Getting A Bank Account In Portugal from United States without traveling to Portugal

I am guessing this question is asked all of the time. I did search and read the replies, but I did not find any clear specifics on the bank to use.

We have acquired our NIFs… We are ready to pick a bank and open the account.

Does anyone have specifics for a top bank or a local contact that would be able to provide detailed help?

Thank you in advance!

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Richard, our lawyer in Portugal helped with the account opening process. As for which bank, it depends on what the bank account will be used for. (I am assuming you are a U.S citizen.) For example, if you need to open a securities account to hold the participation units for a PE fund for the golden visa, then Bison bank will be the easiest to deal with. If you just want a bank account that can hold EUR currency and you intend to use ATM while in Portugal, Transferwise may be the easiest. If you need a Portuguese bank (not to hold units for funds), then there are a few (off the top of my head, Novo Banco and Millennium bcp). Keep in mind that not all banks in Portugal will work with U.S persons.
In case you didn’t see this thread that talks about banks that will work with U.S citizens:

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Thank you so much for the reply!!

We are going to try Millennium. We are going to call… their website is not “online application friendly”. I will post the results in case it will help anyone else.

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It may depend on who you contact at the bank, too. One person may say no and another may say yes, you can open an account remotely. I wasn’t able to open an account with Millennium even with my lawyer’s help but I know another American could.

Thank you for the reply! Which bank were you able to open an account with online?

We didn’t do it ourselves. Our lawyer helped us with account opening process with Novo Banco and Bison Bank.

Thank you again for the reply!

What was the cost and if you would recommend the lawyer, would you be willing to share their contact information?

Is opening a bank account part of something else? We acquired a lawyer for the GV application and opening a bank account was part of the services provided.

I tried, as a US citizen, to open a bank account with Novo Banco online and almost made it, but at the last minute they decided they didn’t want to support my account, I believe this was due to regulatory requirements by the USA.

Bison Bank was the other option I was aware of that would let you open a bank account from overseas and while it was more hassle to open (I did it without lawyers), they have been helpful and responsive.

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Marcus,

Thank you for the information! We will start with Bison today. Any words of wisdom on the process are welcome! (Or even better… a step by step on the process :smiley:)

Can I ask, how long did it take you from start to finish?

I can’t re-emphasize this enough. Not all banks can accommodate all needs. In particular, if you choose a bank that can’t comply with U.S. legal requirements (FATCA and FBAR, come to mind in particular), you might be creating a big headache down the road. And an expensive one if you incur penalties on U.S. tax responsibilities, assuming that you are from the U.S. You need to talk to people from whatever bank you consider and ask specifically about reporting requirements, fees, etc. You may also want to consider who owns the bank, as some of them are owned by individuals or a single family, which may influence your choice as well.

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Good info on Bison Bank! Was it 100% online or was it one where you can open it online but can’t withdraw until you visit the branch in person?

You can open a Bison Bank account remotely. You will have full use of your account through the online banking system. The initial access credentials are transmitted electronically once the opening paperwork is complete.

A few things to be aware of:

  • For remote account opening, you will need assistance from a Portuguese lawyer to certify the required identification documents. The only other choice is to show up in person. The going rate for a la carte document certification is $20/item; if you have a GV lawyer, this may be included as a complimentary service.
  • You will need a Portuguese NIF. I provided details about the inexpensive service I used in another thread.
  • The application consists of six forms spanning 27 pages. These must be reviewed online, printed, ink-signed, and shipped to the bank in Portugal. Electronic transmission is not sufficient.
  • Opening the account takes a few days once they have the forms in hand.
  • Nuno, the point of contact at Bison Bank, is friendly and helpful through the whole process.
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So very helpful, thank you! Real quick, what’s a NIF? Not sure I’ve seen that abbreviation before.

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Hi Richard,

The process is just about documentation, the documentation which you originate (as opposed to forms they need you to print, sign and mail back) will need to be notarized, apostilled and then mailed to them. Once you have collected all the documents and notarized them it can take a couple weeks to apostille and another couple weeks to mail to Portugal, all told about a month, or more if you need to resubmit anything.

You should also go ahead and get a FBI criminal record check, I believe they are good for about 6 months and it will be handy to be able to rapidly produce it when asked for it.

The NIF is a Portuguese taxpayer ID. There is an article on the main site and there are a couple discussion threads about this, e.g.:

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I wanted to catch everyone up. First, thanks for the replies! All of the help has been fantastic! :slight_smile:

Here is where we are and what we are doing.

Upon searching for the “best bank” we kept coming back to Millennium bank and we make it our first choice. We contacted the bank through email and phone and was told we could not open an account. We reached out to Youtube ExpatsEverywhere and they were able to give us a contact inside the bank that is helping us get setup. Just as one of the earlier replies stated, it depends on who you talk to! The contact has been helpful and responsive!

As mentioned, we have our NIF. We provided them proof of address, proof of job, passport copies. They sent us back the forms they need.

Here is the shocker… They need the documents signed and for us to complete one of the two options.

  1. Have the signatures recognized in the Portuguese consulate near you. With this you will not need the apostille;
  2. Have the signatures notarized in the US and then apostille the notarization.

Our challenge is we live at least 10 hours from the nearest consulate… so we pulled up apostille services in Atlanta GA and we were shocked by the price. One was 375 for the 1st and 1/2 of 375 for each document thereafter. The other was 150 for the first and “about” 100 for each remaining document… so we are looking at a 20 hour round trip, overnight stay or 5 hour round trip to Atlanta and at least $500 for the apostille service.

I am now considering just going with Bison and the online process… we will make a decision today. :open_mouth:

More to come!

Keep in mind that if you need a bank with retail services like ATM, credit card, etc, Bison Bank won’t meet your needs. If you need a bank for GV investment, Bison will be easiest for US citizens.(we wanted to go with Millennium bcp too but we tried and failed.)

As for obtaining the apostilles for your notarized documents, you don’t need to go through a private service. You should be able to obtain that from your state. It should only cost $10-20 per document. For example, in CA and WA, apostille requests are sent to the Secretary of State. A quick search online I found for GA, you have to send it to GA superior court clerk?

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That is fantastic info!! Thank you so much… we are researching now! :raised_hands: :grin:

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Update… we did call the GA Court Clerk and we are set. We have to mail it - before COVID you could walk in - the fee is $3 per document. :slight_smile: 2 to 3 business days and return postage. We should be able to get it completed in about 5 days total and then back out to the bank!

Thank you so much for the information!