How to start a business in Portugal if you are not a resident of the country

How to start a business in Portugal if you are not a resident of the country

Because of the economic stability of the Portuguese country, opportunities and different branches of investment possibilities, many non-resident foreigners are attracted to start a new business and open a company in Portugal.

To do so, it is important to understand all the bureaucratic steps, legal implications, analyze the possibilities of undertaking and investing in the country, and seek information about the criteria, requirements, and demands for getting the proper authorizations. After all, no good business starts unless it has a good plan and is in compliance with the law.

And, for those who want to start a company in Portugal, we have separated some more specific information, as a “guide” so that a foreigner can also open a company in the country.

Step by step for a foreigner to open a company in Portugal

One of the first steps is to understand the scenario of the Portuguese country and analyze if it is a prosperous context for the business sector that you seek to start in the new country, with new culture and social norms.

Next it is necessary to look for ways to invest, specialize in the chosen sector, build the space, understand how to prospect, and do a good, structured market study.

How to open a company in Portugal when you are not a resident

One of the advantages is that the person who wants to open a company in Portugal is independent of third parties, national or not, the only mandatory issue is that one of the partners needs to be a fiscal and legal resident in the country. However, there are some basic requirements that are essential for anyone looking to start a business in Portugal.

A specific residence visa is not required, but it is essential that the entrepreneur has a tax number, known as NIF.

Thus, it is possible to open a company being a resident Portuguese, a non-resident Portuguese, a resident or non-resident foreigner, having or not having a residence permit.

The only point to pay attention to is that at least one of the partners needs to be a fiscal and legal resident in Portugal. If there is no partner who is tax and legally resident in Portugal, a representative must be appointed.

How to open a company in Portugal if you are not a resident in the country

10 steps for a foreigner to open a company in Portugal

When you decide to open a company in Portugal, you have to think:

  1. Will it be one or more partners?
  2. Do all partners have NIF (tax identification number in Portugal)? If not, it is possible to request a TIN remotely, by proxy;
  3. Do any of the partners live fiscally and legally in Portugal? If not, you will need to have a representative. This service usually involves a monthly payment/advance contract;
  4. 4. Will it be a limited or unlimited liability company?
  5. It will be necessary for the partners and the company to have a bank account in Portugal. Okay? It is possible to open an account remotely, by proxy;
  6. Would you like a specific company name, or could it be, for example, the composition of the partners’ first and last names? If you want a specific name, you will have to file an application for a business name admissibility certificate with the Portuguese Government prior to the incorporation of your company. If permission is granted, you will have a pre-determined amount of time to set up the company, otherwise the permission to use the desired name will expire;
  7. Do you have an accountant in Portugal? When you set up the company it is necessary to indicate who the accountant will be, which demands that you have already thought about this and have organized the hiring of this professional. As a rule this is a service that is also tied to the monthly payment/advance. If you have no professional, the Government will refer your company to a counter of accountants, where one will be assigned at random..;
  8. Do you have a business address in Portugal? If not, you will need someone to hire a commercial address for you. If you want to hire a virtual office, remember that this type of service usually only stores your correspondence for 30 days. You may need to hire someone to manage your correspondence for you. This service is almost always tied to the payment of a monthly fee;
  9. What will be the company’s activity? This information is necessary for the definition of the main and secondary CAES (Portuguese Classification of Economic Activities) that must be informed in the company’s constitution. The company may only engage in activities that have been previously listed with the CAES upon incorporation. This definition is very important and should be done together with a lawyer and an accountant;
  10. Will the company’s activity be developed only in Portugal or also abroad? If you are not yet sure whether you will operate internationally, we recommend that you state in your company’s articles of incorporation that you will be able to do so, so that you will not have problems with government approval for the incorporation of the company, or be dependent in the future on changing your articles of incorporation to be able to serve a client abroad.


With this article it will be possible to understand the basics of how to open a company if you are not a resident in Portugal. In order not to take risks or have unnecessary losses, it is important to follow all the legalizations and regularities required by the Portuguese government to open your company in Portugal. Count on the support and advice of a specialized migration lawyer to get your business off the ground successfully!

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