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Utilities in Portugal: Setting up Your Water, Gas, & Electricity

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Last updated on April 15, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes

When you move into a new home, whether it’s somewhere you’ve rented or bought, you’ll most likely need to arrange utilities such as water, electricity, and, depending on whether the property has it, gas. 

It isn’t a major task, but you can sometimes get someone else to do it (fill out the form below to speak to an agent).

Alternatively,

  • If you’re renting, your landlord may be willing to arrange it (or help you with the process)
  • If you’re buying, your buyer’s agent (if you have one), lawyer, or the seller’s agent may be willing to help you. Some estate agents through in this service for free as one of their selling points
  • Some expat-focused companies offer a service where they set up your utilities for you

Some utility companies will accept payment by IBAN, but most will want you to use the Multibanco system. If this is the case, you’ll need a Portuguese bank account. You’ll also need a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) which is also usually necessary for opening a bank account in Portugal. 

Tips:

  • If you’re a couple, consider putting different bills in each partner’s name so you both have proof of address
  • You can pay by direct debit or do it manually via multibanco
  • Portuguese utility companies don’t have the best reputation in Portugal, particularly when it comes to cancelling a contract so be warned
  • You can submit meter readings online and this will help make sure your estimates are more accurate and you aren’t overcharged 

Arranging Electricity

Unlike water, where you will normally only have one option, there are a number of electricity companies in Portugal. The biggest of these is EDP, but other options include Galp Energia, Endesa, and Iberdrola. Normally electricity and pipes gas are supplied by the same company and appear on the same bill.

Which one is the best? That depends. While you can use price comparison websites such as those listed below, it’s also considering other factors like whether they have an English-speaking helpline and how easy it is to get connected to them. It’s also important to double-check the final price as sometimes the offer price doesn’t include something like taxes, which obviously affects how much you’ll actually pay.

Comparison sites:

Most companies will offer a range of different tariffs. Some offer cheaper rates at certain times of the day, particularly night, and they can make financial sense if you’re able to remember to run appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine during these hours. 

Another thing to consider is the electricity output. The cheapest tariffs often cut out if you run two or more high-powered electrical items at the same time (for example a hairdryer and the microwave). If you don’t want to spend your time constantly trying to find the fuse box in the darkness or having your internet reset, simply phone up the electricity company and ask to be upgraded to a more powerful tariff. This does cost more, but most people find it worth it.

Gas

Not every home has gas, especially mains gas, but having gas can cut your cost of living as it’s much cheaper than electricity. Again, it’s a good idea to use the comparison websites mentioned to find the best deal.

However, many companies, for example EDP and Endesa both offer electricity and gas and electricity and most people just sign up with one company.

You will need a gas safety inspection every 2-4 years, and there is often a fee for this.

Some properties don’t have mains gas, but use gas bottles. These bottles can be replaced at the supermarket or petrol station and some companies will deliver as well. 

Water

Unlike electricity and gas, where it’s normally possible to compare several different utility companies, there are usually only one water company per region.

For example, Aguas de Lisboa e Vale do Tejo supplies the Lisbon and Tejo region. In the Algarve, Aguas do Algarve supplies water to the Algarve region. The costs can vary per region, and is usually cheaper in lower density areas, such as inland Portugal. The Algarve, for example, is more expensive than other parts of the Portugal.

Many people worry that Portuguese water isn’t drinkable, but don’t worry: it is. It can be hard in some parts of the country, however, and the taste can vary depending on the time of year. If your water ends up being hard or has too much chlorine, you could consider installing a BRITA tap, a reverse osmosis system, or a water softener. Alternatively, a simple Brita filter jug from Amazon should do the trick. 

Billing & Contracts

You will normally need a Portuguese bank account, however some providers will accept European bank accounts with an IBAN number. This includes online or app-based accounts, such as those from Wise. If you choose to do this, you will need to provide prove that this account is yours.

The bills are typically electronic and sent to you on a monthly basis. Payments are normally taken on a direct debit basis, which means it’s taken from your bank account. It is possible to pay via other ways, such as using Multibanco via the ATM machines in Portugal, however it is much easier to have payments automatically taken by direct debit.

To arrange a contract you will normally need to provide:

  • An address in Portugal.
  • Identification (typically a passport, but otherwise a European identity card).
  • NIF Number (Portuguese tax identity number).
  • Phone number (international numbers are often accepted, but a Portuguese mobile number makes more sense).
  • Email address.
  • Proof of address (e.g. lease contract or deed of sale).
  • Bank details.
  • Preferred date of installation.
  • Bill from previous tenant or owner with the CPE code (código de ponto de entrega).

Unlike internet and phone contracts, which are typically for 24 months at a time in Portugal, it’s possible to switch utilities providers whenever you want.

If the electricity was switched off by the previous owners, it’ll need to be switched back on by the electricity company, and this normally takes around 4-5 days. Normally, the electricity company doesn’t need to re-enter the apartment to do this.

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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.