Becoming a freelancer in Portugal is not only about having the skills and clients but also about understanding the intricate tax landscape. One such crucial element in this landscape is the use of professional codes when opening a formal freelancer activity. In this article, we will delve into the importance of these codes, how to choose them correctly, and how this decision affects taxation and compliance with Portuguese regulations.

The Imperative of Declaring Your Freelancer Activity

If you’re a freelancer or self-employed professional in Portugal, formally declaring your activity on the Tax Authority’s online portal is not optional—it’s a legal requirement. Moreover, issuing invoices for your services should be done through the Portuguese government’s dedicated digital system (called “recibo-verde”). These measures ensure transparency, adherence to tax laws, and streamline your professional operations.

Why is this so crucial? Failing to comply can result in a hefty fine, possibly soaring up to 7,500 euros—a cost that can be easily avoided by simply understanding and adhering to the rules.

Decoding the Professional Freelancer Codes

The cornerstone of this process is selecting the correct professional code that describes your activity. This is not merely a bureaucratic step; it has implications on how your income will be taxed.

Here’s a glimpse:

  • Specific Professions: If you are a developer, for instance, you would use Code 1332 designated for “Computer programmers.” These codes are part of a comprehensive list approved by the Ministry of Finance’s Ordinance No. 1011/2001, which covers various professional categories.
  • Broad Categories: For professions not specifically outlined in the ordinance, there’s Code 1519 labeled as “other services.” It’s a catch-all category for those whose exact profession doesn’t match any listed codes. However, choosing this code should be done judiciously, as the tax implications differ.
  • Consultants: A special mention must be made for consultants. The code 1320 is earmarked for this profession. While it’s a broader category, it should be chosen over 1519 when applicable.

It’s vital to understand that the choice of code isn’t just a matter of categorization; it directly impacts your taxable income. For instance:

  • Code 1519: Those who go with this will have a 65% deduction on their income. So, on an income of 100k, only 35k will be taxable.
  • Specific Profession Codes (like 1332 for developers or 1320 for consultants): Here, the deduction is 25%. This means 75% of your income becomes the taxable base.

NHR and Tax Implications

The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status further complicates things. If you qualify as an NHR performing a high value-added activity, a tax rate of 20% could apply to your taxable income. Therefore, the choice of professional code becomes even more significant in determining your tax liabilities.

Transparency and Compliance

The Tax Authority is particularly vigilant about those opting for the more generic Code 1519. They may seek additional clarifications to ensure your choice of code genuinely reflects your professional activities. Should they question your selection, you have a mere 15-day window to provide the necessary clarifications. Your reputation, professional contracts, skillset, and resume will play a role in substantiating your choice.

Beyond Professional Codes: The CAE

Portugal’s tax landscape has another layer: the Classification of Portuguese Economic Activities by Branches of Activity (CAE). While the professional codes cater mainly to individual freelancers, the CAE has broader implications. It’s particularly relevant for those in specific sectors like hospitality, dining, crypto activities, where tax base reductions can be, for example, 85%.

Making the Right Choice with Expert Guidance

With such intricate nuances and significant implications on taxation, making the right choice is paramount. It’s not just about compliance; it’s about optimal tax planning, reducing your tax burden, and ensuring you reap the benefits of your hard work without unnecessary penalties.

This is where expert consultation can prove invaluable. Teams like ours are equipped to guide freelancers through this maze. By understanding your specific professional activities, we can recommend the most suitable code, ensuring compliance and optimal taxation.


In the world of freelancing in Portugal, the choice of a professional activity code isn’t a mere administrative formality; it’s a crucial decision with far-reaching implications. As Portugal becomes an increasingly attractive destination for digital nomads and freelancers, understanding and navigating its tax landscape becomes essential. By making informed choices, freelancers can ensure they not only comply with local regulations but also optimize their earnings and reduce their tax liabilities.

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