How to Open a Portuguese Bank Account (Including Online Options)

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Bordr.io have a bank account opening service, which can be done online. This costs €350 (or €340 for Portugalist readers).

Discount applied automatically (no code needed).

If you’re planning on living in Portugal, you will most likely need a current account with a Portuguese bank for day-to-day living. While it is possible to pay some bills from a foreign bank account using IBAN, in Portugal bills are normally paid using the native Multibanco system and this is only available with a bank account from a Portuguese bank. So, if you have utility bills or a mobile phone contract, you’ll most likely need a Portuguese bank. And, if you’re moving to Portugal on a residency visa such as the D7, you may need to show evidence of a funded Portuguese bank account before moving here. It’s also worth noting that many shops won’t allow you to pay by card unless the card is from a Portuguese bank.

This article covers how you can open an account

  1. If you’re opening a bank account from abroad
  2. If you’re opening a bank account from within Portugal

Opening an account from abroad

For whatever reason you may want to open a bank account from outside of Portugal as a non-resident (someone who doesn’t officially live in 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. Another reason is if you’re buying a Portuguese property as a non-resident and aren’t able to come to Portugal to open the bank account.

So just how do you open a Portuguese bank account remotely? The most common way is through a lawyer or an online service such as Bordr or E-Residence. Bordr and E-residence are not the only companies that offers this service; most relocation companies will offer this as a service in some form or other.

CostBankTurnaroundBundleDiscount
Bordr.io€350 Millenium BCP3-4 weeksNIF + bank account – €470€10 using this link
E-Residence.com€300NovoBanco3-4 weeksNo

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 more branches across Portugal and so this might be a better choice if you’re not 100% sure where you are going to end up living. If you’re moving to a more remote part of Portugal, it’s best to check which bank has branches there, which you can do using the following links:

Do you need to get both the NIF and the bank account? It depends. If you’re coming to Portugal on a scouting trip before putting in your visa application, you could get the NIF and then maybe open the bank account while you’re in Portugal (some banks allow non-residents to open an account in Portugal, some don’t). If you aren’t coming to Portugal before, you’ll more than likely need to get a lawyer or relocation company to remotely open a bank account on your behalf.

If you decide to go down the lawyer route, check which bank they offer accounts with and make sure that bank has branches where you’re likely to live. It’s also worth comparing prices against other lawyers and relocation companies as prices can vary considerably.

There is actually a DIY option that doesn’t require you to go through a lawyer.

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, 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, but at least this option can be done remotely. The account opening service also isn’t available in every country.

If you are a resident already, you’ll have more options e.g. Novo Banco allows you to open an account online.

Finally, there’s one more option, depending on where you live. 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 and Bordr and E-residence can both obtain them)
  • 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. 

Which bank is best?

ActivoBank, which mainly has branches in Lisbon and Porto, is one of the most recommended because it doesn’t have maintenance charges. Millennium isn’t free, but is usually recommended and has branches throughout the country.

In fact, most mainstream banks in Portugal aren’t free. With the exception of Activobank, banking generally isn’t completely free in Portugal. However, it’s worth noting that most banks offer a basic bank account or conta de serviços mínimos bancários[1]https://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 €4.35[2]https://www.bportugal.pt/en/page/what-basic-bank-account.

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)

Besides Millenium and Activobank, a few other banks include:

Online/App-based banks

  • Moey (a Portuguese version of Revolut or N26)

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. This is useful for holding money in Euros and withdrawing those Euros without getting charged.

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:

Note: Some of these banks have a limit on the number of free withdrawals they offer per month. This is typically around €200 per month or three withdrawals. For some people this may be enough, but others may need to combine several free Euro bank accounts.

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Comments

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
    • Hi Gail,

      Yes, it seems that opening a bank account remotely takes quite a bit of time. I guess there's a lot of due diligence that doesn't exist with the NIF and this is why it takes longer.

      Reply
  6. 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
    • The bank's offer might be suitable, but I think it's a good idea to shop around before saying yes. Many banks do try to get you to sign up at the opening stage. I agree it's good to speak to a broker first as they will be able to compare many of the other products.

      Reply
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
    • Hi Thess

      Honestly, it might be a bit early for everything. I would definitely keen an eye out on property as there's a bit of a shortage at the moment, so if you see something you like (and can come and view) it's worth considering. It's definitely just worth keeping an eye on the prices, though, to get an idea of the market.

      A NIF can be obtained in less than a week and a bank account in less than a month, although you could organise these things in 2024. You would probably be paying maintenance fees on the bank account while it's open (free banking isn't that common in Portugal) and while you're not using it, so it's better to leave it closer to the actual date.

      As for the D7, once the visa is granted you have a short period of time in which to move to Portugal (120 days) so you want to arrange this closer to the time.

      Finally, a lot can change in a few years and you don't know whether you will still want to move to Portugal then.

      I would say that the best thing you can do in the meantime is try to visit Portugal to get a feel for the country and work out where you want to live. Also, begin learning Portuguese. Learning a new language takes a while and the earlier you start, the more you'll have by the time you come to Portugal.

      Reply
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
      • A tax return from another country in a foreign language? surely won't fly 🙂 and I'd get my first tax return of the self-employed activity in Portugal in May next year so...stuck stuck stuck with no account, thus problems with a million other services..

        Reply
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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