It is easy to open a bank account in Portugal for both residents and non-residents. It is advisable especially for expats to open a bank account with an international bank. It is a good option if they are considering staying in the country for long.
Why do you need a bank account in Portugal?
A bank account in Portugal makes your life much easier, especially if you plan to stay for a long time. With a Portuguese bank account, you can save time and money on your daily transactions.
You can easily pay your utility/household bills through your account, and receive salaries. Also, if you plan on taking out a mortgage, your account will make the process much easier.
If you are a Golden Visa applicant, you will need a bank account in Portugal.
Setting Up An Expat Bank Account In Portugal
If you are not opening a non-resident bank account from overseas, you need to go to a local branch in person. Some banks also offer opening an account online. However, they are generally more related to digital and mobile banks.
The first thing to do is to find a local branch of a bank near you. You can find them on many banks’ websites. Most of them show the branches near you. It is also advisable to search if any bank staff speaks English. If not, bringing an interpreter or a phrasebook can be better for you. If your Portuguese is fluent enough, you may not need those.
Although they may differ depending on the bank, generally, the necessary documents are like these:
- Proof of ID (i.e: a passport)
- Proof of address (i.e: utility bill)
- Payslip or proof of employment (if not employed, you may bring proof of registration with the Portuguese employment center or a work contract assurance)
- Your Portuguese NIF number (Portuguese Tax Number)
- While opening up a non resident account in Portugal, in general, you need to provide details of your overseas address used for tax purposes.
- First, choose the bank
- Then, prepare the necessary paperwork
- Choose the type of account you will open
- Submit the necessary documents to the bank
- Lastly, wait for the result of your application. Usually, it takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Within a few days, you will receive your credit, debit, or cash cards related to your account.
The 4 Best Banks in Portugal for Expats and Foreigners
In general, banks in Portugal have an advanced banking system. They are quite developed compared to other banking systems in Europe. You can find ATMs throughout the country. Also, many of the banks provide online banking options as well. You can conduct various transactions through these banks. They include deposits, payment of services (i.e; mobile phone or internet), or interbank transfers.
Millennium BCP is the largest private bank in Portugal. Residents and expats can open accounts with this bank. A good feature of the bank is that it offers a Millennium Start account. This is available for anyone under 17 years old. This is especially useful when you travel with teenagers.
The bank also provides various services and products such as retail, commercial, and investment banking services. It is a member of the Euronext 100 stock index and it has more than 500 branches in Portugal. It serves more than 2.2 million customers.
Furthermore, one of its subsidiaries is Activo Bank. So, Millennium BCP performs its retail banking through Activo Bank.
The minimum deposit in this bank is €150, or an equivalent amount in another currency. The bank account allows various other currencies besides the Euro.
The bank also has a very good Internet banking facility as well. It even has an English version across all banking facilities. Not to mention that it is very user friendly.
Novobanco is a private bank and one of the largest banks in Portugal. It is quite new, founded in 2014 by the Bank of Portugal. It was to take over the liabilities and assets of the old Banco Espírito Santo. Lone Star Funds acquired 75% of Novobanco in 2017 and became the major shareholder.
Novobanco offers an account called Welcome Account, aimed especially at immigrants. You can also open a Golden Key Account if you speak English, or prefer English.
The following services are available through this bank:
- Retail and investment banking services
- Insurance services
- Asset management services
- Venture capital services.
This is also quite a new bank, founded a few years ago. As stated above, ActivoBank is a subsidiary of Millennium BCP. This means that you can deposit or withdraw cash in all of their ATMs too. At this bank, you can easily find English-speaking staff. You can easily find information in both English and Portuguese. Its website and app also operate in English.
Another advantage of this bank is that you will receive your debit card as soon as they create your account. Also, there is little or sometimes no fees regarding account maintenance.
You should also note that sometimes, operation fees may be higher than other banks. Also, they have fewer offices compared to most other banks.
Caixa Geral de Depósitos
It is a state-owned bank, being Portugal’s second-largest bank, and the biggest in terms of total assets. Currently, it is present in 23 countries across four continents. Because it is a state-owned bank, it offers good options for foreign currency accounts and for students as well.
Also, even if you live in another country but are a Portuguese resident, you can still have an account specifically for your circumstances.
It also has the highest domestic shares in customer deposits, loans, and advances to customers, insurance, mortgages, and mutual funds.
Digital Banks in Portugal
Recently, some online and mobile banks have been formed. These types of banks offer the users the ease to open their accounts from wherever they are seated. They can use their mobile phones or computers to open their account. You can do this freely through your phone within a few minutes.
Let’s now look at the examples of some digital banks in Portugal.
You can easily download its app to your smartphone. Through N26, you can track your expenses and set aside money in real-time. You can immediately use your account without waiting for your physical card to arrive. Also, you will not pay fees for ATM withdrawals through your Mastercard in euros and payments in any currency, regardless of where you are in the world. There’s no foreign exchange fee, either.
Needless to say that it is quite user-friendly. The setup of the account and the application is also very easy. First, you register on the N26 website, then download the app. The next step is to pair your phone. Lastly, you add your funds to your N26 account. You can also order your Mastercard to use it in Portugal.
N26 in Portugal is active and has a growing user base, although the bank still does not offer customer service in the Portuguese language.
Revolut is another useful app you can use for your transactions. The app analyzes your spending and gives notifications on those. You can also connect your other bank accounts here, and manage all of them from one point. You can send, request money, or split bills with friends and family immediately, regardless of where they are in the world. There is also little interbank exchange rate for money transfers abroad. Through this app, you can also get gold and buy crypto.
The signup process is quite similar to N26. First, you register on Revolut’s website and download the app creating a four-digit-passcode through your phone. Enter the necessary information about yourself. Lastly, add your funds to your Revolut account. You can then order your Visa or Mastercard to use in Portugal.
Wise, formerly TransferWise
Through Wise, formerly, Transferwise, you can make transfers in a very quick way. Also, transfer fees and pricing is transparent and fixed. When you travel abroad, up to €200, you can withdraw cash with no fee from Transferwise per month. Furthermore, you can make payments and withdrawals in any place in the world (if they accept Mastercard) through a multi-currency debit card. Also, when you transfer funds, you get real-time exchange rate data from Transferwise as well.
Signing up for a Transferwise borderless account is also easy. You can do it from your phone or laptop. You provide basic information about yourself. Then, you link your Transferwise account to your home country account. When the account is open, it will verify your identity through your ID card. All the process will take only a few days in total.
Cash Machines and ATMs in Portugal
There is a system called Multibanco service in Portugal. All the main Portuguese banks are part of this service. The Multibanco system connects the cash machines throughout the country. It operates through around 11,000 ATMs. In big cities, you can easily find one anywhere. In rural areas or villages, they are fewer.
The Multibanco machines allow for all major bank cards like Visa and Mastercard. The fee for foreign bank transactions is around 2–3%. Certain international banks that are part of the Global ATM Alliance, do not charge fees for this.
In Portugal, you can find the ATM near to you via locator services for Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.
Bank Account for Portugal Golden Visa Holders
Portugal Golden Visa applicants first need to obtain a NIF (Portuguese tax number) number. Then, they can open a bank account to apply for a Portugal Golden Visa.
Can a foreigner open a bank account in Portugal?
Yes, foreigners can open a bank account in Portugal regardless of their residence status.
How do I open a bank account in Portugal as an expat?
First, you need to find a bank. Then you will prepare the necessary documents mentioned in the Required Documents section above. Following the submission of these documents, your bank account will be created immediately.
What documents do you need to open a bank account in Portugal?
You can refer to the Required Documents section above.
What are the lending criteria for a mortgage in Portugal?
Generally, the banks evaluate the property’s valuation and your financial position.
What can you do with a bank account in Portugal?
You can conduct almost any type of transaction with your bank account in Portugal. To name a few:
- Savings and investments
- Loans and overdrafts
- Business banking
- Digital, online, and mobile banking
- Trading services
- Expat services.
Read the Guide on Europe’s Most Popular Residency Program Portugal Golden Visa