If you’re planning on living in Portugal or planning on buying a house in Portugal, you will most likely need a current account with a Portuguese bank for day-to-day living and for paying bills. You may also need a Portuguese bank account if you’re applying for a residency visa, such as the D7, as having a Portuguese bank with sufficient means of sustenance is now a requirement for most visa applicants.
There are two ways to open a bank account:
- Online from abroad
- In-person at a bank in Portugal
Opening an account online from abroad
Some Portuguese banks allow you to open a bank account online, but usually only if you’re already resident in Portugal. If you want to open a bank account from abroad, for example from the US or UK, the easiest option is to use a lawyer or relocation company (example companies below).
Alternatively, you might be able to open a bank account as a non-resident if you come to Portugal.
Comparison Table: Bank Account Opening Services
The following companies open Portuguese bank accounts for non-residents, typically at a cost of around €300-€350.
Bank Account Cost
€269.25 with code PORTUGALIST25
€290 with code PORTUGALIST
$340 using this link with code PORTUGALIST
€348 using this link with code PORTUGALIST
€395 (includes cost of obtaining NIF)
If you don’t already have a NIF number, you will need to order one of these as well, which several companies, like Bordr, Anchorless, and E-Residence, are able to offer.
Bank Account + NIF Cost
€389.25 with discount code PORTUGALIST25
E-Residence.com can also open bank accounts for €299, but there is an additional €49 charge for sending the cards out (Total = €348 for the bank account). With the cost of the NIF added on (this has to be obtained separately as they don’t offer bundles), this works out at a grand total of €437 but you can reduce it to €429 by using PORTUGALIST as a discount code with each purchase.
Typical documents required
E-residence and Bordr typically ask for the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Proof of address (e.g. utility bill)
- NIF number
- Proof of employment status (e.g. employed, student, retired etc.)
- Tax number from your country of residence
The minimum age for these bank accounts is typically 18 years of age. Many banks offer special bank accounts for those under 18 years of age.
Millenium Vs NovoBanco
Millenium BCP and NovoBanco are two of the largest banks in Portugal. Both offer online banking, banking apps for iOS and Android, and have local banks situated throughout all of Portugal. Both also offer mortgages, savings accounts, insurance, and other services.
Although both are large, Millenium BCP has slightly more branches across Portugal. Novobanco covers almost all of mainland Portugal, but doesn’t seem to have any branches in the Azores. If you’re thinking of living there, Millenium BCP would be the better choice.
Atlantico is one of the few Portuguese banks that allows you to open an account online. This isn’t a very well-known bank, and you won’t find branches throughout Portugal, but many people moving to Portugal have used it to meet the 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. The account opening service also isn’t available in every country.
Note: A lot of people report very long waiting times to open an account with Atlantico.
Some Portuguese banks have branches in other countries and you can open a Portuguese bank account through them.
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.
Opening an account in Portugal
If you’re already physically in Portugal, even if you’re just visiting, you might be able to open a bank account.
Opening a bank account in Portugal isn’t always easy or straightforward, particularly if you are resident in a country outside of the EU (e.g. the US). Some banks seem to still allow this, but it’s possible you will struggle and may need to work with a Portuguese lawyer or use a service like Bordr to open your account. If you get rejected in one bank, it is worth trying another bank and even just another branch.
In the case that you can open a bank account, you will normally need the following documentation:
- A NIF number (there’s a whole article on NIFs, if you’re not sure what this is. You can also get one through Bordr)
- A Portuguese mobile phone number (not always required, but it may be needed for login codes)
- ID such as a passport or European ID card or Residency card (if resident in Portugal)
- Proof of address such as 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 – many banks require an initial deposit, which is usually around €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 most recent tax returns.
How to choose a bank
There are a lot of banks in Portugal. So which one is best?
When choosing a bank there are a few things to consider:
- Does this bank have branches where I’m going to live (if you don’t know yet, pick somewhere with a lot of branches like Millenium)?
- Does this bank offer other products (like credit cards, health insurance, savings accounts, and mortgages)?
- Do the staff seem friendly and is there someone there that speaks my language?
- What are the maintenance charges and other costs (a monthly charge is a fact of life with many current accounts, but usually isn’t more than around €7.50 per month)*
*You may have free banking in your country but in general, most banks in Portugal charge a monthly fee (Activobank is the main exception). If you’re looking to keep costs down, you can ask for a basic bank account or conta de serviços mínimos bancárioshttps://clientebancario.bportugal.pt/en/institutions-provide-basic-bank-accounts. This may not be advertised, and the person at the bank may not suggest it, but if you ask for it, they should provide it. As a basic bank account provides a debit card, online banking, and direct debits, it’s more than most people need. The Bank of Portugal sets a maximum annual fee for basic bank accounts which, in 2022, was no more than €4.35https://www.bportugal.pt/en/page/what-basic-bank-account.