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Buying Property in Portugal

To help understand the procedures and legal acts that are involved in acquiring a property in Portugal. It is always recommended that qualified advice be sought in any purchase.

It is important to insure that any plans in the Town Hall referring specifically to the property do physically agree with the existing construction. A property for living purposes must have the following documentation:

a) A Habitation License for property constructed after 1951
b) A Certified insertion in the records of the Land Conservatory
c) A detailed “Caderneta Urbana” from the Tax Office
Commercial and Industrial properties require both Points b. and c.

In the case of a rural property the following extra document is necessary which is a detailed and an up-to-date description of the property as is named “Caderneta Rústica”. The local Tax Office issues this document

It is quite normal for both Parties to initially enter into a Promissory Contract detailing the conditions of Sale - “Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda”. This Contract is then legalized by registering it in the Notary Office. This Contract is legally binding on both sides and the law requires the seller to repay twice the deposit should he withdraw from the sale. Likewise, it the buyer fails to complete he forfeits the total of his deposit. There are specific laws relating to this act that a Lawyer will be able to explain.

It is often found practical for the buyer to appoint a third party such as their lawyer to act for them legally in the matter. A document named “Procuração Pública” is prepared with the necessary details and then in the Notary Office this document is signed and registered by the Notary. This official document can also be created in the Portuguese language outside Portugal in a Portuguese Consul in a foreign country, or in a Notary in the language of the country concerned. In the case of the latter the document must have the Seal of the Notary and an Apostil attached. An official translation into the Portuguese language will later be necessary.

You are required to obtain a Fiscal Number from the local Tax Office (Finanças).

Prior to act of purchase, the purchase will usually be subject to a State payment called “CEMI” which is carried out in the local Tax Office nearest to the property. The amount charged is dependent upon the nature of the purchase and does vary. In certain cases the buyer may be exempt from paying this Tax.

When all the above requirements have been completed the act of sale can proceed in any Notary Office. This act is known as the “Escritura de Compra e Venda” which takes place in front of the selected Notary and is recorded in his official books. The Notary will check prior to the act of sale that all the necessary documents are correct to ensure that the sale can proceed according to the facts provided. It is at this moment that payment is normally completed to the seller. After the act is recorded the Notary Office will issue a photocopy of the entry, which is the proof to the buyer that the act has officially taken place. The photocopy will carry the seal of the Notary but as further official copies can be requested at any time this document should not be mistaken for a “Title Deed” - as known in the UK.

On completion of the above act the property in question has then to be registered in the new owners name in the Land Registry (Conservatória do Registo Predial). This next registration is not obligatory until the owner wishes to sell the property. However, it is strongly recommend that the previous owner make this registration immediately after the Notary act as a preventative measure against a possible financial abuse.

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