Setting up a business in Portugal


Each country has its own regulations regarding setting up a business. Here are some guidelines on how to proceed in Portugal.

Portugal has long been an under developed country. But its authorities have set up a modernization plan in the early 80s in order to boost its economy. Nowadays, Portugal is known to be one of the world's richest countries, although it has greatly suffered from the world economic crisis. Being a member State of the European Union, Portugal has benefited from its support towards a new dynamism.

Hence, Portugal's economy is based on various fields such as tourism, agriculture, trade, chemical products, manufacturing of tools and machinery, textile and garments, shoes production, sports equipment, etc. The country is also world famous for its cheese, wine, oils and fruits production. Its export allies are neighboring European countries as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries.

Types of companies

Foreigners may set up different types of companies in Portugal, namely:

  • Sociedade Anónima - Portuguese Public Society
  • Sociedadepor - Limited Liability Company
  • Empresa Individual de Responsabilidade Limitada – Limited Liability Individual Company
  • Unipersonal Company
  • Branch.

In general, the Sociedade Anónima requires a minimum investment of 50,000 euros. You have to liberate at least 30% of this sum. Moreover, it will involve at least five foreign or local shareholders whose responsibilities will be limited to their contributions.

The Sociedadepor involves small and medium enterprises. But you must have at least two shareholders, either of them being a Portuguese resident. A minimum capital of 5,000 euros is required.

As regards the Empresa Individual de Responsabilidade Limitada, a single member or shareholder is required. Responsibilities are limited to professional property only.

The Unipersonal Company can be opened with the help of a single associate while the branch can be created as an extension to your company's head office. It can also be considered as a distinct company which is based in Portugal.


You will most probably have to move to Portugal if you wish to set up a business there. First of all, you have to obtain an appropriate residency authorization. But you can also appoint a legal representative in case you cannot move to Portugal. Hence, you have to issue a procuration document.

You will also have to register your company with the Registrar of Commerce, the tax department, etc. You also have to notify the Portuguese Trade, Investment and Tourism Office if your company's funds originate from abroad. If your company is based in Azores or in Madeira, it will have to be registered with the Finance Regional Secretariat which will then issue a registration certificate.

Furthermore, you will have to obtain a VAT number with the tax department if your company is taxable. Documents to be produced are a duly filled and signed application form, a registration certificate and shareholders' details if any. Finally, you will have to open a company's bank account by indicating clearly its legal status.

 Useful links:

IAPMEI – Information for SMEs
Registo Nacional De Pessaos Colectivas – VAT Registration
AE Portugal
Portugal Industrial Association
Empresa Na Hora
Portal of Finance
Banco de Portugal
National Statistics Institute

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