How to open a bank account in Portugal as an American

Gabriela Peratello

If you're planning a move to Portugal then one of the first things you need to do is set up a local bank account. This is an important step in getting settled, but can be tricky for expats trying to negotiate a new system.

Here’s our guide to get you started for opening a bank account in Portugal.


Can foreigners open a bank account in Portugal from abroad?

Portuguese banks will accept applications online from customers who have a Portuguese citizen card, or local Portuguese digital ID. This most likely means that you won’t be able to get your account set up online from abroad if you’re a US citizen.

It’s worth double checking with the banks you prefer, just in case they have special provision for opening an account from overseas - but if not, you may want to look at expat banking services from global banking brands.

International accounts are often provided by large banks which can be used no matter where you live, and which support multi-currency holding and exchange - but in some cases, the fees and minimum deposit requirements can be on the high side.

Can a US citizen open a bank account as a non-resident?

Banks in Portugal do offer bank accounts tailored to non-residents, although the services available may be more limited than resident accounts.

A lot of the non-resident accounts which are promoted by Portuguese banks are tailored for Portuguese citizens living abroad, which may make them unsuitable unless you hold dual nationality.

It’s also worth noting that due to regulatory requirements and law, some banks aren’t able to offer products and services to US persons - this will usually be flagged on the bank’s website, although it may be in the fine print.

Check out the options available at the banks listed below to see if any suit your specific situation.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Portugal?

If you visit a bank to open a new account, and have all your paperwork with you, you could walk away with the process completed in one visit. Cards and cheque books are usually mailed to your registered address within a few days.

The specific documents needed will vary by bank, and different accounts may have different requirements, especially if you want access to credit facilities.

However, typically you will need the following:
  • Proof of ID - a passport or national ID card

  • Tax number and card

  • Residency card or visa showing legal residence in Portugal

  • Proof of address - a recent utility bill or rental contract

  • Proof of employer and salary

Expect to complete several forms when you visit the bank, and make a minimum deposit to activate the account. Usually an initial deposit is needed to open your account, which can be made in cash or by international money transfer.

If you plan to visit a branch to open an account in person, then don't forget that banks tend to close at 3:30 PM during the week, and can often be closed entirely over the weekend. Give your chosen bank a call if you're not sure of their exact opening hours.

What are some of the best banks in Portugal?

Portugal has a sophisticated banking system with plenty of choice in local and international banks.

Check out these large national banks in Portugal to start your search:


Global banking giant Santander¹ has a Portuguese operation, offering many of the same accounts and deals that you can get elsewhere in the world.

If you have an account with them already, you may find it easier to switch to their local business in Portugal.

Santander customers can access:
  • Every day and savings accounts

  • Account packages for students and young people, and basic banking account options

  • Credit and loan solutions

  • Investments and insurance

  • Local and global transfers and currency solutions

Novo Banco®

Novo Banco² offers a full range of products for residents and non-residents. All information on the website is in Portuguese only, so ask a friend to help you sift through if you're not a Portuguese speaker.

Options include:
  • Online and mobile account opening if you have Portuguese citizenship

  • Bank accounts and banking packages

  • Debit and credit cards

  • Mortgages and loans

  • Investment, insurance and financial planning support

Millennium BCP®

Millennium BCP³ is the largest private bank in Portugal and offers a wide range of products and a website which is available in both English and Portuguese.

Services include:
  • Accounts for a range of customer needs

  • Cards and loans

  • Investments and wealth planning

  • Support with understanding Golden Residence visa applications

  • Real estate services

Banco CTT®

Banco CTT⁴ has a large number of locations in Portugal and can be found at most post office branches. Also, the website offers a locator where you can find the nearest bank store.

From Banco CTT you can get:
  • Account services and cards

  • Credit cards and loans

  • Insurance for a variety of purposes

Banking fees and charges in Portugal

When you open a bank account anywhere in the world, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. This is especially important if you're opening an account in a new place, where banking fees and charges could be quite alien.

ATM fees

One of the most common charges you might see is a set fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM operated by a different bank. These fees can quickly mount up, so be wary.

When you’re picking the bank to open your account with, it's worth taking into account the local ATMs where you live and work, so you can open an account with a bank with convenient locations for your daily transactions.

Other common bank fees

Check if there are charges applied to keep your account open or use a credit or debit card. These can be a surprise if you're used to ‘free’ banking.

Fees for maintaining your account - or the minimum balance needed to avoid paying regular fees - can be especially high if you opt for more of a premium account, which comes with extra perks and benefits.

International payment fees

If you need to move money between accounts which are held in different currencies - for example, sending money from your USD account to your Portuguese account to be deposited in euros - fees will apply.

As well as a charge for processing the transaction, and an international receiving fee at the other end, there’s often a markup added to the exchange rate used.

Double check the overall costs before you start to process payments, so there are no unwelcome surprises.

Life in Portugal is a great adventure - no matter whether you’re heading there to work, study or retire. Use this guide to choose your Portuguese bank account to help you hit the ground running once you arrive, and good luck!


  1. Santander
  2. Novo Banco
  3. Millennium BCP
  4. Banco CTT

Sources checked on 10.19.2023

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