Do I Need a Fiscal Representative in Portugal?

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Let’s say that you own a property in Portugal. One day Finanças (the tax office) wants to send you a letter, perhaps about some taxes that you owe.

  • If you are resident in Portugal, Finanças is happy to send that letter to your Portuguese address
  • If you are resident in the EU, Finanças is happy to send that letter to your EU address
  • If you are resident outside of the EU, Finanças won’t send a letter to your non-EU address.

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 types of people that might need a fiscal representative include:

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  • Those from outside the EU/EEA who are applying for a NIF number (companies like Bordr, for example, can obtain a NIF and this includes one year of fiscal representation)
  • Those who have financial ties to Portugal (e.g. own a Portuguese car or property) but who are resident outside of Portugal and the EU
  • You have a business in Portugal or you earn income in Portugal subject to Portuguese income tax (IRS)

As of June 2022, Finanças has changed its rules slightly and for the better. Previously, if you obtained a NIF and lived in Portugal but then moved outside of the EU (e.g. to the US or UK), you would need ongoing fiscal representation in Portugal. You couldn’t simply cancel your NIF: you either had to find a friend resident in Portugal to be your fiscal representative or pay a company to be that representative. Most companies charge around €200, and to continue paying this for life was a big cost.

Thankfully, the rules are slightly different now. Now, you only need a fiscal representative if you have financial ties (e.g. a car or a house in Portugal) and are resident outside of Portugal or the EU [1]https://www.theportugalnews.com/news/2022-06-08/appointment-of-a-tax-representative-no-longer-mandatory-for-those-with-no-tax-obligations-in-portugal/67784?src=newsletter-09/06/2022.

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. Well, they don’t choose: if you’re moving to Portugal, you usually don’t know anyone you can ask to be your representative.

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, as mentioned, charges €150 to obtain a NIF (or €140 when you use this link), 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.

E-residence.com might be cheaper, and they also offer fiscal representation if you already have a NIF. Fiscal representation on its own costs €99 per year or, if you don’t already have a NIF you can order one with a year’s fiscal representation starting from €99.

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.

Penalties

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

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Comments

  1. I own a property in Portugal and have a NIF. I have appointed a fiscal representative for this year but wondered if this was needed if I was able to register for online billing (paperless) so that the tax bill did not need to be sent by post. Not sure if this is possible or not and how to do it. I would be grateful for advice.

    Reply
  2. iam in London since 2020, with my wife and kids,so now i changed my address in cartao de cidadao but do i still need to rep.in portugal?and what about kids under 12??

    Reply
  3. 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
  4. 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
        • HI,
          I find myself in the same situation. I was planning to move to Portugal last year, so I managed to get a NIF and appoint a fiscal representative through nifonline. My plans changed and I don't need the service any longer. I never been to Portugal, I have no business in Portugal, no money or anything, but they are asking me to renew every year, forever, their service. This was never made known to me when I contracted there service in the first place and to be honest it starts to feel a little bit of a scam.
          Do you think there is any way to get out of this conundrum?
          Thanks

          Reply
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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