The level of entrepreneurship in Portugal is still relatively low.
Setting up a company entails a range of risks that must be assessed and important decisions that must be taken, including defining the legal status of the company - with implications for the entrepreneur’s liability and the liability of the business. A business run by a single person must be in the legal form of an Empresário em Nome Individual [Sole Proprietor], Estabelecimento Individual de Responsabilidade Limitada [Individual Limited Liability Establishment] or Sociedade Unipessoal por Quotas [Single Shareholder Limited Liability Company]. A business run by more than one person may take the legal form of a Sociedade em Nome Colectivo [Partnership], Sociedade por Quotas [Limited Liability Company], Sociedade em Comandita [Limited Partnership], Sociedade Anónima [Public Limited Company] or Cooperativa [Cooperative].
This process has been simplified in recent years, and certain alternative methods of setting up a company have been introduced: Empresa Online (which allows a company to be set up solely over the Internet) and Empresa na Hora (which allows a company to be set up in under an hour by delivering documentation to one of the special offices: Lojas da Empresa [Business Formality Centres] or Conservatórias de Registo Comercial [Commercial Company Registers].
These simplified forms are not yet available for all legal types of company or for the whole country, however, so the traditional method can still be used. The basic steps are as follows:
Note that the steps required to set up a company may be simplified to a greater or lesser extent according to the legal status chosen. Likewise, close attention must be paid to the legislation governing the setting up of companies in many areas of activity, which require a licence before the activity can begin.
Lojas de Empresa [Business Formality Centres] can provide integrated support for your business, with advice on setting up a company and on the specific licensing requirements
The Portal da Empresa [Company Portal] provides services, supporting information and guidelines on the various alternative procedures for starting up your business.
Text last edited on: 08/2010
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