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How to open a bank account in Portugal

Are you settling in sunny Portugal? Open a local bank account to make your transition even smoother. Here’s what you need to know.

6 min read

If you’re settling in sunny Portugal, make it official by opening a bank account in the country. While expats aren’t legally required to have a Portuguese bank account, opening one will make it easier to pay taxes, get paid by a Portuguese company, and establish permanent residency. For new arrivals, however, the process can be a little tricky to navigate. Read on to find out how to open a bank account in Portugal.

Portuguese banking basics

Portugal is home to more than 150 banks, including international banks, private domestic banks, regional banks, and online banks. While exploring your options, be sure to compare the fees at each institution you look at. Check to see if there’s a monthly maintenance fee or a fee to use a debit card. It’s also common for banks to charge fees for using ATMs outside their own branch, so be sure your bank has plenty of convenient ATMs—or offers free withdrawals from outside ATMs—before you commit. 

What type of account should I open?

There are three primary types of bank accounts on offer at traditional Portuguese banks. They are: 

  • Current account—the most common bank account in Portugal. This account can be used for day-to-day purchases, ATM withdrawals, paying utilities, etc. Many banks offer specialized current accounts, such as student accounts and non-resident accounts, each with their own benefits. 
  • Instant-access savings account—For those hoping to save money while in Portugal, a savings account may help you stick to your goal. This type of account offers higher interest rates, while still allowing easy access to cash should you need to withdraw it. 
  • Time-deposit accounts—This type of savings account offers higher interest rates, but comes with restrictions on how long the funds must remain in the account. 

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What do I need to open a bank account in Portugal?

Foreigners may open a bank account in Portugal, either as a resident or a non-resident. Non-resident accounts require more documentation and can have more restrictions than a resident account, but this is an option if you don’t have an address in Portugal yet.

Whatever option you choose, the first step is to get your Portuguese NIF number, or “Número de Identificação Fiscal.” Issued by the Portuguese tax authority, the NIF is an essential step when moving to Portugal. You’ll need this number to pay taxes, get a phone contract, and, of course, open a bank account. To get your NIF number, bring your passport and proof of address to your local tax office.

How old do you have to be to open a bank account in Portugal?

The minimum age to open your own bank account in Portugal is 18 years old. That said, many banks offer junior bank accounts for minors. While these accounts will be in your name, you’ll need to have a parent or guardian co-sign, as they will be legally responsible for the account until you turn 18.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Portugal?

What do you need to open a Portugese bank account? Gather up the following documents: valid photo ID (passport), proof of address (a utility bill), proof of employment (a pay slip or work contract), and your NIF number. If you’re opening a non-resident bank account, bring proof of your foreign address. It’s best to bring several different documents for each category if you can, such as a utility bill and an official letter from a government agency, just to be on the safe side.

How to open a bank account in Portugal

Once you’ve chosen a bank and collected the necessary documents, the next steps should be straightforward. If you choose to go with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, simply walk into your local branch with your documents and the minimum deposit in cash, if necessary. While many bank employees in Portugal speak English, you might want to bring along a Portuguese-speaking friend or translator just in case. Or, call ahead to ensure an English speaker is on staff. 

You’ll be asked to fill out some paperwork and make the minimum deposit, if your account has one. With many banks, you’ll walk out with your debit card in hand. With others, you’ll receive your card by mail. 

On occasion, an application is declined if you cannot provide all documentation or do not meet the bank’s criteria. If your application is rejected, follow up with the bank to see how it can be resolved. If you hit a roadblock, you can contact the Banco de Portugal, the country’s central bank, to lodge a complaint. 

Can I open a bank account online in Portugal?

Most Portuguese banks require you to open a bank account in person, though some allow you to carry out the process online. Some traditional banks might allow you to start the sign-up process online, but require you to stop by a physical branch before finally opening the account.

If you choose a fully online bank, you’ll be able to receive traditional banking services such as money transfers and deposit insurance without ever having to set foot in a brick-and-mortar bank in person. Online banks can offer a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to access your finances or speak to a customer service expert wherever you are in the world.

What is the difference between a banking license and an e-money license?

E-money institutions offer limited financial services such as money transfers and currency exchange. If you’re looking for all the services of a legitimate bank, however, you’ll need to to make sure you open an account at an institution with a full banking license.

So, what is a banking license? In short, a company needs to have a banking license to be called a bank. N26 has been a fully licensed bank since July 2016, which means we can offer the full suite of banking services, including 100% mobile bank accounts and protection on every deposit up to €100,000.

How to open an account with N26

How to open a bank account online with N26

Opening a bank account online with N26 takes just a few minutes. Visit the N26 website or download the mobile app. Enter all your personal details and select the type of account you’d like to open. Not sure what type of account is right for you? Check out our comparison page to see every bank account we offer. 

Once you decide what type of account you’d like to open, grab a valid photo ID to verify your identity over a short video call. Lastly, make your first deposit via bank transfer and you’re good to go! Your virtual N26 Mastercard will show up on your smartphone right away.

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N26 accounts go far beyond basic banking services. If you’re planning to travel around Portugal or Europe, we offer a long list of travel benefits, including free withdrawals within the Eurozone and extensive travel insurance. Our N26 You and N26 Metal plans even offer pandemic-proof travel insurance, so you’re covered in case COVID-19 gets in the way of any necessary travel plans.

By N26

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