Company formation in Portugal

Not many investors think of company formation in Portugal, and those who consider Portugal might to know why Madeira is the place to be.

“Portugal’s history is made of discoveries, entrepreneurship, creativity and permanent innovation. Portugal is a modern, sophisticated, and future-oriented country. Capable of combining tradition and innovation in what we do in a surprising way. A welcoming country, filled with sunshine, breathtaking landscapes, and a unique gastronomy. Open and multicultural, the country can gather the best of its experience and knowledge to originate solutions that push forward global businesses. Portugal, a country that will surprise you.”

One thing that surprises all investors in Portugal is its corporate tax system, more specifically the one available under the Madeira International Business Centre (MIBC).

A favourable tax landscape

Developed in the 1980s, the MIBC was conceived by the Portuguese Government to attract international investment, namely international services providers in the areas of international trading, e-business and telecommunications, management services, consulting services, as well as the ownership of intellectual property, the development of real estate investments or the holding of participations.

 Type of entity incorporated

MIBC

Autonomous Region of Madeira

Portuguese Mainland

Resident entities and permanent establishments of non-resident entities

5%

20%

21%

Resident entities characterized as a small or medium enterprises, on the first € 25 000 of taxable profit

13%

17%

Add the competitive corporate taxation regime to the tax benefits available to expats and former Portuguese emigrants wishing to relocate to Portugal, the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime. And one will find a comprehensive and desirable tax regime to expand one’s international business to Portugal. In fact, under the NHR tax regime those qualifying can benefit from a unique personal income tax treatment over a 10-year period, which included the possibility of enjoying a 10-year tax exemption on almost all foreign source income.

Company formation / incorporation

Generally speaking, in order for one to incorporate a company in Portugal, the following steps need to be followed:

  1. Verify the business name and make a reservation with the Portuguese Commercial Register.
  2. Appoint a legal representative for the company in Portugal.
  3. Draft the Articles of Association with information about the owners, business activities, etc.
  4. Open a bank account for depositing the share capital.
  5. Apply for licenses and permits in accordance with the company’s activities.
  6. Register for tax purposes and social contributions in Portugal.

Those looking into incorporating a company within the MIBC need to apply for a MIBC license. The license’s application (to be submitted in Portuguese language) must be filed to Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira, the official concessionaire of the MIBC, in two copies, addressed to the Cabinet of the Vice-President of the Regional Government of Madeira in the name of an existing company, in Portugal or abroad, or of a company to be incorporated. Branches of existing companies may also be licensed.

All relevant information concerning the activity to be performed by the company must be included in the license application, namely:

  1. Company name and address.
  2. Activity to be undertaken and respective NACE code (European nomenclature of the Economic Activity).
  3. Total value of the investment.
  4. Indication of the number of jobs to be created.

In the case of a successful application, the license is deemed to be granted in favour of the company once the applicant furnishes proof of the formation and registration of such company. All documents in support of the license application must be duly translated into Portuguese and legalized.

Types of companies

Most investors opt for a private limited company (sociedade por quotas – LDA) where liability is limited by the contribution to the capital. LDA type of companies must established by at least two founders with a minimum share capital of EUR 2, although it is recommended that it should be at least of EUR 1000. All the shareholders must bring a contribution to the capital and their liability is limited to that contribution. Management of the company is assured by a director appointed by the general meeting of the shareholders.

Sole investors, lacking a business partner, can opt to incorporate a sole shareholder company (sociedade unipessoal por quoatas – Uni. LDA). Under this type of company, the minimum share capital is EUR 1, although it is recommended that it should be at least of EUR 1000. Uni. LDA’s liability is limited by the contribution to the capital.

On the other hand, if investors opt to incorporate a public company (sociedade anónima – SA) which requires a minimum share capital of EUR 50 000. SA companies and at least 5 shareholders. Like LDAs their liability is limited to their contribution to the capital. The management of this type of companies is assured by a board of directors which is monitored by a supervisory board, both appointed by the general meeting of the shareholders. In addition, SA companies are required, by law, to appoint a certified public accountant.

Other types of companies can be incorporated under the Portuguese Commercial Code, such as limited partnerships and general partnerships, nevertheless these are seldomly chosen by investors and their partners.

auctor Miguel Pinto-Correia

MCS and its team has more than 20 years of experience in assisting corporate and private clients wishing to invest in Portugal or within the Madeira International Business Center. For more information on our services please do no not hesitate to contact us.

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