Crypto regulation in Portugal

Crypto Regulation in PortugalPortugal is often called the most attractive country in Europe for working with cryptocurrency and digital assets. This status is influenced not only by the Government’s liberal policy on digital assets, but also by the overall economic and social development of the country.

The Central Bank and other authorities have already taken some specific measures to regulate crypto-assets in Portugal in accordance with the European legal framework, especially with regard to measures to protect against money-laundering (AML) and/or the financing of crime.

Framework

For such purposes, cryptocurrencies can be defined broadly as a «digital representation of value not issued by a central bank, credit institution, or e-commerce, which in some circumstances can be used as an alternative to money». This definition corresponds to the classification of the European Central Bank (ECB), to which the Portuguese authorities have largely subscribed. Other regulations on crypto assets were developed by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in its recommendations on ICOs and crypto assets (January 2019).

Due to the rapid development of the Fintech industry, blockchain technology in general and cryptocurrency in particular are the subject of discussion by the Portuguese government.

Over the past few years, these technologies have attracted public attention mainly because of the rising cost of Bitcoins, the increased interest in holding ICOs in Portugal and other countries, and their market capitalization.

In this country, cryptocurrencies do not have the status of legal tender and are not classified as fiat, nor are they considered as «money» or «electronic money». However, EBA issued a statement in 2019. It noted limited cases where cryptocurrencies can be considered «e-money» according to Directive 2009/110/EC (EMD2).

However, cryptocurrencies are largely seen as an alternative payment method with a contractual nature that is the result of a private agreement between cryptocurrency transaction participants, and with internal characteristics, which to some extent repeat the main features of traditional money:

  • Storage of value
  • Unit of account
  • Medium of exchange

In general, cryptocurrencies are not supported by the Portuguese government or the Central Bank, but are treated as financial instruments in certain cases.

Cryptocurrencies are also considered for their functionality. Regulators deal with utilite tokens and security tokens, which are usually sold through ICOs. They can be distinguished by their distinctive function, since the former are largely related to consumption and the latter to investment.

That is why the issue of regulation of these technologies has become an important topic for the attention of the relevant authorities, especially the Central Bank, the Portuguese Securities Office (CMVM) and the ASF. The CB has issued a number of public statements and warnings on cryptocurrencies in line with the regulatory practices of other eurozone central banks and European regulators such as the ECB and the EBA.

If you intend to obtain a crypto license in Portugal, it is important to bear in mind that the Central Bank has relatively recently issued Notice 3/2021, in which it regulates the registration of virtual asset service providers (VASP)that are operating in Portugal as a result of the transposition of EU Directive 2018/843 of 30 May 2018 into Portuguese law, in particular into the Portuguese AML system approved by Law 83/2017.

In turn, CMVM published warnings to investors about potential ICO risks to raise awareness of these risks. On July 23, 2018, CMVM issued a formal notice to all ICO participants regarding the legal qualification of tokens.

The CMVM stressed the need for all ICO participants to appreciate the legal nature of the tokens offered by the ICO, their possible qualification as securities, and the subsequent application of securities law. In this context, CMVM noted that tokens can represent very different rights and credits and can be sold in organized markets.

Therefore, if you intend to conduct an ICO in Portugal, it is worth taking into account that tokens can be classified as securities under Portuguese law, especially given the broad definition of securities under the Securities Code.

AML-requirements

The above service providers are subject to the general AML framework for non-financial organizations. Such entities should, inter alia:

  • Monitor the risks associated with money-laundering and the financing of terrorism as a result of the development or use of new technologies;
  • Exercise due diligence in the client’s business, non-recurrent or ongoing operations;
  • Development and implementation of policies, procedures and controls to manage money-laundering risks;
  • Identification of customers and business owners (according to the KYC procedure);
  • Collection and storage of customer relationship information;
  • Analyse and scrutinize transactions based on risk assessment;
  • Report suspicious transactions and cooperate with competent authorities.

A common set of indicators (trigger events) should be used to identify suspicious transactions. These include the «red flags» recommended by FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering). Among them are:

  • Transaction-related indicators: size, frequency and nature of transactions;
  • Anonymity indicators;
  • Indicators by sender and receiver: data on customers and irregularities;
  • Indicators on the origin of funds;
  • Indicators on geographical risks (counterparty jurisdiction).

High BFR risk is traditionally associated with certain categories of persons:

  • Persons and organizations working in offshore zones;
  • «Politically significant persons» (including «close family members» and «persons with recognized and close corporate or commercial relationships»);
  • Individuals and entities on the United Nations Security Council sanctions lists, OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury), the EU Council, etc.;
  • Natural and legal persons designated in sectoral regulations to enhance precautionary measures.

ICO REGULATIONS

ICOs that seek to offer tokens that represent rights and/or economic interests in a predetermined enterprise, project, or company can potentially qualify as securities and be subject to existing securities rules, primarily rules, applicable to the public offering of securities and/or trading platforms. The launch of ICO in Portugal can be regulated by EU legislation, such as:

CMVM stated that the token that allows its users to participate in surveys related to the development of the online platform, as well as further donation of tokens to the online platform, is not considered a finishing tool, that is, not a security token. The regulator clarified the characteristics which, in an abstract form, may imply the qualification of securities tokens as securities, namely:

  • If they can be considered to be members of special economic rights;
  • if marker functions are similar to typical securities.

The CMVM also regulates that if the token has securities characteristics and the ICO is offered to investors from Portugal, such transactions should be regulated by national and EU laws that are related to:

  • Issue, representation, and transfer of securities;
  • Proposal to the public (if applicable);
  • Marketing of financial instruments for the purposes of MiFID II;
  • Quality requirements for information; and
  • Market abuse rules.

Finally, if the ICO qualifies as a public offer, CIM further clarifies that the prospectus must be drafted and submitted with any marketing material for the ICO for approval by the CIM, provided That there will be no exceptions to the obligation to prepare a prospectus.

VASP PROCEDURE

As mentioned above, the Anti-Money Laundering Act introduced a mandatory registration requirement for all LCA activities in Portugal. The registration procedure must be established in accordance with Article 112-A of the AML Act and Notice 3/2021 of 24 April 2021 of the Bank of Portugal.

The following organizations operate in Portuguese territory:

  • Portuguese companies (registered in Portugal);
  • Legal entities with permanent representation in Portugal; and
  • Organizations that are obliged to operate under the control of the Portuguese tax authorities.
  • The Central Bank is the competent authority to register cryptographic companies in Portugal and to verify compliance with applicable legal and regulatory provisions governing the use of the AML by the above-mentioned persons.

According to the Portuguese Anti-Money Laundering Law, since VASP is now considered a ‘liability'”, the general obligation to manage risks when using new technologies or products that promote anonymity is mandatory. This means that QSP is required by law to monitor, analyse and document specific procedures to address any specific risks associated with money laundering and the financing of criminal activities. In addition, authorized persons must carry out procedures to identify and properly screen clients for transactions involving more than 15,000. EUR, as well as strengthen its procedures of identification and due diligence of customers when they find an additional risk of money laundering or financing of business crimes.

TAXATION

Portugal does not have a special regime regarding the tax regime of cryptocurrencies. However, the tax authority has issued three rules regarding cryptocurrencies. In the absence of other laws and regulations that could clarify the tax regime of cryptocurrencies, these rules are important and will work as precedents on whether Portugal’s Tax Administration will consider cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency-In interpreting the existing tax provisions and deciding whether certain facts or acts are subject to Portuguese taxation (corporate, individual, VAT or stamp duty).

Companies that provide services related to cryptocurrency are taxed on capital gains of between 28 and 35%.

Our highly qualified and reliable lawyers will be happy to provide you with individual support in registering with the Virtual Currency Register and in obtaining a cryptographic license in Portugal. We closely follow local regulations and are therefore well prepared to effectively guide our customers at every stage of the registration process.

Establish a Crypto Company in Portugal

Open a Crypto Company in PortugalTwo years ago, the Portuguese government announced the Digital Transition Action Plan, which included technological free zones that were designed to allow for experimentation with blockchain and other new technologies in space, That replicate the real world. Undoubtedly, such an approach makes Portugal one of the most crypto-friendly countries, so it deserves your attention. Regardless of your nationality and residence status, you can establish a cryptographic company in Portugal and take advantage of this business environment.

Distinctive features of the Portuguese business environment:

  • Attractive tax incentives and incentives for residents (for example, withholding tax is levied on only 50% of resident dividends)
  • A thriving technology industry attracting significant venture capital
  • Portugal is a member of the EU, making its way to the European single market
  • Portugal ranks 39th among 190 countries in the Easy of Doing Business 2019 ranking of the World Bank, which indicates a fairly favorable business environment (based on the ease of opening and financing the company and participation in economic activities)
  • Portugal ranks 31st out of 177 countries in the Economic Freedom Index 2022, with judicial efficiency, tax burden, regulatory efficiency, freedom of investment, etc.
  • Young but qualified, knowledgeable and at the same time accessible talents, well supported by the Portuguese education system
  • Portugal ranks sixth in the 2022 Global Peace Index, which reflects stability and a safe, sustainable environment
  • Lisbon is home to a web summit, one of the largest global technology conferences, as well as various governmental and non-governmental initiatives, helping the blockchain industry grow

The main piece of legislation governing companies in Portugal is the Commercial Company Act. It covers such areas as the incorporation of various types of entities, management, and shareholder rights.

The public register of Portuguese companies is maintained by the Portuguese Commercial Registry who’s also responsible for the updates of commercial records and documents, certificates of registration and dissolution.

Every company intending to start crypto-related activities in Portugal is classified as a virtual asset service provider (VASP) which must obtain a licence from the Banco de Portugal prior to commencing business. The authority is responsible for enforcing AML/CFT regulations in line with the EU’s directives.

To operate in Portugal, your company may also have to register with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) which supervises companies whose crypto activities are related to cryptoassets that legally qualify as securities or instruments equivalent to them.

No restrictions or obligations to declare cryptocurrency assets

No minimum share capital requirement for the company

No income tax on cryptocurrency income

Possibility to purchase real estate for cryptocurrency

Types of Portuguese Business Entities

To create a crypto company in Portugal, you can choose either Private Limited Liability Company (Lda) or Public Limited Company (SA). Their shareholders are responsible only for the company’s obligations within the limits of their investments.

Documents required to establish a limited cryptography company in Portugal:

  • Charter (should be in writing and signatures of founders should be verified by a witness)
  • Business plan
  • White paper
  • Documented risk management policies and procedures (AML/CFT, data protection, etc.)
  • Identity documents of shareholders, directors and compliance officers
  • Evidence of no criminal record from shareholders, directors and supervisory officers (obtained within the last three months)

The following general rules apply to any company:

  • The company shall have an indefinite term of validity if its term is not determined by the charter
  • Initial capital contributions must be made prior to the signing of the Charter, unless cash contributions are deferred under conditions permitted by law
  • The value of the company’s equity must always be expressed in euros, the legal tender of Portugal
  • Appointed Directors must demonstrate readiness, technical competence and understanding of the company and the entire business model

Regardless of the legal structure of the business, each crypto company must comply with the following conditions:

  • Development and implementation of internal AML/CFT procedures
  • Recruit an anti-money laundering/terrorist financing officer

Private Limited Liability Company (Lda)

Private limited liability company (Lda) is one of the most commonly used legal business structures in Portugal. Since the transfer of shares is limited, this structure is usually chosen to create small and medium-sized businesses.

Other features of a private limited liability company (Lda):

  • The name of the company consists of a freely selected part, a link to the respective business area and the word Limitada or its abbreviation Lda
  • At least two shareholders (natural or legal persons, no residence requirement)
  • At least one director (may be a shareholder, no residential requirements, but the Bank of Portugal expects the director to be a resident of Portugal)
  • No obligation to appoint a board of directors
  • An accountant who has to fulfill tax obligations;
  • The General Meeting is the governing body of the company, consisting of at least one director and accountant
  • No capital requirements, but each quota must be at least 1 EUR
  • Registered office is a precondition (in this case, Portuguese authorities will send notifications, invoices and other official documents)

An annual audit of a company’s financial statements requires either an independent auditor or a review board if at least two of the following amounts have been exceeded for two consecutive years:

  • Net revenue – 3 mill. EUR
  • Total balance sheet – 1,5 mill. EUR
  • The average number of employees – 50

Public Limited Company (SA)

This type of enterprise is chosen by entrepreneurs who plan to raise funds by offering shares to the general public, allowing them to accumulate much more capital and build businesses on a larger scale than private companies. On the other hand, State-owned companies are subject to stricter regulatory requirements.

The main features of the joint-stock company (SA):

  • The name of the company consists of a freely selected part, a link to the respective field of activity and should end with SA
  • At least five shareholders (if one is a State, only two shareholders are required)
  • One director if the share capital does not exceed 200000 EUR
  • Minimum equity – EUR 50,000 (70% of cash contributions can be deferred for up to five years)
  • Minimum nominal value of the share – 0.01 EUR
  • General meetings are required regardless of the type of management structure

A Public Limited Company (SA) may have one of the following management structures:

  • Board of Directors or one Director if the share capital is less than EUR 200,000 and a statutory audit board of at least three members or an independent auditor
  • Board of Directors, three-member audit committee and independent auditor
  • Board of Directors or one director if the share capital is less than EUR 200,000, General Supervisory Board and independent auditor

An annual audit is mandatory for each public company, regardless of its size. Such companies should appoint an auditor who can act either as the sole overseer of the company or as a partner of the company’s supervisory board, depending on the management structure. The auditor may be an individual or a company registered with the Portuguese Professional Association of Chartered Accountants.

Crypto regulation in Portugal overview

Period for consideration
5 months Annual fee for supervision No
State fee for application
475 EUR Local staff member Required
Required share capital No Physical office Required
Corporate income tax 21% Accounting audit Required

What you need to do

The Portuguese limited liability company could be registered within two weeks, but the licensing process could take several months.

To create a cryptocurrency company in Portugal, take the following steps:

  • Check and reserve the appropriate name (submit three options) before registering
  • Prepare the necessary documents
  • Office rental for legal business address and local staff
  • Open a Portuguese bank account
  • Transfer equity
  • Pay company registration fee
  • Regular registration – 475 EUR
  • Accelerated registration 950 EUR
  • Submit an application for registration of the company together with the necessary documents to the Portuguese Trade Register
  • Apply for a cryptography license at the Bank of Portugal
  • Apply for registration with CMVM if your proposed activity includes cryptoassets that qualify as securities
  • Submission of the final declaration of beneficial ownership (CBO) to the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership
  • Recruitment of personnel in accordance with the law
  • Registration as a taxpayer with the Tax and Customs Board
  • Registration of employees in the social security system
  • Obtaining a company seal when the certificate of registration is issued

Each cryptographic company must be fully licensed by Banco de Portugal as VASP before economic activities begin. Compliance with AML/CFT rules is the key to successful licensing.

Taxation of Crypto Companies in Portugal

Portuguese taxes are collected and administered by the Tax and Customs authority, which doesn’t consider cryptocurrencies legal tender but admits that they can be profitably exchanged for fiat money via intermediary platforms and highlights that the value of cryptocurrencies is determined by online demand.

For tax purposes, all cryptocurrency transactions must be duly recorded and reported in Portugal’s legal tender, which is the euro.

In Portugal, crypto companies are obligated to pay the following taxes:

  • Corporation Tax – 21% (for the first 15,000 EUR of profit – 17%)
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) – 23%
  • Social Security – 23.75%
  • Municipal Business Tax – up to 1.5%
  • Dividends Withholding Tax – 28%

If shareholders are non-residents of Portugal, the company must apply for a Portuguese Taxpayer Number (NIPC/NIF). If the shareholders are non-EU residents, it’s mandatory to appoint a tax representative who’s a resident of Portugal (either a company or an individual).

Reporting requirements

Each cryptographic company is required to submit approved annual and other financial statements to the Portuguese Trade Register.

In addition, each company must provide the following documents at the request of interested parties (on the site and in its registered office):

  • Annual report
  • Audit report
  • Opinion of the Supervisory Board, if applicable

As a rule, the annual report and financial statements should be submitted to the appropriate bodies for review within three months of the end of the financial year. If the first financial year is different from the calendar year, the financial year should be between 6 and 18 months.

The annual report should contain at least one clear and transparent analysis of the status and progress of the company, its activities and market position, as well as a description of the main risks and uncertainties to which the company may be exposed. It should include a description of financial, labor, environmental and other relevant issues and references to amounts reported.

The report should indicate the following:

  • Evolution of different business areas during this period in terms of market conditions, initial capital investments, costs, profits, and R&D activities
  • Material developments since the end of the financial year
  • Company forecasts and prospects
  • If applicable, the number and nominal value of quotas or equity shares redeemed or sold during this period, the reason for such purchase or sale and the appropriate price, as well as the total number and face value of any quotas or equity, Balance at the end of the financial year
  • Authorizations issued under art. 397 for transactions between directors and company
  • Profit proposal
  • Corporate Affiliates Review
  • Review of internal policies and objectives related to financial risk management

If you foresee the future of your crypto company in Portugal, our trusted and dynamic team of the Regulated United Europe (RUE) will be happy to support you at every stage. We provide comprehensive legal advice on company creation, crypto-licensing and taxation. In addition, we will be happy to intervene if you need financial accounting services. Contact our specialists today for advice.

Portugal

capital

Capital

population

Population

currency

Currency

gdp

GDP

Lisbon 10,352,042  EUR $24,910

Crypto Regulation in Portugal 2023

In 2023, Portugal remains fairly relaxed and open to innovation but has also begun to provide a clearer set of rules for the cryptocurrency sector, which should offer better security for investors. The country will continue to stay aligned with the EU’s regulatory improvements that are honing international rules related to cryptocurrency and other blockchain-based businesses with the aim to stabilise the market, as well as foster innovative solutions.

New EU-wide Crypto Rules

This year, European crypto businesses, including Portugal’s crypto entrepreneurs, should work on preparing for the new requirements that will demand greater responsibility. In 2022, the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation was approved by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee for a vote by the European Parliament and the EU member countries. MiCA’s regulations should come into force before the end of 2024 and are designed to provide legal clarity, prevent misuse of cryptoassets, as well as encourage the development of crypto-based innovations. However, at the moment MiCA also has certain limitations as it excludes decentralised finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Among the essential changes are environmental responsibilities that will allow cryptocurrency businesses to contribute to the reduction of the high carbon footprint of cryptocurrencies.  In essence, significant crypto asset service providers (CASPs) will be required to publish the levels of their energy consumption on their websites and share this information with national authorities.

Another change is related to the supervision of stablecoins. This responsibility will be assigned to the European Banking Authority (EBA). One of the requirements for the issuers of stablecoins operating within the EU will be to build up a sufficient liquid reserve with a 1:1 ratio and partly in the form of deposits. This reserve will allow all stablecoin holders to be offered a claim by the issuer at any time and free of charge.

When it comes to the monitoring of non-compliant CASPs, the European Banking Authority (EBA) will maintain a public register and conduct enhanced AML/CFT checks of businesses classified as non-compliant CASPs which are crypto businesses whose parent companies are registered in countries that the EU considers third countries posing high-risk in relation to anti-money laundering activities, or non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. Moreover, the EU may introduce a single pan-EU AML authority in the future, which will ultimately harmonise the AML regulatory framework.

To meet all the EU standards, Portuguese cryptocurrency businesses should invest more efforts into optimising their business operations in accordance with MiCA which translates into having the competence and tools to fight market abuse and manipulation, avoid conflicts of interest, and implement procedures that prevent proprietary trading. Generally, it will be the minimum standard to demonstrate stability, soundness, and competence in adhering to laws and regulations.

EU-wide Regulatory Sandbox

In 2022, the EU finalised the directive for the Pilot DLT Market Infrastructure Regulation (PDMIR). The pilot will be applicable from March 2023 and will provide a legal framework for the trading and settlement of transactions in cryptoassets that under Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2 (MiFID 2) are classified as financial instruments. Just like a regulatory sandbox, the DLT Pilot will present opportunities for eligible businesses to experiment with blockchain-based trading facilities and settlement systems for financial instruments. It also includes the option to operate a combined trading and settlement facility.

The DLT Pilot is scheduled for review in 2026. In the meantime, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) continues to assess whether the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) developed under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR) require any amendments in order to ensure effective application to securities issued, traded, and recorded on DLT. Therefore, ESMA continues to consult on draft guidelines with the goal to establish standard formats and templates for application to the DLT and is now engaged in Q&A sessions to assist with the implementation.

National Legislation in Portugal

While crypto businesses are still largely unregulated in Portugal due to the absence of a robust crypto regulatory framework and aren’t treated as legal tender, general legislation may still be applicable. However, every individual case requires an individual assessment, when the purpose and characteristics of particular cryptocurrencies are taken into consideration. Mainly, it will be imperative to determine whether it’s a utility token or a security token.

Utility tokens usually provide access rights to a non-financial application of blockchain technology, and are therefore subject to consumer protection legislation. Security tokens, also called investment tokens, are tied to a securities offering and represent a share in the company issuing the tokens. Such tokens are subject to complex securities regulations.

Cryptocurrency Licence in Portugal 2023

The Central Bank (Banco de Portugal) remains responsible for enforcing AML/CFT rules in accordance with the EU’s directives and continues to grant a cryptocurrency licence to every crypto business, provided that it meets certain conditions. If all the submitted documents are in order, the application process normally takes up to five months.

CASPs engaging in the following activities in Portugal are required to obtain a crypto licence:

  • The exchange of cryptocurrency into another cryptocurrency or fiat currency and vice versa
  • The facilitation of the transfer of cryptoassets between addresses or crypto wallets
  • The provision and maintenance of crypto wallets

Key requirements for the applicants:

  • Incorporation of a new Portuguese company
  • A detailed business plan, including a description of AML/CFT and other legally required policies
  • A resident company director
  • A certificate of no criminal conviction of the owner and director
  • Registration with Portuguese tax authorities

Open a Crypto Company in Portugal

To establish a Portuguese company, first, decide which legal structure suits your cryptocurrency business idea. You can choose from a Private Limited Liability Company (Lda) and a Public Limited Company (SA). Both of them have their own advantages and requirements.

General requirements include renting a local office, opening a local corporate bank account, hiring local staff and paying company registration fees (regular – 475 EUR, or accelerated – 950 EUR). Of course, it’s crucial to note that the speed of the company establishment process depends on the quality of the documents, and our dedicated experts will be delighted to help you with it.

Key requirements for a Private Limited Liability Company (Lda):

  • At least two shareholders (no residence requirements)
  • At least one director (no residence requirements, but the expectation is that the director will be a resident of Portugal)
  • Minimum authorised capital – 1 EUR

Key requirements for a Public Limited Company (SA):

  • At least five shareholders
  • One director (if share capital is less than 200,000 EUR)
  • Minimum authorised capital – 50,000 EUR

Cryptocurrency Taxes in Portugal 2023

In 2023, the treatment of cryptocurrencies for tax purposes is set to change, as the Portuguese government has announced new rules in the country’s budget plan for 2023. The goal is to start treating crypto activities as a fully-fledged industry with a clear and transparent taxation framework.

The changes exclude VAT which is already clarified by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and isn’t levied on cryptocurrencies since they’re considered the same as fiat money for VAT purposes. Also, gifts and inheritances in the form of cryptoassets won’t be taxed, provided that they’re gifted to or inherited by spouses and direct line descendants.

Most importantly, while cryptocurrencies owned longer than a year won’t be taxed, profits sourced from cryptoassets held for less than one year will be subject to the standard Capital Gains Tax at a rate of 28%. The issuance of cryptocurrencies and mining operations will also be subject to tax.

The government is also planning to impose a 4% tax on any free crypto transfers. The Stamp Duty at a rate of 0,8% will also apply in the cases of transfer of ownership for any cryptoassets. Such economic activities as the sale of crypto-related products and mining will be treated as self-employment and will be subject to Personal Income Tax (14,5-48%) and Social Security (11%).

Other standard tax rates that might be applicable to crypto businesses in 2023:

  • Corporate Income Tax – 21% which is paid by companies resident for tax purposes in mainland Portugal and Portuguese Permanent Establishments of foreign entities
  • Value-Added Tax – 23% which Portuguese businesses with a turnover of more than 10,000 EUR on taxable products and services must pay
  • Withholding Tax – 25% which is levied on dividends, interest, royalties, bank deposits, property income, and service charges (non-residents only); salaries of board members are taxed at a reduced 21.5% rate
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“Our company specializes in facilitating the acquisition of the Portugal crypto license, providing comprehensive assistance throughout the application process. As a dedicated specialist, I am here to guide you seamlessly through the licensing procedure, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for your cryptocurrency-related ventures.”

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Additional information

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

It is often said that Portugal is the most attractive country in Europe for working with cryptocurrency and digital assets. In addition to the Government's liberal policy on digital assets, the overall economic and social development of the country also affects this status.

As part of the European legal framework, the Central Bank of Portugal and other authorities have already taken some specific steps to regulate crypto-assets in Portugal, particularly with regards to anti-money-laundering (AML) and anti-crime financing measures.

In some circumstances, cryptocurrencies can be used as a substitute for money, such as when they are issued by banks, credit institutions, or e-commerce sites. ECB classification, which Portuguese authorities have largely adopted, is similar to this definition. In its recommendations on ICOs and crypto assets (January 2019), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) also developed regulations on crypto assets.

Portugal is actively discussing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in general as a result of the rapid development of the Fintech industry.

As Bitcoin's cost has risen, ICO registrations in Portugal and other countries have increased, and their market capitalization has grown, these technologies have attracted public attention.

This country does not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender or as fiat money, nor does it consider them to be currency or electronic currency. An EBA statement was issued in 2019. Directive 2009/110/EC (EMD2) noted a limited number of cases where cryptocurrencies can be deemed "e-money"

It is widely believed, however, that cryptocurrencies are an alternative payment method with a contractual nature resulting from a private agreement between cryptocurrency participants, as well as internal characteristics that resemble those of traditional money in some ways:

  • Storage of value
  • Unit of account
  • Medium of exchange

The Portuguese government announced the Digital Transition Action Plan two years ago, which included technological free zones designed to allow for experiments with blockchain and other new technologies in space that mimic the real world. Portugal is undoubtedly one of the most crypto-friendly countries due to such a policy, so you should pay attention to it. Regardless of your nationality and residence status, you can establish a cryptographic company in Portugal and take advantage of this business environment.

The Commercial Company Act is the main piece of legislation governing companies in Portugal. Various types of entities can be incorporated, management can be implemented, and shareholder rights can be enforced.

The Portuguese Commercial Registry maintains the public register of Portuguese companies, along with updating commercial records and documents, issuing certificates of registration, and dissolving companies.

Virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in Portugal must obtain a license from the Banco de Portugal before they can start conducting crypto-related activities. According to the EU's directives, the authority is responsible for enforcing AML/CFT regulations.

CMVM regulates crypto assets that legally qualify as securities or equivalent instruments in Portugal. If your company operates in Portugal, you may also need to register with CMVM.

There are two types of crypto companies you can start in Portugal: Private Limited Liability Companies (Lda) and Public Limited Companies (SA). Within the limits of their investment, shareholders are only responsible for the company's obligations.

Portugal's most commonly used legal business structure is the limited liability company (Lda). As shares can only be transferred a limited number of times, this structure is usually chosen for small and medium-sized companies.

Private limited liability companies (LLCs) have the following features:

  • Usually, a company's name consists of a part that is freely selected, a link to a particular business area, and the word Limitada or its abbreviation Lda.
  • A minimum of two shareholders (natural or legal persons, no residency requirement)
  • The Bank of Portugal requires at least one director to be a Portuguese resident (must be a shareholder, no residency requirements)
  • A board of directors is not required
  • An accountant who is responsible for fulfilling tax obligations;
  • At least one director and one accountant are required to attend the General Meeting of the company
  • quotas must be at least 1 euro each, but there is no capital requirement
  • Registered office is a precondition (in this case, Portuguese authorities will send notifications, invoices and other official documents)

This type of enterprise is chosen by entrepreneurs who plan to raise funds by offering shares to the general public, allowing them to accumulate much more capital and build businesses on a larger scale than private companies. On the other hand, State-owned companies are subject to stricter regulatory requirements.

The main features of the joint-stock company (SA):

  • Usually, the name of the company includes a freely chosen part, a reference to the field of activity, and the company's initials SA at the end
  • The company must have a minimum of five shareholders (if one of them is a state, there is only a requirement for two shareholders).
  • In the case of a company with a share capital of less than 200000 EUR, one director is required
  • The minimum equity contribution is EUR 50,000 (70% of the cash contribution can be deferred for up to five years).
  • A share must have a nominal value of at least 0.01 euros
  • All management structures require general meetings

How is a company established?

Creating a cryptocurrency company in Portugal is as simple as following these steps:

  • Registration should be preceded by checking the name and reserving it (submit three options)
  • Prepare the necessary documents
  • Office rental for legal business address and local staff
  • Open a Portuguese bank account
  • Transfer equity
  • Register your company and pay the registration fee
  • Regular registration – 475 EUR
  • Accelerated registration 950 EUR
  • Submit an application for registration of the company together with the necessary documents to the Portuguese Trade Register
  • Apply for a cryptography license at the Bank of Portugal
  • Apply for registration with CMVM if your proposed activity includes cryptoassets that qualify as securities
  • Submission of the final declaration of beneficial ownership (CBO) to the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership
  • Recruitment of personnel in accordance with the law
  • Registration as a taxpayer with the Tax and Customs Board
  • Registration of employees in the social security system
  • Obtaining a company seal when the certificate of registration is issued

AML/CFT rules continue to be enforced by the Central Bank (Banco de Portugal) as per EU directives and each crypto business continues to be granted a license provided certain conditions are met. A typical application process takes five months if all the documents are in order.

Portugal requires crypto licences for CASPs involved in the following activities:

  • Cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies
  • Transactions between crypto wallets or addresses that facilitate cryptoasset transfers
  • Crypto wallets: providing and maintaining them

The following are the key requirements for applicants:

  • Incorporation of a new Portuguese company
  • A detailed business plan, including a description of AML/CFT and other legally required policies
  • A resident company director
  • A certificate of no criminal conviction of the owner and director
  • Registration with Portuguese tax authorities

General requirements include renting a local office, opening a local corporate bank account, hiring local staff and paying company registration fees (regular – 475 EUR, or accelerated – 950 EUR). Our dedicated experts will be happy to assist you with the quality of the documents so that your company establishment process can move as quickly as possible.

The following are the key requirements for a Private Limited Liability Company (LLC):

  • A minimum of two shareholders (no residency requirement)
  • There must be at least one director (there are no residence requirements, but it is expected that the director will live in Portugal)
  • A minimum of one euro is required for authorised capital

In order to form a Public Limited Company (SA), the following requirements must be met:

  • At least five shareholders
  • One director (if share capital is less than 200,000 EUR)
  • Minimum authorised capital – 50,000 EUR

Private Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) have a minimum authorised capital of one euro.

Public Limited Companies (SA) are required to have a minimum authorized capital of 50,000 euros.

Licenses for cryptocurrency are issued indefinitely by the Portuguese government.

It is becoming more common for financial services to develop more flexible policies about crypto payments, but they are still not permitted. A future version of this option is possible.

A deposit of the authorized capital is required from applicants in Euros (EUR).

  • Declaring cryptocurrency assets is not restricted or obligated
  • There is no requirement for the company to have a minimum share capital
  • Cryptocurrency income is not subject to income tax
  • Real estate can be purchased with cryptocurrency

AML frameworks for non-financial organizations cover the above service providers. Among other things, such entities should:

  • Keep an eye on the risks associated with money-laundering and terrorism financing arising from the development or use of new technologies;
  • Investigate the client's business, non-recurrent operations or ongoing activities;
  • Developing and implementing policies, procedures, and controls to mitigate the risk of money laundering;
  • Establishing customer and business owner identity (in accordance with KYC);
  • Information collected and stored about customers;
  • Analyse and scrutinize transactions based on risk assessment;
  • Report suspicious transactions and cooperate with competent authorities.

Identifying suspicious transactions should be based on a common set of indicators (trigger events). In addition, the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) has recommended that money laundering be flagged as a red flag. Among them are:

  • The size, frequency, and nature of transactions are transaction-related indicators;
  • Anonymity indicators;
  • Sender and receiver indicators: customer data and irregularities;
  • Indicators on the origin of funds;
  • Indicators on geographical risks (counterparty jurisdiction).

Certain categories of people have historically been associated with high BFR risk:

  • Persons and organizations working in offshore zones;
  • «Politically significant persons» (including «close family members» and «persons with recognized and close corporate or commercial relationships»);
  • Individuals and entities on the United Nations Security Council sanctions lists, OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury), the EU Council, etc.;
  • Natural and legal persons designated in sectoral regulations to enhance precautionary measures.

It is possible for ICOs that offer tokens representing rights and/or economic interests in a predetermined company, project or enterprise to qualify as securities, and these tokens may be subject to existing securities laws, primarily those governing public offerings of securities and/or trading platforms. Portuguese law can regulate the launch of ICOs, such as:

  • Financial Instrument Markets Directive (MiFID II);
  • regulation of the market of financial instruments (Resolution 600/2014) and relevant executive acts;
  • Provisions on market abuse;
  • Directive 2009/44/EC;
  • Regulation on the Central Securities Depository;
  • Investment Fund Management Directive (OIF).

According to CMVM, a token that allows users to participate in surveys related to the online platform's development, as well as to donate tokens to it, is not considered a security token. According to the regulator, the following characteristics would suggest that securities tokens qualify as securities, in an abstract sense:

  • In the event that they are considered to be members of the special economic rights community;
  • In the case of securities with similar functions to markers.

Additionally, if the token is a security and the ICO is offered to Portuguese investors, these transactions must be regulated by national and EU laws relating to:

  • Issue, representation and transfer of securities;
  • Proposal to the public (if applicable);
  • Marketing of financial instruments for the purposes of MiFID II;
  • Quality requirements for information; and
  • Market abuse rules.

In addition, if the ICO qualifies as a public offering, CIM clarifies that the prospectus must be prepared and submitted with any marketing material for the ICO for approval by CIM, provided that there are no exceptions.

In Portugal, all LCA activities are required to be registered under the Anti-Money Laundering Act. AML Act Article 112-A and the Bank of Portugal Notice 3/2021 regarding the registration procedure must be followed.

Organizations operating in Portuguese territory include:

  • Companies based in Portugal (registered here);
  • Permanently represented legal entities in Portugal; and
  • Portuguese tax authorities control organizations that operate under their control.
  • The Central Bank is the competent authority to register cryptographic companies in Portugal and to verifycompliance with applicable legal and regulatory provisions governing the use of the AML by the above-mentioned persons.

Financial statements must be submitted to the Portuguese Trade Register by cryptographic companies every year.

Interested parties must also be able to obtain the following documents at the company's registered office (also on the site):

  • Annual report
  • Audit report
  • Opinion of the Supervisory Board, if applicable

Within three months of the end of the financial year, the annual report and financial statements should be submitted to the appropriate bodies for review. Financial years should be between six and 18 months if they differ from calendar years.

The annual report should contain at least one clear and transparent analysis of the company's status and progress, its activities and market position, as well as the main risks and uncertainties it may face. References to amounts reported and a description of financial, labor, environmental, and other relevant issues should be included.

As part of its collection and administration of taxes, the Portuguese Tax and Customs authority does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender, but admits that intermediary platforms can be used to exchange them for fiat money profitably, and stresses that the value of cryptocurrencies depends on online demand.

The euro is Portugal's legal tender, so all cryptocurrency transactions must be duly recorded and reported.

Taxes owed by crypto companies in Portugal include:

  • Corporation Tax – 21% (for the first 15,000 EUR of profit – 17%)
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) – 23%
  • Social Security – 23.75%
  • Municipal Business Tax – up to 1.5%
  • Dividends Withholding Tax – 28%

Companies with shareholders who are not Portuguese residents must apply for Portuguese Taxpayer Numbers (NIPC/NIF). In the case of non-EU shareholders, it is mandatory to appoint a Portuguese tax representative (either an individual or a company).

 

RUE customer support team

Milana

Milana

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Diana

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CONTACT US

At the moment, the main services of our company are legal and compliance solutions for FinTech projects. Our offices are located in Vilnius, Prague, and Warsaw. The legal team can assist with legal analysis, project structuring, and legal regulation.

Company in Lithuania UAB

Registration number: 304377400
Anno: 30.08.2016
Phone: +370 661 75988
Email: [email protected]
Address: Lvovo g. 25 – 702, 7th floor, Vilnius,
09320, Lithuania

Company in Poland Sp. z o.o

Registration number: 38421992700000
Anno: 28.08.2019
Phone: +48 50 633 5087
Email: [email protected]
Address: Twarda 18, 15th floor, Warsaw, 00-824, Poland

Company in Czech Republic s.r.o.

Registration number: 08620563
Anno: 21.10.2019
Phone: +420 775 524 175
Email:  [email protected]
Address: Na Perštýně 342/1, Staré Město, 110 00 Prague

Finwyn Consultancy LTD

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