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NIF Number Portugal: What, Why, and How to Apply

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 31 January 2024

12 mins read

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NIF stands for Número de Identificação Fiscal or Tax Identification Number and is the Portuguese equivalent of the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) in the United States.

Having an NIF in Portugal is essential for performing tasks as basic as opening a bank account, paying taxes, or requesting a new citizen ID card. But what are NIFs? Why exactly do people need them? And what can you do to apply to get one?

If you want to request an NIF in Portugal, you've come to the right place! In this article, we will be answering all of your NIF-related questions to ensure a smooth ride for your Portuguese business dreams.

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What Is a Tax Identification Number?

A tax identification number is a unique identifier used by governments to track individuals or entities for tax purposes. In Portugal, the tax identification number is known as NIF or Número de Identificação Fiscal and consists of a unique nine-digit number issued by the Portuguese tax office.

NIFs help the Portuguese tax authority monitor and manage activities such as filing tax returns, paying taxes, and ensuring compliance with tax laws. They're essential for accurately identifying taxpayers and their associated financial activities.

Do I need an Identification Number NIF?

If you plan to take on any official or fiscal activities in Portugal, having a Portuguese taxpayer number is a definitive must! Without a Portuguese tax number, you are not legally entitled to perform any fiscal activities in the country, including everything from complying with the customs authority to setting up a utility bill.

These are some of the things you cannot do without having a NIF in Portugal:

  • Open a Portuguese bank account.
  • Receive business or work income.
  • Pay taxes and complete any other official fiscal transaction.
  • Make social security payments.
  • Buy a property or car.
  • Rent a house.
  • Pay a utility bill.
  • Sign a job contract.
  • Enroll in a Portuguese university.
  • Sign a mobile phone contract.
  • Receive inheriting Portuguese assets.

Having an NIF in Portugal is as essential for performing basic individual tasks as it is for business-related matters. Without a Portuguese NIF number, entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners simply cannot start a company or hire a team of employees.

Who Can Request a Portuguese NIF Number?

Anyone can request a Portuguese NIF number in Portugal, including people who were born or reside outside of the country.

How Much Does it Cost to Obtain a NIF?

Except for specific situations (such as when you cannot visit a tax authorities office in person), you can obtain an NIF in Portugal for free.

How To Get a NIF Number in Portugal

Luckily, acquiring an NIF number in Portugal is a pretty straightforward process. All you need to do is gather some documents, contact the Portuguese tax authority, and request one! The process, however, can be slightly different for Portuguese nationals, Portuguese nationals without a Portuguese residency, foreign residents from the European Union, and non EU citizens.

In most cases, however, getting a Portuguese NIF number involves:

  • Step 1: Gather the necessary documents. These normally include a photo ID, proof of address, and/or proof of birth (for minors). In the case you reside outside of the EU EEA, a fiscal representative certification may also be necessary.
  • Step 2: Visit the closest Portuguese tax authorities office. If you cannot do so in person, you may be required to hire a fiscal representative or an online NIF services company.
  • Step 3: Wait for the attribution of your NIF in Portugal. In some instances, this can take just a few minutes.

The process of obtaining an NIF from the competent tax authorities depends on whether you're Portuguese, live in an EU country, have a non Portuguese address, and other factors. Take into account your current status to see exactly how you can get a NIF:

Get a NIF as a Portuguese Citizen

Are you a Portuguese citizen and tax resident with a citizen card of your own? Then you already have access to your individual tax identification number! Your personal identification card, also known as Cartão do Cidadão, is all you need to interact with the Portuguese tax office and act as a legal person in the European Union.

Portuguese nationals without a valid citizen's card can request one by contacting the tax and customs authority. They can ask for their citizen ID card at any time, but they need to do it in person. If you want to request a card for a newborn baby, you can do it online as long as the baby is less than one year old.

Required Documents:

  • Birth certificate or equivalent document(s).

Get a Portuguese NIF as a Non Resident Portuguese National

If you're a Portuguese citizen but you're not a Portuguese resident, you can still get a tax number by requesting your national ID card. To do so, you normally need to get back to Portugal and request your identification document in person. However, there are alternatives:

  • You can access your identification number by visiting the nearest Portuguese consulate in your country of residence.
  • If you cannot travel, you can request a Portuguese NIF via the IRN external service. They will conveniently send an IRN employee to your location.

For Portuguese citizens, getting the first Cartão do Cidadão will cost anywhere between €7,50 (for babies up to 20 days) and €70 (for provisional cards delivered on the same day), regardless of having or not having a Portuguese address.

Required Documents:

  • Birth certificate or equivalent document(s).

Get a Portuguese NIF as a Foreign EU EEA Citizen

Foreign EU EEA citizens are all non-Portuguese individuals residing in a European Union country or Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein (members of the European Economic Area). EU EEA citizens can request an NIF number from the Portuguese Government by submitting all necessary documents in person or via a legal tax representative.

Required Documents:

  • Civil identity document, passport, or certificate of registration issued by your local tax office.
  • Proof of birth (for foreign minors).

Get a NIF in Portugal as a Third Country National

If you're not an EU or EEA national, you can still request a NIF from the tax and customs authority by visiting the nearest tax office in person or by utilizing the services of a legal tax representative. You don't need to have a Portuguese address to successfully get your NIF number in Portugal, but your tax representative needs to be Portuguese.

Please keep in mind that, contrary to Portugal nationals, foreign residents and non residents don't need to have a Portuguese citizen card to get an NIF from the tax office.

Required Documents:

  • Civil identity document, passport, or certificate of registration issued by your local tax office.
  • Residence permit (for citizens residing in Portugal).
  • Legally appointed fiscal representative residing in Portugal (if you're a non resident).
  • Proof of birth (for foreign minors).
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Third-Party Portugal NIF Services

If you can't or don't want to get a Portuguese individual tax identification number by your own means, you can rely on two types of third-party services: fiscal representation (which is mandatory in some cases) and online NIF services companies.

Relying on these services is more costly than obtaining an NIF number by yourself, but it can be convenient in case you don't have the time or availability to deal with the Portuguese Government. Below, let's take a closer look at both solutions.

What Is a Fiscal Representative?

A fiscal representative is a professional tasked with dealing with the Portuguese tax office on behalf of his or her clients. When it comes to getting a Portuguese NIF number, ongoing fiscal representation is necessary for non EU citizens who want to live, invest, and/or fulfill their tax obligations in Portugal.

Fiscal representatives are usually certified law firm professionals and need to be Portuguese citizens in order to request NIFs on behalf of their clients.

Where Can I Find Online NIF Services?

Another way of getting an NIF in Portugal through a third party is by hiring an online NIF services company. The mission of these companies is to help non Portuguese people to move to or invest in Portugal. They also facilitate the immigration process by assisting their clients in all sorts of legal matters—including getting a Portuguese tax card!

The downside? As with any other company, online NIF services companies cost money. The following four are among the most popular:

E-Residence:

  • Cost: €100
  • Timeframe: 10 working days

NIF Online:

  • Cost: €100
  • Timeframe: 10 working days

Bordr:

  • Cost: €140
  • Timeframe: 7 days

NIF Portugal:

  • Cost: €80
  • Timeframe: 14 working days

If you want to save yourself some trouble and access your Portuguese tax card as quickly as possible, these companies make for convenient and viable solutions.

NIFs and the Portuguese Golden Visa Program

The Portugal Golden Visa process awards Portuguese citizenship to foreign individuals who make a significant economic contribution to the country as investors. You can request your Portugal Golden Visa and NIF simultaneously, but you may need to have a tax number in Portugal just to qualify for the program.

Summary

From inheriting Portuguese assets and signing a mobile phone contract to creating a company and completing financial transactions, having an NIF in Portugal is borderline mandatory. Without it, you will have no means of interacting with the Portuguese tax office, which will pretty much qualify as a sort of "fiscal ghost."

To ensure that you and your business are on the right track, here's a quick sum-up of everything we have learned about Portuguese NIFs today:

  • NIFs are the Portuguese equivalent of TINs in the United States.
  • In Portugal, an NIF is known as "Número de Identificação Fiscal."
  • Anyone who wishes to reside, work, pay taxes, open a company, invest, or do things as simple as paying rent or signing a mobile phone contract in Portugal has the right to request an NIF.
  • The documents required for obtaining an NIF usually include a birth certificate, civil ID, proof of residence, and/or proof of birth.
  • If you cannot physically go to Portugal or a nearby Portuguese consulate, you need to hire a tax representative to obtain a Portuguese taxpayer number.
  • You can hire the services of a third-party online NIF company to get you a tax representative.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a NIF number?

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

Who needs a NIF number?

Anyone planning to engage in fiscal activities in Portugal, including residents, non-residents, and Portuguese citizens. NIFs are essential for various situations, such as opening a bank account, purchasing property, and working or investing in Portugal.

I'm retired: do I still need to get a NIF number from the Portuguese Tax Authority?

Yes, you’ll still need to get a NIF number if you’re retired. It’s essential to do pretty much everything in Portugal, so make sure to contact your issuing regional tax authority's offices in case you still don't have one.

How do I get a NIF number in Portugal?

Residents and non-residents can apply either online or through a law firm 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 an NIF number, you'll need to provide identification, such as a passport or a citizen's identity card, and proof of residency, such as a utility bill or bank statement.

Can I apply for a NIF number online?

Yes, you can apply for a NIF number online. Portugal's regional tax authority's name on the Internet is "Portal das Finanças," so make sure to check their website!

Can I get an NIF number if I'm not physically in Portugal?

A non resident can apply for a NIF number even if he or she is 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 company.

Can I have a Portuguese bank account with an NIF?

No, you cannot legally open a bank account in Portugal without having a valid Portuguese taxpayer's number first.

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 residents may need to provide additional documents in some cases.

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 an NIF number are required to appoint a tax representative, but they can also rely on online NIF services to do this on their behalf.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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