Lisbon prizes the entrepreneurial spirit and therefore, we know that in the initial stage of any idea, many doubts can arise regarding its completion and implementation as a viable business opportunity. To help you navigate the initial stages of your entrepreneurial endeavor in Lisbon, here are some links that may help you in that process. While it is our purpose to present the most complete and current information possible, setting up a business is a process that will necessarily involve the consultation of official authorities and their most up to date requirements.
Please browse the Investor Guides produced by some of our Partners:
- Invest in Portugal - aicep Portugal Global
- Tax Guide 2017 – PwC
- How to Draft a Business Plan – IAPMEI (available only in Portuguese)
- Investment Project Assessment Tool – IAPMEI (available only in Portuguese)
- Real Estate Investor’s Reports - Cushman & Wakefield
- Guide to Property Investment in Portugal – Cushman & Wakefield, Uría Menéndez-Proença de Carvalho
- Real Estate Tax Guide - RFF & Associados
- Tax Incentives to Urban Rehabilitation Guide - APPII & Deloitte (available only in Portuguese)
- Made of Lisboa - Lisbon's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Setting Up a Business
Setting up a business in Lisbon is easy, fast and straightforward. See below for a simple, step by step, guide to incorporate your company.
SETTING UP A NEW COMPANY WITH “EMPRESA NA HORA” (ON THE SPOT FIRM)
It is possible to set up a new business (Single-member Company, Private Limited Company (LLC) and Public Limited Company by Shares (PLC)) in less than an hour at one single “On the Spot Firm” desk, available throughout the country.
The process is fairly simple and, as long as the partners/shareholders can present all the necessary documents, the company is incorporated on the spot.
Obs.: The process for setting up a branch office of a foreign company is very similar, but is conducted at a “Sucursal na Hora” (On the Spot Branch) desk.
1. Obtaining a Portuguese Tax Identification Number (TIN)
1.1. If the applicant is a private individual living in the EU, Iceland or Norway, he/she will have to present an ID card/passport and proof of address (e.g. water, electricity or gas bill).
1.2. If the applicant cannot be present or he/she is not a private individual living in the EU, Iceland or Norway, he/she will have to appoint a tax representative. The tax representative (an individual or a company) will have to:
- Have a permanent address in Portugal;
- Accept being a tax representative in written (click here for a template in Portuguese).
1.3. If the applicant is a company or an association, to obtain a legal person ID number, an application must be filed with the National Registry of Legal Persons (RNPC) and the following documents submitted:
- Extract from the register of companies at the country of incorporation, legalised, translated and apostilled according to the rules of The Hague Convention (except when in English, French or Spanish);
- ID card/passport of the requester;
- Power of attorney or equivalent document to confirm the ability to file the request on behalf of the company.
2. Setting up the Company “ON THE SPOT”
The following day, the partners/shareholders can visit an “On the Spot Firm” desk. If they are represented by a third party, a power of attorney will have to be produced, as well as the ID document and TIN of the proxy holder.
Obs.: It is also possíble to set up a company online, as long as the applicant can log in with a digital certificate: ID Card (cartão de cidadão) or attorney, notary or legal clerk holding a digital signature certificate.
2.1. Necessary Documents
2.1.1. Private individuals
- ID document (ID card or passport or driver’s license) or residence permit.
2.1.2. Legal persons (companies)
- Company TIN and company ID card or access code to the company ID digital card.
- ID documents and TINs of the legal representatives.
- A recent extract from the register of companies.
- Copy of the deed of Incorporation or memorandum and articles of association, issued by the Registry Office, stating the company may be involved in the incorporation of another.
- Minute recording the decision of the General Meeting to grant powers to incorporate other companies (this may not be necessary if it is provided for in the company's articles of association).
2.1.3. Foreign legal persons
- Document proving the company’s legal existence in the country of incorporation.
- Memorandum and articles of association of the company.
- Minute recording the decision that the company may be involved in the incorporation of another.
- Identification of the legal representatives of the company, including TINs.
Obs. 1: Documents issued in a foreign language must be legalised (except when in Portuguese, English, French or Spanish). Documents issued by countries having signed the Hague Convention will be apostilled.
Obs. 2: The appointed certified accountant will not need to attend, but his/her name, TIN, professional address and registration number with the Certified Accountants Association will have to be produced.
2.2. Company Legal Form
At the “On the Spot Firm” desk only three types of companies can be set up.
2.2.1. Single-member Company (Unipessoal Lda) – the company has a sole partner/shareholder, liability being limited to the amount of his/her share. A certified accountant must be hired.
2.2.2. Private Limited Company (LLC - Lda) – the company has a minimum of two partners, liability being limited to the amount of each partners’ share. The minimum share capital is € 1 per partner. A certified accountant must be hired.
2.2.3. Public Limited Company by Shares (PLC - S.A.) – the company has a minimum of five individual shareholders (or, alternatively, one legal person shareholder). The minimum share capital is € 50 000, each share being issued for a minimum amount of € 0,01. Shareholder liability is limited to the total amount of his/her shares. In addition to a certified accountant, a statutory auditor must be appointed.
2.3. Company Name
The company name may be selected in three different ways:
2.3.1. From a pre-approved list of names – checking the pre-approved list of names available at the “On the Spot Firm” website or on site at the desks. A phrase alluding to the company’s business/area of expertise can be added to the pre-approved name (e.g.“1234 – Civil Engineering”), followed by Lda, S.A. or Unipessoal Lda. according to the legal form chosen.
Obs.: The chosen name will only be assigned at the beginning of the setup procedure, at the “On the Spot Firm” desk. However, it is possible to get a different name by using a valid (3 months from the date of issue) Certificate of Admissibility, previously obtained – either online or on site - at the National Registry of Legal Persons.
2.3.2. Based on the name of the partner(s) – It is possible to use the partner(s’)/shareholder(s’) names to obtain the name of the new company (and have immediate approval), followed by Lda, S.A. or Unipessoal Lda according to the legal form chosen.
2.3.3. New name – A brand new name can be submitted on the spot - for the time being this service in only available at the “On the Spot Firm” desk at the National Registry of Legal Persons, located at:
Registo Nacional de Pessoas Colectivas
Praça Silvestre Pinheiro Ferreira, 1-C, 1500-578 LISBOA
Tel: 217 714 300 | Fax: 217 743 465
Obs. 1: It is possible to compare the new name with registered company names, therefore having an idea of its eligibility.
Obs. 2: There is also the possibility of adopting a pre-approved trademark, associated with the company’s trade name or independent of it, during the incorporation procedure. The trademark is chosen from a list registered on behalf of the State. These trademarks are valid for a 10-year period, renewable, and although protected only in Portugal, an European or international extension can be filed at the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). New trademarks and patents are registered here too.
2.4. Share Capital
The share capital represents the total sum of shares owned by the partners or shareholders.
Obs.: The share capital may be paid-up in kind (tangible or intangible assets, whether movable or immovable), partially or in full, at the “On the Spot Firm” desks marked with “Including the creation of companies with contributions in kind” (Com Procedimento de constituição com Entradas em Espécie). This possibility requires scheduling an appointment to set up the company.
2.5. Registered Place of Business
Even if the company does not need office space, a place of business must be registered, thus becoming the incoming address for all official correspondence (namely from the Tax Authority, Social Security).
Obs.: the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and industry's virtual offices are a cost-effective option for companies wishing to set up a business in Lisbon, but who do not need actual premises.
2.6. Company Object (business purpose)
Company objects are associated with a CAE code (economic activity classification), which identifies its area of operations. Each company will be registered under a main code and up to three secondary codes. The full list of CAEs, its 3rd revision having been adjusted to NACE (Nomenclature Générale des Activités Économiques dans les Communautés Européennes), is available here (Consultar Cae Rev 3).
2.7. Appointing a Certified Accountant
The full list of all certified accountants can be found here. Select the “area geografica” field as Lisboa, press “submeter”, and then “+info” at the right side - contact details are provided.
2.8. Articles of Association
Partners/shareholders may choose one of the standard memorandum and articles of association/by-laws from the pre-approved templates available at the “On the Spot Firm” website or desks.
If partners/shareholders would rather, however, have these drafted by an attorney, for instance, they will have to upload a file to a private forum and await notification of approval from every member, an option which entails a delay of two working days and an additional fee.
2.9. Documentation Issued upon Registration
Upon registration, applicants shall receive:
- The access code to the company ID digital card;
- The company’s Social Security number (NISS);
- A certified copy of the articles of association;
- The access code to the permanent company extract (valid for three months);
- A voucher which includes a pt. domain name, a website development tool and mailboxes.
The registration will be published on the spot at http://publicacoes.mj.pt/Index.aspx (facts related to legal persons are a matter of public record and online publication is mandatory).
Obs. 1: An extract in English can be issued upon request.
Obs. 2: Service fees may be paid in cash, cheque or ATM (basic fees of € 300 for IT or R&D companies; € 360 for other areas of business).
3. Start-up of Activity Statement
As soon as the company is incorporated, the Start-up of Activity Statement, duly completed and signed by the certified accountant, can be filed either at the “On the Spot Firm” desk or within 15 days at any tax office or at the Tax Authority website.
4. Share Capital Deposit
Up to 5 working days upon incorporation, partners/shareholders must deposit the share capital in a bank, in the name of the company. This period can be extended to the end of the first fiscal year in the case of Single-member Companies and Private Limited Companies.
5. Useful Links
- “On the Spot Firm” (Empresa na Hora) - Visit here the FAQ section of the “On the Spot Firm” website.
- "On the Spot Branch" (Sucursal na Hora at the aicep website).
- aicep Portugal Global - Portuguese Trade & Investment Agency.
- Institute for Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN) - Civil, commercial and land registry services to private individuals and companies (available only in Portuguese).
- Business Spot Desk/Entrepreneur Service Desk - Single service desk based on a multichannel service model: face-to-face, digital, digital assisted and by phone.
- “On the Spot Branch” – Sucursal na Hora (available only in Portuguese).
- “On the Spot Association” – Associação na Hora (available only in Portuguese).
- Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) - Patent and trademark registry.
- Economic Activity Classification (CAE) - Each CAE refers to an economic activity.
- Export Helpdesk - At Export Helpdesk, the online portal to access the European Union single market, there is information on EU tariffs, requirements, preferential arrangements, quotas and statistics relating to imports from trade partner countries.
Business Acceleration Programs
- Beta start (Beta-i)
- Founder Institute (Lisboa)
- YEN Portugal - Young Entrepreneurs Networkers
- Programa Energia de Portugal (available only in Portuguese)
- Global Accelerator Network (+50 Accelerators)
- Ideaspace (University of Cambridge)
Business Plan Development Models
- APBA – Portuguese Association of Business Angels
- FNABA – National Federation of Business Angels (available only in Portuguese)
- IAPMEI – State Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (available only in Portuguese)
- Iniciativa Lisboa - Lisbon Municipality (available only in Portuguese)
- Entrepreneur Platform - AIP (available only in Portuguese)
Some other public and private institutions engaged in promoting and supporting researchers' and entrepreneurs' initiatives in various fields of activity:
- Acredita Portugal (available only in Portuguese)
- Fundação AEP (available only in Portuguese)
- Fundação EDP (available only in Portuguese)
- Fundação Eugénio de Almeida (available only in Portuguese)
- Fundação da Juventude (available only in Portuguese)
- IEFP - Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (available only in Portuguese)
- Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa - Banco de Inovação Social (available only in Portuguese)
- If you are looking to buy or lease;
- Purpose/business you need the space for (office, shop, hotel, …);
- Area in square meters;
- Preferential locations;
- Any special features required (close to public transportation, natural light, shop windows, …);
- An email address to be shared with our partners (public and private organisations).
Leasing or buying real estate
- City of Opportunities (available only in Portuguese) - Lisbon’s City Council real estate initiative
- Baía do Tejo - business and logistic parks
- Estamo (available only in Portuguese) - sale of public real estate
- Ministry of Finance (available only in Portuguese) - sale of attached properties (real estate)
Made of Lisboa - Lisbon's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem - browse here
Who does not need a visa?
Citizens of European Union member states, as well as of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, can live and work in Portugal without a visa.
Citizens of some other countries do not need a visa for short-term stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period), being free to enter and stay in the 26 Schengen States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland), where common rules for short-stay visas apply.
Who does need a visa?
List of third countries whose nationals are required to hold a short-stay visa (Schengen visas), issued by one of the 26 Schengen States, to travel within the Schengen area.
To visit Portugal, visas should be applied for at the Portuguese Consulates or Embassies at the country of residence.
There are two types of long-term visas in Portugal:
- Temporary stay visas (4-month period with multiple entries, for medical treatment, to study or work, for instance)
- Residence visas (4-month period to apply for a residence permit)
These visas are also applied for at the Portuguese Consulates or Embassies at the country of residence.
For further information on the types of visas, as well as on required procedures and documents, please visit:
- The Official Website of Portuguese Immigration (visa extension)
Obs.: Portuguese authorities may require legalised documents (apostilled according to the rules of The Hague Convention) and, if these were issued in a foreign language, a certified translation (done by a translator accredited by a Portuguese Consulate, or certified by a Portuguese lawyer or issued by the country’s Consulate in Portugal) may be also requested. For further information, please visit:
- Consular services – document legalisation (available only in Portuguese)
Some companies can also be engaged to provide support on visas and residence permits, among other services to expats and immigrants: