Downside of a Portugal NIF?

I have really just begun to look at the possibility of retiring in Portugal, or at least a Plan B if a certain person gets elected again in the US.

I’m a US citizen, living in the US. Is there a downside to getting a NIF and Portugal bank account? Would I need to file taxes in Portugal? Would I have to file if the account earned interest?

Hey Greg, I just got started with this process as a US person. From what I understand:

  1. There shouldn’t been a downside to just getting your NIF and opening a bank account. It’s not quite like an SSN. You are not suddenly liable for taxes in Portugal.
  2. Be sure to open an account with a bank that complies with FATCA rules. If you search the forums, you will find recommendations. One of the more popular ones seems to be Bison Bank, since they comply with FATCA and can help you with opening an account remotely (desirable for a non-resident during this pandemic).
  3. If you accrue interest, you will most likely have to file taxes on it with the IRS. So long as you are not a tax resident of Portugal (having resided in Portugal for 183 days and over in a single year), you most likely will not have to file taxes in Portugal.

Please PLEASE consult with a CPA in the US and Portugal to verify all of this. Your situation might be unique and we can’t give you exact advice since we are not experts.

I do want to add that when you apply for an NIF in Portugal, you will need tax representation (since you will be a non-resident, you need to elect a Portuguese local to receive communications from the tax authorities). Note that you MUST have representation as long as you have an NIF and don’t have an address in Portugal to receive mail. This can be a yearly cost and cancelling your NIF might be a little involved. Be reasonably sure about pursuing activities in Portugal before acquiring an NIF.