Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident regime, often abbreviated as NHR, has created waves in the global tax community. It offers an enticing set of benefits for freelancers and self-employed professionals who choose to make Portugal their home. However, the nuances of these benefits, especially when offering services internationally, can be intricate. In this article, we delve deep into how freelancers residing in Portugal can maximize their NHR benefits when rendering services abroad.

Understanding the Foundations of NHR for Freelancers

First and foremost, what does the NHR status in Portugal entail for freelancers? It’s a tax regime designed to attract professionals of high cultural and economic worth to the country. The incentive? The potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate certain tax liabilities on foreign-sourced income.

Imagine this: As a freelancer or self-employed individual, you could potentially travel to another country, render your services there, and not be taxed on that income in Portugal. This becomes particularly attractive for those in sectors where remote and international work is prevalent.

Deciphering High Value-Added Services

However, this exemption isn’t a carte blanche. Portugal is very specific about the kind of services that qualify for this benefit. Only those deemed as “high value-added” in the eyes of Portuguese tax law are eligible.

So, what exactly falls under “high value-added”? A list has been outlined in the Annex to Ordinance No. 12/2010, updated by Ordinance No. 230/2019. While this list includes a range of professions, a notable example is IT development. Thus, an IT developer living in Portugal under the NHR status can potentially offer services abroad and enjoy a favorable tax situation.

Additional Conditions: The International Twist

Yet, high value-added is just one side of the coin. Another crucial condition must also be met: The country where the service is rendered should have the capability to tax the service. This is articulated in Article 81 of the Portuguese Personal Income Tax Code (CIRS).

To clarify, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the income is subjected to taxation in that foreign country. Rather, the country should merely possess the jurisdiction or right to tax the income. This is where international tax treaties come into play.

The Role of Double Taxation Agreements

Double taxation agreements (DTAs) are treaties between countries designed to prevent the same income from being taxed twice. These agreements are pivotal in determining how your international income as a freelancer will be treated.

For someone leveraging the NHR benefits, these DTAs play a decisive role. Before offering services in a foreign country, one must check the DTA between Portugal and that nation. It’s essential to ensure the foreign nation has the right (even if it’s not exercised) to tax your income. Only when this condition is met, along with the high value-added of your service, can your foreign-sourced income potentially be exempt from Portuguese taxation.

Navigating the Maze with Expert Assistance

Given the complexities involved, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance when navigating the NHR benefits as a freelancer working abroad. Each DTA can have its intricacies, and the interpretation of “high value-added” activity can sometimes be subjective.

This is where teams like explore.tax come into the picture. With our expertise, we can analyze the specific DTA between Portugal and the foreign country of interest. Additionally, we can provide clarity on whether your service falls under the high value-added categories as stipulated by Portuguese law.

If you’re a freelancer residing in Portugal under the NHR status, or considering such a move, don’t leave potential tax benefits on the table. A proactive approach, armed with the right knowledge and guidance, can ensure you make the most of what the NHR has to offer.


Portugal’s NHR regime offers a unique proposition for freelancers, especially in today’s increasingly globalized work environment. The ability to work in different countries while maintaining Portugal as a home base, all the while enjoying tax benefits, is undeniably alluring.

However, with such benefits come responsibilities. Ensuring compliance, understanding the nuances of DTAs, and staying updated on what constitutes “high value-added” services are essential steps in this journey. With the right guidance and knowledge, the world truly can be a freelancer’s oyster – with Portugal as the pearl within.

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