Documents Involved in Real Estate Acquisition in Portugal

Alcino,  Wednesday, 8 January 2014

 

This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Portugal. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:


Several documents are required in the legal process of purchase and sale of a property in Portugal. With the assistance of a lawyer, obtaining all the necessary documentation should not be stressful and you should rest assured knowing that the entire process has recently been revised in order to make it transparent, safe and efficient.

Below is a list and description of all the documentation that will be required in the property purchase process, in the order that it shall become relevant:

PERSONAL DOCUMENTS

Passport

Your passport is your legal form of identification in Portugal and its presentation will be requested whenever applications are made and whenever documents or contracts are signed. It is common practise in Portugal and often a legal requirement to have copies of your identification documents attached or filed together with any official or legal submission of documents.

Tax Identification Number

Before you are able to purchase a property or even open up a bank account in Portugal, you will need to obtain a Portuguese Tax Identification Number (known in Portugal as a Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF). This can be requested in person at a local Tax Office (Finanças), by your lawyer on your behalf, or through the appointment of a local resident fiscal representative, which may be a person or company whose services you hire.

PROPERTY RELATED DOCUMENTS NECESSARY FOR TRANSFERRING PROPERTY OWNER SHIP

The documents listed below can all be obtained by your lawyer and should be examined prior to completion in order to verify the property’s current legal and tax statuses and ensure that it is free of charges and other encumbrances.

Land Registry Certificate (Certidão do Registo Predial)

The information contained in this document includes the composition of the building, the legitimacy as owner of the person attempting to sell the property, details of previous owners, and the types of encumbrances, such as mortgages and collateral, that currently affect the property.

The land registry certificate may be requested in two ways:

  • A hard copy can be obtained in person at any Land Registry Office (Conservatória o Registo Predial)
  • A digital version of the permanent land record and simplified land information can be obtained through this entity’s website.
Title Certificate (Caderneta Predial)

This document contains information about the property’s tax situation and identifies the entity responsible for complying with the property’s fiscal obligations.

  • Property owners can obtain title certificates for their properties off the Tax Office’s website
  • A title search for a property filed in the Land Registry can be requested instead of a title certificate (this is only for one year)
Habitation Licence (Licença de Habitação)

This licence indicates the intended use of the property and certifies that the building is suitable for habitation. The licence must be obtained from the town hall in the municipality where the property is located. If the licence has not been issued yet (new property), the document proving the request for the licence may be submitted together with the purchase agreement.

Housing Technical Data Sheet (Ficha Técnica de Habitação)

The Housing Technical Datasheet is the document that describes the main technical and functional characteristics of the property. It contains information such as the constructor’s details, the materials used, etc. Only houses built or renovated after December 31st, 2003 will have this document.

Energy Certificate (Certificado Energético)

This document contains information about the property’s energy consumption characteristics, in terms of temperature control and heating sanitary water. Factors such as consumption, comfort, quantity and energy efficiency are all taken into account. This certificate has only recently become a legal requirement for all properties in Portugal. It must be submitted by the property owner together with the purchase agreement.

Proof of payment of the Property Transfer Tax and Stamp Duty

These documents are obtained from the Tax Office upon paying the respective taxes. Payment should be made prior to signing of the title deeds.

Power of Attorney

In the event that you will not be present on the day of the signing of the deed and have appointed someone to represent you (e.g. your lawyer), this person must be in possession of a valid power of attorney document which states the degree to which and the capacities in which they represent you.

OVERVIEW OF CONTRACTS

Reservation Agreement

In order to reserve a newly-built property, it has becoming increasingly common for buyers to enter into a Reservation Agreement. By receiving a small deposit of usually no more than a few thousand Euros from the buyer, the seller agrees to take the property off the market and secure the agreed price until the Promissory Contract is signed. The reservation deposit is often not refundable but is generally stated to be deductible from the deposits due under the Promissory Contract.

Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale (Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda)

Due to the documents necessary for the completion of a sale, the final purchase and sales contract usually cannot be entered into immediately upon agreement of the terms by the buying and selling parties. For this reason, the final contract is usually preceded by a Promissory Contract (where the seller promises to sell and the buyer promises to buy) that can be entered into immediately. Although this contract can be drawn up privately, it is preferable to have your lawyer draw it up and provide you with an exact translation in your language. The document should be signed in the presence of a notary and must contain all the necessary information (i.e. Identification of the parties involved, Property Description, Payment Terms, including Deposits paid and the Date scheduled for completion), making it legally binding and providing protection for both the buyer and the seller.

The purchase and sales deed (Escritura de Compra e Venda)

The purchase and sales contract is usually prepared and verified by a notary (notário). Copies of relevant documents are often requested prior to the scheduled day for completion in order for the notary to type out the document (as it can be a long and tedious job). Nevertheless, the final document will be read out loud to all parties so that you can confirm that all the details are exactly as you expect. You may wish to have someone to translate, present, as the document will be drawn up in Portuguese and read out loud in this language.


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