By the end of 2019, all foreign nationals residing in Portugal must have a valid Cartão do Cidadão, or Citizen's Card, a new ID card for foreign nationals that will replace the residency card currently in place. The Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the new card will incorporate social security, personal tax and current NHS numbers (National Health System number). The move will bring foreign nationals living in Portugal, even on a short-term basis, in line with Portuguese citizens, who already have a similar ID card. The Ministry announced that the new card will be issued in the final quarter of 2019.
The new ID card for foreigners living in Portugal is part of a wider initiative by the government. Simplex is a scheme aiming to streamline administration of all citizens and do away with much of the country's bureaucracy.
In order to apply, foreign nationals will need to go to their nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate and present their current ID card or passport and/or birth certificate, their Portuguese Taxpayer Card (NIF card or Numero de Identifcacao Fiscal), their Social Security Card, any National Health System Card and Voter Card.
What is NIF?
The Numero de Identifcacao Fiscal or NIF is a 9-digit number that is unique to each individual tax payer residing in Portugal. You will need to apply for one, even if you plan to stay in the country short-term (but NOT if you are merely a tourist). Without NIF you will not be able to complete a property purchase, open a bank account or even buy a mobile phone. Without your NIF number you will not be legally employed in Portugal either. For the most up-to-date information on the new Citizen's Card and what you must do, please visit http://www.embassyportugal-us.org/citizen-card/.
You can also download a PDF published by the OECD ( Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) on Portuguese taxation matters: https://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/tax-identification-numbers/Portugal-TIN.pdf.
The website of the Tax Authority that has been issuing NIF numbers up to now is, unfortunately, only available in Portuguese (http://www.portaldasfinancas.gov.pt/at/html/index.html). If you plan to buy a property in Portugal and live in the country for any length of time, you will need to hire an English-speaking law firm. They can also assist with applying for NIF and explain the Portuguese taxation system to you.