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Expat Exchange - Getting Your Portuguese NIF Number
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Praia do Guincho Beach in Cascais, Portugal


Getting Your Portuguese NIF Number

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Portugal Residency Advisors
Portugal Residency Advisors

Summary: Our Guide to Getting Your Portuguese NIF Number includes how to apply online and in person, frequently asked questions, necessary documents and more.

Who Needs a Portuguese NIF and When

The Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF), also known as Número de Contribuinte, is a unique tax identification number in Portugal that is required for most activities that involve financial transactions. This includes opening a bank account, signing a lease, setting up utility services, employment, and even for simple tasks like purchasing a SIM card for your phone. Essentially, anyone who intends to live, work, or own property in Portugal will need a NIF. It is advisable to obtain a NIF as soon as possible upon arrival in Portugal or even before moving, as it is a prerequisite for many other processes.

Obtaining a Portuguese NIF Online

For those who prefer to handle the process remotely, obtaining a NIF online is possible through the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority's e-services platform, ePortugal. This service is particularly useful for expats, digital nomads, and retirees who are not yet in Portugal or who prefer the convenience of online processing.

Obtaining a Portuguese NIF In Person

Alternatively, you can obtain a NIF in person by visiting a local tax office (Finanças) or a citizen's shop (Loja do Cidadão) in Portugal. This option may be more suitable for those who are already in Portugal or who prefer face-to-face assistance.

The Process of Obtaining a Portuguese NIF

  1. Decide whether you want to apply online or in person. If online, visit the ePortugal website (https://eportugal.gov.pt/) and create an account. If in person, locate the nearest Finanças or Loja do Cidadão.
  2. Gather the required documents. You will need a valid passport or identity card, proof of address (which can be from your home country), and, if applicable, a power of attorney if someone is applying on your behalf.
  3. If applying online, fill out the application form on the ePortugal platform, upload the necessary documents, and submit your application.
  4. If applying in person, visit the chosen office with your documents. It is recommended to arrive early to avoid long waiting times.
  5. At the office, you will fill out the application form (Modelo 2) and submit it along with your documents to the tax official.
  6. Pay the application fee, if applicable. As of the knowledge cutoff date, obtaining a NIF is generally free of charge, but there may be fees for associated services or if you use a third-party service provider.
  7. Receive your NIF number. If applying online, you will receive it via email. If applying in person, you may receive it immediately or be told to return to pick it up or wait for it to be mailed to you.

Timeframe, Costs, and Paperwork

The process of obtaining a NIF can be relatively quick, especially if applying in person, where you might receive your NIF immediately or within a few days. Online applications may take longer to process. There is typically no cost for obtaining a NIF directly from the tax authorities, but if you use a lawyer or a professional service, they will charge a fee for their assistance.

You should bring original documents and it's always a good idea to have a couple of photocopies of each document on hand. For proof of address, utility bills, bank statements, or official government correspondence are usually accepted.

Possible Issues and Solutions

One common issue is not having a Portuguese address, which is required for the NIF application. Expats often solve this by using the address of a lawyer or a friend who agrees to act as their tax representative in Portugal. Another issue could be language barriers; the forms and communication with the tax office are in Portuguese. Hiring a local service provider or seeking the help of a Portuguese-speaking friend can be beneficial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I apply for a NIF before moving to Portugal?
Yes, you can apply for a NIF from abroad either online or through a legal representative in Portugal.

Do I need a fiscal representative to obtain a NIF?
If you are not a resident in Portugal, you will need a fiscal representative for tax purposes. This can be a lawyer, a company providing such services, or an individual who is a Portuguese resident.

Is there an expiry date for the NIF?
No, the Portuguese NIF does not expire. It is a lifelong number.

Can I use my NIF to work in other EU countries?
No, the NIF is a Portuguese tax identification number and is not intended for work or tax purposes outside of Portugal.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, always refer to the official Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority website or contact them directly.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


Portugal Residency Advisors
Portugal Residency Advisors

Portugal Residency Advisors
Portugal Residency Advisors

Praia do Guincho Beach in Cascais, Portugal

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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