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Portugal – Self-Employment

Breakdown of how self-employment works for expats in Portugal

Self-employment is a viable option for expats in Portugal, especially for those who want to work in industries that are not heavily regulated. To become self-employed in Portugal, expats need to follow a few steps.

As a self-employed person in Portugal, you are responsible for your own income, taxes, and insurance. You will need to register with the Social Security System to operate legally.

Detailed step-by-step guide on how an expat can register as self-employed in Portugal

Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on how an expat can register as self-employed in Portugal:

  1. Check if you are eligible: Before registering, make sure you are eligible to work as a self-employed person in Portugal. You need to have a valid work visa and a residency permit.

  2. Choose your legal structure: As a self-employed person, you can choose between two legal structures: a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC). A sole proprietorship is easier and cheaper to set up, but an LLC offers more legal protection.

  3. Register with the Social Security System: You must register with the Social Security System (Segurança Social) before you can start operating. You can register online or in person at a Segurança Social office. You will need to provide your personal details, business name, legal structure, and a description of your business activities.

  4. Obtain necessary licenses: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional licenses and permits from various government authorities. These may include a commercial registration certificate, an industrial registration certificate, or a municipal license.

  5. Open a Portuguese bank account: To receive payments and pay taxes, you will need to open a Portuguese bank account. You can do this online or in person at a bank branch. You will need to provide identification and proof of address.

  6. Register for tax: You must register your business for tax with the Portuguese tax office (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira). You can do this online or by completing a paper form. You will need to provide personal and business details, including the name of the company, the legal structure, and an estimate of your annual income.

  7. Get business insurance: Consider taking out insurance to protect your business and yourself in case of accidents, illnesses, or other unforeseen circumstances. The most common insurances for self-employed people are public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, and personal insurance.

Can you work as a digital nomad in Portugal?

Yes, you can work as a digital nomad in Portugal. However, you will need to have a valid work visa and a residency permit. Additionally, you may need to meet certain requirements to obtain a Portuguese work visa, such as having a job offer or starting a business.

Breakdown of how an expat can start a company in Portugal

Starting a company in Portugal is a relatively straightforward process that requires a few steps. The most common legal structure for businesses in Portugal is a limited liability company (LLC).

Detailed step-by-step guide on how an expat can set up a company in Portugal

Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on how an expat can set up a company in Portugal:


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  1. Choose your legal structure: The first step in setting up a company in Portugal is to choose your legal structure. The most common structure for small and medium-sized businesses is a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC offers limited liability protection to the shareholders and requires a minimum share capital of ‚€5,000 (approximately USD 5,900).

  2. Reserve a company name: Before registering your company, you must reserve a name for it. You can do this online through the National Registry of Collective Persons (Registo Nacional de Pessoas Coletivas) or in person at a commercial registry office.

  3. Obtain a tax identification number: To register your company, you will need to obtain a tax identification number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF) from the Portuguese tax office. You can do this online or in person.

  4. Draft the company’s articles of association: The articles of association outline the company’s purpose, ownership structure, and governance. You can draft these yourself or hire a lawyer to do it for you.

  5. Deposit the share capital: To register your LLC, you must deposit the minimum share capital of ‚€5,000 in a Portuguese bank account. You will need to provide proof of this deposit when registering your company.

  6. Register your company: You can register your company online through the National Registry of Collective Persons or in person at a commercial registry office. You will need to provide personal and business details, including the name of the company, the legal structure, the address, and the shareholders.

  7. Obtain necessary licenses: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional licenses and permits from various government authorities. These may include a commercial registration certificate, an industrial registration certificate, or a municipal license.

  8. Open a Portuguese bank account: To receive payments and pay taxes, your company will need to have a Portuguese bank account. You can do this online or in person at a bank branch. You will need to provide identification and proof of address.

  9. Register for tax: Your company must register for tax with the Portuguese tax office (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira). You can do this online or by completing a paper form. You will need to provide personal and business details, including the name of the company, the legal structure, and an estimate of your annual income.

  10. Get business insurance: Consider taking out insurance to protect your business and yourself in case of accidents, illnesses, or other unforeseen circumstances. The most common insurances for businesses in Portugal are public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, and personal insurance.

Incentives or Programs for Expats in Portugal

There are several incentives and programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or set up a company in Portugal. These include:

  1. Startup Portugal: This is a government-funded program that supports startups and entrepreneurs in Portugal. It offers mentoring, training, and networking opportunities.

  2. Investment incentives: Portugal offers various investment incentives to foreign companies, including tax breaks, reduced social security contributions, and grants for research and development.

  3. Non-habitual resident (NHR) tax regime: The NHR tax regime is designed to attract highly skilled professionals and retirees to Portugal. It offers a flat income tax rate of 20% for eligible individuals.

  4. EU funding: Portugal is eligible for funding from the European Union for various projects and initiatives. Expats can apply for EU funding to start or grow their businesses in Portugal.

In conclusion, self-employment and starting a business are viable options for expats in Portugal. The process for registering as self-employed or setting up a company in Portugal is relatively straightforward and requires a few steps. Additionally, there are several incentives and programs available to encourage expats to become self-employed or start a business in Portugal.


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