How to Open a Portuguese Bank Account (Online or in-Person)

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Written by: | Last updated on February 28, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re considering making Portugal your new home, or investing in property here, you will need to open a Portuguese bank account. Not only does it simplify day-to-day transactions and bill payments, but a Portuguese bank account is also a prerequisite for many residency visa applications, including the D7 or golden visa.

While opening a bank account should be a relatively straightforward process, that isn’t always the case. At Portugalist, we’ve helped thousands of people open a Portuguese bank account and we’ve created this article so you can do the same.

Ready to open a Portuguese bank account?

There are primarily two ways to open a bank account. Either:

  1. Online from abroad
  2. 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, you could either:

  • Use a lawyer or relocation company.
  • Come to Portugal and open an account in-person.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult for non-residents, particularly non-EU/EEA residents, to open a Portuguese bank account in-person. You may need to visit multiple different banks and branches if you decide to do this yourself.

Alternatively, you could use a bank account opening service.

Comparison Table: Bank Account Opening Services

The following companies open Portuguese bank accounts for non-residents, typically at a cost of around €300-€350.

CompanyBankTurnaround
Anchorless€269.25 with code PORTUGALIST25Millennium BCP3-4 weeks
Bordr$340 with code PORTUGALISTMillennium BCP 3-4 weeks
E-Residence.com€338 with code PORTUGALISTNovoBanco3-4 weeks
NovoMove€290 with code PORTUGALISTNovoBanco3-4 weeks
Visas.pt€395 (includes cost of obtaining NIF) NovoBanco2-3 Weeks

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.

CompanyAverage DeliveryBankCostWebsite
Anchorless.io3-4 WeeksMillennium BCP€389.25 with code PORTUGALIST25Visit Website
E-Residence3-4 WeeksNovobanco€437 with code PORTUGALIST*Visit Website
Bordr3-4 WeeksMillennium BCP$460 Visit Website
visas.pt2-3 WeeksNovobanco€395Visit Website
Novomove2-3 WeeksNovobanco€349 with code PortugalistVisit Website

Typical documents required

Services such as Anchorless or 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.

Millennium Vs NovoBanco

Millennium 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, Millennium 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 in the Azores, Millennium BCP would be the better choice.

Atlantico

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.

Cant even get into the app and the reviews are terrible for Atlantico. Apprarently noone show sup for the video verification call, leaving people waiting for hours, then not showing. Im sure some have success, but thats all the reviews I read

Jen (commenter on Portugalist)

Other Options

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.
  • 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 Millennium)?
  • 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 bancários. 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 €4.35.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing james@portugalist.com or via the site's contact form.

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There are 64 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.

Comments

  1. Hello, I’d like to share some insights on opening a bank account as a non-resident, which largely varies based on your country of origin. For EU citizens, the process is relatively straightforward. For those from other regions of the world, the experience can be more challenging. However, Brits seem to have it a bit easier seeing as they only just left the EU.

    Regarding my personal experience, Activobank informed me that starting from 2022, they ceased opening accounts for individuals without a residence card, which is unfortunate given their status as one of the few banks in Portugal that offer free services.

    Novobanco is an alternative that accepts new clients, though it’s worth noting there have been several negative reviews about their services.

    Millenium BCP’s willingness to open accounts for non-residents seems to fluctuate based on the staff present at the time of application, with EU citizens, including those from the UK, generally finding it easier to get an account opened.

    Reply
    • Hi Rob,

      As the article says: maybe.

      It depends on the branch, person you’re speaking to, and where you’re resident. Some people have success in the first bank and branch they try whereas others need to visit a few before finding one that’ll allow them to open an account.

      The banks have become a lot stricter on who can open an account, especially those resident outside of the EU, but there aren’t black and white rules – different banks and even different branches seem to have different policies.

      Reply
  2. Is it necessary that all documentation show full name as shown on a passport to open a bank account? My full middle name is not used anywhere except my passport.

    Reply
  3. I would like to open a bank account with one f the banks in Funchl Madeira but neither bordr or e-residence seem to deal with these banks – Bank of Portugal . Bankinter And BPI
    What to do ?
    Jenny

    Reply
  4. We opened a bank account wiht Novo Banco because they apparently are easier about large deposits. Our money is all legitimate but we got tired of being asked a million questions every time we tried to deposit a few thousand. Money laundering is obviously important and common across all EU banks but Portuguese bureaucracy means the deposits get held up and often rejected all the time. So far Novo Banco has not caused us the issues that other Portuguese banks have.

    Reply
  5. Agree on Novo Banco. Was happy to give them a chance as they shouldn’t be held accountable for Banco Espirito Santo but the app is just terrible. We will be switching to Millenium as soon as we can.

    Reply
  6. If the choice is between millenium and novo banco the choice is obviously millenium. novo banco is part of the failed espirito santo that had to be bailed out during the financial crisis. Maybe they’re better now but its hard to get past that image.

    But each to their own. All banks are pretty incompetent and it definitely wasnt just espirito santo that messed up. Anyone remember Lehman brothers?

    Reply
  7. If you want to open a bank account with Millenium you have a few options

    1) use Bordr. Easiest as you can do everything online but there’s a cost to doing this
    2) Go to Investors Bank in New Jersey, US. Might involve a trip wwhich would make it more expensive especially if you need an overnight hotel but you may get lucky and are able to do it online
    3) Come to Portugal and open one in branch (for a while they weren’t opening for non residents but it seems they are again)

    Not sure why it needs to be Millenium specifically. We are looking at Novo Banco as they seem to have lots of branches as well.

    Reply
  8. Activo bank,
    I see that both millennium and activo banks both advertise that they require a citizen card to open an account online. Has anyone been able to open an online account from the US with only having a NIF? If so, which bank and how were you successful in opening an account online?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. I any trying to open an account through Millennium bcp online and am having some difficulty. I live in the US. I contacted millennium and a rep told me to told to contact +351 214 270 200 for online account help(that number seems to be invalid). I called back the main line , spoke to someone else and was told online accounts can only be opened if you have a Portugues residency card. Otherwise, you have to open an account in person at a branch or representation building. I saw a comment that someone on here was able to open an account online a few weeks ago while living in the us. I have friends that live in Portugal that told me the same, that millennium no longer accepts online applications. I wanted to know if anyone else has had this experience or if there is any other information regarding opening a personal account online ? I have a NIF but no residency card.
    Thank you,

    Reply
  10. I decided to open a bank account online but almost left it too late. I knew that companies like Bordr and EResidence could get a NIF in a few days so thought the bank account would be similar. I was WRONG. Getting a bank account with either takes around 3-4 weeks at least. I contacted several lawyers and some of them told me it would take 6-8 weeks and maybe even longer. If you need a bank account for your D7 it’s best to arrange it a few months before.

    Reply
  11. The worst thing about opening a bank account in Portugal is that they always try to sell you some insurance product. You are much better off using a broker to compare insurance whether it’s for your home car or health than going with whatever the bank offers. These products are normally stripped down and basic in comparison to what else is out there. Be firm and say NO until you have had a chance to compare all the options.

    Reply
  12. You should warn people that opening a Portuguese bank account is much harder if you come from a country like India. I feel like people from the US and UK go through a lot less checks and due diligence than people from the rest of the world do.

    Reply
  13. We came to Portugal to open a bank account on a scouting trip as this was cheaper than paying a company to do it remotely. However we were surprised at how difficult this was. Lots of banks said they wouldn’t open an account for a non resident and others tried to come up with reasons not to help is out. We had assumed we could just walk into a bank and open an account but this was not the case. We also found that different branches gave different responses. There clearly wasn’t a bank policy in place but the tellers were making it up on the spot.

    Reply
  14. Hi James,
    I am a Single 61 years woman and plan to retire (2025) in Portugal (still in search of that place)
    Do you advise the following now while I’m in the US or a bit early?

    Open Portuguese Bank Account
    Apply for NIF
    Apply for D7 Visa
    Search Property (home/small farm)

    Reply
  15. I needed to change our name on the account (legal name change) and spoke to the bank to do it. Of course it’s possible to do this (people get married and change names all the time) but expect to have to show a lot of paperwork. This is Portugal after all. The land of paperwork.

    Reply
  16. If you update/change your name on your passport, how easy is it to change your name on your previously opened (old passport) bank account in Portugal?

    Reply
  17. We opened a Portuguese bank account remotely with Millenium. For the D7 visa we knew we had to fund it (we added $15,000) and used Wise. This worked out much cheaper than sending it via our bank and was very quick and easy to use. In the future we may move more of our money over from our US bank accounts in which case we may research other platforms (OFX looks promising) but this suits our needs for day-to-day spending.

    Because it takes so long to open a bank account remotely we would recommend doing it as soon as possible otherwise it will delay your visa application. We thought it would take as long as the NIF which only took around a week.

    Reply
    • Hey Marla

      I also thought so for the bank account.
      May I ask how long yours took to be finalized? I’m still waiting for mine (5th week now) via Bordr

      Reply
  18. We opened an account with Millenium but were able to get half off our maintenance fees by opening up a connected savings account and paying in at least 100 euros per month. It’s a good habit to save and it reduces our costs so it works well for us. We pay in 250 and use it as an emergency fund.

    Reply
  19. So how about self employed people? I can’t seem to find a solution for my case as the physical banks all require payslip or job contract to open an account ( I am self employed, with a professional activity already registered here in Portugal) while all the digital banks only open accounts to Portuguese citizens (something I can apply for in 5years time)…any ideas how a self employed EU expat can open a bank account please?

    Reply
  20. Hi James,

    Thank you for all the beautiful info.
    I have a Portugal nationality but i do not have a valid NIF.
    I am resident in Turkey.
    Is it obligatory to get a NIF in order to open a bank account in Portugal ?

    Many thanks,

    Reply
  21. 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
      • Cant even get into the app and the reviews are terrible for Atlantico. Apprarently noone show sup for the video verification call, leaving people waiting for hours, then not showing. Im sure some have success, but thats all the reviews I read

        Reply
    • weeks/Months. I uploaded the required forms on the Atlantico app. got an email for more docs and attached those docs to the email reply. then did a video call which was supposed to be the last step. Got an email about a week later that the process didn’t go through and had to do the video verification again. I repeated that video call about 4 times and eventually gave up on the process.

      Considering visiting Portugal when I travel to Europe in Feb 2022 to process the NIF and bank Acct myself if I can do all in under 1 week

      Reply
  22. 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
  23. 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
    • Yes, better to get a bank account with a bank that actually has branches in Portugal. Atlantico Bank is an Angolan bank. With Millenium you’ll be able to go to your local branch if there’s ever a problem.

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

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

    Reply
  26. 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
  27. 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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