In this article we would like to summarise which documents must be available and checked when buying a property in Portugal. The list should not be considered exhaustive and we advise any property buyer in Portugal to instruct a lawyer to deal with the property purchase.
Tax Identification Number – In order to carry out any tax-related act, be it a purchase or entering into a lease agreement, every person in Portugal needs a tax identification number. This is the case for both individuals and companies. Tax numbers are issued by the Portuguese tax office and your lawyer can assist you with the application.
Identification documents of the contracting parties– Buyers and sellers must identify themselves with valid identity documents. EU citizens must present an identity card or passport. Swiss citizens must present a passport. For companies or corporations, a valid excerpt from the commercial register must be presented.
Land register extract – This document, called Certidão de Registo Predial in Portuguese, is issued by the Conservatória de Registo Predial and must not be older than 6 months. The Certidão shows who owns the property, the composition of the property and whether there are any encumbrances registered on the property.
Tax registers – The tax registers are issued by the Portuguese tax office and must not be older than one year at the time of purchase. The Portuguese name is: Caderneta Predial. For a rural property, the tax register is called Caderneta Predial Rústica; for an urban property, Caderneta Predial Urbana. A typical rural villa in the Alentejo with a manor house and 10 hectares of land would then have 2 tax registers, one for the land and one for the house. In these documents, information is given regarding the location, size, etc. of the property. The Caderneta Urbana also states what use has been registered for the building.
Certificate of Use – The local municipality (Câmara Municipal) issues a certificate of use for buildings; this Alvará de Autorização de Utilização certifies whether a building may be used as a residential building or, for example, as an industrial business. A property without a valid certificate of use may neither be sold nor rented. An exception that often occurs in rural areas of Portugal is that properties built before a certain year (usually 1951) do not have a certificate of use. In this case, a document issued by the Câmara Municipal replaces the certificate of use. On this document, the municipality certifies that the building was built before 1951.
Technical Housing Certificate – This document summarises the main technical and functional characteristics of the residential property and serves to protect the consumer. The Portuguese name for this document is Ficha Técnica de Habitação. In principle, it is only mandatory for residential properties and also only for residential properties built after 30th of March 2004.
Energy Certificate – Since 2009, this certificate has been a mandatory document for new buildings as well as existing properties. With this certificate (Certificado Energético), the buyer can see if the property has any deficiencies and what measures could improve the energy balance. Real estate agents in Portugal are not allowed to market properties without an energy certificate. There are some exceptions, for example for ruins. However, the ruin must then also be designated as such; in the tax register (Caderneta Predial Urbana) the ruin must not be registered as a residential property in this case.