Guidance for UK businesses about the Portuguese rules and regulations on service provision if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
If the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019 without a deal, UK firms and service providers will face additional steps or potentially even barriers to trade.
You will need to comply with both local and EU/EEA-wide rules in the following areas:
- cross-border trade
- establishing and structuring your business
- business travel and visa requirements
- recognition of UK professional qualifications
- data protection
If you’re a UK business providing services in Portugal, you’ll need to follow Portuguese regulations about:
- acquiring authorisations or licences to provide a service
- complying with specific local business regulations
The Portuguese e-government portal for service providers (website in Portuguese) can help you to:
- find out what you need to know about providing services in Portugal
- understand local regulations
- complete the relevant administrative procedures online
Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Portugal to help you comply with specific regulations.
There may be regulated sectors in Portugal where EEA nationality requirements could prevent you from providing services.
To find out if these apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority.
Contact the Autoridade da Concorrência (ADC) if you have complaints or queries about anti-competitive practices.
There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in Portugal, for example the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.
These organisations are not associated with the UK government, and their views are not representative of any government policies.
Establishing and structuring your business
If you’re a UK service provider or business, you may face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EU member state.
You should consider if you’re likely to face:
- additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors
- limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals
Find out more about structuring your business if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Setting up a business
You can find out how to set up a business in Portugal on the AICEP website.
The AICEP website also offers more general advice for investing in Portugal.
Sector specific information
For audit firms established and approved in EEA states under the Audit Directive, a majority of the ownership and management bodies of an audit firm must be ‘qualified persons’.
In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, ‘qualified persons’ will continue to include EEA qualified auditors and EEA registered audit firms, but will not include UK qualified auditors or registered firms in future.
As a result, the ownership and management of some EEA audit firms may need to be restructured.
If you’re a UK legal professional who has investments in law firms in Portugal, you should contact the Portuguese Bar Association (in Portuguese) for further information on the implications for your investment.
If you’re a UK citizen, service provider or business operating in the EU and in any doubt about your legal position, seek appropriate professional advice or contact the government of the country where you own, manage or direct a company for more information.
Business travel and visa requirements
When the UK leaves the EU, the rules for travelling in Europe will change.
In the event of no deal, the European Commission has proposed granting UK citizens visa-free travel to the EU after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Under these conditions, if you’re a UK citizen you’ll be able to travel to Portugal without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, for the purpose of:
- business meetings
- sports or cultural events
- short-term study
Should you need to undertake activities not listed above or intend to stay beyond 90 days in any 180-day period, you will need to check with host country authorities, as visa requirements can vary between EU/EEA member states.
If you’re engaging in a professional activity in Portugal you’ll be subject to different requirements, depending on:
- your occupation and situation
- whether you are self-employed or an employee
- your business and the length of your stay
Certain professions may have to meet extra conditions and you may be required to show supporting documentation at the border.
- supporting documentation
- work and residence permits
- other conditions
- visas including intra-corporate transfers
Find out more about the travel entry requirements for Portugal.
Recognition of professional qualifications
The EU’s Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive provides a framework of rules on professional qualification recognition amongst the members of the EEA and Switzerland.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the MRPQ Directive will no longer apply to the UK.
If your qualification falls under the MRPQ Directive and it is already recognised as valid before exit day, it will remain valid after exit day.
For some professions there are additional sectoral frameworks, for example, audit and legal services. If your route to recognition derives from the Audit Directive, or the Lawyers Establishment Directive please see the specific advice below.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications in an EU member state will be assessed under the rules of the host EU member state.
Legislation on the EU-wide recognition of professional qualifications.
The European Commission has produced guidance on the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the UK for professions that fall under the MRPQ Directive after EU Exit.
The guidance states that:
- if your qualification is already recognised as valid, it will remain valid
- after the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications will be governed by the national policies and rules of that EU member state
- after the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals intending to provide temporary and occasional professional services in any EU member state will be governed by that state’s national policies and rules
You can also read the European Commission guidance for specific professional occupations.
Information on the EU-wide recognition of professional qualifications
The EU Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF) can help you identify:
- professions that are regulated in each EEA state and Switzerland
- contact details of the member states’ appropriate authority for that regulated profession
- points of single contact (PSCs) of each EU or EEA country, which give information on registering for professional recognition online
Information on the recognition of professional qualifications in Portugal
If you are offering professional services in Portugal, look at:
- NARIC, the information centre for the academic and professional recognition of qualifications
- the Portuguese point of single contact on the ePortugal website (in Portuguese)
- no-deal contingency plans published by the Portuguese government (in Portuguese)
If you are a statutory auditor, you will need to establish whether any existing recognition you have in an EU member state will continue to be valid.
You can read:
- the European Commission guidance on how UK-qualified statutory auditors will be treated by EU member states after exit day
- UK government guidance on how accounting and audit may be affected by no-deal Brexit
For UK statutory auditors, the Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários Portugal (website in Portuguese) should be able to provide further information
Recognition of legal qualifications
The European Commission’s guidance or ‘preparedness notice’ in relation to the MRPQ Directive outlines that lawyers who have transferred into an EU member state profession through the provisions set out in the MRPQ Directive by exit day will continue to have their qualification recognised and will be able to continue to practise should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
This preparedness notice does not deal with the recognition of qualifications under the Lawyers Establishment Directive.
If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in Portugal, either using a Portuguese professional title or a UK professional title, you should contact the [local Bar association in the region in which you are working] or the Portuguese Bar Association (website in Portuguese) for advice.
UK businesses will need to continue to comply with data protection laws if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
To ensure continued compliance, you may need to make changes ahead of the UK leaving the EU if your business:
- operates across the EU and/or the EEA
- exchanges personal data with partners in the EU and/or the EEA
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides information on data protection and Brexit including the ‘6 steps to take’ checklist.
International data transfers
The UK government is legislating to provide that, on the UK’s exit from the EU, transfers of personal data from the UK to the EU/EEA (for example Portugal) will be permitted.
No additional steps need to be taken at this point if you plan to only transfer personal data from the UK to Portugal. You should review your privacy information and your internal documentation to identify any details that will need updating when the UK leaves the EU. Find out more on documentation requirements in the ICO’s six step guidance.
If you receive personal data transfers in the UK from the EU/EEA (for example Portugal), you and your EU/EEA-based partners need to think about what GDPR safeguards you can put in place.
Use the ICO tool to identify and assess your options for complying with EU law on personal data transfers from the EU and EEA to the UK after 12 April 2019.
Your lead data protection authority
If you are a UK business with its headquarters in the UK but with operations in the EU and processing personal data across EU/EEA borders, you might need to deal with a lead supervisory authority in the EU.
You can also read the European Data Protection Board’s guidance on lead supervisory authorities.
The Comissão Nacional de Protecção de Dados is the Portuguese lead data protection authority.
If you’re a UK business that offers goods or services in the EEA, or monitors the behaviour of EEA subjects, but will not have an established presence in an EU or EEA state after 12 April 2019, you may need to employ a European representative.