Debt Collection in Portugal

Debt Collection in Portugal

Updated on Thursday 13th June 2024

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debt collection in portugal
Our lawyers in Portugal can help you in cases of debt collection by managing the entire process. In the following lines, you can discover some of the formalities and procedures linked to debt collection.
Quick facts  
Applicable regulations for debt collection

- Portuguese Civil Code,

- The European Order for Payment (EOP),

- Small Claims Procedure

Types of debts that can be recovered in Portugal

- unpaid invoices,

- unpaid loans,

- rent debts,

- unpaid taxes,

- overdrafts, etc.

Estimated duration for the court procedure

3 - 6 months

Amicable debt collection option (YES/NO)


Use of mediation

Our attorneys recommend the use of mediation to avoid lengthy court proceedings.

Appealing period 30 days after notification of the original decision
Injunction proceeding

For smaller debts not exceeding 15,000 euros

Asset seizure

- real estate,

- personal property,

- wages,

- bank deposits,

- shares in companies,

- business interests

Minimum amount for legal debt collection


Legal term for paying invoices 30 days
Statute of limitations for collecting overdue invoices

Generally 20 years, but exceptions might apply

Bankruptcy procedure

Includes the sale of the debtor's assets to repay creditors

Documents necessary for debt collection

- contract or agreement between parties,

- unpaid bills or invoices,

- any communications between the creditor and debtor,

- court orders, etc.

International debt recovery (YES/NO)

YES, our lawyers can provide guidance and negotiate on your behalf.

Legal representation for debt collection

Our law firm offers legal representation, upon request.


Stages of debt collection in Portugal

In Portugal there are two available debt collection procedures:
  • Injunção (simple claim or injunction);
  • Acção Declarativa (regular claim).
The first phase consists of an amicable settlement between the parties. In this sense, the creditor sends the first notice of payment in which are specified the amount due, the payment deadline, and further actions that may be taken against the debtor. Here are other important aspects to consider when asking for debt collection in Portugal:
  • If there is no answer received in one week, the creditor can send a second notice of payment. After the third demand letter, which means 30 days, and still no answer from the debtor, the creditor is entitled to forward the case to the next step.
  • When the debtor answers the demand letters, but cannot afford to fully pay the debt, the parties may agree on installment payments. In the case there is no answer after all letters are sent, the case goes to the court of law for a legal solution. We suggest in this case the support of our Portuguese lawyers
Below is an infographic about debt collection stages in Portugal:
How is debt collection made in portugal


How is the simplified procedure of debt collection implemented?

The simplified procedure consists of obtaining a payment order to be delivered to the debtor. The payment order can be obtained when the creditor has the completed documentation of the claim. The debtor has a certain deadline to pay the debt after receiving a payment order. In the situation where the debtor does not fulfill the payment, the case is transferred into a regular lawsuit.
After the creditor has submitted the request before the competent court, the respective court asks both parties to exchange opinions and statements in writing until the judge considers having enough information to take the case in charge.
Both parties are then summoned to a court hearing where the judge examines the documentation, hears the parties’ statements, and, by applying the law, issues a decision. Next, the decision is published at the date scheduled by the court and both parties are informed in writing. Any decision issued by the Court is enforceable.

Confiscation of assets in Portugal

In Portugal, when a court order of execution has been issued, the bailiff can put into action the compulsory measures provided by the law. All the debtor’s liable assets are subject to execution and seizure procedures. In cases specified by law, a third party’s assets can be seized, provided that implementation has been filed against third parties.
The law provides that the debtor’s immovable property, movable property, rights and expectations of acquisition, allowances or wages, bank deposits, undivided property, and shares in companies and business establishments may be subject to enforcement procedures.
Also, there are certain legal limits which make some assets not eligible for this procedure:
  • items or inalienable rights;
  • property in the public domain of the state and other public bodies;
  • objects whose confiscation is offensive to good morals or lacks economic justification due to the market value;
  • objects specially designed for the development of public worship;
  • equipment for disabled persons or certain items intended to treat patients;
Our attorneys in Portugal can explain your rights in case of debt collection and represent you in a court of law.

What happens if the debtor has no assets/employment?

When the debtor is unemployed, but has money in bank accounts the law provides that the equivalent of three minimum wages cannot be detained. However, the court may allow the debtor to keep a higher amount when the debtor brings strong proof that his/her family’s needs exceed the amount provided by the law. When a final decision is issued the bailiff assumes the case and starts the compulsory actions to recover the debt.
On the other hand, if a bank stands as a third party, an official note that contains information about the procedure is sent to the financial institution in question. From that moment until the complete fulfilment of the claim the debtor cannot dispose the money and any payment is considered invalid. The minimum amount provided by the law makes an exemption to this situation.  

 Short guide on debt collection in Portugal

If you want to better understand what the debt collection process entails in Portugal, we invite you to read the following lines:
  • First of all, a claim is made, with the help of a debt collection lawyer in Portugal, as a recommendation. This is how those interested in recovering debts make sure that you start the process without complications.
  • With our help, a demand letter is sent to the debtor, notifying him/her of the payments or debts he/she has.
  • The amicable procedure is continued and another letter is sent, if the first one was not successful and there was no response.
  • The negotiation of the new terms follows if the debtor is available and understands that it is a debt collection procedure.
  • The establishment of the new payment terms is signed by the debtor. Our Portuguese lawyers ensure that he or she will pay the debts according to the new conditions.
  • If the debtor does not respond to the amicable procedure, our experts in debt collection in Portugal can send the case further for resolution in a court of law.
  • The court of law then decides the new payment terms and the goods that can be confiscated, where appropriate.
Our debt collection attorneys in Portugal assure clients of a fair and transparent process, in full communication. The final objective is to recover the debts through the amicable method, before a settlement in the court of law, as the case may be. We recommend assistance and specialized legal advice because the debt recovery process can be quite complex.

How can our debt collection specialists help you in Portugal?

Things are clear in the context of debt recovery in Portugal because our specialists in the field are the ones who know the legislation and know what strategies to apply. We have the necessary resources and knowledge to be able to offer complete services for debt recovery. We will take care of preparing the documents, contacting the debtors, and overseeing the whole process.
We also ensure that you benefit from personalized strategies and that the proposed solutions will be successful. Considering these things, we recommend that you discuss with our team of lawyers in Portugal and discover the methods we practice and the legal services offered.
Interested in debt collection in Portugal? You are invited to contact our law firm in Portugal and discover what this procedure entails.