Timelines for Approval of Visa, NIF, Bank Account, Atestado de Residência, NISS, CRUE, Número de Utente, Buying a Property, and NHR in Portugal

One of the frequently posed inquiries by individuals planning to move to Portugal relates to the duration of various processes. Questions such as the time required to obtain a visa, the procedure for applying for a NIF number, the definition and application process for a NISS number, among others, are common. This article aims to clarify these queries in a straightforward manner, offering insights into the purpose of each process and the approximate time required, wherever possible.

Visa Approval Timelines
Timelines for visas depend on many different factors such as the location, how many applications have been received, and more recently the branding change from SEF and AIMI. While we cannot give accurate estimates for most countries, Leefa Roe put together an interesting tool for Americans where applicants can submit their own timings for visas with the goal of helping others going through the same process. To view more, or to add your own information, Click Here.

While much of the visa process can be done by struggling through the process, you can hire a Portuguese Immigration Attorney to handhold you through the process at .

Buying a Property
When it comes to who can buy property in Portugal, there are no restrictions based on nationality. This inclusivity means that citizens from any country can purchase real estate, whether it’s for personal use or as an investment.

The primary requirements for purchasing property in Portugal include obtaining a Personal Fiscal Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF), which is essential for conducting any financial transaction in Portugal. This can be obtained from a local tax office with a valid passport and proof of address or via organizations like . Additionally, non-residents need to open a Portuguese bank account for transaction purposes, which requires similar identification documents.

The timeframe for purchasing a property in Portugal varies depending on several factors, including the type of property, its location, if a mortgage is needed, and the efficiency of the legal and bureaucratic processes involved. Typically, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It starts with finding a property and agreeing on a price, followed by signing a promissory contract and paying a deposit. This is succeeded by the due diligence phase, where legal checks on the property are conducted. The final stage is the completion of the sale, where the deeds are signed in front of a notary, and the remaining balance is paid.

For in-depth analysis of the Portuguese real estate market, encompassing everything from luxury properties to bank-owned distressed assets, visit This property portal stands as Portugal’s most extensive and innovative property portal helping property buyer’s make smarter buying decisions.

NIF Number
“NIF” stands for “Número de Identificação Fiscal,” which is the Tax Identification Number. This number is used to identify taxpayers in Portugal, functioning similarly to a Social Security number in the United States or a National Insurance number in the United Kingdom.

The NIF is an essential identifier for individuals and companies for all tax-related matters, including:

Filing taxes
Opening a bank account
Buying or selling property
Signing up for utilities or a mobile phone contract
The NIF is a nine-digit number that is unique to each individual or entity and remains unchanged throughout the holder’s lifetime. For residents, it is often required shortly after taking up residence in Portugal or becoming economically active in the country.

For non-residents, obtaining a NIF may be necessary for certain transactions, such as buying property in Portugal. Non-residents can obtain a NIF by appointing a tax representative in Portugal and presenting the necessary documents to the Portuguese tax authorities (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira).

It is important to note that having a NIF does not necessarily mean that an individual is a tax resident in Portugal; tax residency is determined by other criteria such as the number of days spent in the country and the individual’s economic ties to Portugal.

Cost 95 Euros (Free if done in person in Portugal)
Required Documents: Passport & Proof of address (utility bill or bank statement).
Timeframe: 2-5 days once documents are submitted

Open a Bank Account
In Portugal, as in many countries, a bank account is often required or at least highly advisable for several reasons, particularly when you are living, working, or conducting any regular financial transactions in the country. Here are some instances when you would typically need a bank account in Portugal:

Employment: If you are working in Portugal, your employer will usually pay your salary into a bank account. It’s often a requirement to provide your bank account details when you start a new job.

Renting or Buying Property: Landlords or real estate agencies might require you to have a local bank account for the payment of rent or property-related transactions.

Setting Up Utilities: When arranging for utilities such as electricity, water, or internet service, direct debit from a bank account is a common payment method.

Government Services: If you’re entitled to any social security benefits or tax refunds, having a bank account can facilitate direct transfers from government agencies.

Healthcare: While not always required, a bank account might be necessary for certain healthcare services if there are charges that are not covered by the health system or if you have private health insurance that reimburses you.

Day-to-Day Transactions: For convenience in everyday financial transactions, such as shopping, paying for services, or receiving money from friends or family.

Fiscal Obligations: If you have fiscal obligations, like paying taxes, a bank account may be required for payments or to receive any potential tax refunds.

Starting a Business: Opening a business account is typically a requirement for setting up a company to handle all business-related financial transactions.

Loans and Mortgages: If you’re taking out a loan or mortgage, banks will usually require you to have an account with them for the loan disbursement and the repayment installments.

Legal Residency: When applying for legal residency or a residence visa, showing you have a Portuguese bank account might be part of the proof of your financial means.

Social Services and Benefits: To receive social services or benefits that you may be eligible for, having a bank account into which funds can be deposited is usually necessary.

Opening a bank account in Portugal usually requires you to provide identification (such as a passport or ID card), proof of address, and sometimes a Portuguese fiscal number (Número de Identificação Fiscal, NIF). For non-residents, some banks may offer specific types of accounts, but these may come with different conditions or limitations. It’s always best to check with the individual bank for their requirements.

Cost: Free if done in person or 300 Euros if done remotely
Required Documents: Passport, NIF, Paystub, Proof of Address
Time Frame: A few hours in person or 1-2 weeks if remote
Comments: offers assistance in opening a bank account both in-person and remotely through a Portuguese attorney. For in-person services, offers a complimentary introduction to an english speaking bank manager who specializes in opening bank accounts for foreigners in Portugal. Generally, banks mandate an initial deposit of around 200-250 euros to activate the account, though this amount can be subject to negotiation.

In Portugal, the term “NISS” stands for “Número de Identificação de Segurança Social,” which is the Social Security Identification Number. This number is used to identify individuals within the Portuguese Social Security system. It is an essential identifier for workers and citizens in Portugal, enabling them to access social security benefits, healthcare services, and to fulfill their obligations within the social protection system.

The NISS is a unique number assigned to each individual, and it is used for various purposes such as:

Registering with the social security system
Processing social security contributions
Accessing social security benefits and services
When someone starts working in Portugal, they need to apply for a NISS to ensure that their social security contributions are correctly recorded and that they are eligible for any benefits they may be entitled to, such as pensions, unemployment benefits, and healthcare services.

If you are planning to work or live in Portugal, it’s important to apply for a NISS through the Portuguese Social Security office (Segurança Social). This can typically be done by presenting the necessary identification documents and proof of employment or residence.

Segurança Social Apply Here
Cost: Free
Required Documents: EU ID, NIF
Time Frame: 1-2 weeks
Comments: You apply online via the above link but you have to pick it up in person. If that isn’t possible you can use the P12 form and make a copy of your ID so a representative can pick it up on your behalf.

Atestado de Residência
An “Atestado de Residência” in Portugal is a Certificate of Residency. This document is issued by the local parish council (“Junta de Freguesia”) in the area where you live and serves as an official proof of your address and residency within a specific municipality.
To obtain an “Atestado de Residência,” you typically need to provide proof that you live in the area, such as a utility bill, rental contract, or similar document that shows your name and address. You may also need to present identification, such as a passport, ID card, or residence permit.
This certificate can be required for various administrative procedures, including:
Applying for or renewing a residence permit.
Registering with the health center for a health card (cartão de utente).
Enrolling children in school.
Applying for a parking permit in areas where parking is regulated.
Opening a bank account or performing other financial transactions that require proof of address.
Voting in local elections (for residents who are citizens of Portugal or other EU countries).
The process and the required documents might vary slightly depending on the parish and the current regulations. It’s always a good idea to check with the local parish council for the most up-to-date requirements.

Junta de Freguesia
Cost: Free
Required Documents: Work contract, Passport.
Time Frame: 1-3 days
Comments: Talk to the Junta de Freguesia if you don’t have a work contract

Crue refers to “Certidão de Registo de Utilizador de Energia,” which is an Energy User Registration Certificate. This certificate is a document that proves that an energy consumer (electricity and/or gas) is registered with the respective energy distribution company.

The CRUE is necessary for several situations, such as:

To formalize a contract with an energy supply company.
When requesting a change in the contracted power or when altering the characteristics of the supply.
To prove the connection point of the supply, which can be important in case of a dispute or for certain administrative procedures.
When you subscribe to an energy service in Portugal, the supplier will typically take care of registering you with the energy distribution network operator, and you’ll receive a CRUE as part of this process.

The details on how to obtain a CRUE can vary depending on the distribution network operator and the supplier. It’s always recommended to inquire directly with the relevant energy supply company for the most accurate and detailed guidance.

Location: Camera Municipal
Cost: 15
Required Documents: Atestado de Residência, Passport.
Time Frame: 1-2 hours

Change Address with Finances
When you move homes, you have 60 days to notify finances of your new address.

Cost: Free
Required Documents: Atestado de Residência, Passport.
Time Frame: 10-20 minutes
Comments: If you cannot do this online via the ePortal website then you can also go into Finances and do it in person.

Numero de Utente
The “Número de Utente” in Portugal is the healthcare user number, which is assigned to individuals who are registered in the Portuguese National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS). This number is a unique identifier for anyone who uses healthcare services in Portugal.

When you register with the SNS, you are given a “Número de Utente” that is used across the public healthcare system to access various services, such as:

Scheduling appointments with general practitioners or specialists.
Accessing emergency services.
Obtaining prescription medications.
Undergoing diagnostic tests and medical examinations.
Hospital admissions.
The “Número de Utente” is essential for residents in Portugal to benefit from the healthcare services provided by the state, often at a reduced cost or free of charge, depending on the service. To obtain this number, you usually need to provide identification, proof of address, and your social security number, and you must be registered with the local health center in your area of residence.

For non-residents or tourists, healthcare services are still accessible, but they might not be eligible for a “Número de Utente” and might have to pay for the services or use private health insurance, unless there are reciprocal health agreements in place between Portugal and their home country.

Centro De Saude (in person)
Cost: Free
Required Documents: Atestado de Residência, CRUE
Time Frame: 10-20 minutes

Apply for NHR
NHR stands for “Non-Habitual Resident,” which is a tax regime in Portugal designed to attract individuals and their families to Portugal by offering tax incentives.

There has been a recent amendment by the Socialist party to the State Budget, which establishes a transition regime for the Non-Habitual Residents (RNH) program in Portugal. This program, offering lower income tax rates for ten years, is set to end in 2024. However, the amendment introduces criteria allowing foreign citizens to join the program throughout 2024, provided they obtain Portuguese tax residency by the end of that year and meet certain conditions. These conditions include having an employment contract or property-related agreement in Portugal (long term rental is fine) by the end of 2023, enrollment of dependents in Portuguese educational establishments, or having a valid residence visa or residence permit. The amendment was made to accommodate those who have already begun the process of changing their tax residence to Portugal, motivated by the benefits of the RNH program, which is considered one of Europe’s most generous. The decision to phase out the RNH program was influenced by Portugal’s housing crisis and the significant increase in non-habitual residents in recent years.

The NHR regime provides for a flat income tax rate of 20% for certain Portuguese-source employment and self-employment income, which is advantageous compared to the standard progressive rates that can go up to 48%. Additionally, it offers a potential tax exemption for foreign-source income, including pensions, employment income, rental income, investment income, and capital gains, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions generally include the requirement that the income could be taxed in the source country under the terms of a Double Tax Agreement.

The NHR status is available to all individuals who become tax residents in Portugal (assuming they have not been taxed as Portuguese tax residents in the five years prior to the application) and is granted for a period of ten consecutive years.

To benefit from the NHR regime, one must:

Have not been taxed as a Portuguese tax resident in the five years before taking up residence in Portugal.
The NHR regime has been particularly popular among retirees from other countries, who can potentially receive their pension income tax-free in Portugal, and professionals who work in high value-added activities of a scientific, artistic, or technical nature.

As tax regulations can change and the NHR status has specific requirements and conditions, it’s always advisable to consult with a tax professional or legal advisor for the latest information and to assist with the application process.

** While no law has been passed yet, Portugal is discussing eliminating NHR as an option in 2024. To avoid missing this opportunity you should start the process right away **

If you already have your NIF number then you can apply via the link below yourself. Since there isn’t much time left and If you wish legal assistance to insure you are doing it correctly the first time, contact and they can assist you for a fee of 295 euros.

Immigration Consultation

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