Applying for NHR

Applying for NHR in Madeira (or Portugal for that matter) is a straightforward process that nevertheless requires experienced assistance, given that tax residency relocation does require a careful analysis of one’s income structure and jurisdictions involved.

Generally speaking the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) scheme is a 10-year tax exemption granted by the Portugal to all those wishing to relocate to Portuguese territory, regardless of their nationality, and who have not qualified as resident, for tax purposes, in the last 5 years prior to application.

Under the NHR regime, qualifying taxpayers are granted the following the benefits on their foreign income:

  • Taxation exemption on employment and freelancer (self-employment) income if it is subject to tax in the source country, in accordance with the applicable Double Taxation Agreement, or are considered not to be derived from a Portuguese source.
  • Pensions are subject to a flat tax rate of 10%. In case they are subject to tax in the source country, in accordance with the applicable Double Taxation Agreement, a tax credit under applies.
  • Freelancer income derived from high value-added service activities, with a scientific, artistic or technical character, are also exempt if effectively in the country of source, with which Portugal has Double Taxation Agreement or, in the absence of such agreement, when the income is not to be considered obtained in Portuguese territory.
  • Taxation exemption on other types of foreign sourced income (interests, dividends, capital gains, income from immovable property (rents), royalties, intellectual property income and business income) if: these can be taxed in the country of origin under a Double Taxation Agreement concluded between Portugal and the respective State or; if these types income may be taxed in the State of origin in accordance with the OECD model of tax convention (excluding tax havens) in cases where there is no Double Taxation Agreement.

For one to apply for the NHR regime, one must first be deemed as resident, for tax purposes, in Portuguese territory. This means acquiring Portuguese tax residence. Either by having lived for more than 183 days (consecutive or not) in Portugal in any period of 12 months starting or ending in the relevant year; or having a house, at any time throughout the 12-month period, in such conditions that allow to presume the intention to hold and occupy it as the habitual place of  residence.

Applying for NHR: Step by step

The first step regarding NHR application is to obtain a Portuguese Taxpayer Identification Numbers (NIF) as non-resident in Portuguese territory. In order to do this, applicants need to provide proof of residency abroad through a government issued document. Non-EU-Citizens must also appoint a tax representative when applying for a NIF.

Only once you have obtained residency can you apply for a NIF as resident in Portuguese territory. Change of residency status with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority can only be done by presenting proof of said residency, i.e. by presenting a residency permit card issued by the Portuguese Borders and Aliens Service (SEF) or a EU/EEA-Citizen Residency Certificate issued by the City or Town Hall with jurisdiction over the applicant’s residential address. Furthermore, proof of real estate purchased or rental agreement (short-term tourist rentals are not accepted) may also be requested.

Upon change of residency status, from non-resident to resident, for tax purposes you will be able to apply for the NHR status until March 31st of the following year. Please note that if you have appointed a tax representative you now ought to dismiss such representative.

In order to apply for NHR status one must firstly apply for a password to access the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority website, through which the application is to be submitted by your tax consultant. Any random audits carried to the said application are notified on the tax authority’s website and ought to be replied there too.

Why is a tax consultant needed?

Did you know that Portugal, and therefore Madeira, blacklists and penalizes, through taxation, income deriving from more than 80 different jurisdictions including all British Overseas Territories and British Crown Dependencies? Did you know that the Portuguese fiscal year matches the calendar year? Did you know that not all types of pensions maybe exempt from taxation? Did you know that even though you are an NHR you are still obliged to file tax returns in Portugal?

The above-mentioned small details can become a headache if your income structure and relocation dates are not analyzed and adjusted, if needed, on a timely manner in order to comply with the NHR scheme rules.

Therefore, when thinking about relocating to Madeira, having a tax consultant that fully understands the nuances and variables surrounding the NHR scheme and the implications arising from such relocation, including those deriving from migration rules and double taxation treaties.

For more information on these matters please do not hesitate to contact us. MCS’s team has been assisting expats relocating to Madeira for over 20 years.

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