Your guide to doing business in Portugal
Portugal lies at the western edge of continental Europe on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Sharing its eastern land border with Spain, Portugal has always been an international business destination and built a historic reputation as a trade hub for merchants from across the globe. Once the centre of an empire, in the 21st century Portugal remains a highly developed and competitive economy with an estimated 2019 GDP of $236 billion (with 2.2% growth) and a higher per capita GDP than the majority of the EU27 countries. Traditionally important industries in Portugal include agricultural produce (vegetables, nuts and fruit), forestry, and fishing although the country is also one of Europe’s leading mineral producers, exporting significant quantities of copper, tin, tungsten and uranium to global markets. Emergent industrial sectors in Portugal include electronics, automotives, textiles, and chemicals, while aerospace, biotechnology, and IT are becoming increasingly significant. Portugal is a member of NATO, the UN, and the OECD, and its EU member status allows its businesses to trade freely with other countries within the bloc. In 2019, Portugal ranked 39 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey.
Investors targeting Portugal should find plenty of reasons and opportunities to invest:
The Government of Portugal welcomes inward investment and has a strong track record of encouraging and securing investment from Asia. All foreign and local investors are treated equally, and are both eligible for investment incentives. Some of the world’s most prestigious businesses currently invest in Portugal, including tech-giants like Microsoft, Apple, Siemens and IBM, and manufacturing entities including Volkswagen, Leica and Ikea. The government’s reformist agenda has helped encourage FDI in all sectors, while businesses benefit from highly-developed transport and communication networks, a transparent regulatory system, and integration with the EU single market. A range of financial incentives, including training expenses and further tax relief, are also available for businesses setting up in Portugal.
If a company wants to set up a legal entity in Portugal and the legal representatives of the company are in Portugal, this is a process that can be done within one to two business days.
If the legal representatives cannot be in Portugal, the process will take longer, between 15 and 30 days and this process will require a POA.
The setup of the legal entity includes the registration with the tax authority and the social security.
There is also the option of non-resident companies, which does not require any legal entity establishment; however, there can be no commercial activity from this entity. This is for employment purposes only.
This process will require POA, and a set of documentation that needs to be checked on a case by case basis.
It is mandatory to make payments to the authorities from an in-country bank account. Banks are generally open to the public from 0830 to 1500 hours, and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
The working week in Portugal is Monday to Friday. The working hours for commercial offices is typically from 0900 to 1800 hours.
Portugal is Europe’s westernmost country, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and sharing an eastern land border with Spain - the longest in continental Europe. Over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal built a historic empire, pioneering global exploration and establishing itself as an international trade hub with merchants arriving by sea from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Today, Portugal is a presidential republic, with a transparent governmental system, and is a founding member of NATO and the European Union. With territory covering the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal has a mountainous northeast, with flatter central and coastal regions. Portugal experiences a Mediterranean climate, with mild or warm temperatures year round, and hot summers which attract tourism from every corner of the world.
Full Name: Portuguese Republic
Population: 10.29 million (World Bank, 2018)
Primary Language: Portuguese
Main Religion: Christianity
Monetary Unit: Euro
Main Exports: Textiles and clothing, wood products, electrical equipment
GNI per Capital: US $31,490 (World Bank, 2017)
Internet Domain: .pt
International Dialing Code: +351
Good morning Bom dia
Good evening Bom noite
Do you speak English? Falas ingles?
Good bye Adeus
Thank you Obrigado
See you later Ate logo
Dates are usually written in the day, month and year sequence. For example, 1 July 2015 or 1/7/15. Numbers are written with a period to denote thousands and a comma to denote fractions. For example, 3.000,50€ (three thousand Euros and fifty centimos.
The tax year runs from 1st January to 31st December.
A company is required to have a legal entity established in order to process a payroll. If the legal representatives of the company are in Portugal, this is a process that can be done within one business day.
If the legal representatives cannot be in Portugal, the process will take longer, between 15 and 30 days. This process will require a POA.
The setup of the legal entity includes the registration on the tax authority and the social security.
Below are links to relevant departmental websites:
Monthly income tax contributions are to be submitted by the 10th and to be paid until the 20th of the following month.
A More Favorable Tax Regime for Returnees
Regarding taxation/tax benefits, the Law on the Taxation of State Budget for 2019 (Articles 258 and 259) approved the "regime applicable to former residents'. This is a temporary tax regime that covers both Portuguese and non-Portuguese residents who want to return to the country, either foreign nationals who have lived in Portugal and who want to return to live in the country, which, having fulfilled certain legal requirements, will pay IRS only on 50% of the income from employment, business and professional activities.
In order to benefit from this scheme, the applicant must, in addition to other requirements (cumulative), have been a resident in Portugal before 31st December 2015. This scheme is aimed at candidates who have not resided in Portugal in the last three previous years (e.g. for those who returned in 2019, these years will be 2016, 2017 and 2018). The resident then has until December 2020 to resume residence under this regime.
Monthly social security contributions are to be submitted by the 10th and are to be paid until 20th of the following month.
Tax year end is on 15th April.
When an employee is hired, social security must be informed within 24 hours of the employee starting work.
If the new starter is a European Union citizen, they will be required to provide the following:
If the new start is a citizen from any other country outside the EU, the request for the working permit must be done in their own country in the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate.
The authorities will require an original of the working contract and the company will have to provide accommodation for the first 30 days. Usually, the initial work permit is for 6 months and any subsequent permits will be 12 months. The employee can only start working in Portugal after having obtained the working visa permit.
All payments due to the leaver should be done on the last working day. It is a practice for some companies to pay on the last business day of the last working month.
Notification must be made to the social security until the 10th of the following month. If the employee has any judicial payment being retained from their salary it is required to communicate also to the court or to the tax authority.
Employers in Portugal must ensure they comply with payroll rules and regulations. Income tax in Portugal is withheld at source, along with social security contribution, and paid to the Portuguese tax authority. Payroll administration can be handled in-house, or fully or partially outsourced to a third-party. When setting up payroll, employers should be aware of Portugal’s progressive income tax rate, which ranges from 14.5 - 48%, along with necessary deductions for social security. Both employer and employee contribute to statutory social security, which includes schemes for unemployment and healthcare.
Employers in Portugal must issue their workers with payslips (it is permissible to issue payslips online) with details of their remuneration - and keep payroll reports for at least 5 years. Given the complexities of the tax landscape, it is possible for foreign businesses to engage a global payroll provider in order to deliver tax and payroll compliance for their employee population in Portugal.