How to open a bank account in Portugal

Opening a bank account in Portugal is one of the essential steps for people wanting to live in one of the most affordable and nicest countries in Europe. Its natural wonders, proximity to tourist paradises in Africa, island paradises and cosmopolitan cities attract people from all walks of life looking to study, live and retire in Portugal.

If you are planning on making a move there or even if you just landed, opening a bank account in Portugal is one of the first steps you will need to take to establish yourself within its borders.
Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in Portugal.

Here is a list of documents you will need

  • ID card such as a passport or national ID card
  • A tax number called the NIF or "Número de Identificação Fiscal"
  • Proof of address

You will have to fill out a series of forms during your visit to a bank branch and will be required to deposit a minimum amount in order to activate your account. The normal amount is around 250 euros and this can be in cash or through a bank transfer.

Can I open a bank account in Portugal before I arrive?

Portuguese banks will allow you to start the registration process beforehand and even allow you to send documents via the internet or post.

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Can I open a bank account in Portugal as a non-resident?

Banks in Portugal offer "international" accounts for foreigners that do not have residence in the country, however these accounts will have limitations. It is best o verify what you are able to with the account with each bank.

What banks should I consider?

Portugal has a robust retail financial system all of which capable of delivering international level banking services for individuals and businesses of all sizes.

Best banks in Portugal

Let's first focus on the 4 largest banks which today take up the largest portion of the market

Santander

Santander has a strong presence in the Portuguese market and it offers similar products and services as it does all over the world such as its famous 1|2|3 account. If you already have an account with Santander elsewhere in the world it will be easy to open an account with them.

Novo Banco

Novo Banco is a full service retail bank with offers for residents and non-residents. Fees are normal and they have plenty of experience working with foreign nationals.

BBVA

BBVA allows you to open an account over the internet and their offers are similar to other banks.

Bankinter

O Bankinter is a great bank since it acquired Barclay's Portuguese operations.

Other banks in Portugal

Online banking is standard with all banks in Portugal as it is expected and therefore you will be able to perform all you the basic transactions from a mobile service or desktop computer. Tip: watch out for odd hours of operation. Portuguese banks close at 3:30PM during the week and are closed on weekends. It is however different from bank to bank and it is best to contact the individual branch to find these out.

Is there an inicial minimum deposit?

Yes, some banks require an initial minimum deposit that according to our research varies between ) 50 and 250 euros.

Online banking in Portugal

Each bank has specific functionality with its online banking system with the great majority offering iPhone/Android and browser versions capable of performing the full spectrum of banking services such as transfers, payments, insurance, loans and so on.

Credit card

A credit card is a possibility if once you have established a financial record with the bank through a history of positive transactions. Portuguese banks won't normally make you a credit card offer, so you are going to have to ask for you if you want one.

Cheques

Despite the increasing lack of popularity, it is still possible to request for a chequebook with Portuguese banks. These are likely to be printed in ATMs.

Hours of operation

On weekdays the normal hours are 8:30 to 15:00. ATMs work 24h. In Portugal, ATMs are also known as MB or Multibanco.

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Portuguese banking fees

It is important to be aware of your contract obligations and the fine print in your contract so you avoid unnecessary headaches since as a newcomer you won't know all the details.

It is important, for example, to know if there are fees to close your account, to operate with a card off network or overseas. These fees can be high and that is why it is important to pay attention.

it is particularly important to watch out for transactions between different currencies in Portugal. Beyond your typical one time transaction fees, there are usually currency conversion fees which are higher than normal for Europe.

The virtual bank account alternative

If you are transferring money outside of Europe, chances are you will be using a bank that will be charging a high fee above what is known as the mid market rate. This is the fair rate used between 2 banks to transfer and convert money. It means that if you - for example - move 10 thousand euros from Portugal to India, you will get only about 9 thousand euros worth of rupees in your Indian bank account. This is too high and a very typical, not to mention that depending on where you are sending to it may take a month for the money to be available to you.

A virtual bank account with B2B Pay is a better alternative because instead of getting 9000 euros, you get 9900 euros worth of rupees in your account with similar rates for 32 countries. B2B Pay has a 1% flat fee for international transactions making it one of the best deals in the market

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How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.



How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.


  • Barclays
  • Techstars
  • Nestholma
  • Nordea
  • Tekes
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