How to Open a Portuguese Bank Account (Including Online)

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Bordr.io have a bank account opening service, which can be done remotely (online). This costs €350 (or €340 when you use the code PORTUGALIST)


If you’re planning on living in Portugal, you will need a Portuguese bank account. You’ll need it to pay bills (e.g. utilities or a mobile phone contract), and if you’re moving to Portugal on a visa you may need to show evidence of a Portuguese bank account before moving here.

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This article covers how you can open an account

  1. If you’re opening it from abroad
  2. If you’re opening it from within Portugal

Opening an account from abroad

For whatever reason you may want to open a bank account from outside of Portugal.

The most common reason is that more and more consulates are asking people moving to Portugal to have a Portuguese bank account before they move to Portugal in order to get their visa approved. If you’re applying for a Portuguese residency visa (such as the D7) this may be something that you come up against. Unfortunately, it has to be a Portuguese bank account and not just a Euro bank account like those offered by Revolut or N26.

So just how do you open a Portuguese bank account remotely? Here are a few options. 

Option 1: Power of Attorney

Unfortunately, most Portuguese banks won’t allow you to open a bank account online. Normally, you will need to do this through power of attorney, which basically means giving a lawyer permission to do it on your behalf (and obviously paying them as well).

Bordr.io offers this service for $350 ($10 discount when you use the code PORTUGALIST) and will open the account with Millenium BCP, one of the most popular and most recommended banks in Portugal.

You’ll also find that most relocation companies offer bank account opening as one of their standard services. Prices vary and start from around €150+IVA.

Option 2: Atlantico Bank

Most Portuguese banks won’t allow you to open a bank account online if you’re not a resident yet, but one exception is Atlantico. This isn’t a very well-known bank, but many people moving to Portugal have used it, particularly to meet residency visa requirements.

To open an account with Atlantico, you’ll need to download the MyAtlantico app, submit the required documents, and then do a video interview to confirm your identity. Once you’ve completed the interview there can be a long waiting process waiting for your account to be opened, but at least this option can be done remotely. The account opening service also isn’t available in every country.

Option: 3 Visit a bank with branches outside of Portugal

Some Portuguese banks have branches outside of Portugal and many people have been able to open a Portuguese bank account this way. 

Millennium BCP, for example, has a branch in London which many UK residents have visited in order to open an account without visiting Portugal. You will most likely need a NIF in order to do this, although some people have said the bank offered them a ‘temporary NIF’ in order to bypass this requirement. 

Similarly, many have visited Investors Bank-International Services in New Jersey as they are connected to Millennium BCP and able to open a Portuguese bank account. It’s normally necessary to travel to New Jersey, though, and that may end up being just as expensive as paying a lawyer to open an account for you.

Opening an account in Portugal

If you’re already physically in Portugal, you can open a bank by visiting your nearest branch. You don’t always need to be resident to do this, do you could open a bank account as a foreigner while visiting Portugal.

You will normally need:

  • A NIF – A 9-digit number used in Portugal when you make financial transactions. 
  • A Portuguese mobile number. 
  • Passport (or European ID card)
  • Residency card (if resident in Portugal)
  • Proof of address – Utility bills (gas or electric or a mobile phone contract).  
  • Proof of income – Payslips (that ideally state your profession) or a letter of employment for employees, pension slips for pensioners, and a tax return for the self employed. 
  • Initial deposit – some banks (like ActivoBank) require an initial deposit. In the case of ActivoBank, it’s currently €250. 

Some banks may ask you for your recent payslips or proof of earnings. It’s a strange requirement that some Portuguese banks have. If you’re a pensioner, your pension slips should suffice and if you’re self-employed, show your tax return. 

Which bank is best?

ActivoBank, which mainly has branches in Lisbon and Porto, is one of the most recommended (partly because it doesn’t have maintenance charges) but Millennium always comes up high as well. They also have branches throughout the country as well. 

A few other banks include:

Free Euro bank accounts

IIf you’re just staying for a short amount of time, it may make sense to get some form of Euro bank account, especially if you’re being charged to withdraw money. A free bank account, like the one offered by Activobank, could be ideal for this. Alternatively, many people find that N26 and Revolut are fine for day-to-day transactions (although some shops won’t accept non-Portuguese bank cards). There are plenty of app-based accounts like:

  • N26
  • Revolut
  • Wise (previously Transferwise)
  • Bunq

FAQs

Can I open a bank account as a foreigner?

Yes, you don’t need to be a Portuguese citizen or even resident in Portugal to open a bank account. However, it’s harder to open a bank account online if you don’t live in Portugal already. You’ll most likely need to use a lawyer.

Do banks offer free bank accounts?

Most banks charge a monthly fee, but there are one or two banks that have free accounts or are completely free, such as Activobank (owned by Millennium bcp and the app-based Portuguese bank, Moey). Unfortunately, Activobank mainly has branches in Lisbon and Porto, so you’ll probably need to open an account with another bank if you want to be able to visit your bank in person.

Do I really need a Portuguese bank account?

It depends. If you have bills to pay (e.g. electricity and gas) or are buying a house, then you’ll probably need a Portuguese bank account. Portuguese debit cards are also more likely to be accepted in shops, so having an account is useful if you want to pay by card. However, if you are only in Portugal for a short period, you can get by by paying for everything in cash and card (where foreign bank cards are accepted).

Written by

Hi, I'm James. I'm the main writer at Portugalist and the author of the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple. I started Portugalist because I felt there was a real lack of good quality information about Portugal and I wanted to change that.

This article was originally published in March 2021. It was last updated on August 10, 2021.

20 thoughts on “How to Open a Portuguese Bank Account (Including Online)”

  1. HI James,
    Great info as ever. When you say Atlantico has a "long waiting process" when opening an account, are we talking days or weeks here?
    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Joss,

      At the time of writing, people were saying it was taking weeks. I'm not sure what it is currently, but hopefully someone else can comment.

      Reply
  2. Ola James,

    My wife is from Portugal and has a Portuguese passport and up to date NIF. We live in NZ but would like to open an account in Portugal from here, in preparation to move to Portugal in mid 2022.

    Is this possible and if so, what bank would you recommended?

    Muito Obrigado,
    JR

    Reply
    • Hi JR,

      Some Portuguese banks allow you to open an account online, but normally require that you're resident. If your wife has already been a resident and has a family address there then maybe it'll be possible. Otherwise, you'll need to use a lawyer (discussed in the article above).

      Millennium Bank (and the fee-free Activo Bank if you're going to be in Lisbon/Porto especially) both tend to be recommended (at least based on what I hear). It's not the only option of course, but a good place to start.

      Reply
  3. Hey James,

    Thanks for the information. Greatly appreciated. I tried both Atlantico and Best Bank and not finding those to be good options for me. I feel way more comfortable going with Millenium, even if I have to pay to get set up. Kinda pricy (Bordr.io) for me but I believe it will be well worth it in the long run. Going through Bordr.io as you suggest and I entered your code. Hope they give you a nice commission for the referral. Thanks again!

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the information, James. Do you know whether a friend in Portugal would be able to open an account on my behalf?

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      If you want to open an account remotely, the easiest thing is to use a service like Bordr or open an account directly with Atlantico (both mentioned in the article). If you want to open an account face-to-face in Portugal, this article explains what's needed a little more: https://www.portugalist.com/portuguese-bank-account/

      Reply
  5. Hello James, thank you very much for such detailed information. Very very helpful! Could I please check with you on opening a bank account (say Activobank) on a scouting trip to Portugal - when I show up at the branch, for proof of address, can I still use UK address (eg driver’s licence, etc), or would they require for me to have a proof of address in Portugal? Thank you very much in advance.

    Reply
    • Hi Inessa,

      You can open a bank account (e.g. with Activobank) with a non-Portuguese address. They might ask you why you're opening one, but buying a house/planning to move to Portugal are usually both accepted as good reasons.

      Reply
      • Excellent! Thank you very much, James, for a swift response! I am finding your site to be the bible for planning my move

        Reply
  6. James,
    Good info here and thanks for it. Question...which does one do first...open the bank account or get the NIF? It seems like you need a NIF to open a bank account? How does one get a NIF?

    Many thanks

    Reply

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