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
- If you’re opening it from abroad
- 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: