Increasingly, 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 has to be a Portuguese bank account and not just a Euro bank account. A Revolut, N26 account, or any other European app-based bank account just won’t cut it.
So just how do you open a Portuguese bank account remotely? Here are a few options.
First things first: the NIF
Before we get onto bank accounts, we should first mention the NIF as it’s quite likely you will need a NIF (fiscal number) in order to open a bank account.
There are a couple of different ways to get a NIF, but if you’re not in Portugal you’ll probably need to pay a lawyer or relocation company to do it for you.
Bordr.io offers this service for $150 (or $140 when you use the code PORTUGALIST) and it usually takes around 3 days to obtain the NIF through them. It’s not the only company to offer this service – most relocation companies and immigration lawyers will.
Alternatively, you can come to Portugal to get your NIF, however, this is really only worthwhile if you’re an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. Those from outside these communities will still need a ‘tax representative’ (aka lawyer) to accompany them to Finanças, so there’s no real financial benefit here.
More information about the NIF can be found here.
Open an account through ‘Power of Attorney’
Most relocation companies or lawyers specialising in immigration will offer a bank account opening service where they open a bank account in Portugal on your behalf.
Prices vary depending on the company, but expect to pay around €150 for this. While expensive, the benefit is that it can be reasonably quick and you get more of a choice of banks.
Visit a bank that has branches in your country
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.
Similarly, many have visited Investors Bank-International Services in New Jersey as they are connected to Millennium BCP and able to open a Portuguese bank account. It’s normally necessary to travel to New Jersey, though.
Open a bank account online
Unfortunately, most Portuguese banks won’t allow you to open a bank account online, however, that is slowly starting to change and more and more banks like Atlantico are taking applications over the internet. They also aren’t asking for a NIF.
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.
ActivoBank also offers an online account opening service, however, they often require a lot of documents that you may not have if you haven’t moved to Portugal yet.
Visit Portugal on a “scouting trip”
Another option is simply to visit Portugal on a scouting trip. As more and more consulates ask for you to have a NIF, Portuguese bank account, and even an apartment rental before moving to Portugal, many people find it’s just as easy to visit Portugal for a few days and sort these things out.
Financially speaking, it’s probably cheaper to do it through the “power of attorney” option mentioned, above, but this option does include a trip to Portugal. It’s hard to say no to that!
You may still need a tax representative (aka lawyer) to get your NIF from Finanças, which means visiting in person probably won’t be much cheaper than doing it online, but at least this option will give you more choices of bank account to open.
ActivoBank, which mainly has branches in Lisbon and Porto, is one of the most recommended (partly because it doesn’t have maintenance charges) but Millennium always comes up high as well. They also have branches throughout the country as well.
What you will need to open an account
Generally speaking, you should only need the following items:
- Passport (or European ID card).
- Proof of address (e.g. driving licence or utility bills)
- NIF (Portuguese fiscal number).
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.