Whilst having a Portuguese bank account is not a legal requirement for Portuguese residents and ex-pats, the benefits of having one can be particularly helpful for those who spend time abroad and manage their international finances.

If you permanently reside in Madeira or Portugal, a Portuguese bank account will make life much easier for you, saving you time and money during your daily financial transactions, paying household bills, receiving income, and gaining access to lines of credit with Portuguese lenders.

Opening an Account Before You Move to Portugal

If you move to Madeira before setting up an account, you can still manage your money and conduct transactions with an international card provider, such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. These can prove to be expensive, so we’d advise opening an account in Portugal as soon as possible.

There are a few options available before you move.

Opening a ‘non-residents account’. Some Portuguese banks have options for non-residents to open an account from their home country, and then upgrade to a full account once residency has been obtained.

Some international banks have branches in Portugal, as well as your home country. Opening an account in your home country can be quick and straightforward, then simply change your address when you move to your new home in Madeira.

Online banks, such as Wise, Revolut and N26 can provide an online account with low fees, especially when converting your currency to Euros. Most of these banks offer all the functionality of a standard Bank account, with zero monthly fees and access to digital a Mastercard that can easily be connected to Apple or Google Pay.

Types of Accounts Available in Portugal

There are three types of accounts offered by Portuguese providers.

Current Account – A standard account, perfect for day-to-day transactions, receiving your salary and paying household bills. Typically, a €5 monthly fee is levied for Portuguese Current Accounts and a minimum deposit is required when you open one.

Instant Access Savings Account – A savings account offering higher interest rates, but still easy to access your funds. Some providers have the option to merge your Instant-access Saving Account with your Current Account so that a pre-defined positive balance will automatically move to your savings account and start earning interest.

Time-deposit Account – Savings Account with higher interest rates, but stricter conditions on withdrawals, minimum deposits, and time periods for funds to remain in the account.

What is Required to Open an Account in Portugal?

Most banks require you to visit the branch in person and have all your documents with you, although some allow you to open an account online. Some banks procedures to opening an account vary, but generally they follow the following steps:

Research your local banks and find a local branch. If you’re not fluent in Portuguese, ask a member of the team if there is an English (or your native language) speaker available to help you.

The required documentation you will need to bring are:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address, such as utility bill or tenancy agreement.
  • Pay Slip, proof of employment or proof of ownership of a company
  • Portuguese Fiscal Number (NIF)

If you are a non-resident, you will need to provide an overseas address used for tax purposes.

Choosing a Bank in Madeira

When choosing a bank, there are several factors to consider, based on your personal preferences and requirements. Do some research of your own, but we recommend following a few of the considerations below:

  • Reputation – Ask your network for recommendations based on personal experiences.
  • English-speaking services – If you don’t speak, or speak little Portuguese, then find out if your local branch can accommodate you with English speaking team members.
  • What other services are offered? – Check out their online banking, mortgages, and insurance options.
  • Costs – What are the fees and ongoing costs of your account, and do you need to make a regular deposit?
  • Incentives – Are they any benefits that come with being a customer of the bank? Free gifts, subscriptions, or vouchers
  • Convenience – How easy is it for you to visit the branch, make transfers and deposits and how user friendly is their online banking and mobile application service?

Some popular banks in Madeira are listed below. Each have local branches, offer mortgages, loans, and insurance, as well as offering mobile banking.

  • Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  • Millennium
  • Novo Banco
  • BPI
Other resources:
  • Multibanco and MB WAY – Portugal’s inter-banking network. SIBS Financial Services created MB WAY to simplify mobile payments, associating your payment card with your mobile number. MB Way is widely used in Portugal and Madeira, accepted by merchants, bars and restaurants and to send money quickly and easily to friends and family.
  • Banco de Portugal – Central Bank and regulatory authority for Portuguese banks
  • Portuguese Banking Association – Representative body for Portuguese banks, representing 90% of Portugal’s banking assets.

If you’re relocating to Portugal. Contact the MC Contabilidade team today and find out how we can help with opening a Portuguese bank account, visa and residency applications, company formations, tax and business consultations, and relocation services. Our experienced team have helped hundreds of ex-pats realise their dream of moving to Portugal and Madeira, so talk to us today and discuss your personal circumstances.

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