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Living in Portugal: All you need to know (RNH, NIF, health, real estate, etc.)

Living in Portugal: All you need to know (RNH, NIF, health, real estate, etc.)

You want to live in Portugal, but you are a bit lost?

Read this article to know everything you need to know to successfully move to Portugal. I'll tell you about the non-habitual resident tax regime (tax reduction), the administrative steps to take when you arrive in this beautiful country, how to rent or buy a property, how to subscribe to gas, electricity, internet and how to drive your imported car legally. 

Living in Portugal: Who is entitled to the Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime?

The non-habitual resident status was created in 2009 regarding personal income tax (PIT) with a view to attracting to Portugal non-resident professional experts, in high value-added activities or intellectual property, industrial, as well as beneficiaries of private sector pensions received abroad (pensioners).

If you obtain this status you will pay only 10% tax as a pensioner or up to 20% of your income, if you work in a high value-added activity. This tax reduction is valid for 10 years, not renewable.

Tram Lisbon in the street

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Who can apply for registration as a non-habitual resident?

All those who are not considered resident in the Portuguese territory in the previous five years to the application for taxation as non-habitual resident and be retired from the private sector or work in one of these activities :

  • General managers and executive directors of companies
  • Administrative and sales managers
  • Production and specialized services managers
  • Hotel, restaurant, retail and other service managers
  • Specialists in physical sciences, mathematics, engineering and related techniques
  • Physicians
  • Dentists and stomatologists
  • University and higher education teachers
  • Experts in information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • Authors, journalists and linguists
  • Creative and performing artists
  • Technicians and mid-level science and engineering occupations
  • Information and communication technology technicians
  • Farmers and skilled agricultural and livestock workers
  • Skilled forestry, fishing and hunting workers
  • Skilled workers in industry, construction, metallurgy, metalworking, food processing, woodworking, clothing, handicrafts, printing, precision instrument making, jewelers, craftsmen, electrical and electronic workers
  • Plant and machine operators and assembly workers, i.e. fixed machine operators

Workers in the above-mentioned professional activities must have at least level 4 qualification of the European Qualifications Framework or level 35 of the International Classification of Education or have five years of duly documented professional experience.

In addition to the above activities, managers of companies promoting productive investments in eligible projects and with concession agreements that include tax benefits concluded under the Investment Tax Code, approved by Law Decree No. 162/2014.

If as a non-habitual resident (NHR) in Portugal you receive income from foreign sources, be aware that you will not pay taxes on this income provided that it is not in the list of high value activities mentioned above and that it is taxed in the country of origin (as mentioned above income related to your retirement is taxed at 10%).

More details: Click here.

Information: This list was updated by the Portuguese tax authorities in 2020, when the government made some changes to the status of the non-resident tax regime (RNH).

For more detailed answers to questions such as: "When can I apply for non-habitual resident status?", "How do I apply for non-habitual resident status on the Portal das Finanças?", ". Can I consult the evolution of the application for non-habitual resident status?", "How do I know if my application for non-habitual resident status has
How do I know if my application for registration as a non-habitual resident has been accepted or not by the Customs and Tributary Authority (TA)?", or "What should I do if, after applying for registration as a non-habitual resident, the respective application is still pending?

Do you want to work or retire in Portugal, but are not entitled to non-habitual resident (NHR) status? Read the article on taxes in Portugal to know the tax rate and the income tax scale.

>> Claim Your Complete Guide to Travelling in Portugal and get a FREE consultation with our agents now << 

Living in Portugal : Administrative procedures

Obtain your tax number: "Número de Contribuinte

To get it you will have to go to the Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira (known as Finanças - Portuguese Treasury) or the Lojas de Cidadão. In all Portuguese municipalities you will find a counter of the Treasury or/and Lojas de Cidadão (place where you can do many administrative procedures).

Upon presentation of an identity card or passport and a proof of residence (French, Belgian, Swiss), the Portuguese administration will issue you a card and a taxpayer number (Número de Contribuinte - NIF).

Another option that is becoming more and more popular is to use online services like Easy Relocate to obtain the NIF completely remotely.

Easy Relocate can also help you get a Portuguese bank account (completely remote!) and they offer combined packages for those who need a TIN and a bank account.

Open a bank account

ATM Bank account

To open a bank account you will need:

  • Your Tax Number
  • An identity document
  • Proof of residence in Portugal

The most popular banks in Portugal are: Caixa Geral de Depósitos (bank owned by the Portuguese State), BPI, Novo Banco Millennium BCP, Santander Totta, ActivoBank.

However, for your convenience, we recommend opening a wise account quickly and free of charge through this link here.
You will benefit from reduced fees and will be able to make your purchases quickly online but also have the possibility of converting your currency into euros in 1 click with your account without any fees (except for the exchange rate).

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Register with the National Health Service, the Portuguese health insurance (SNS: Serviço Nacional de Saúde)

In order to receive health care from the SNS, you must register at the health center (Centro de Saúde) closest to your home by presenting a valid identity document (ID card or passport), a document proving your residence and the Número de Contribuinte . The health center will issue an SNS user card (Número de Utente) in your name and tell you who your family doctor will be.

Information: Each time you move, you will have to register at the local Health Center.

Until you can benefit from the health care provided by the SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saude), I advise you to bring the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which certifies your right to health insurance. It guarantees that your expenses will be covered, according to the legislation in force in your country, by the doctor, the pharmacist and the public service hospitals.

Mutual insurance / Private insurance

In addition to registering with the SNS, I invite you to join a private insurance / mutual insurance company, which will allow you to use private hospitals at a lower cost (15 - 25 € for a consultation with a specialist), to have consultations within 24 hours instead of waiting several weeks in the public sector.

The most popular private insurance companies in Portugal are: Médis, Allianz, Advancecare (LOGO, Tranquilidade - Generali group), Multicare (Fidelidade), Mapfre.

Living in Portugal : Housing
What documents are needed to rent a property?

If you want to rent a house or an apartment when you arrive in Portugal, you must show that you have the income to pay your rent. You will be asked to pay 2 months rent in advance and 1 month deposit, so you will always pay your rent one month in advance. In most cases, you will be asked to pay 3 months of rent in advance and to provide a guarantor to avoid unpaid rent.

When you arrive in Portugal, it will be difficult to provide Portuguese pay slips and to find a guarantor. The solution to renting is to propose to the owner to pay several months of rent in advance, between 6 and 12 months.

Be aware that the contract must be made in triplicate, one copy of which must be presented to the Portuguese tax authorities by the landlord to be registered and validated. The contract must clearly specify

  • The purpose of the rental
  • The identity of the owner
  • The identity of the tenant
  • The duration of the lease, start and end dates and the rent price
  • The terms and conditions for terminating the contract on both sides
  • The terms of payment
  • The charges included and not included in the rent
  • The owner's visiting rights
  • The condition of the property at the time of rental

Many landlords do not draw up an inventory of fixtures when a new tenant moves in. If the defects are obvious, I advise you to ask for an inventory of fixtures to avoid losing your deposit when you return the property.

Your landlord must give you a rent receipt with each payment.

What documents are needed to buy a property?
To buy a property in Portugal, you must have a NIF (Número de Contribuinte), a bank account to pay for the purchase as well as current expenses like water, electricity, gas and local taxes.

To buy a property, you will have to sign a Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda, which is the contract of compromise of sale. It is the legal document that sets the conditions of the sale. It is recommended that the signatures be acknowledged by a notary. In the promise to sell, the notary only authenticates the signatures and the financial settlement between the seller and the buyer.

It is therefore advisable, although not essential, to take on a legal representative, a lawyer or a specialized company, in order to collect all the information from the Property Registry and the Town Hall. This representative will also have to make sure that the taxes and condominium charges are up to date.

What documents are needed to get electricity, gas and internet in your new home?
As in Belgium or in Canada, the electricity and gas market has been opened to competition. You can choose the company EDP Comercial (the Portuguese EDF), Iberdrola, Endesa and Galp Energia.

To have electricity/gas in your home, you must provide the following documents:

  • N.º de contribuinte - NIF
  • Código de ponto de entrega (CPE): to get this code you have to consult the old bills of the previous tenants/owners or call the electricity supplier directly
  • Código universal de instalação (CUI): this code is required only if you subscribe to gas
  • N.º de identificação bancária: a Portuguese RIB

I advise you to subscribe your contract by internet, the rates are often cheaper !

How to subscribe to internet, telephone and television?

As in Belgium, you will have the choice between several telephone operators. Here are the operators present in Portugal:

  • MEO : former Portugal Telecom and now belonging to Altice (like SFR in France)
  • Vodafone
  • NOS
  • NOWO

You should know that the prices are the same or even more expensive than the prices in France. Prices start at 30 euros for TV/Internet/Telephone (optical fiber). Prices are 5 to 10 euros cheaper if you want to have only internet at home or all services in ADSL.

To subscribe, you will have to go through the switchboard or to one of the many agencies of the telephone operators. You will find them in most shopping centers or in the city center.

You will need the following documents:

  • Taxpayer's number NIF
  • The landline number if there was already a line in the house
  • A Portuguese bank account number
  • Proof of address: an important document if you do not have an address in Portugal on your identity card

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Living in Portugal : Driving in Portugal with a foreign vehicle + foreign license
When you arrive in Portugal you can drive your French car without any administrative steps.

However, you must legalize/register your vehicle within 6 months after your arrival in Portugal.

Don't wait until the 6 month period is over to register your vehicle, this will avoid you paying some taxes (if you have a vehicle older than 6 months before your arrival and you transfer your main residence to Portugal).

To apply for the registration of your vehicle, you must have the following documents in your possession

A certificate mentioning the date of the end of your stay in France, issued by the town hall of your last residence in France or by the Portuguese Consulate in France for dual nationals (this will allow you to be exempt from certain taxes such as the ISV).
The vehicle registration document
Certificate of conformity (to be requested from your dealer or on the internet)
To register your car in Portugal, the first thing to do is to do a technical control of the vehicle in an authorized center that offers the inspection certificate nº112 (certificado de inspecção modelo nº 112).

The next step is to go to the customs office (Alfândega) to fill in the customs declaration of the vehicle (Declaração Aduaneira de Veículo - DAV). You can also do it on the internet on this site (it is even recommended).

The customs will issue the single invoice document (Documento Único de Cobrança - DUC) with the amount to be paid (ISV + VAT). The amount to be paid can be zero euros, if you have the right to exemption).

After paying the amount on the DUC, you have to wait a few days until the customs office gives you the license plate number.

Then you must go to the Institute of Mobility and Transport (IMT) nearest to your residence with the completed model 9 form (do not hesitate to ask for help from the agent who will welcome you at the technical control).

At this point, the IMT will request a new vehicle registration document (Documento Único Automóvel - DUA).

The penultimate step is to register the ownership of the vehicle at the Conservatória do Registo Automóvel (you can do this at the IRN - Instituto dos Registos e Notariado, present in all municipalities).

You will receive the vehicle registration document (DUA - Documento Único Automóvel) at home a few days later.

Information: you have 90 days to pay the Single Traffic Tax (IUC), a tax that you will have to pay every year (the price varies depending on your car).

Very important information: if you don't speak Portuguese, I advise you to get help from a company or a relative who speaks Portuguese to register your car in Portugal.

The cost of registration is around 300 euros, not including the vehicle tax (ISV) which varies greatly (year, power of the vehicle, etc.). If you hire a company to handle the whole process, you will have to pay around 300 to 500 euros more.

Driving in Portugal with a foreign license

Portugese car

If you have a European Union or EEA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) driver's license you can drive in Portugal until the end of its validity. However, you must register within 60 days of your arrival (beginning of your residence) at the IMT (Institute of Mobility and Transport). You can do this online or at an IMT office near you.

If your foreign permit does not have an expiration date, you have two years to change it. If you don't do this, you must retake your license (driving test) in Portugal in order to drive.

If your license was not issued in an EU or EEA country, you can drive in Portugal for 6 months (if you are not a Portuguese resident), provided that the country in question has a bilateral agreement with Portugal. If you have your fiscal residence in Portugal, you have 2 years to change your license.

If the country where the license was issued does not have a bilateral agreement with Portugal, you cannot drive. You will have to change your license as soon as you arrive (with driving test).

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