Opening a bank account in Portugal can be a complicated process as most banks won’t allow you to open an account unless you visit a branch in person - with the required documents. We break down the process of opening a Portuguese bank account before immigrating, making your transition smoother and hassle free.

Portugal bank account

How to open a Portuguese bank account

Millennium BCP and Santander are the largest private banks in Portugal and both residents and expats can open an account with them. We highly recommend opening a Millennium BCP Prestige or Santander account, because they have minimal monthly account fees, debit card and credit card options, internet banking, and most importantly, access to a custom manager – a reliable and dedicated professional who is Portuguese and English speaking and available to assist you and answer any questions you may have.

Step 1: What's needed to open the account from outside Portugal? 

If you are opening a Portuguese bank account from outside of Portugal, you will need a temporary Portuguese tax number called a Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF). Your manager at Millennium BCP or Santander will organise this for you and you will be issued with a permanent number once you have arrived in Portugal.

Step 2: Getting the account set up

To open your Portuguese bank account prior to your arrival, we will introduce you to our affiliates at either Millennium BCP or Santander, who will assist you with the opening of your account. You will be required to visit their representative office in Bruma, Johannesburg in person to sign the necessary documents. 

If you reside in Cape Town, our affiliate at Millennium BCP often makes trips down, so a meeting in Cape Town can always be arranged. You will be required to present the following documents for your bank account application:

  • A valid passport 
  • Proof of physical address – a PO Box address will not be accepted. The proof of address should not be older than three months and should be in the form of a municipal bill, utility bill, bank statement or an official document issued by a local or national governing body
  • Evidence of your home country income tax number (most recent tax return)
  • Proof of employment (last three months of payslips or a contract of employment/proof of retirement/proof of position in business, issued on a formal company letterhead confirming salary and tenure (not older than three months)
  • Email address and contact telephone number
  • If you are married, confirmation of marital status and marital regime (community of property/antenuptial contract)
  • If you are a student, your student ID card confirmation or school enrolment statement.
  • If you are a minor, confirmation of the full names of your parents and their address.

Step 3: Start using your new Portuguese bank account

Once your account has been set up, you will be free to transfer money to Portugal, thus setting up your new life before you even set foot on Portuguese soil. Having this set up before you move will give you peace of mind and ensure a seamless relocation process.

Thinking of moving to Portugal?

In recent years, Portugal has become an incredibly popular location for expats. The Golden visa program is popular among investors and is a unique residency-by-investment solution. The Golden Visa not only allows the holder to live and work in Portugal, but also affords you the right to visa-free travel throughout the European Schengen Area.

The three most popular routes to Golden Visa residency are:

  • Property investment of €280,000
  • Private Equity Fund investment of €500,000
  • Property investment of €500,000

Requirements for the Golden Visa

To maintain your Golden Visa, you'll need to hold your investment for the duration of the visa period, spend some time in Portugal and have a clear criminal record.
Portuguese language test for permanent residency and citizenship

See more: The Golden Visa Program

How Sable International can help

With immigration experience and on the ground offices in Portugal, our team knows exactly what you will need and where things might get tricky. Our first-hand experience in immigrating to Portugal has helped us create our Portugal relocation packages.

As part of our relocation package, we will introduce you to our affiliate Millennium BCP or Santander, from there, the on the ground team will open your bank account prior to your arrival. This bank account can be opened from South Africa before your arrival in Portugal. 

Our relocation pack also includes finding out your exact needs for your move, a consultation with our wealth advisors, an in-depth guide to relocating to and living in Portugal and a free international money transfer. 

Learn more about our Portuguese relocation packages and how we can help you make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Get in touch with us at or by calling +44 (0) 20 7759 7236 (UK), +27 (0) 21 657 1530 (SA) or 1800 039 300 (AUS).

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.