Becoming a Local Resident in Portugal - Some Practicalities

Becoming a Local Resident in Portugal - Some Practicalities

Moving to Portugal can prove to be a difficult process if you are not familiar with all the requirements needed to become a legal resident there. Célia Vences of Algarve Assistants explains the steps needed.

Your top priority when moving to Portugal will be registration and residency. The first step of this process should always be obtaining a Fiscal Number, as this will be needed to obtain the much-needed residency document, that is therefore needed for the rest of the process.

To request this fiscal number you should go to the Tax Office with your passport and a proof of address from abroad and make the request. At this point, at the Tax Office, you will declare that your address is still in your original country and only after the residency being obtained you will declare that you are officially a resident in Portugal.

Legal & Fiscal Residency

The second step should be the residency as all the other steps in this process will require the residency document. If you are a European Union citizen your residency should be done through the Town Hall. This is done by going directly to the Town Hall of your residency area with your passport, proof of address in Portugal and Fiscal Number. This residency is valid for five years, after the five years you should apply for a residency card of ten years, that is requested at Foreigners and Border Services (SEF).

Documents required for the ten-year residency are usually passport, residency document from the town hall, proof of income and proof of health insurance. After you became a legal resident through the town hall you should go to the Tax Office with your passport and your residency certificate and update your address for the Portuguese one. In this way, you will be both legal and fiscal resident in Portugal.

Next up: driving and banks

The following matters can be done in any order but they do have time limits, therefore it is important to do them as soon as possible.

Driving licence

You can drive in Portugal with your foreign driving licence for as long as it is not expired but you do have to register your driving licence at the IMTT within 90 days.  If you wish to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Portuguese one that is also possible. For that, you will need your passport, current driving licence, residency certificate and a medical form. 

Owning a car in Portugal

As you are moving your residence to Portugal you have a year to benefit an exemption of tax on the import of a vehicle.  You should own the car for at least six months and gather all the documentation needed such as a document of cancellation of residency from the embassy, proof of address from the last six months, among others.

Bank account

You can have a foreign bank account but it is much easier to pay bills and taxes in Portugal in you have a Portuguese bank account. Every bank has different procedures, but in a general way, documents requested to open a bank account in Portugal are passports, residency certificate, fiscal numbers and proof of income such as the latest pay slips.

All these steps can be very complex, can depend on the location of your residency and can change with the update of the law. Getting expert help on all these bureaucratic matters can save yourself some time and stress.

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