Portugal is increasingly becoming a hotspot for freelancers, digital nomads, and self-employed professionals from across the globe. The nation’s idyllic landscapes, coupled with tax benefits like the Non-Habitual Resident Regime (NHR), make it a favorable destination for many. But understanding the tax obligations and advantages within this context is crucial. This comprehensive guide seeks to demystify the nuances of being a freelancer in Portugal under the NHR.

Understanding Income Derived from Portugal

First and foremost, what exactly constitutes an income derived from Portugal? A common misconception among freelancers, particularly those under the NHR benefit, is that if they offer services to clients overseas, they’re exempt from Portuguese taxation. This is a mistaken belief.

As per Article 18 of the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code (CIRS), if you’re a tax resident in Portugal and deliver your freelancer or self-employed services from within its borders, the income you earn is deemed as being obtained in Portugal. This holds true even if your clientele is international because the service is executed, managed, and delivered from within Portugal.

Obligations and Compliance for Freelancers

Being cognizant of your obligations is paramount:

  1. Registration with the Tax Authority: All freelancers are obligated to register their self-employed activity with the Portuguese Tax Authority. This is done via the Tax Authority online Portal.
  2. Issuance of Invoices: Any services you provide must be invoiced through the official system of the Tax Authority Portal (called “recivo-verde”). It ensures transparency and compliance with local regulations.

Harnessing the NHR Benefits

While it might initially seem difficult to comply with these norms, Portugal’s taxation system is structured to be advantageous for freelancers, especially during the first and second years of their activity in the country. The NHR further accentuates these benefits. But, to maximize these advantages, there are critical steps to follow:

  1. Activity Code Selection: When registering on the Tax Authority’s online portal, you’ll need to select a specific code for your freelancer activity. This is a pivotal step as it determines your eligibility for certain tax deduction.
  2. Expected Income Declaration: For the first year of your activity, you’ll be required to estimate and declare your expected income. This projection can influence your tax obligations.
  3. Tax Return Value-Added Activity Code: When filing your tax return, ensure you input the correct code corresponding to your value-added activity. This code can potentially qualify you for reduced tax rates under the NHR.

If navigated adeptly, the NHR can offer freelancers some enticing tax benefits:

  • VAT and Social Security Exemptions: In your first year as a freelancer, you might be exempt from VAT and social security payments.
  • Income Tax Reduction: Depending on your circumstances and the nature of your service, you could reduce 25%, 65%, or even 85% of your taxable income.
  • Beneficial Tax Rates: Instead of the regular tax rate that can climb up to 48%, you might only be liable for a 20% tax rate on the reduced taxable amount.
  • Discounts: As an additional perk, you could enjoy a 50% discount in your first year, and 25% in your second year.

However, capitalizing on these benefits is contingent on careful planning and informed decisions. The codes you opt for should accurately mirror your services, the nature of your work, and your client contracts. Missteps here can result in lost opportunities.

Navigating the Freelancer Landscape with Expertise

Given the intricacies and potential pitfalls, it’s often recommended to seek expert assistance when venturing into the Portuguese freelancer ecosystem. Our team at explore.tax is adept at guiding professionals through this terrain.

From assisting in registering the freelance activity and choosing the right codes to navigating the complexities of the official Tax Authority invoicing system, our experts ensure a smooth transition. Our resources, including a comprehensive eBook and tutorial videos, offer step-by-step guidance. For a more personalized touch, our team is available for video consultations to address unique concerns and provide tailored advice.


Portugal’s allure for freelancers isn’t just its scenic beauty and warm culture but also its welcoming tax regime, epitomized by the NHR. But like all good things, the benefits of the NHR come with their own set of responsibilities. Proper understanding, meticulous planning, and informed decision-making are the keys to maximizing these advantages. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just setting sail in the vast sea of freelancing, Portugal, with its NHR, offers a haven – provided you navigate its waters with care and expertise.


Administrative Tax Solutions

Effortlessly navigate Administrative Tax Procedures with our expertise. From obtaining your NIF to opening a Portuguese Bank Account, we handle the details, so you can focus on what truly matters. Some of the thing we can help you with:

  • Obtaining your Portuguese NIF (Tax Indentification Number)

  • Open a Portuguese Bank Account

  • Apply you for NHR Tax Regime (Non-Habitual Resident)

  • Filling your Portuguese Tax Return

  • And much more