Reasons for Banking in Portugal

Portugal is a Western European country whose banks welcome foreign customers. Some other countries in the region could not be characterized in the same way. This fact alone should make you consider banking in Portugal if you are looking to set up a foreign bank account.

In addition to that, the banking system is well-developed in Portugal. Banks in the country come up to the highest modern standards. They will offer a wide range of banking services to you, give you access to online account management opportunities, and they are not going to make you pay through the nose for their services. Besides, compliance requirements are relatively lax in Portugal even if a non-resident applies for banking services.

Anyway, certain formalities are involved in setting up a bank account in Portugal. Money is not going to be the only thing that you need for that: some documents are going to be required too. At the same time, collecting the application documents is not going to be difficult at all.

Why open a bank account in Portugal

If you visit Portugal often or if you are thinking of moving there for good, an account with a local bank will make your life much simpler. If you are planning to purchase residential accommodations in Portugal, using a local bank to complete the deal would be an optimal solution.

The matter is that you are not allowed to pay more than 3,000 euros in cash whatever you buy in Portugal. When you have a bank account in the country, you can make any payments you want. Moreover, you don’t have to be physically present in Portugal to pay for utilities, your spouse’s fitness classes or your children’s sports clubs. Because all the payments can be made online wherever you are located at the moment. Besides, if you want to let your property in Portugal on a lease, your account with a Portuguese bank is where the rent is going to be transferred.

You can make payments remotely and you can also open a Portuguese bank account remotely. Some banks in the country make it possible to open accounts with them online. This applies only to personal bank accounts, however. Opening a corporate bank account in Portugal remotely is also possible but this does not mean that you can open such an account online: you cannot. What you can do is issue a Power of Attorney to a trusted agent in Portugal and he or she will go to the bank office and open an account on your behalf.

Whether you are planning to start doing business in Europe or you want to keep your money at a safe place, opening a bank account in Portugal would be a perfect option. This is especially true if you are not going to put huge amounts of money into your Portuguese bank account. (If this is the case, give an eye to Switzerland instead.)

You are going to need 50 to 100 euros to open a bank account in Portugal. Transactions within the country are free of charge and the commissions on international transactions are small.

All Portuguese banks without exception offer opportunities to manage your account remotely. As far as ATMs are concerned, the Portuguese Multibanco system is considered one of the most convenient ATM systems in Europe. You can perform close to one hundred various financial operations with the help of an ATM in Portugal from loading your telephone account to paying taxes. You also don’t have to pay any commissions on cash withdrawals and you can withdraw as little as 10 euros.

Speaking about the language barrier, you will find a Portuguese person who does not speak English at all if you go to a remote settlement in a rural area. If you find yourself in a relatively large Portuguese city, you will see that almost everybody speaks English there. A bank office will have an English-speaking operator in any case. Most online banking applications will also have English-language interfaces.  

What Portuguese bank should you choose to open an account?

Of 60+ banks registered in Portugal, approximately one half are branches of foreign banks. You will see offices of Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Santander and other world-renown banks in almost all large cities and towns in Portugal.

We would like to suggest, however, that a familiar brand name should not lead you astray. Foreign banks may have their corporate restrictions on providing services to foreign customers. Besides, account maintenance usually costs more in such banks. As far as money security is concerned, all deposits in Portuguese banks are insured in accordance with the EU regulations.

When the financial crisis of 2008 broke out, a few Portuguese banks went bust but this did not affect the welfare of most depositors. If a bank goes bankrupt in Portugal, the National Bank will compensate its depositors for up to 100,000 euros. If you kept more in the bankrupt bank, you can count only on a partial compensation. This risk can be avoided, however, by opening accounts with several banks in Portugal: there are dozens of them in the country.

It is difficult to pick one bank in Portugal to recommend to you, dear reader. All of them are friendly to foreign customers, probably with one exception. Caixa Geral de Depósitos is the oldest bank in the country and besides, it is a state bank. For this reason, you may have to submit a larger number of documents when applying for services to this bank and wait longer before the account is opened for you.

You will have to make an initial deposit when opening an account with a Portuguese bank. It is not going to be ‘frozen’ however: you can use the money when your account is activated. As a rule, the required amount of the initial deposit is between 200 and 500 euros. There are some nice exceptions though. Millennium BCP asks for the smallest initial deposit – only 50 euros. BPI и Banco CTT ask for 100 euros each.

The last bins that we have mentioned came into existence a relatively short time ago. It was established by the Portuguese postal service and you can find a bank office in all post offices in Portugal. In addition, this bank does not charge anything for a debit card while most other banks charge between 5 and 10 euros per month. Please note that some Portuguese banks make it possible to avoid this monthly payment. Leave a security deposit of 1,000 euros or so and you won’t have to pay anything for using the debit card.

What you need to open a bank account in Portugal

In addition to the money, you are going to need two more things to open a bank account in Portugal: you will have to bring your passport and your Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF) – your fiscal identification number.

Certainly, you have your passport but acquiring a NIF takes some effort. You have to have a ‘representative’ in Portugal who has a NIF and a residential address in the country to become eligible to apply for a NIF. This is not a trivial task and you cannot do without professional assistance if you want to solve it. Please use the hyperlink that we have supplied above to request expert support in the matter.

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