How to Open a Portuguese Bank Account (Including Online)

By James Cave / Published: March 2021August 10, 2021.
Posted in: Money & Finance / 22 Comments & Questions

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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.

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 seems to need to be a Portuguese bank account and not just a Euro bank account like those offered by Wise, Revolut, or N26.

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

Option 1: Power of Attorney

Most Portuguese banks won’t allow you to open a bank account onlineas a non-resident anyway. 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, prevalent, and most recommended banks in Portugal. If you need a NIF as well you can get the two for €450 (saving you €50).

You’ll also find that most relocation companies offer bank account opening as one of their standard services along with obtaining a NIF.

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. 

Opening an account in Portugal

If you’re already physically in Portugal, even if you’re just visiting, you can open a bank by visiting your nearest branch. You don’t always need to be resident to do this; you can open a bank account as a non-resident as well.

You will normally need:

  • A NIF number (there’s a whole article on NIFs, if you’re not sure what this is)
  • A Portuguese mobile phone number (non always required)
  • ID such as a passport or European ID card
  • 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 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) and Millennium always comes up high as well. Unlike ActivoBank, they have branches throughout the country (but unfortunately aren’t completely free). 

A few other banks include:

Free Euro bank accounts

If you’re just staying in Portugal for a short amount of time, it may make sense to get some form of Euro bank account. 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) and cash withdrawals. There are plenty of app-based accounts like:

What To Read Next

 

22 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
    • 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
  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
  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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Need a NIF Number?

Get a Portuguese NIF number for €140 (normally €150) when you use the code PORTUGALIST at Bordr.io