Do I Need a Fiscal Representative in Portugal?

By James Cave / Published: July 2021.
Posted in: Money & Finance

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Let’s say, for example, that you own a property in Portugal but you don’t live in Portugal or the EU, you live in the United States, and one day Finanças needs to contact you. Because you live outside of Portugal, they can’t just email or phone you. That would be crazy. They need to speak to someone in Portugal. Here’s where a tax or fiscal representative comes in.

A fiscal representative is a person or company that acts as a liaison between a non-resident individual or company and Serviço de Finanças (the Portuguese tax department).

Who does and doesn’t need a fiscal representative?

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Whether or not you need a fiscal representative depends on two things: firstly, where you are resident (i.e. live) and, secondly, if you have affairs in Portugal that Finanças might want to contact you about.

  • If you’re resident in Portugal, you don’t need a fiscal representative
  • If you are resident in an EU country, you don’t need a fiscal representative (although you can decide to get one)
  • If you are from certain EEA countries, you don’t need a fiscal representative (although you can decide to get one)
  • If you live in Portugal but are absent from the country for more than 6 months and 1 day, you need a fiscal representative
  • If you are resident in a non-EU country, you need a fiscal representative

You might need fiscal representation if you are a non-Portuguese and non-EU resident and…

  • You own property in Portugal
  • You have a business in Portugal or you earn income in Portugal subject to income tax (IRS)
  • You hold at least one bank account with a Portuguese credit institution
  • You are applying for residency in Portugal from a non-EU country

What are the costs involved?

You don’t need to pay a lawyer for fiscal representation – anyone who’s a resident in Portugal can be your fiscal representative – but many people who aren’t resident in Portugal choose to use a lawyer.

Most lawyers charge a fee for obtaining the NIF (normally required) and then an ongoing annual fee for fiscal representation. This is because being a fiscal representative carries certain obligations and the person or company can be held liable. This is typically something like €200 for the NIF and then €200 per year for fiscal representation, although fees vary from around €50 to as much as €1,000.

Bordr.io, for example, charges €150 to obtain a NIF (or €140 when you use the code PORTUGALIST), which includes 12 months of fiscal representation. After that, and assuming you don’t cancel your subscription, they will bill you €150 once per year for ongoing fiscal representation. Any correspondence from Finanças will be forwarded digitally.

Are the services that charge €500 or €1,000 better? It doesn’t make a huge difference in obtaining the NIF, but you don’t want a company with such poor customer service to be your point of contact with Finanças.

Brexit & Fiscal Representation

Now that the UK has left the EU, UK residents with tax or financial affairs in Portugal need to have a tax representative in Portugal. The deadline for this was originally January 1st, 2021, but was extended until June 30, 2021.

Penalties

According to the Portuguese consulate in London, failure to appoint a fiscal representative could result in fines ranging from €75 to €7,500.

15 thoughts on “Do I Need a Fiscal Representative in Portugal?”

  1. We have sold our property in Portugal, capital gains tax won’t be paid until next year, and I am about to close our Portuguese bank account. Once the tax has been paid and we have no connection with Portugal financially wise, will we still need fiscal representation? If so for how long?

    Reply
  2. I am resident in portugal since nov 2020. I have had no job, business or property, no income at all (my husband sends money for bills etc). My husband has a nif registered to a uk address as he remained resident there because of work commitments. I am leaving portugal in july to return to the uk. Do either/both of us need a rep? if so whet for exactly and for how long?

    Reply
    • Hi Naomi,

      This question gets asked quite a bit. Here's an answer from Bordr to a very similar question.

      I’m leaving Portugal forever and moving to a non-EU country. Can I cancel my NIF? I don’t want to pay for a fiscal representative.

      The Portuguese tax office does not allow for the cancellation of your NIF even if you no longer live in Portugal – or if you had gotten your NIF and later decided not to move to Portugal. This means that your assigned fiscal representative will continue to be your fiscal representative indefinitely. At Bordr, we understand that plans change and things can happen that are out of our control. For as long as you do not have any ongoing tax obligations, we can waive ongoing fiscal representation fees for our customers, provided that you agree to not use your NIF for any purposes in the future.

      Reply
      • Hi, thanks for response. So simply because we have a nif, we are obliged to have a fiscal rep forever? I have zero tax obligations, I dont even have a bank account. I was going to see an accountant before i leave to file a zero tax return then surrender my residency certificate and change my status at financas to non resident. I have not heard of bordr but will approach them, im certainly not about to pay out for representation i dont need especially when this was never even mentioned when i applied for the nif. Thanks again 🙂

        Reply
        • As per the Bordr article, your fiscal representative doesn't have to be a lawyer. It could be a friend living in Portugal. However, it's a lot to ask someone to be your fiscal representative forever and if that person is an expat, it's possible they could move in a few years. And what do you do then? The system probably works if you're Portuguese and have plenty of friends and family here, but isn't really designed with expats in mind.

          Reply
  3. Yet another tax rising excuse by the Portugal Government, they could have changed the rule to accommodate UK residents who were exempt pre brexit & introduce two strikes of noncompliance before the persons would need a fiscal rep. Instead, they think of the extra IVA tax income from everyone paying for a non-service ranging between 200 to 500 euros each person.
    We are already registered with AT & CCT for tax notifications, we can pay government bill by online banking, we can translate most documents & we could auto apply a fiscal representative online by registering their details on the AT web page then the Portugal friend accepts in their AT online account.
    If we had matters beyond just IMI we would then request paid services off a specialist accountant.

    Reply
  4. if I already have a bank account in portugal and am a US national living in the US and have no property or other assests in portugal do I still need a fiscal representative?

    Reply
    • If I rememer right, to aquire a Portugal bank account you need a NIF number. The rules on fiscal representatives states anyone with a NIF number & is not resident in Portugal or have not been resident after 6 months will need to apply a fscal representative against their Portugal tax account.

      Reply
  5. hi! I have a question related to the below topic:

    If you are from certain EEA countries, you don’t need a fiscal representative (although you can decide to get one)

    I am a Dutch citizen, living currently in Switzerland and planning on buying a place in Portugal next year. Would I need a fiscal representative or Switzerland is in the group of "certain EEA countries"? Obrigada!

    Nynke

    Reply
    • If you plan to buy in Portugal but still reside & pay taxes in Swtzerland you will not need a fiscal rep as long as you show documents proof of residence when applying for your NIF.
      If you are tax resident in the Netherlands, No fiscal rep required.
      If you plan to reside in Portugal, no fiscal rep unless you go outside the country over 6 months.

      Reply
  6. Hey there,

    I reside in the EU and would like to appoint my Portuguese citizen friend to be my fiscal representative. How do I do this? I would like to send him to get a NIF for me.

    Best,
    Michael

    Reply
    • You cannot have a fiscal representative until you have a NIF, You need to apply for a NIF yourself or through a service provider (Solicitor, accountant).
      Fiscal representatives only tell people they have a liability tax bill to pay within a period of time or advise a new tax document has been sent in the account. If you do not reply to the fiscal rep they tell the tax man you are not compliant.

      Reply
  7. We live and work in the UK and plan to retire at the end of 2022, residing 6 months at a time.
    For this purpose we bought a house in the Algarve in June 2015.
    I visit this house almost every month for an extended weekend. (except during the pandemic year)
    My wife and I have our fiscal numbers
    My wife and I have got the local Parish Certificates of Residency issued by the Parish Chairman.
    We receive our Council annual IMI house tax demands by e-mail and pay directly from our Portuguese Bank account.
    What other services could we use a representative for? Please advise.

    Reply
    • Yes you are able to do everything yourself, you pay ontime, everything is set up by direct debit, youve never needed one before, but according to the portuguese tax office you need a tax representative. Your basically going to pay a lawyer a retainer fee to do absolutely nothing.

      Yes you need to do it because the uk is not in the eu anymore.

      Doesnt just apply to brits. Portuguese living in the uk will need to do this as well although they can probably ask a family member to do it for them.

      $150 per year is actually quite reasonable. some are charging upwards of 500 Euros.

      Reply
    • You will nolonger be allowed to stay on a holiday visa for 6 months as the EU rules for third countrys is
      90 days wthin 180.
      you can apply for a tempoary visa for 5 years at the Portugal embisy in London at a cost.
      You both will need a fiscal rep after June 2022, See my post on this matter if you have a good neighbour resident in Portugal.

      It is the fact we are tax resident in the UK that makes us fall into this rediculous law.

      Reply

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