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 (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 or get a mobile phone contract).
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 property
- Rent a property (with an official contract)
- Buy a car
- Open a Portuguese bank account (some banks allow you to open an account without a NIF)
- 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).
As a non-EU Resident
(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 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
|Bordr.io||€150||€140 with this link||Less than 1 week||1,000+ (excellent)|
|E-Residence.com||From €99||€89 with this link & code PORTUGALIST at checkout||3-10 days (depending on selected option)||500+ (some complaints about getting a response)|
|NIFPortugal.pt||€70||–||Up to 7 Days||0 (new company)|
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.
|Bordr.io||€350||€10 with this link, but an extra €30 cheaper if you get a NIF+Bank Account bundle||Millenium BCP||3-4 Weeks|
|E-Residence||€300||€10 with this link||NovoBanco||3-4 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)
- 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
As an EU/EEA Resident
(e.g. France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, 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 residency in Portugal and then get a NIF or if they need a NIF for another reason that doesn’t require them to become a resident (like buying a house) they can easily request one and in both cases, without usually needing 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 following are some of the main ways EU/EEA residents can obtain a NIF:
- Visiting a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office in Portugal (the most common option)
- Emailing a Finanças or Loja do Cidadão office (an option during the pandemic)
- By having another resident with a NIF request one through the Portal das Finanças website (an option during the pandemic)
- Using a lawyer or one of the online services mentioned above
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)
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 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?
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). https://www.portugalist.com/cancel-nif-number/
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. https://www.portugalist.com/nif-tax-return/