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APV Antonio Paula

Portugal is known for being a bureaucratic country. However, amazingly,

it is possible to set up a company in the country in less than 24 hours.

A company with many or few shareholders or with a more complex structure. There are two ways to quickly incorporate a company in Portugal: through a public service called “Company within the Hour” (yes, in 60 minutes the company is created) or by drawing up the company's constitutive document before a lawyer or a solicitor (or a notary by public deed), cases in which the procedure also takes minutes.

The company's shareholders may be other companies, headquartered in Portuguese territory or abroad, or persons residing in Portugal or in a foreign country.

In this respect, it is important to note that in order to be shareholders and/or directors, the persons in question do not need to have a valid visa or residence permit to enter or reside in Portugal. Also, the shareholders do not need to travel to Portugal to form the firm. In fact, the company can be created by an attorney, based on a power of attorney granted abroad. This power of attorney must be apostilled and certified by a foreign notary, a Portuguese consulate abroad or before a Portuguese lawyer or solicitor.

Very recently approved rules will allow Portuguese lawyers and solicitors to certify documents by videoconference, which will streamline and speed up the procedure even more.

The process will only take longer if the interested party wishes to choose a specific name for the company. In this case, it is necessary to obtain authorization for the name in question from a department of the State, which, if requested with urgency, will not last more than 48 hours. However, if the interested party agrees to use a company name from a pre-approved list of corporate names, then obtaining the company name is immediate.

The company may - with some exceptions - have one or more shareholders, one or more directors, simple or complex statutes. In the simplest corporate type, i.e., limited liability companies (“sociedade por quotas”), there is no minimum value of the share capital.

Furthermore, the value of the share capital does not need to be immediately deposited in the bank, but may be deposited later.

Except for the rare cases specially regulated in the Law, there are no limitations on the company's activity: it can carry out one, few or many activities. Furthermore, it can carry out its activity in Portugal or abroad and own assets anywhere in the world, including share in other (Portuguese or foreign) companies.

As Portugal is a full member of the EU, companies based in Portugal obviously benefit from the elimination of double taxation arising from the legislation on parent companies and subsidiaries, which has been transposed into Portuguese Law for a long time.

Every company created in Portugal needs to hold a bank account with a financial institution operating on Portuguese soil. But even that bank account can typically be opened with a proxy or the bank documents can be signed by the company's managers abroad.

The incorporation process ends with the registration of the company in the commercial register and with informing the tax and social security services. All these acts can be – and as a rule are – performed by the entrepreneur's local advisors, namely the certified accountant or the lawyer.

In short, in a few hours it is possible to become a shareholder and/or a director of a company in Portugal.

A company integrated in the European Union and with free access to the common market. The firm can develop a business, act as a holding company, be a mere asset depository or even be essentially a vehicle to obtain a residence permit in Portugal, which allows free access to the Schengen space and in the future, Portuguese nationality.

Author : APV Antonio Paula

ABV Advogados, lawfirm in Lisbon


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