How to start a business in Portugal
If you are a foreign resident wanting to start a business in Portugal, you’ll need to go through the following steps:
Check that you can legally set up a business in Portugal
The first step is to ensure that you meet the legal requirements to trade as self-employed in Portugal. You will need:
- Portuguese residency card. See below section on Business visas and immigration requirements for more details.
- A Tax Number from the Portuguese Tax Office
- A Social Security Number from the Portuguese Social Security
Make sure you have a viable business idea
If you are an entrepreneur in Portugal with a business idea, you will need to do your market research and also develop a strong business plan. We can help you creating a business plan and financial plan to add into your dossie.
Decide on the business legal structure
See the below section on Portuguese business types for details of the different types of set up you can choose from.
Choose a business name and address
You may already have these but if not, now is the time to get it finalised as you will need to register them as part of your set-up process.
Choose set-up method
Two simplified ways to establish your company in Portugal;
- Setting up online – this allows certain types of Portuguese businesses to be set up and registered over the internet with 1-2 days. An electronic certificate is required. The Portal de Empresa website for doing this can be found here.
- Sole traders and limited companies can be created in an hour via this government scheme. All partners should be present along with all necessary documentation and any legal representatives.
If you are unable or unwilling to start up your Portuguese business using Empresa Online or Empresa de Hora, you can set up using the traditional method (Criação da Empresa) by following the steps below:
- Obtain a Certificate of Admissibility to formally identify your Portuguese company name. This can be done through the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN) and it can take up to 15 days.
- Apply for a Company Card and a Collective Card (the main business ID) from the IRN
- Open a business bank account and deposit the initial capital
- Declare commencement of activity at the local Tax Office
- Register your Portuguese business at a Commercial Registry Office
- Register as an employer at the local Social Security office
Once you have completed these steps, which should take no more than around 15 days, you can start running your business in Portugal. First check if your area of business activity has any additional requirements, such as a license or certain qualifications. For some businesses it is illegal to start activity before being granted an official status in Portugal.