Get Portuguese number for SMS that's accessible worldwide?

Is there a service like this?

For example I have local USA number through Google Voice. When someone sends an SMS to this number I can see it on my phone’s Google Voice app, or online through the website, even when I’m outside the USA. This service is completely free.

Is there a similar service for Portugal? It seems with many government agencies like for NIF and Utente, it would be beneficial to have a local number they can text. But if I just get a local number the normal way in Portugal, I won’t be able to receive anything when in the USA, without expensive roaming.

I’m not familiar with Google Voice but have you confirmed the statement below?

Many mobile networks (at least European networks) allow receipt of inbound text free of charge while roaming. I.e you only pay for outbound services
For example I use a UK mobile in PT and don’t pay for any inbound calls or text anywhere (Inc USA, PT etc)
I use Vodafone UK which is in PT too so maybe check Vodafone PT website to see they have roaming charges for inbound text when in USA, ideally on prepay?
Since I don’t use this service I haven’t checked, I find most organisations are happy to accept my UK number.
Hope this helps

All I know is I cannot receive SMS from my bank in PT to my Google Voice number. They are perfectly capable of sending it automated calls, however.

I moved away from Google voice because that kept happening, with all sorts of businesses in the USA too. A shame

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sms across the pond does not work well. most portuguese folks use whataspp
i use 3 services -dumbed down my usa service to boost and keep it off when not in us
when i need to call us cell or land i use skype w a us number. then i have nos in pt which
at least in the north is very fast internet and good service while i am here.

I have a monthly contract with NOS with the cheapest phone plan and I’m able to receive calls and text messages while outside the Portugal/EU.

Sorry, no. Not that anyone’s found that I’m aware of.

Then again, how many texts were you expecting to get anyway? Get Vodafone easy plan. There’s a tiny idle fee, like a buck every two months, and you have to occasionally send yourself a text (as in, spend EUR 0,60) like every 3-6 months to keep the account alive . Incoming SMS is free. Hardly a bank breaker. Recharge online as needed via your ActivoBank app, easy peasey. (You have one, right?)

When you get back in country, you stop at the Vodafone stand in LIS and change to an actual useful plan - poof, yer live. On your way out, stop at the Vodafone stand and change it to the cheap storage plan. In theory you can change the plan online via portal; I’ve not successfully done this yet.

Lest you think you’ll get hassled - I learned this trick from a vodafone rep in a vodafone store in Cascais. Apparently it’s what all the cool kids do.

What burns you is when you need to talk to someone at Activo, and they expect to call you on your PT number since that’s the one they know. at EUR 0.87/min. Since inbound CALLS aren’t free. But how often is that going to happen?

And this way, it’s a “real” number - don’t have to worry about NIF or some bank not sending to it because it’s a MVNO or something. That’s worth your $20/yr right there.

The only thing that’s annoying is that, if you go idle too long, the network kinda forgets who you are. So you get a text… and it doesn’t get delivered for several hours. Helps to “wake yourself up” first.


What’s the trouble with the app, or is it just you haven’t tried?

There are some good, cheap wireless option in Portugal that offer almost free SMS messages and a very small monthy fee. However, they make up for this by charging very high data rates. So far, I havent found a good way to disable data usage on a single SIM on an Iphone, so when you turn on the SIM card it starts using data automatically and it gets very expensive.

You can turn off roaming but that is only a partial solution. if someone knows how to stop the SIM card from using data including for all the background apps running, and rely only on SMS and voice, that would be an ideal solution.

As an example, in my case I get maybe 1 call a month and 5 texts a month, so its not economical to pay 15 euros + a month for dedicated service.

I may be missing something because I thought you just turn off Mobile Data in Settings - you can still use voice but no data? And you can still use WiFi for your apps etc.

Interesting. I don’t see that I have such an option page for “mobile data” as you do. Mine it is under “Cellular” and there is no option to turn off mobile data as such. Its iOS 16.6

Now, poking around I do see a page for “Cellular Data” which allows to set which sim card can use mobile data. More specifically, there is an option for “Allow Cellular Data Switching”. I didn’t realize this existed. I currently have two sim cards - one for US carrier and one for Portugal carrier.

Edit: Based on this discussion, I think I may have solved my own question. I think what was happening to me is that I was disabling the primary US carrier in settings, and this forced the Portugal carrier SIM to become the default SIM for data, even though I had previously disabled it. This was unbeknownst to me causing the Portugal sim to chew up data at a very expensive rate. And for the record, the reason I had to disable the US sim is that some features of the PT sim don’t work when both SIM cards are enabled, such as account balance options.

I still can’t figure out how to enable voicemail on my PT sim, so that challenge will have to wait for another day.

Many carriers have prepaid, pay as you go plans.

Meo Altice has M Movel Pre Pago Livre . Free texts and calls to Portugal networks in Portugal. pay as you go.
Pay as you go - Mobile | MEO

FWIW, I think calling support while roaming is free, on Vodafone anyway. So you could call and ask them about voicemail.

Yep, i think you are correct. Meo uses *123# and Nos uses *111# for inquiries on the device. I haven’t really needed the voicemail that urgently but I need to deal with it eventually. In general, Ive been using the “pay as you go” sim card and it works fine in the US. I get MMS and alerts just fine, and I generally keep the sim turned off unless I am expecting a call or need to get a 2FA.

Its very cheap usually about 2-3 euros a month on average.

why turn it off? I don’t bother. fortunately europe doesn’t have the spam-call problem so it never bothers me. i occasionally get a mis-sms but a polite reply costs me nothing I can’t afford and serves the “keepalive” function.

no criticism just curious.

I turned it off because it was draining my prepaid balance every week or so. Now that I think I have figured out why it is doing that, i will leave it on now and check that that problem is resolved.

Oh, oops. you said that. a very good reason. hope it works out better now.

I live in the US, have owned an apartment in the Alfama for 5.5 years, and spend 2-3 months a year in Lisbon. I found it necessary to have a local Portuguese number for taxis, apartment deliveries, restaurant reservations, and government websites. I was able to get a Portuguese landline number through that is forwarded to my US mobile number for $14.80/month (inclusive) and includes 200 minutes of incoming calls per month. A local utility bill in your name is required to show “residency” to get the local number. I wish that there was a texting feature, but I have used WhatsApp for messaging, and found the local number service very useful.

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It’s been a while since I had a Portuguese SIM card, so I’m not 100% sure if it would work, but wouldn’t the best solution be to get a Portuguese SIM card that supports WiFi-calling? That would make it free to receive both calls and SMS globally as long as you’re on WiFi or your other SIM card provides a data connection (assuming VoLTE support).

As a bonus you can usually also call or sends SMS as if you were in Portugal (while on WiFi), no matter where you’re located.

Unfortunately, it’s seems only NOS (the worst network of the three) supports WiFi-calling at the moment:

Again, I haven’t tried this with a NOS SIM card, but I do it with cards from other EU countries as well as the US to maintain numbers there for banking/2FA purposes.

Note: NOS claims the service WiFi-calling feature should work abroad, but some of their users have had issues with it, so :man_shrugging:… Maybe better to wait until MEO or Vodafone adds support for it and hope they implement it properly.

Same. I have a Vodafone prepaid SIM bought from a Vodafone kiosk in Lisbon which I put on a burner phone and keep it on all the time, taking care to disable mobile data. The Portugal number works abroad without having to do anything special, incoming SMS from banks work. Outgoing calls are expensive, so this is best for incoming SMS alone. You do have to keep it alive in the manner described by Jeff, but it’s not a big deal.

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