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 nine-digit tax number that’s used when you make payments in Portugal and is also asked for when you have to register for anything with a financial element (e.g. when you purchase a house, get a mobile phone contract).
For example, at the supermarket checkout, the checkout assistant may say “fatura,” a receipt with your NIF, or “contribuinte?” What he or she is 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
- Rent a property (with an official contract)
- Buy a car
- Open a Portuguese bank account
- Get broadband
- Get a mobile phone contract
Basically, it’s a number that you’ll need a lot. Most importantly, it’s also increasingly being asked for when non EU/EEA people apply for a residency visa (such as the D7 or golden visa). Unfortunately, this is challenging because it means getting a NIF before you’ve actually moved to Portugal and become resident here.
The good news is that, even though getting a NIF as a non-resident can sometimes mean jumping through a few hoops (or at least paying a lawyer to get it for you), it is possible to get one. There are several ways to get a NIF, however, the options will depend a lot on whether you’re resident (officially living) in an EU/EEA country (e.g. Spain, Poland) or a non-EU/EEA country (e.g. the United States, Australia) rather than nationality (e.g. Portuguese, American).
(e.g. USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, India, Switzerland, Turkey)
- Cost: Depends on the lawyer/company, but averages €200
- Turnaround time: Depends on the lawyer/company, but anywhere from a few days to several weeks
If you aren’t resident in an EU/EEA country, 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 around €200, but there are several online companies, like Bordr and E-Residence, that offer it cheaper.
|E-Residence.com||From €99||€89 with this link & code PORTUGALIST at checkout||3-10 days (depending on selected option)|
|Bordr.io||€150||or €140 with this link||Less than 1 week|
|NIFPortugal.pt||€70||–||Up to 7 Days|
Bordr.io and E-Residence.com both have excellent reviews on TrustPilot (see Bordr’s here and TrustPilot’s here). 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 (€99 for the NIF + €300 for the bank account) whereas Bordr offers a package where you can get the two together at once for €470 for one person.
|Bordr.io||€350||€10 with this link, but an extra €30 cheaper if you get a NIF+Bank Account bundle||Novobano (or Millenium in person)||3-4 Weeks|
|E-Residence||€300||€10 with this link||Millenium BCP||3-4 Weeks|
You also have the option of going to a Finanças office and obtaining a NIF at a cost of €10.20, but you’ll need a fiscal representative to come with you. Unfortunately, if that person is a lawyer or a company then they’re going to charge you for your time in which case you may as well just use one of the companies mentioned above – especially if you have to fly to Portugal.
However, if you’re already in Portugal and you have a friend, family member, landlord, estate agent, or anyone else who’s resident in Portugal and willing to help out, this could save you some money. Going to Finanças is not considered a lot of fun and you are asking the other person to take on a certain amount of responsibility as the go-between person between you and Finanças, so this isn’t something you can ask just anyone.
Alternatively, most immigration law firms will offer this service. If you’re already applying for a residency visa such as the golden visa or D7, they should be able to help, although check that they don’t charge too much for it. Some law firms charge €500-€1,000 just for a NIF.
- 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
(e.g. France, Ireland, Spain, Germany)
- Cost: Normally free
- Turnaround time: Depends on the approach. It can take just a few minutes in Finanças excluding time spent queing
EU/EEA residents don’t always need a representante fiscal (fiscal representative) to get a NIF and you can get a NIF simply by going to a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office in Portugal. If, for whatever reason, you need a NIF prior to moving to Portugal and can’t get here, you could also use a lawyer in the same way as a non-EU/EEA resident would.
The most common way to get a NIF as an EU/EEA resident is to visit Finanças or a Loja do Cidadão and simply request one. Since the outbreak of Covid, it’s also been possible for EU/EEA residents to get a NIF over email (persistence needed) or to ask someone else who’s a resident to get one for you through the Finanças online portal.
Visiting Finanças/Loja do Cidadão
The most common way to get a NIF is simply to visit a Finanças office (or alternatively a Loja do Cidadão office). Use Google Maps to find the one nearest to you.
You will need to bring:
- passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
- proof of address (bank statement or utility bill, for example)
EU citizens do not need to bring a fiscal 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.
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.
Through the Finanças Portal Online
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 https://eportugal.gov.pt/en/noticias/pedido-de-nif-online-para-cidadaos-estrangeiros-e-recem-nascidos.
If you’re an EU/EEA resident (i.e. the address you live at is in the EU/EEA), 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 ideally) 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.
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 an expert.
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. 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. https://www.portugalist.com/nif-switzerland-fiscal-rep/
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. https://www.portugalist.com/nif-legal-requirement/
Does my NIF number 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. https://www.portugalist.com/forgotten-nif/
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. https://www.portugalist.com/nif-married-couple/
Will my children need a NIF? At what age does someone need a NIF?
Are NIF Numbers Given At Birth?