Detail Header Image

Home > Getting Started with NIFs: What, Why and How to Apply

Getting Started with NIFs: What, Why and How to Apply

Detail Article Image

Published at 23 September 2023

If you are planning to move to Portugal, getting a NIF number (Número de Identificação Fiscal) is essential for conducting official, financial and legal activities. 

In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of getting your NIF, explain the importance of having a NIF number, and clarify its role in various transactions.

What Is a NIF Number?

The NIF number, also known as the contribuinte number (‘Número de contribuinte’), is an Individual Tax Identification Number issued by the tax authorities of Portugal.

This unique nine-digit number is required for anyone who conducts official or legal activities in the country. It serves as a means of identification for tax-related purposes and you’ll need it for almost everything, including property purchases, starting a business, opening bank accounts, paying taxes, and receiving income.

If you've been to Portugal and waited in a supermarket line, you might have heard the cashier ask, "Contribuinte?" to the person ahead, who then recites a long number. They're sharing their NIF for potential income tax deductions.

Do I need a Portuguese NIF Number?

If you plan to take on any official or fiscal activities in Portugal, obtaining a NIF number is a must, and it’s essential to have a NIF for your visa application if you are applying for a visa to move or retire to Portugal. This requirement applies to residents, non-residents, and citizens of Portugal. 

If you’re reading this article and you plan to move to, or start a business in Portugal, the chances are high that you probably will need a NIF! 

How To Get a NIF Number in Portugal

Acquiring a NIF number in Portugal is a straightforward process.The steps differ slightly depending on whether you are a non-resident or a resident of Portugal. We will outline both scenarios to ensure you have the necessary information.

Non-Residents of Portugal

If you are a non-resident and you’re outside Portugal, you can still apply for a temporary NIF from your home country. There are companies who can get your NIF for you, or you can appoint someone (usually a lawyer) to be your fiscal representative to get it for you. 

Using a lawyer is usually more expensive than a NIF service company, and isn’t necessarily any quicker, so using one of these companies is usually the best way to go, especially if you are applying from outside of Portugal or need a NIF for your visa application.

Online NIF Services Comparison Chart

Bordr€ 1407 days[Bordr](
E-Residence€ 10010 working days[E-Residence](€ 8014 working days[](
NIF Online€ 10010 working days[NIF Online](

Residents of Portugal

If you are a resident of Portugal, you have several options for applying for a NIF number:

1. Visit the local tax office, known as "Finanças,", or a citizen's shop in person. 

2. Online applications are available for businesses through the "Portal das Finanças" website. Please note that the website is only available in Portuguese.

3. Appoint a lawyer or a Certified Accountant  to apply for the NIF number on your behalf.

Now, let's take a look at what you need to do. 

Step 1: Gather the Required Documents

Before applying for a NIF number, you’ll need to gather the necessary documents. These include:

1. Photo ID: For non-EU citizens, a scanned and signed copy of your passport is required. EU citizens can provide either a passport or a citizen's identity card. 

2. Proof of Address: You must provide your residential address, and it’s fine if that’s outside Portugal. Acceptable forms of proof include a rental agreement or a utility bill.

If you are applying from abroad and your address is outside the EU/EEA, you must send a power of attorney document - signed by an attorney and translated into Portuguese - to your appointed lawyer or representative in Portugal. Something like a bank statement dated no more than three months old that shows your non-Portuguese address will work. EU citizens living outside Portugal can obtain proof of address from any EU country.

Step 2: Visit the Closest Finanças Office

Once you have gathered the required documents, it's time to visit the closest Finanças office. 

1. Locate the nearest Finanças that handles NIF registrations.

2. Check the office's opening and closing hours before your visit.

3. Bring your passport/ID card and proof of residence with you.

Step 3: Obtain Your NIF Number

Upon arriving at the Finanças office and submitting the necessary documents, you will be guided through the final steps to get your NIF number. In most cases, the process is quick and takes just a few minutes. 

Where Can I Use My Portuguese NIF Number?

In Portugal, you’ll use your NIF for almost everything, and, whether you want to or not, you’ll likely have it memorised in no time! Some examples of the things you’ll need it for:

1. Purchase and sale of property, or getting a rental contract

2. Starting a business 

3. Opening a bank account

4. Obtaining loans (e.g., mortgage applications, signing mobile phone contracts)

5. Paying taxes in Portugal

6. Receiving income from business or work

7. Enrolling in a local university

8. Receiving social security payments

9. Setting up telecommunications or utilities

10. Buying a car or applying for a driving license

11. Signing a mobile phone contract

12. And many more!

How is a Portuguese Tax Card Different from a NIF Number?

While a NIF number serves as your individual tax identification number, the Portuguese Tax Card is issued once you obtain your permanent NIF number. Here's how they differ:

1. Portuguese Tax Card: This card, about the size of a credit card, includes your unique NIF number, the date of issue, and the name of the regional tax authority that issued it. The Portuguese Tax Card is an official document and can be used for identification purposes. It is typically required in various legal activities and serves as proof of your tax registration status.

2. NIF Number: Your NIF number is used in all correspondence with the tax authority in Portugal. It can be found on various documents related to legal activities, such as tax cards and citizen ID cards. 

Frequently asked Questions

What is a NIF Number?

A NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) number, also known as a tax identification number or Número de Contribuinte, is a unique nine-digit number issued by the tax authorities in Portugal. It's crucial for anyone conducting business or legal activities in Portugal.

Who Needs a NIF Number?

Anyone planning to engage in fiscal activities in Portugal, including residents, non-residents, and Portuguese citizens, needs a NIF number. It's essential for various situations, such as opening a bank account, purchasing property, and working in Portugal.

Do I Need to Get a NIF Number if I’m Retired?

Yes, you’ll still need to get a NIF number if you’re retired. It’s essential to do pretty much everything in Portugal, including getting a phone, organising utilities and paying taxes on your pension.

How do I Get a NIF Number in Portugal?

Getting a NIF number in Portugal involves a straightforward process. Residents and non-residents can apply either online or through a lawyer or financial representative. Non-residents can also apply for a temporary NIF number if they are not physically present in Portugal.

What Documents are Needed to Apply for a NIF?

To apply for a NIF number, you'll need to provide identification, such as a passport or a citizen's identity card, and proof of residency. If you're a non-resident, you can provide a power of attorney document to a representative in Portugal.

Can I Apply for a NIF Number Online?

Yes, you can apply for a NIF number online. There are services available that assist with the online application process, making it easier for both residents and non-residents.

Can I Get a NIF Number If I'm Not Physically in Portugal?

Yes, non-residents can apply for a NIF number even if you are not physically present in Portugal. This can be done by appointing a representative or a Portuguese lawyer to act as your proxy, or by using an online NIF service.

Do I Need a NIF Number to Work in Portugal?

Yes, a NIF number is necessary for employment in Portugal. It's used for tax-related purposes and is a requirement for anyone who conducts official or legal activities in the country.

Can Non-EU Residents Apply for a NIF Number?

Yes, non-EU residents can apply for a NIF number. The process is similar to that for residents and EU citizens, but non-EU residents may need to provide additional documents.

What is a Tax Representative and Do I Need One to Get a NIF Number?

A tax representative is a person or a company that represents you in tax matters in Portugal. Non-residents applying for a NIF number are required to appoint a tax representative (Online NIF services do this on your behalf).

©Rauva - 2023
Rauva is partnered with Swan who will be providing all payment services to Rauva clients. Rauva does not have access to client funds. Funds are kept in accounts provided by Swan, held in BNP Paribas. Swan is an EMI, based in France, supervised, and regulated by ACPR/Banque de France. Swan is authorized to carry out such services in Portugal and registered with Banco de Portugal under the registration number 7893.