Getting a Portuguese bank account is not the hardest thing in the world, but there can be good amount of bureaucracy and paperwork involved. If you are planning to spend a long amount of time here, or if you are relocating, you will NEED to have a Portuguese bank account. It’s quite hard to navigate without one. Why? It’s the little things.
For example, most of the best gyms in Lisbon don’t do automated payments with US credit cards, so you need to have a Portuguese bank account in order to set one up. It’s also very easy to pay for your utilities by going to the ATM machine, this includes anything from your water bill, electric bill, and even your health insurance.
Documents Needed to Open a Portuguese Bank Account
NIF: Your NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal also called Número de Contribuinte) is your tax ID in Portugal. You need this number to do pretty much everything here – get a phone or internet contract, etc. In order to get this number, you need a lease and a Portuguese person to vouch for you. I’ll write up a post on this particular thing a bit later.
Proof of Address: You can get this from your Junta da Freguesia, it is an atestado de residencia. Just go with your lease (must be signed by you and your landlord and it must be original).
ID: Your US passport will suffice here.
Deposit: This will vary by bank.
***Some banks may require an extra document or two, but the above should suffice at most Portuguese banks.
How to Get Your Portuguese Bank Account
That was pretty easy. You just need to go to your bank of choice, tell them you wish to open an account and present the documents. The whole process of opening up an account took less than 15 minutes at my choice of bank, Activo Banco.
Banks that Are Good for Expats
Activo Banco is probably the best for expats. The biggest drawback is that their website is fully in Portuguese (but you can Google translate it as you work it). Another issue is that every time you access your account online, they ask you for random numbers in your code (seriously annoying security feature).
This bank has personal banking options, and accounts can be opened remotely. Their website is in English which makes it even easier to do everything you need to.
The CTT in Portugal is the post office, but they also have a banking arm and tons of locations throughout Portugal (so it is quite convenient to work with them).
Have any other question on Portuguese Bank Accounts or on Lisbon in general? Leave your question in the comments and we’ll answer you in a jiffy.