you know how much it cost to apply for the D7 visa?

    Reply
    • Hi Ruhel,

      Those from outside of the EU normally ending up having to apply via a service like the two you mentioned. You’ll most likely need a NIF for it, but it really depends on the consulate you’re applying through. They tend to make their own rules, but more and more are asking for a NIF.

      Costs will depend on whether you’re using an immigration lawyer or doing it yourself.

      Reply
  6. Hi! I’m in an urgent situation since I start to work for portuguese company in August but I don’t move there until September so I need to get the NIF asap. Do you recomend to use Bordr then? I’m spannish so I don’t know if need a representative there or not…

    Reply
    • Hi Cristina,

      Often an employer can help in relocation issues like this, so I would speak to them and explain your situation.

      As someone resident in Spain, you could simply try emailing one of the Finanças offices (one of the options mentioned in the article) as you don’t need a representative. However, since it’s getting quite close to August, if you need a NIF quickly then Bordr are very helpful.

      Reply
  7. Good afternoon, I’m in an urgent situation since I come to work in Lisbon, however I cannot get the NIF because the finance office doesn’t accept to carry out the procedure without an appointment, and the appointments they give are for September. I need the NIF immediately. In the helpline they have, they informed me that I could write them an email, however they also have it blocked. What other way is there to get the NIF immediately?

    Reply
    • Hi Ximen,

      Aside from emailing every Finanças office you can find, either to get a NIF over email or an appointment at a Finanças office, the only other thing I can suggest is to use a service like Bordr (mentioned above).

      A lot of people have had success emailing ALL of the Finanças offices they can find as sometimes you can find one outside of Lisbon that’s less busy.

      Reply
      • Hey James, do you know how long it takes to get the NIF via email? Is it a one day thing? If they see my email. And are they sending the number then via email as well? Do I also need it on paper?

        Reply
        • It’s only one day if they 1) see it and 2) decide to reply to it.

          For most things you don’t need it on paper as you’ll just recite it when asked.

          Reply
  8. Hi, i’ve just recently became a Portuguese citizen.
    A local service provider in Portugal who handled the process for me, registered me to his address, although i’m not living in Europe. He also registered me for NIF and created an account in the Portugal Tax website.
    I’m now in process of changing the address to my home country’s address.
    I don’t have any business or bank activity in Portugal.
    He is now telling me that I have to appoint a tax representative.
    Is it true? Do I have to do it even if i’m not living there and only spent a week there?

    Reply
    • You #need a tax representative if you have financial activity or assets in Portugal (e.g. own a property in Portugal) but don’t live in the EU.

      If you don’t have this then I don’t think you need a tax representative.

      Reply
  9. Hey James, thanks for the great article.
    When I click the “apply online” link to go to the financas website, I must sign in with either:
    – My NIF (lol) or
    – “Authenticate with Citizen Card or Digital Mobile Key”
    Does this mean it’s no longer possible to apply for the NIF online or were these always the options and I’m just not understanding them?

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  10. I have used nifonline.pt but are very very slow. Some reviews say it takes months to get a NIF with them or at least several weeks. Not sure its a good idea to have a company be your tax representative if they dont respond to emails.

    Reply
    • i also applied through same but no response yet through email or chat , waiting now , is there any other option available

      Reply
    • Hi Bireshwar,

      You’ll need to get a lawyer to do it for you by giving them “power of attorney.” This is quite a common service offered by immigration lawyers. I will put you in touch with one.

      Reply
  11. Hello,
    im non eu citizen.i have nif number ,i made in 2018 with my old passport.i didnt live in portugal.now i have new passport and do i need update my new passport?i made with portuguaese reprasantative.

    Reply
  12. Hello, my question is what do i have to do to get a copy of my exsisting NIF number, im spanish and did the paper work at least 15 years ago , but never got to use it.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the intresting input.

    However, one question I do have:

    “To unlink yourself (from the NIF tax representative), which you can do once you have a residence permit,”

    Is this the case with the temporary permit or the one one get after 5 years (permanent)?

    Reply

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