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What are the first steps to starting a business in Portugal?

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 17 April 2024

6mins read

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Starting a business in Portugal can be a smart move for entrepreneurs looking to tap into the country's growing economy and business-friendly environment.

Portugal offers a strategic location for international trade, with access to both European and African markets. Additionally, the country has a skilled and educated workforce, making it easier to find talented employees. Low corporate tax rates and various incentives for startups also make Portugal an attractive destination for business owners.

With its stable political climate and high quality of life, Portugal provides a supportive and welcoming environment for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Before starting a business in Portugal, it is important to understand the legal requirements that need to be met. Complying with these requirements ensures that your business operates legally and avoids any potential penalties or fines. 

Some of the key legal requirements include:

  • Registering your business name with the appropriate authorities;
  • Obtaining necessary licenses and permits for your specific industry;
  • Registering for taxes.

It is recommended to consult with a legal professional or business advisor to ensure that you are fully aware of and in compliance with all legal obligations.

Choosing the right business structure

When it comes to choosing the right business structure in Portugal, there are several options to consider:
  • **Partnerships**: Ideal for businesses with multiple owners who want to share responsibilities and profits.
  • **Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)**: Known as LDAs in Portugal, LLCs offer a balance between simplicity and liability protection - the latter being the main plus point that sets LLCs apart, and why we would generally recommend the LLC structure for nearly all businesses.
  • **Corporations**: More complex and suitable for larger businesses with shareholders.

Carefully evaluating your business needs, goals, and potential risks before making a decision is crucial. Consulting with a legal professional or business advisor can provide valuable guidance in choosing the right structure for your business.

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Market Research

Conducting market research is a necessary first step for starting a business in Portugal. You can do it effectively in just three steps:

1. Identify your target market

When starting a business in Portugal, it is crucial to identify your target market. Understanding the needs and preferences of your potential customers will help you tailor your products or services to meet their demands. 

Conducting market research can provide valuable insights into:

  • Consumer behavior;
  • Demographics;
  • Purchasing patterns.

By segmenting your target market and identifying specific customer groups, you can develop effective marketing strategies and reach your intended audience more efficiently. Analyzing the competition in your industry will also help you identify gaps in the market and differentiate your business from others.

2. Analyze the competition

Thoroughly analyzing the competition is crucial when starting a business in Portugal. Key steps include:

1. Identify your direct and indirect competitors: Research and compile a list of businesses that offer similar products or services.

2. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses: Identify areas where you can outperform them.

3. Assess their pricing and marketing strategies: Determine how you can position your business in the market.

By gaining valuable insights, you can develop a competitive advantage and succeed in the Portuguese market.

3. Understand consumer behavior

Understanding consumer behavior is crucial for the success of any business. By gaining insights into what motivates consumers to make purchasing decisions, businesses can tailor their products and marketing strategies to meet their needs and preferences. 

Surveys and focus groups can help gather valuable information about consumer demographics, buying habits, and preferences. Staying updated on the latest consumer trends is also important to stay competitive in the market.

Business Registration

Once you have a clear idea of how to position your business in any given industry, it's time to fill out the paperwork and properly register your company.

Registering your business name

Registering your business name is an important legal requirement in Portugal to ensure uniqueness and avoid conflicts. To register, fill out an application form and submit it to the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property.

After approval, you'll receive a certificate of registration, essential for purposes such as opening a bank account or signing contracts.

Obtaining necessary licenses and permits

For your business to operate legally in Portugal, obtaining the required licenses and permits is crucial. Research the specific requirements for your industry and seek professional guidance if needed. Keep track of renewal dates for ongoing compliance.

Registering for taxes

Registering for taxes is crucial to ensure compliance with tax regulations. Obtain a tax identification number (NIF) from the Portuguese Tax Authority and choose the appropriate tax regime. Consult a tax advisor or accountant to understand obligations and take advantage of available incentives or deductions.

Final Steps

After completing business registration and obtaining licenses, consider these steps:

1. Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining goals, target market, and financial projections.

2. Establish a strong online presence through a professional website and social media.

3. Join local business associations and networking groups for insights.

4. Continuously evaluate and adapt business strategies based on market trends and customer feedback.

Resources for further information

For more information on starting a business in Portugal:

  • **Portuguese Business Association (AEP)**: Provides insights and support for entrepreneurs.
  • **Portugal Startups website**: Offers a directory of startups and information on the startup ecosystem.
  • **Portuguese Institute for Support to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Innovation (IAPMEI)**: Offers guidance on business development and access to financing.

Utilize these resources to gain a deeper understanding of the Portuguese business landscape.


Starting a business in Portugal requires careful planning and adherence to legal requirements. Thorough market research, business registration, and understanding consumer behavior are crucial steps. Take the necessary next steps and leverage available resources for success on your entrepreneurial journey!

Good luck!

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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