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A Guide to the Process of Company Registration in Portugal

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 23 April 2024

8mins read

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Company registration is an essential step for anyone looking to start a business in Portugal.

Registering your business not only gives you legal recognition but also provides a solid foundation for your operations.

It allows you to run your business under a formal structure, making it easier to obtain financing, enter into contracts, and protect your personal assets.

Benefits of company registration

Registering your business in Portugal offers several benefits. First and foremost, it provides legal recognition and legitimacy to your business, giving you the right to operate and conduct business activities. Registered businesses also enjoy certain tax advantages and may be eligible for government grants and incentives. 

Additionally, business registration allows you to establish a professional reputation and build trust with customers and partners. It also provides access to financial services and the ability to enter into contracts and agreements.

With so many incentives for company creation in Portugal, all there's left to do is learn about the legal documents required for Portuguese businesses to operate.

Company Registration in Portugal: Essential Documents

There are three main types of documents to consider when registering a business in Portugal: identification, proof of address, and business plan documents.

1. Identification documents

Identification documents typically include a valid passport or national identity card for each business owner or director. It is important to ensure that all identification documents are up-to-date and valid. Additionally, if the business has multiple owners or directors, each individual will need to provide their identification documents. Make sure to have these documents readily available to expedite the registration process.

2. Proof of address documents

Proof of address can be achieved in the form of a utility bill, bank statement, or rental agreement that clearly shows your business address. The document should be recent and in your name or the name of your business.

3. Business plan documents

A business plan is an essential document that outlines the goals and strategies of your business. It serves as a roadmap for success and helps you communicate your vision to potential investors or partners. 

In Portugal, when registering your business, you will need to provide a well-crafted business plan that includes information about your target audience, competitor analysis, financial projections, and marketing strategies.

This document demonstrates your commitment and professionalism and is crucial for obtaining financing or support from government agencies, so make sure to dedicate enough time and effort to writing a comprehensive and persuasive business plan.

Company Registration Process

In Portugal, the business registration process begins with choosing the appropriate legal form for the business, which, depending on whether you want to open a public or private entity, could range from a private limited company to private limited liability companies, each with its own implications for share capital and liability.

The next step involves registering the business with the Commercial Registry Office, a crucial step where, if you choose to open your company online, most of the registration steps can be completed online via the 'Empresa Online' system for convenience.

This process requires a digital certificate for authentication and typically takes a few days to a week, providing a registration certificate upon completion.

Foreign companies looking to register must appoint a legal representative who resides in Portugal, ensuring the company's legal operations are maintained according to the Company Act.

Forming a limited liability company in Portugal offers benefits such as limited liability and legal protection for its shareholders, distinguishing it from business structures that involve unlimited liability, where personal and business assets are not separated. Additionally, certain registration tasks may require a visit to the local finance office. Obtaining a valid Portuguese tax identification number (NIF) is a critical part of the process, necessary for both natural and legal persons. Private entities play a role in accessing registration information online, providing access codes for online consultation. The distinction between a private limited company and private limited liability companies is significant in terms of legal structures, shareholder liabilities, and operational aspects. Access is provided to public or private entities for registration verification, emphasizing the importance of share capital in the registration process and the obligations associated with it.

1. Choosing a business name

When choosing a business name in Portugal, it is important to consider several factors. 

First, you should ensure that the name is unique and not already registered by another company. 

Second, the name should reflect the nature of your business and be memorable to potential customers. 

Third, it is advisable to check if the domain name for your business website is available and, if possible, SEO-friendly. This will help establish an online presence for your business.

2. Registering with the Commercial Registry Office

Once you have chosen a business name and prepared all the necessary documents, the next step is to register your business with the Commercial Registry. This is a crucial step in the business registration process as it ensures that your business is recognized and legally established. 

To register with the Commercial Registry, you will need to submit the required documents we have previously mentioned (identification documents, proof of address, and a business plan). 

The Commercial Registry will review your application and verify the authenticity of the documents. Once your registration is approved, you will receive a registration certificate and your business will be officially registered with the authorities.

3. Obtaining a Portuguese Tax Identification Number (NIF)

Once you have completed the registration process with the Commercial Registry, the next step is to obtain a tax identification number for your business. This number, most commonly referred to as NIF, is essential for conducting any financial transactions and complying with tax obligations. 

To apply for a NIF, you will need to provide proof of business registration, identification documents, and proof of address. The tax authority will review your application and issue the NIF within a few days. It is important to keep your NIF safe, as you're going to use it for all tax-related matters.

Proper documentation is crucial when registering a business in Portugal. It ensures that all necessary information is provided accurately and helps to streamline the registration process. Incomplete or incorrect documentation can lead to delays or even rejection of the registration application. By having all the necessary documents in order, you can avoid unnecessary complications and ensure a smooth registration process.

Next steps after company registration

After successfully registering your business in Portugal, there are a few important next steps to take to ensure a smooth transition into operation:

Open a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. This is crucial for depositing the initial capital and managing your company's finances effectively. Be aware of the requirements for opening and maintaining a business bank account in Portugal, including account maintenance fees and transaction fees, to ensure legal compliance and financial health. - Make sure to obtain a NIF for your business. This number is required by the Portuguese tax authority whether it is a new company or for sole traders, and will enable you to fulfill your tax obligations.

Consider seeking professional assistance to navigate through any legal or financial complexities that may arise.

Seeking professional assistance

When it comes to business registration in Portugal, it is highly recommended to seek professional assistance. A professional can guide you through the process, ensure that all the necessary documents are in order, and help you avoid any potential pitfalls. They can also provide valuable advice on the best legal structure for your business and assist with the preparation of a comprehensive business plan. 

By working with a professional, you can save time, reduce stress, and increase the chances of a successful registration. 

Rauva is a trusted provider of certified accounting services in Portugal, offering a revolutionary approach to business accounts. Their team of experts is authorized to carry out such services and is registered with Banco de Portugal. With their in-depth knowledge and expertise, they can support you every step of the way in your business registration journey.


The journey of establishing a company, whether it's a nimble online company or a sprawling public limited company, involves navigating a series of legal obligations and documentation requirements, which includes, ultimately, receiving your company registration number. Portugal is no different to most other countries in that the foundation for any business, from private companies to individual entrepreneurs, lies within its company's articles of association. This crucial document outlines the company statute and is essential for the commercial registration process.

In recent times, the accessibility of online services has streamlined the business registration process, making online registration a convenient option for entrepreneurs. Whether you're establishing private limited companies, a sole proprietorship, or a limited partnership, these digital platforms cater to various business models and simplify interactions with the commercial register.

Engaging with the legal framework, private and public limited companies must adhere to the requirements of limited liability, ensuring that legal persons associated with the company maintain their legal status. This includes the secure handling of the company name, initial capital, and legal personality of the entity.

The Portuguese government, in an effort to facilitate business operations, provides an access code to a permanent certificate and the option to utilize an electronic certificate, such as the citizen's card. These measures offer assurance and convenience, particularly for the individual entrepreneur or one company with a single shareholder seeking final registration.

Professional advice from a certified accountant is invaluable, particularly when dealing with the social security and customs authority requirements. They ensure that all legal requirements are met, including the acquisition of a company card and adherence to the identification document stipulations.

To solidify their place in the market, businesses must also consider their legal framework when planning for growth. The final registration in the business register not only marks the birth of a new legal entity but also the beginning of a commitment to compliance and excellence in the commercial sphere.


What are the company's articles of association?

The articles of association are a document that forms a part of a company’s constitution and outlines the rules for its governance, including the rights and responsibilities of shareholders and directors. It is essential for both private and public limited companies.

Can I register my company online?

Yes, many jurisdictions offer online company registration through online services, simplifying the process for various business models, including private limited companies and sole proprietorships.

What is the difference between private limited companies and public limited companies?

Private limited companies typically have restrictions on the transfer of shares and are not allowed to publicly trade shares, whereas public limited companies can offer shares to the public and often have higher initial capital requirements.

Do I need professional advice for business registration?

While it is possible to complete some aspects of registration using online services, professional advice from a certified accountant or legal professional is advisable to ensure compliance with legal obligations and to navigate complex matters like social security and customs authority regulations.

What is an electronic certificate and how is it used in business registration?

An electronic certificate, such as a citizen's card, serves as a digital identification document used in various administrative processes, including the online registration of a company and interactions with the Portuguese government.

What legal requirements do I need to meet to establish a sole proprietorship?

Establishing a sole proprietorship typically requires fewer formalities than limited companies. You'll need to register with the business register, obtain a tax identification number, and possibly register with social security and the customs authority, depending on your business activities.

What is a permanent certificate?

A permanent certificate is a document that confirms a company’s legal status, legal personality, and other key details. It is part of the commercial registration in some countries and can often be obtained through online registration services.

Can one shareholder establish a company?

Yes, it is possible for one shareholder to establish a company. This is often referred to as a single-member company and is subject to the same legal requirements as companies with multiple shareholders.

What is a company card, and why do I need one?

A company card is a document that contains identification information about a legal person or company, including its legal status and tax identification. It’s necessary for various legal and commercial activities.

Is it necessary to register with social security when starting a business?

Yes, in most jurisdictions, registering your business with the social security authorities is a legal requirement, particularly if you will be hiring employees or if you're an individual entrepreneur contributing to the social security system.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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