How to Get A Portuguese NIF Number Online Or In Person

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James Cave / Last Updated: February 2, 2023 / Posted in: Money & Finance

If you’re planning on moving to Portugal, you’ve probably already come across the word NIF. Portugal’s tax number (known as the NIF) is a 9-digit tax number that’s you give when you make payments in Portugal or register for something with a financial element. You’ll normally need it to do things like:

  • Open a bank account
  • Rent or buy a property (either as a resident or non-resident)
  • Get a mobile phone contract
  • Apply for a residency visa like the golden visa or D7 (varies, but often asked for)

You’ll also be asked for it in shops or at the supermarket (usually the cashier will say “Contribuinte?” rather than the word NIF). You don’t have to give it out here, but you can sometimes get tax back against certain items (groceries and haircuts, for example), up to a certain amount per year. So giving over your NIF or Número de Contribuinte, as it’s also known, could potentially save you money, which is why it’s a good idea to memorise it.

Basically, this NIF number is very important.

The big question everyone has is: how do I get one of these NIF numbers?

In short, that depends on the country where you’re legally resident.

  • People resident in an EU/EEA country can usually just walk into a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão in Portugal and request one.
  • Those resident in a non-EU/EEA country typically need a fiscal representative and that usually means working with a lawyer or company.

Words like resident and fiscal representative can be a little confusing, but there’s no need to be. Just use our NIF helper below and it’ll tell you some of the ways that you can get your NIF number.

How to Get a NIF as a non-EU Resident

(e.g. you live in the USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, India, Switzerland, or Turkey)

  • Cost: The average cost of obtaining a NIF through an online specialist is €134, or more when using a law firm or relocation company [1]https://www.portugalist.com/fiscal-number-cost/
  • Turnaround time: Most online services promised to obtain a NIF within 1 week. Some services take as long as 5-6 weeks.

If you aren’t resident in an EU/EEA country (e.g. you’re resident in the UK or the USA) you’ll normally need a representante fiscal (fiscal representative) in order to obtain a NIF. This could be a friend or family member, but since you most likely don’t know anyone in Portugal yet, you’ll probably need to use a law firm or company to obtain a NIF for you. This typically costs €100-€200 but can be as high as €500 or even €1,000. However, it is possible to get a NIF cheaper using an online company.

Kathleen and Richard Lo struggled with Portuguese bureaucracy when they moved to Portugal, and one of those challenges was getting a NIF number at a reasonable price. It inspired them to start Bordr, a company which helps prospective expats get a NIF for $150 (or $140 with this link). They were also kind enough to provide a lot of the information used in this article and to answer a number of questions about the NIF.

Non-EU/EEA residents need a fiscal representative when requesting a NIF number. This can be a company such as Bordr or it could be an individual, such as a friend or family member, who’s resident in Portugal and willing to act as your fiscal representative. – Kathleen Lo, Bordr

Online Services: Comparison Table

Use the comparison table below to find the best company for your needs.
CostDiscountTimeframeFiscal Representation
Bordr.io$150Save $10 this linkLess than 1 week1 Year
Anchorless.io€150Save 10% with this link & code PORTUGALIST7 Days1 Year
E-Residence.comFrom €99 Save €10 with this link & code PORTUGALIST at checkout3-10 days (depending on selected option)1 Year
NIFPortugal.pt€80Up to 14 Days1 Year

Bordr.io and E-Residence.com both have excellent reviews on TrustPilot (see Bordr’s here and TrustPilot’s here), although Bordr has roughly double the number of reviews. So which is the best?

  • Best rated: Bordr.io is the best-rated, and this is down to its communication and customer service. Many Americans choose this option as the pricing is in USD, which allows them to save on foreign transaction fees.
  • Fastest: E-Residence.com is the fastest option, especially when you pay for their rush service.
  • Cheapest: NIFPortugal.pt is the cheapest option, but it’s also the slowest option. It depends how fast you need it.

Both can also open Portuguese bank accounts remotely, which may be another thing that you need for your visa. With E-Residence you need to purchase the two options separately whereas Bordr offers a package where you can get the two together at once for $470 for one person.

CostDiscountOpens withTimeframe
Bordr.io$350
$10 with this link, but an extra $30 cheaper if you get a NIF+Bank Account bundleMillenium BCP3-4 Weeks
E-Residence€300€10 with this linkNovoBanco3-4 Weeks

For most non EU/EEA residents, using a lawyer or company like Bordr is the most common way of obtaining a NIF, but it’s not the only way. The main options are:

  • Use a company like Bordr or your lawyer, if you’re already using them for your visa application (most common way)
  • Visit Finanças or Loja do Cidadão with someone who’s willing to be your fiscal representative and pay for a NIF at a cost of €10.20 (works well if you have a friend, family member, estate agent, or anyone resident in Portugal who is willing to be your fiscal representative, but isn’t cost effective if that person is your lawyer and is charging you for your time)

Typical documents needed:

  • Passport (or National ID card if you’re an EU citizen)
  • Proof of address such as a driver’s licence, bank statement, or utility bill
  • If your documents are in a language other than Portuguese or English, you may be asked to provide a certified translation

Most companies and lawyers charge an annual fee for fiscal representation, and the first year is usually included when you obtain a NIF through them. In most cases, you won’t need to pay an ongoing fee. If you move to Portugal, for example, you won’t need a fiscal representative any more. The exception is if you have financial ties to Portugal (e.g. you own a property in Portugal) but are resident outside of the EU/EEA (e.g. in the USA or UK). However, that fiscal representative doesn’t have to be a lawyer or company.[2]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-tax-representative/

How to Get a NIF as an EU/EEA Resident

(e.g. you live in France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, or Portugal)

  • Cost: Normally free
  • Turnaround time: Depends on the approach. It can take just a few minutes, excluding time spent queuing

EU/EEA residents have it slightly easier. They can get a NIF number in Portugal (typically by going into a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office) and don’t normally require a representante fiscal (fiscal representative).

EU/EEA members do not need a fiscal representative when requesting a NIF directly at a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office in Portugal. However, those from Switzerland do. – Kathleen Lo, Bordr

The most common way to obtain a NIF as an EU/EEA resident is to visit a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office in Portugal and request one for free. You can also use a lawyer or online services such as Bordr or E-Residence, which could be useful if you need one but aren’t able to travel to Portugal. However, most EU/EEA residents just visit a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office and request one themselves.

In theory, it should be as easy as walking into a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office and requesting one. In practice, it isn’t always and it may take a lot of your time, particularly in large cities. However, this is a good introduction to what bureaucratic life in Portugal can be like (it varies from place to place).

I tried visiting a Finanças office but was told that in order to get a NIF I would need to make an appointment. In order to do that, someone with a NIF would need to make an appointment for me. Now knowing anyone, I tried another Finanças office (the head office in Porto) and was directed to the Loja de Cidadão. While they were very helpful, they only offer a limited number of tickets per day and even though I waited for hours, I eventually gave up. I came back the next morning at 5:55 AM … and that was just in time to get a prime spot near the door. The queue was about 100m+ at 9:30 when they opened (on a Saturday). From then on it was easy, but I wished I had just ordered one online beforehand.

Roman (Portugalist reader)

As mentioned, the quality of service varies from place to place and some people have a much easier experience.

I walked in, no prior appointment and got the NIF within 5mins. Although making an appointment is required, but I was lucky that they attended to me. Nonetheless, this is my personal experience.

Prince

If you’re visiting a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office in a smaller town, it’ll probably be easier. The offices of both departments in Lisbon and Porto are known for having long queues.

Some offices allow you to turn up whereas others require you to make an appointment. 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. 

Regardless of where you visit, you’ll need to bring some ID such as:

  • A passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
  • Poof of address (bank statement or utility bill, for example)

FAQs About the NIF Number

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions about the Portuguese NIF number, all of which have been answered by Kathleen Lo, who co-runs Bordr.io. These answers were verified by the lawyers Bordr work with.

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.

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. 

Questions about Taxes & Responsibilities

If I get a NIF, will I have tax obligations in Portugal (e.g. filing a tax return)?

If you obtain a Portuguese NIF you won’t automatically have tax obligations in Portugal or be required to file a Portuguese tax return. However, even if you haven’t made Portugal your country of residence, you may have tax obligations in Portugal if you have purchased a property or car in Portugal, for example. [3]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-tax-return/

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.

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.

Questions from European Residents

Do EEA Residents Need a Fiscal Representative to Get a NIF?

If you are an EU/EEA resident applying for a NIF directly with the Financas, you do not need a fiscal representative. [4]https://www.portugalist.com/eea-nif-fiscal-representative/

Do Residents in Switzerland Need a Fiscal Representative to get a NIF?

Residents of Switzerland do need a fiscal representative since Switzerland is not part of the EU or EEA. [5]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-switzerland-fiscal-rep/

Questions from Non-EU Residents

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. 

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). 

Questions about using your NIF

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

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. [6]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-legal-requirement/

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.

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.

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

Questions about Changing Your Address

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.

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.

Questions from families

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. [7]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-children/

Are NIF Numbers Given At Birth?

NIFs are not mandatorily assigned at birth. [8]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-birth/

Can a married couple share the same NIF?

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. [9]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-married-couple/

Questions about Forgotten NIFs

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).

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. [10]https://www.portugalist.com/nif-expire/

I’ve Forgotten My NIF Number, what Do I Do?

If you are in Portugal, you can go to a Financas office to request a copy of your NIF. If you are abroad, please get in touch with the Portuguese embassy or consulate nearest you. [11]https://www.portugalist.com/forgotten-nif/

Questions about Leaving Portugal

Can I cancel a NIF number?

The Portuguese tax office does not allow for the cancellation of your NIF even if you no longer live in Portugal. However, as of 2022, you no longer need an ongoing fiscal representative if you have a NIF, don’t reside in Portugal, and don’t have any tax obligations here (e.g. owning a property). [12]https://www.portugalist.com/cancel-nif-number/

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

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