Both Portuguese nationals and foreigners may set up a business through the intermediary of a lawyer, solicitor or notary in the possession of a digital certificate.

There are no restrictions on foreigners setting up a company in Portugal, as long as they are legal residents and have the necessary work permits and minimum capital investment to do so.

They must have:

  1. A Residency Card (Cartão de Residência) issued by the Portuguese Immigration Service or SEF (Serviços de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras)

  2. A Tax Number (Numero Fiscal de Contribuinte), whether the process of starting up the business has begun or not, those intending to work need to be registered for tax purposes

  3. A Social Security Number (Cartão de Segurança Social): register at the Social Security Office (Repartição de Segurança Social). All foreign nationals intending to stay in Portugal over 180 days and work have to pay social security

Types of Company

  • Private limited liability companies (Sociedade por Quotas, Lda): require at least two partners, although there are Sociedade Unipessoal por Quotas, which have a single partner (either an individual or a collective entity). The corporate entity (and not the individual) is responsible for any company liabilities. There is a minimum capital investment of €5,000

  • Public limited companies (Sociedade Anónima SA Corporation): requires at least five shareholders, unless one of the shareholders is the State, in which case only two shareholders are needed. The corporate entity (and not the individual) is responsible for any company liabilities

  • Limited co-partnership companies (Sociedade em Comandita, SC): These businesses have two categories of partners: Dormant partners (Sócios Comanditárias) whose liability is limited to the amount of their shares and Full partners (Sócios Comanditados) who are liable for any company debts

  • General partnership companies (Sociedade em Nome Collectivo, SNC): partners will bear unlimited liability for any company debts

Steps to starting up can be found here: