Updated: May 22, 2024


documents signingPortugal’s captivating blend of stunning coastlines, rich cultural heritage, and booming Portuguese real estate market makes it a dream destination for many expats. Whether you’re a retiree seeking an idyllic haven on the Algarve coast, or an adventurous professional drawn to Lisbon’s unique blend of traditional and modern Portuguese authenticity, the prospect of owning your place in Portugal is undeniably attractive.

However, understanding property documentation in Portugal is essential for the transaction process. Venturing into the realm of Portuguese property purchases can be overwhelming, especially when faced with all the technical data and legalities related to property documents. Understanding these documents is essential for a smooth and secure property acquisition process.

In this guide, we will explore the process of acquiring all the necessary documents related to purchasing property in Portugal – from the land registry certificate to an essential property identification document, the property deed. We’ll also explore potential challenges you might encounter and emphasize the importance of seeking professional assistance to ensure all documents are in order and legally sound.

An Overview of Portugal's Real Estate Market

2023 was a turning point for Portugal’s housing market and the challenges experienced over the past few years. A recent housing market survey by Confidencial Imobiliario wrapped up insights about Portugal’s 2023 real estate market. The survey revealed that the market has steadied and recovered with a 2.5 percent increase in quarterly sales, reflecting the growth and resilience of the Portuguese real estate market. Besides the growing market, a few of the key advantages of buying property in Portugal including:

  • No restrictions on foreign property investment and ownership
  • Low cost of living compared to other Western European countries  
  • Perfect climate with warm summers and mild winters  
  • High-quality education and healthcare services  
  • Seventh safest country in the world according to the 2023 Global Peace Index 
  • English is widely spoken by Portuguese citizens and expats

Why the Right Documentation is Important for Buying Properties in Portugal

A crucial step in the property buying process is compiling and understanding the following documents, which we will explore in further detail in the sections below:

  • Valid photo ID 
  • The promissory contract or CPCV (Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda
  • Energy Certificate 
  • Stamp Duty Certificate (Imposto de Selo)
  • Land Registry Certificate (Caderneta Predial

These documents are essential for a smooth and legally compliant real estate transaction in Portugal. Each document serves its purpose for the property purchase, from finalizing the property price to ensuring that each party involved will accept responsibility for agreements made throughout the process. Working with a real estate lawyer and a buyer’s agent like Goldcrest will be an asset when it comes to finding the documents you need and understanding the role of each.

Can foreign buyers get a mortgage in Portugal? Find out in this expert guide.

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Essential Property Documents in Portugal Explained

Beyond the initial excitement of buying your dream home in Portugal, ensuring everything is in order is essential. From your new home or investment property’s blueprints to energy certificates, each document is not a bureaucratic hurdle but a valuable tool.

Property sellers in Portugal also have a lot of legalities and documents to secure before and during the sales process. According to Portuguese property law, anyone selling property must have a written declaration. This condominium declaration must include the value of all charges, payment terms, and a declaration of any outstanding debts. Sellers can request the declaration in person at the Town Hall (Câmara Municipal) or send it to them by registered mail.

In the sections below, we will delve into the essential property documents you’ll encounter, starting with the most crucial document, the property deed. We’ll also explore the role of all the documents that shed light on more property details and the financial obligations associated with your potential new home.

The Property Deed: The foundation of property ownership in Portugal

realtor real estateThe most crucial document in any property purchase in Portugal is the Property Deed (Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda). This deed of purchase is a legally binding document that finalizes the sale of a property and the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.

The Escritura typically includes details like the property description, plot size, identification of both parties involved, and the agreed-upon sale price. It is generally signed before a notary or a lawyer is authorized to perform such transactions, and it becomes irrefutable proof of your ownership rights.

To obtain the Escritura, both buyer and seller come together after fulfilling the agreed-upon conditions. As the buyer, you will generally need to bring the following documents:

  • Tax identification number (NIF)
  • Valid ID
  • Bank statement showing the remaining balance of the property purchase price
  • Receipt for the transfer tax (IMT) and stamp duty (IS) payment 
  • Payment for the notary fees 

Remember, a thorough review of the document by you or your legal representative is crucial before signing. This is your chance to ensure everything aligns with your expectations and clarify doubts. Finally, upon signing, you must pay the remaining balance of the property price and other associated fees and taxes payable to the Portuguese Tax Department.

Other essential property documents

This section will explore the additional documents needed for a successful property purchase, accessible through the Portuguese Tax Authority, Portal das Finanças, or the local Town Hall (Câmara Municipal). By understanding these documents and navigating the process with a real estate professional, you will be well-equipped to confidently navigate the property-buying journey in Portugal.

Promissory Contract of Sale and Purchase (Contrato Promessa Compra e Venda, CPCV)

While not mandatory, a Promissory Contract of Sale and Purchase (Contrato de Promessa Compra e Venda, CPCV) is a vital safety net for buyers and sellers in Portugal’s property market. This legally binding agreement formally confirms the buyer’s intention to purchase and outlines the key terms of the sale, making it difficult for either party to back out unexpectedly. This provides security for the buyer, ensuring the property is taken off the market, and the seller has a committed buyer. Some sellers may propose skipping the CPCV to save on costs, but this significantly reduces buyer protection.

The CPCV goes beyond just stating the buyer’s intent. It serves as a comprehensive roadmap for the entire sales process. By detailing crucial aspects like the property description, sale price, deposit amount, and completion date, the CPCV establishes a clear framework for both parties. It also specifies what happens in case of unforeseen delays or issues. This detailed record ensures everyone is on the same page and minimizes the risk of misunderstandings.

In essence, the CPCV sets the stage for a smooth property transaction. It protects both buyer and seller, promotes transparency, and lays the groundwork for the final signing of the deeds (Escritura). Below is a list of items the promissory contract or CPCV should feature.

  • Identification and contact details of the buyer, seller, and representatives 
  • A comprehensive property description by the current owner, including buildings erected, plot size, the Habitation License (Licença de Habitação), and financial registration number
  • Selling price for the property
  • Specification of the deposit amount, payment method, and clarification regarding any additional payments 
  • Mention of any additional properties or furnishings that are part of the sale
  • Sale completion date and details of the witness when the deeds will be officially signed
  • Detailed course of action in case of any delays in payment schedule, issues with real estate governing law, or property-related delays
  • Conditions that each party must meet before the signing of the Escritura

Land Registry document (Caderneta Predial)

The Portuguese land registry office issues the land registry document (Caderneta Predial) (Conservatória do Registo Predial) to the local council of the property’s location. This vital document contains information about the property, including its location, boundaries, and registered owner. It is essential because it serves as evidence of the legal status of a property as of the date of issuance and describes the current registrations applicable to that property.

Tax identification/fiscal number (Número de Identificação Fiscal)

Another requirement for a successful property purchase includes the Portuguese NIF number, a Portuguese tax identification or fiscal number essential for financial registration in the country. The NIF is also necessary to open a Portuguese bank account and complete other important financial transactions in Portugal. You can apply for the NIF number at your local tax department, get an attorney to assist you, or apply for your Portuguese NIF number online. This comprehensive guide by citizenship and residency partner Global Citizen Solutions, How To Get A NIF (Tax Identification Number) Portugal: A Guide for Expats, offers more guidance.

Property tax documents

Three types of tax documents are required for the property purchase and sale process in Portugal. Receipt of payment of these taxes is required before and after the sale has been concluded.

  • Property transfer tax (IMT)

The Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis (IMT) is the property transfer tax levied over the purchase price of the Portugal property. This is paid when buying property in Portugal and can range from 0 -10 percent. The rate at which this tax is levied is based on the type of property, the purpose of the property (whether commercial real estate or residential real estate) and the property’s location. You can also calculate the percentage using our Portugal Property Tax calculator.

  • Stamp Duty (Imposto do Selo)

The Imposto do Selo, or Stamp Duty fee, is an additional tax required from the property owners in Portugal. A Stamp Duty tax fee of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent is levied on deeds, contracts, bank mortgages and loans, paperwork, and titles as a buyer. The tax rate is dependent on the property type and property value.

  • Annual property tax (IMI)

The Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis (IMI) is an annual tax for property owners in Portugal. This yearly municipal property tax ranges from 0.3 to 0.5 percent for urban properties and up to 0.8 percent for rural properties. It is important to note that municipal legislatures set their rates, which will vary according to the Portuguese municipality under which your property falls.

Energy Certificate (Certificado Energético)

In Portugal, all properties require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC acts as an energy efficiency label for a property and uses a scale from A+ (highly efficient) to F (inefficient) to indicate a property’s energy consumption. This information lets buyers decide about potential running costs and the property’s environmental impact.

Urban property tax document (Ficha Técnica de Habitação)

When considering a property purchase in Portugal, particularly those built or renovated after 30 March 2004, ensuring access to the Property Technical File (Ficha Técnica da Habitação) is crucial. This document serves as a blueprint for the property, detailing the construction methods and materials used. This information is especially relevant for newer builds or properties undergoing significant renovations. The FTH empowers buyers to make informed decisions and avoid potential issues by providing a clear picture of the property’s construction. Furthermore, the absence of this document can halt the sale entirely, so ensuring its availability is essential for a smooth property transaction.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to buying property in Portugal

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Like any country, buying real estate in Portugal and navigating the property documentation can be complex. That is why working with experienced real estate professionals is highly recommended to support you throughout the process, help you understand the complexities of the Portuguese real estate market, and ensure you will not face any legal issues.

A few challenges you may face when buying property in Portugal and navigating property documentation include: 

Legal complexities: Due diligence and checking if the owner has the right to sell or if there are any outstanding debts associated with the property.

Taxes: Understanding property taxes, maintenance fees, and other associated fees and ensuring they are paid on time.

Title deed verification: Verifying property title deeds to avoid future disputes or legal complications.

Goldcrest: How We Can Help You

Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent based in Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve. We provide expert, impartial advice on real estate investments and how to buy property in Portugal. From scouting out the perfect property to property acquisition, we have you covered throughout the process.

If you want to purchase property in Portugal, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our team of skilled experts is available to solve all your real estate doubts, help you with the property search, and offer insightful expertise and strategic advice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Property Documentation in Portugal

You can find out who owns a property or about land ownership by requesting the certificate from a local land registry office or visiting Land Registry Online. Although the information constantly changes, this hub is updated and available for consultation.

The Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda is a deed of purchase. It is a legally binding document that finalizes the sale of a property and the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. The Escritura includes details like the property description, plot size, identification of both parties involved, and the agreed-upon sale price.

It is typically signed before a notary, or a lawyer authorized to perform such transactions.

As the buyer, you must present the following documents when signing the property deed in Portugal.

  • Tax identification number (NIF)
  • Valid ID
  • Bank statement showing the remaining balance of the property purchase price
  • Receipt for the transfer tax (IMT) and stamp duty (IS) payment 
  • Payment for the notary fees

Having a legal representative review and help you decide if signing the deed is in your best interest is recommended. A legal representative will be able to ensure everything aligns with your expectations and clarify any doubts. Additionally, the deed must be signed by a notary to be valid.

A real estate agent can help you find potential properties for purchase and help you navigate the buying process. However, it is best to work with a real estate lawyer when it comes to more intricate matters like verifying legal documents, understanding the legalities, and having approved plans in a construction process.

A few red flags to look out for when verifying your property deed or Escritura are if any specific property details defects have been left out, if the purchase price is different from the price agreed upon in the promissory contract (CPCV), and if the seller is overly eager to have the deed signed before verification and inspection.

The title deed is updated once you have signed the property deed or Escritura with a public notary present. This process officially transfers the property from seller to buyer.

For your safety and peace of mind, it is important to get home insurance that covers the contents of your home and covers you for instances of theft or burglary, natural disasters, water damage, and electrical hazards.

For direct descendants, there is no inheritance tax in Portugal, meaning the transfer itself will not be taxed. However, a Stamp Duty tax is charged on inheritance transfers to individuals who are not descendants.

The permanent certificate of the land registry offers comprehensive information on all current property registrations, including pending requests, ensuring up-to-date accessibility for verification purposes. This certificate serves as conclusive evidence of property ownership, among other details, and is always updated and available for consultation