Issuing TINs even to foreigners and non-residents: understand how it works
Equivalent to the Brazilian CPF, the Tax Identification Number, the NIF, can be applied for by Portuguese (residents and non-residents) and foreigners. The document is indispensable in many day-to-day demands and is used to identify the citizen before the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority (AT).
The NIF application is now temporarily available digitally. The measure, taken by the Tax and Customs Authority, is in force due to the exceptional situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This way, foreign citizens don’t have to go to a tax office to apply. While the new rule is in force, documentation must be entered via the e-Counter by a tax representative (resident in the country). For newborns or children under the age of one, the NIF is also being requested online, since the Nascer Cidadão space has been suspended.
All non-residents, even Portuguese residents, need a Tax Representative in Portugal – responsible for bridging the gap between the representative and the Tax and Customs Authority.
In short, the Tax Identification Number should be requested as soon as possible and even before the person moves to Portugal. It is now possible to open a bank account (by proxy or even at those with branches in Brazil) and make transfers as and when necessary.
The document will be the Portuguese tax number, capable of registering all your tax activity locally. Throughout the article we will explain more about the NIF, how it is issued, which documents are needed and more.
How does the NIF work in Portugal?
Like the CPF, the NIF is made up of numbers that establish an individual code for all citizens resident and non-resident in Portugal. Purchases, rentals of movable and immovable property, account opening, bank transfers, health services, among others, are recorded in the document in order to collect the taxes that must be declared annually in the IRS – Personal Income Tax.
It is worth remembering that if you are a foreigner, not resident in Portugal and have no income in the country, there is no obligation to pay income tax in Portuguese territory. Declaring whatever is owed on assets abroad in Brazilian income tax.
Who is entitled to a TIN?
Every citizen, foreigner or not, resident or not, has the right to be issued with a NIF. Companies also have a NIF, in this case called NIP – Número de Identificação de Pessoa Coletiva.
Issuing TINs for resident and non-resident Brazilians
For those who do not live in Portugal and wish to apply for a NIF, they will need a Tax Representative residing in Portuguese territory. This is because temporary residents cannot be tax representatives, only permanent residents.
Once the document has been requested, the resident or non-resident person will be registered in the Portuguese Tax Administration’s database.
It is worth noting that, in order to apply, newly-arrived Brazilians must be accompanied by a Tax Representative domiciled in the country. Then, if you can prove that you are resident (through the documents required by the tax office, such as rent, a deed, a declaration of residence issued by the parish council, etc.) you can change your NIF from non-resident to resident.
Do I need a fixed address in Portugal to apply for a NIF?
Yes. To apply for a NIF, you will need to have a fixed address in the country. What happens is that, in cases where there is no proof, you will have to go to the Tax Representative.
Citizens who do not have proof of residence in Portuguese territory, whether nationals or foreigners, must elect a so-called Fiscal Representative. It can be any individual or legal person who accepts the role, as long as they are resident in Portugal or, in the second case, have their head office in Portuguese territory.
How do I find a Tax Representative?
The most common and ideal thing to do is to hire a company, lawyer or individual who provides advisory services so that they are a good representative, who takes on this role given the responsibility it requires, so that you don’t run into problems of not having been informed, for example, of the need to make a payment due to an authority and, as a result, having to pay penalties. After all, the decision regarding the choice of your representative, and the communication of that decision to the Government, was yours. After a few months in Portugal, you can apply for tax representation linked to your name and NIF – by presenting proof of residence.
Documents required to issue a NIF in Portugal
- Identity card, citizen card, or valid passport (in the case of people with European citizenship);
- Valid passport (Brazilians or foreigners from outside the European Union);
- Birth certificate (Portuguese citizen without ID and under 10 years old);
- Housing contract in Portugal or proof of address issued by the Parish Council;
- Tax representative (an individual who has a fixed address and is responsible for representing you before the Tax Authorities).
There is no fee to apply for a NIF, only the cost of a Tax Representative, who should preferably have the necessary structure to take on this responsibility seriously and prudently.
Applying for a TIN in Portugal
The document is issued immediately. The request must be made at one of the existing Finance units in the cities or at a Citizen’s Bureau. As we saw at the beginning, during the pandemic, these services are temporarily being done digitally.
Applying in Brazil
You can apply for a NIF online and start the process while you are in Brazil. You can also apply to the Consulate together with a letter of acceptance from the representative, among other documents. In addition, according to the Portuguese Consulate in São Paulo, it is also possible to apply by sending the documents by post to the Tax and Customs Office in Lisbon. Another way is to hire a specialized consultancy located in Portugal, which will be responsible for initiating and monitoring the process from start to finish, through a power of attorney, directly with the Authority.
The NIF is compulsory for everyone who lives in the country, regardless of their nationality. As such, it is one of the first steps for anyone considering Portugal, as it is the starting point for several other necessary processes – whether you are a resident or not.