Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Maryam Siddiqui
Relocating to Portugal can get slightly overwhelming, especially if you’re not too aware of terms like NIF number. Don’t worry; we’re here to make your life in Portugal a lot simpler. By a lot, we mean helping you with your Visa process, Residence Permit, buying real estate, and all that follows!
This article will answer all the common questions expats have regarding obtaining an NIF number in Portugal. Keep reading to know why it’s important, how much it costs, and the step-by-step guide to acquiring one!
What is a NIF number in Portugal and what is it for?
A NIF number is a 9-digit code allocated by the tax authorities to all resident and non-resident citizens of Portugal. By definition, it stands for Número de Identificação Fiscal, which is, simply put, an Individual Tax Identification Number.
The Número de Identificação Fiscal is one of the most important documents you’ll require. Despite being called the “Individual Tax Identification Number”, it’s used for numerous other things.
Some of its uses are making a bank account, setting up utilities and internet facilities, and renting/buying a property.
Who needs a NIF number?
So, how do you assess whether you need one?
Anyone living in Portugal legally, whether you’re an official citizen or a foreign non-resident, needs to have an NIF number. As an expat, you’ll need it while you’re living or working here. As a student here, you’ll require the NIF to set up a bank account and pay for rent and utilities.
We’ve listed a few things you’ll be able to do if you have an NIF number. This way, you can check if you’ll need it:
- Opening a bank account in Portugal – To monitor all transactions under your name for tax purposes.
- Getting a job – To ensure that income tax and social security contributions are processed.
- Getting a mobile phone contract – For contract enforcement, billing, and tax purposes.
- Buying real estate – Used to register the property transaction and to ensure all taxes are paid.
- Renting any property – Registering transaction.
- Attending a local university – Ensure correct documentation.
- Paying taxes – To ensure tax obligations are accurately recorded and fulfilled.
- Buying a car – Registration and purchase of any vehicle.
- Setting up utilities and internet – To initiate service contract.
- Applying for a driver’s license – Accurate record-keeping.
- Online shopping – Many e-commerce platforms require it for appropriate VAT application.
As you can see in the list above, the Número de Identificação Fiscal is vital. You need it to do just about anything in Portugal. It’s very easy to obtain your NIF; keep reading to know how you’d need to go about it!
Importance of the NIF Number in Everyday Life
In light of the above discussion, let’s elaborate on the importance of the NIF Number. And how you will be using it in your everyday life.
Sometimes, the NIF Number can be mentioned even in small commercial transactions such as grocery shopping. So foreigners who aren’t aware of these terms can feel confused.
You can be asked whether you would like to add your NIF Number to the receipt. This helps track purchases and get you tax benefits where applicable.
We’ll talk a bit more in detail about the top 3 things you’re most likely to do as an expat and what role the NIF plays.
Opening a Bank Account
Whether you’re a student, a professional employee, a digital nomad, or a retiree, needing a bank account is one of the first things you’ll set out to do.
Banks use the NIF Number as a primary means of identification, ensuring the security of your financial transactions.
By providing your NIF Number, you demonstrate your legal presence in the country and open the gateway to financial activity. For students, this can mean receiving money from back home. For professionals, it can mean receiving your salary. And for retirees, it can mean receiving your pension.
Renting a Property
Regardless of your purpose of needing a long-term rental agreement, the NIF Number is requested by your landlord. It helps formalize your lease contract and complies with tax regulations.
This step legitimizes your seriousness to the landlord and assures them, which can contribute to a smoother rental process. Ultimately, this contributes to transparency in the rental transaction and also safeguards both parties.
- Check out our comprehensive guide on the Portugal Tax System: Easy Breakdown For Expats.
Employment and Social Security
The NIF Number is a non-negotiable when employment is concerned. Employers use it to declare your income and social security contributions accurately, ensuring your compliance with taxation and social benefit programs.
Another important aspect is the fact that this acts as a bridge between you and the state’s social safety net. This allows you to confidently navigate the intricacies of employment and social services.
How can foreigners get a NIF number in Portugal?
The process of getting a NIF number in Portugal is a little different for EU and non-EU citizens. If you aren’t a resident of the EU, you’ll need a tax representative to obtain your NIF number.
A tax representative can be anyone you know – a friend or family member, perhaps. All they will need to do is accompany you to the Finanças office for the process. If you’re lucky enough to know someone in Portugal already, this will be much easier for you.
However, since many expats are relocating with no prior connections to the country, there are other ways too.
Many people opt for companies that’ll arrange your NIF for you, like Viv Europe. It’s far more convenient and saves you the hassle of lining up in the queue at Finanças.
Getting a NIF number in person
Queuing in line to get a NIF number in person is ordinary for people in Portugal. For expats, not so much.
Since it’s a requirement that a tax representative accompanies you, many expats prefer doing it via a company. Even if it costs a bit extra, it’s much better than physically waiting in line.
Go to the Finanças office
In case you prefer getting a NIF number yourself, we’ve got you covered. As with all legal procedures, there are a few guidelines you need to follow.
Here are two things you’ll need to be mindful of before you go to Finanças office yourself:
Documents to present
Here’s a list of the main documents you’ll need to get a NIF number in Portugal:
- Identity Card / Citizen Card / Valid Passport / Birth Certificate
- Lease Agreement or Proof of Residency (e.g., utility bill)
You must sign a Power of Attorney document if you’re applying through a representative while living outside of Portugal.
This document will state that you grant permission for the representative to act on your behalf. Signing a Power of Attorney document is the only way to get an NIF number from outside of Portugal.
Have a trusted tax representative
Many expats opt for a tax representative to avoid dealing with technicalities that they’d get confused with.
Unless you know legal procedures and how the system works, we recommend consulting a tax representative. It is the most straightforward way to sort out all your tax matters and get it right on the first try. No running around, getting worried, or wasting your money with mistakes.
Let’s Move to Portugal
With Viv Europe your plans for Portugal
will finally come to a reality
Getting a NIF number online
The Portuguese Portal of Public Services enabled an online system to obtain an NIF number during COVID-19. The Tax and Customs Authority presented this solution to streamline the process and adapt to the uncertain situation.
As we mentioned previously, you’ll still need a tax representative who helps Finanças communicate with you.
To submit a NIF request, follow the steps below:
However, this was a temporarily available service and may stop being an option when the Tax and Customs Authority decides.
How much does a NIF number cost?
The cost of getting a NIF number is completely free, whether you’re a citizen or an expat who’s relocating.
You can choose to get the Portuguese Tax Card, which has your NIF number written on it. The Tax card costs €6.80 and is optional. You won’t need the card if you’re good at memorizing numbers, but it’s helpful since you’ll need your NIF frequently.
How can I find a tax representative in Portugal from abroad?
A tax representative connects a non-resident remunerator and the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority to each other. Dealing with tax matters can get complex at times. This is why the best idea is to hire a lawyer or advisor who can help you out.
Your tax representative is solely responsible for complying with the various declaratory obligations. Their duty is to ensure that their client’s tax obligations are fulfilled. However, they are not liable for any payments.
Also, keep in mind that updating personal information associated with your NIF Number is your responsibility as a legal resident in Portugal, and it ensures your identification details remain accurate.
It is your responsibility because it will maintain your legal status in the country.
Pay taxes in Portugal with your tax number in hand
If you’re moving to Portugal or are part of any economic activity, you should get to know the tax system. It might seem like a dull task, but it’s very crucial, and you need your NIF number to pay taxes.
There are two things you should be wary of:
Beware of double taxation
Portugal has entered into Double Taxation Agreements with over 70 countries/jurisdictions to encourage cooperation between overseas tax authorities. These agreements offer a solution to avoid getting the same income taxed twice.
If you’ve invested in Portugal’s booming real estate market, you should be aware of double taxation laws.
We also have a comprehensive FAQ on Taxation in Portugal that’ll help answer your questions.
Take advantage of tax incentives for non-habitual residents
You also need a NIF number to take advantage of the non-habitual tax regime. The regime offers lower rates for passive incomers and highly qualified workers. If you fall in either of the two categories, you should take advantage of this regime.
Citizens are required to meet the following prerequisites to benefit from the non-habitual regime:
- Absence of a tax residence in Portugal for the last five years
- Must have spent 183 days in Portugal
- Registered as a Non-Habitual Resident at the Tax Authority
Read next: All About The Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime In Portugal to know more about the benefits of this regime.
Get professional help to obtain a NIF number in Portugal
You’re one step closer to living your dream now that you understand how to obtain an NIF number in Portugal! It’s completely okay if you’re still confused with the entire process. If you need clarity regarding acquiring an NIF number, Contact Us so we can guide you professionally.
We’ve helped numerous individuals like you and will continue to help countless more. Our team at Viv Europe specializes in dealing with all kinds of expat-related matters. We also have a Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, where you can connect with individuals with similar stories.