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NIF (Portuguese Tax Number)

The NIF or “Número de Identificação Fiscal” is the Portuguese tax number. The NIF works as a central registration number for many activities in Portugal and can also be obtained even if you are not living in Portugal.  So if you are planning to buy a property, work remotely, retire in Portugal, or start a business in Portugal, you will need an NIF. 

While tax-related tasks can seem daunting, we’re here to show you that the path to obtaining your NIF in Portugal can actually be easy and straightforward – you just need to know the process. In this article, we’ll guide you through it step by step.

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What is a NIF and why do I need it?

The NIF, or Número de Identificação Fiscal, is your nine-digit Portuguese taxpayer number. It is issued by the local tax authorities and displayed on both the tax card as well as the Portuguese citizenship identity card. Obtaining it is the first step in moving to Portugal.

Since getting a NIF does not automatically make you a Portuguese tax resident, you should apply for one as early as possible, especially when searching for Portuguese property. You’ll just need to be of legal age and show a few documents to instantly get your NIF.

Who Needs a NIF in Portugal?

All official residents, including citizens and foreigners who live in Portugal, need a NIF. While having a Portuguese taxpayer number is not required by local law and you won’t incur problems without it, you’ll eventually have to get one for various transactions. 

If you don’t have a Portuguese, EU, or EAA address when applying for a NIF, you must have a tax representative or “Representante Fiscal”, who has an address and a valid NIF in Portugal to vouch for you. 

All you or your tax representative have to do is go to any “Serviços de Finanças” (local tax office) or request your NIF online through e-Balcão. You’ll receive your NIF immediately and it will be valid for life. As a temporary resident or non-resident, you might just get a tentative/temporary NIF before being issued a permanent tax number.

What Is the NIF Used for in Portugal?

The NIF is an important part of your fiscal life in Portugal and is required for a number of things, such as: 

What documents do I need to apply for the NIF?

Once you know that you’ll be moving to Portugal, apply for a NIF right away. That way, you won’t waste time and can consider job offers or look for properties as soon as you arrive in the country. 

Here’s what you’ll need for your application: 

  • A passport or valid ID
  • Proof of residence – This cannot be an address in Portugal. Documents accepted by Portuguese authorities include: 
    • A telephone or utility bill (internet, electricity, gas, or water). Make sure that the document is in your name and less than 3 months old.
    • A bank account statement in your name that is not older than 3 months. You may blur out any financial information on your statement.

In rare cases where a passport is not available, applicants may show their birth certificates instead. If you’re not applying for the NIF yourself, you’ll need your lawyer or Tax Representative to submit a signed letter permitting them to act on your behalf. This document must be translated into Portuguese

How Do I Apply for the NIF as an EU Citizen?

The process is quite simple. You just need to visit “Finanças”, the local tax office, or a “Loja do Cidadão”, which is a so-called citizen’s shop. As a business, you can use the website of Finanças, but it’s only available in Portuguese. If you need help, hire a third party, such as an accountant or lawyer, to obtain a NIF on your behalf. 

However, if you want to obtain your NIF yourself while in Portugal, follow this step-by-step guide: 

Step 1: Find Your Closest Finanças

For can search on Google Maps to find the closest tax office near you – just type “Finanças (name of your town or city)”. Make sure to check their opening hours online before visiting. These are some in the bigger cities:

Step 2: Obtain Proof of Residence 

Proving that your current address is abroad will ensure that you won’t become a Portuguese taxpayer when you obtain your NIF. For your proof of address, simply download your latest bank statement, which states your address.

As an EU citizen who lives outside of the EU and EAA, you can opt to remotely open a European bank account which comes with a European address. You can also check if your current bank account will allow you to change your address to any address in the EU. Keep in mind that non-EU/EAA citizens will have to provide government-issued proof of residence.

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Step 3: Visit Finanças

Make sure to arrive at Finanças as early as possible. You’ll want to be there about 15 minutes before they open to avoid long lines. As a government office, Finanças has a similar reputation as the DMV in the U.S., meaning it’s viewed as inefficient. However, if you get there early, you might just have to wait around 20 minutes until it’s your turn. 

Don’t forget to bring your documents. Also, in most places you’ll need to get a ticket in a machine to wait for your turn. One of the buttons should display ‘NIF’ or ‘Número de Contribuinte’.

Step 4: Get Your NIF 

As soon as it’s your turn, walk toward the counter and explain that you’re there to obtain your NIF. If you’re in a big city, the staff will most likely speak English so you won’t have to bring a local with you. You’ll be asked to show your documents and, in rare cases, explain why you want to get a NIF. 

At last, you’ll be handed one A4 sheet of paper which contains your information as well as your newly-issued NIF. Keep this paper and show it whenever you’re asked for it (e.g.: when opening a bank account). 

How Do I Apply for a NIF as a Non-EU Citizen?

As a non-EU/EAA citizen, you can obtain your NIF in person at Finanças but will have to pay a small fee of around €10. Before July 2022, you also had to be accompanied by a tax representative, however, this rule has changed. While you can obtain a NIF on your own, it’ll be much easier and more convenient if you get the help of a local expert, especially if you’re obtaining your tax number remotely. 

Can I Apply for the Portuguese tax number Online?

Yes; however, you do need a Tax Representative to do it for you. They can conveniently process the request in your behalf through the e-Desk, or e-Balcão. All they need is your documentation and to fill out the forms available on the website. If you have a newborn, you can get their NIF online as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the NIF

How much does getting a NIF cost?

If you go to a Tax Office in person, then it is completely free, except for €6.80 for a Portuguese tax card, if you want it (it’s not necessary, though).

If you decide to obtain your NIF at the Portuguese consulate of your home country, you may be required to pay around €10-15. Additionally, if you decide to work with a second party like a tax representative or lawyer, you’ll have to pay them a fee. 

What Do I Do if I Don’t Want to Be a Tax Resident in Portugal?

If you do not want to be a tax resident in Portugal, simply submit an address in your home country when applying for a NIF. 

What Are the Additional Benefits of Obtaining a NIF?

With a NIF, you’ll be able to get certain tax deductions. For example, each time you go to a pharmacy to buy medicine or eat at a restaurant, you can ask for an invoice that includes your NIF. Collect all these invoices to automatically get tax deductions in certain IRS categories once you file your taxes. 

Pearls of Portugal Is Here to Help 

With every passing year, more foreigners decide to take the leap and move to Portugal from all around the world. The country is rich in history and culture and boasts stunning architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and serene beaches. What’s more, its residents are laid-back and friendly and its social and political environments are stable and safe. 

If all this has inspired you to explore more, we’d be happy to help you learn how to relocate. Please feel free to contact us so we can assist you in obtaining the necessary documents, including the NIF, and make your dream of living in Portugal a reality.

Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
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