Learn more about the Lisbon startup scene along with how to become one of the many startups in Portugal with this guide to starting a business of your own in Portugal.

If you’re thinking of starting a business in Portugal or becoming self-employed as a foreign resident of Portugal, you’ll need to understand the business climate for startups in Portugal, what types of registered company you can set up ,and what the process is for becoming self-employed.

The level of entrepreneurship in Portugal is still relatively low, but most businesses are small. This means that you might not make as much money as you hoped and you will have to enter into things with a robust business plan.

How to start a business in Portugal

If you are a foreign resident wanting to start a business in Portugal, you’ll need to go through the following steps:

Check that you can legally set up a business in Portugal

The first step is to ensure that you meet the legal requirements to trade as self-employed in Portugal. You need:

Startups, Portugal: business types

There are a number of different legal structures for businesses in Portugal, ranging from individual sole traders to large incorporated companies with many employees. The Portuguese Companies Code regulates businesses in Portugal and defines the different legal forms. Here’s a brief overview:

Businesses owned by one individual

  • Sole Trader
  • Single-Member Limited Company
  • Individual Limited Liability Establishment

Businesses owned by more than one person

  • Private Limited Company (Sociedade por Quotas)

Portuguese company with a minimum of two partners and minimum capital investment of €5,000. Shareholders pay a minimum of €100 per share and are also jointly responsible for everything agreed in the Articles of Association. Shareholders are liable for debts up to the amounts covered by business assets.

Public Limited Company (Sociedade Anomina)

  • Portuguese company that requires at least five shareholders and a minimum capital investment of €50,000. Liability of debts is limited to business assets and shareholders are liable for amounts up to their share value.

Partnership (Sociedade em Nome Colectivo)

  • Portuguese company with a minimum of two partners whose liability extends to personal assets that can be used to cover debts.

Limited Liability partnership (Sociedade em Comandita)

  • Portuguese company with a minimum of two partners who are a mix of general partners who run the business and have unlimited liability (including personal assets) and sleeping partners who provide capital and whose liability is limited to the amount invested.

Cooperative

  • Non-profit organizations run through cooperative principles and mutual assistance of members. They are freely established legal entities whose capital and composition may vary. Portuguese cooperatives are regulated by the Antonio Sergio Cooperative Sector Institute (CASES).

Setting up an offshore company

If you are considering setting up an offshore company, there are several major pros and cons you need to bear in mind.

Offshore incorporation is a straightforward process in all of the popular offshore financial centers and tax havens around the world. They can provide a wide range of benefits to the company as well as the company principals.