Debt collection Portugal

Debt collection in Portugal

Does your company have to deal with debt collection in Portugal because a Portuguese customer has not paid your invoice? Our Portuguese debt collection specialists and lawyers will be happy to help you. We will make sure that your outstanding invoices are paid quickly. Read here what we can do for you when you want to engage with a debt collection agency and recover debt in Portugal.

"The payment behaviour of Portuguese companies is often bad. Invoices are not paid or are paid too late. A strict debtor’s policy is therefore important to get invoices paid".

International Debt Collection in Portugal

When doing business with a Portuguese trading partner, you will be confronted with different trading traditions and customs than those you are used to. In addition, different legislation applies in Portugal than in your country. Also, your client often speaks a different language. This often makes debt collection in Portugal complicated and time-consuming for you. That is why you should call in our Portuguese specialists. They have the means to get your debtor to pay.

Payment behaviour of Portuguese companies

  • Portuguese are often not very punctual, but pay a lot of attention to details
  • Statutory term of payment of invoices is 30 days
  • Portuguese are among the worse payers in Europe
  • A payment term of 14 days is customary in the case of reminders

Debt collection in Portugal

In Portugal, business is somewhat slower than in other parts of Europe. Projects often take a long time to get off the ground. The payment of invoices is also something that is often delayed.

Payment terms in Portugal are usually very long. Many Portuguese companies do not adhere to the agreed payment terms. Invoices are usually not paid or paid late. It is often the smaller companies that adhere to payment terms better than large companies.

Advantages of debt collection in Portugal

  • Portuguese collection lawyers in your country
  • Portuguese-speaking lawyers
  • Highest success rates
  • Collection throughout Portugal
  • Always a single point of contact
  • 24/7 online access to our portal
  • No Cure No Pay debt collection


For the collection of your invoice from a Portuguese debtor, it is best to contact a Portuguese lawyer or collection specialist. You do not have to go to Portugal, you can simply contact our specialists at Bierens. They have extensive knowledge and experience with the laws and regulations in Portugal. It goes without saying that they collect in Portuguese, their native language. This way we know how to make your Portuguese debtor pay quickly.



The collection process in Portugal can be divided into two phases. In the extrajudicial phase we collect without the intervention of the court, in the judicial phase we do involve the court to get your Portuguese customer to pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you in both phases.

Extrajudicial Debt collection Prelegal debt collection

Our initial intention is to always start the collection procedure in the extrajudicial phase. In this phase we try to avoid the intervention of the court. We contact your Portuguese debtor to ensure that your debtor still pays. In the extrajudicial phase we have the following possibilities in Portugal:

Written demand letters and phone calls

We will contact your debtor and request payment. Your Portuguese customer will then be given a few days to make a payment.

Announcing legal proceedings

The best way to put pressure on Portuguese debtors is to announce that you are going to start legal proceedings against your debtor. Usually this announcement will convince your client to pay. It is therefore advisable to call in a debt collection lawyer as soon as possible, who can announce such proceedings on your behalf. This will prevent the collection process from taking longer than necessary.

If your debtor refuses to pay in the extrajudicial phase, we can go to court in consultation with you. We perform a credit check and analyze your debtor's financial situation. This enables us to better assess your debtor's financial situation and determine whether legal proceedings are worthwhile. In addition, we will always let you know in advance what the possible costs are and we will only start working after receiving your permission.

Judicial debt collection



Would you like to start legal collection proceedings against your Portuguese debtor? Then the first question is in which country do you have to litigate: in your country or in Portugal? This depends on the competent court, i.e. the court that is competent to rule on your debt collection case.

In your general terms and conditions, you can agree on the competent court in the event of a (payment) conflict. This is also called choice of forum. Have no agreements been made? Then the main rule is that the court in the country of the defendant has jurisdiction. In this case the Portuguese court. You then have to go to Portugal to follow legal proceedings there.

In addition, the main rule is that the law of the country of the seller or service provider applies. In this case, the law of your own country is therefore applicable. We then get this difficult situation where the Portuguese judge must judge the case based on the law of your country. A legal system that he does not know. This is not a desirable situation. Therefore, our advice is to make agreements about the applicable law and the competent court in your terms and conditions. For more information about your specific situation, ask our lawyers for advice.

Debt collection laws in Portugal

When we take legal action against your Portuguese customer, there are a number of Portuguese collection laws that we can deploy. The collection procedure that can best be used differs per situation. Our lawyers always look for the best option for your collection case.

Since Portugal joined the EU, the legal procedures have improved a lot. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that Portugal is very bureaucratic and that the legal system can sometimes be very slow. Our Portuguese lawyers can advise you on the best legal procedure in your situation.

Payment procedure

This procedure can be used if there is a simple, undisputed procedure. The procedure is carried out electronically and is relatively cheap and fast. The national agency for payment orders, the Balcão Nacional de Injunções, is responsible for this procedure. When a request is made, a brief summary of the case must also be given. Is the claim not contested by the debtor? In that case, the National Bureau for Payment Orders will issue a declaration of enforceability. Is the claim contested? If so, this procedure is automatically converted into ordinary court proceedings.

Ordinary civil proceedings

Carrying out an ordinary procedure is a lot more expensive and time consuming. In that case, a hearing is scheduled and the judge then makes a judgment. If there is a favorable judgment for the creditor, we proceed to an enforcement procedure. With an enforcement procedure we can execute the debtor, seize his assets and eventually obtain payment.

International collection laws

international collection laws

In addition to Portuguese collection laws, there are also a few European measures that can be used if your Portuguese customer refuses to pay. It is important for the European Union that trade between European countries is stimulated. Therefore, complicated procedures are unwanted. That is why, in addition to the normal procedures, there are two alternative procedures that can be used for foreign claims between two EU countries: the European Payment Order Procedure and the Small Claims Procedure.

Both procedures are relatively fast and cheap. A standard form has to be filled in, which is then sent to the competent court. If you have not agreed on anything, this is usually the Portuguese court. The court then deals with the collection case and makes a ruling.

The small claims procedure is only suitable for small claims up to €5,000. The European Payment Order only applies to undisputed claims.

Debt collection procedure in Portugal

  • Upload claim
    Upload your debt recovery case online
  • Start case
    We will process your case immediately
  • Send a demand letter
    We will immediately send a payment reminder to your debtor
  • How to approach debtor?
    Together we will determine our approach
  • Online portal 24/7
    View your case 24/7 through our online portal
  • Ask questions
    Questions? Your contact is always available to assist you
  • Get invoice paid
    Your unpaid invoice will be paid

Litigation in your own country

Have you agreed in the general terms and conditions that the court in your country is competent? Then legal proceedings can be started in your country. Depending on your specific situation, our lawyers will look at what is most beneficial for your company. If we are going to litigate in your country against your Portuguese debtor, we can start ordinary civil proceedings. Both parties will be heard, after which the court will make a judgement.

Executing judgements in Portugal

If a judgement has been obtained in your country, this judgement has yet to be executed in Portugal. Within the EU, it is established that all judgments obtained in the EU Member States are also recognised in other EU countries. For the execution of a judgment from your country in Portugal, the court of your country issues a certificate. This is then sent to the bailiff in Portugal together with the judgment. The bailiff can then start working immediately to ensure that the judgment is executed in Portugal.

Limitation period in Portugal

limitation period

An outstanding invoice cannot be collected forever. An invoice can become time-barred. Once the statute of limitations for your invoice has expired, you can no longer enforce payment of your invoice through the courts. It is therefore important to keep a close eye on this limitation period.

For business claims in Portugal, the general limitation period is 20 years. This period starts as soon as the claim becomes due. This corresponds to the due date of the invoice. If the payment period of an invoice is 30 days, the limitation period of 20 years starts after those 30 days have passed.

Imagine: you have delivered an order to a customer. On April 1, 2017 you send the corresponding invoice, with a payment term of 30 days. Your customer did not pay. The due date of the invoice was May 1, 2017. The 20-year limitation period starts from this moment. Your invoice will therefore expire on May 1, 2037.

Exceptions to the limitation period

The limitation period of 20 years applies to normal claims. Please note that the limitation period is different for some claims. For example, transport law throughout Europe has a limitation period of 1 year.

Preventing the statute of limitations for your Portuguese invoice

It is possible to prevent your invoice from expiring by interrupting the limitation period. The interruption stops and resets the limitation period. In Portugal, there are 2 ways to stop a limitation period:

  • A letter from the debtor confirming the existence of an outstanding invoice. This is an official acknowledgement of debt which must be handwritten. In addition, the outstanding amount must be written out in letters. Another possibility is a signed contract that is drawn up in an official mediation procedure or in negotiations between lawyers.
  • A subpoena.

It is most advantageous to send the letter of suspension at the end of the limitation period. But of course, make sure that you do this on time, before the limitation period has expired. Otherwise, there is a risk that your invoice will become expired and you will no longer be able to collect your claim legally.

Legal areas debt collection in Portugal

Our Portuguese debt collection agency has been active for several years. During this time, we have helped many companies all over the world with their debt collection business in Portugal as well as several Portuguese companies, with all kinds of debt collection cases in various jurisdictions:

  • Transport
  • Buying and Selling
  • Construction law
  • Rental and leasing
  • Agency and distribution agreement
  • Damages and unlawful acts

“Bierens is a highly effective and professional partner. Not only do they have a good debt collection procedure, they also give solid advice.”

Manuel Maas, Eneco

National Coverage

Is your debtor in Lisbon, Vila Nova de Gaia or Porto? For our specialists, it doesn't matter where your customer is. We can assist you throughout Portugal. For the successful collection of your case you do not need to call in a collection agency or lawyer in Portugal. You can simply transfer your case online. Our Portuguese specialists will get to work immediately.

More than a debt collection agency

If you are looking for a debt collection agency, you are actually better off with a debt collection lawyer. Our Portuguese collection lawyers have more resources than a collection agency. Moreover, they work faster and are also more successful. This is beneficial for your organisation as you will quickly receive your payment.

Take action today, submit your debt collection before16:00 o'clock

No Win No Fee Debt Collection

no cure no pay

During the extrajudicial phase, we work based on the No Win, No Fee principle. If we do not collect, then you pay no legal fee. You only pay €150 for administrative costs. After all, an unpaid invoice causes enough frustration. We think it would be unfair if you were to be faced with all sorts of additional fees.

You only pay a fee if we can collect the claim. We try to recover this fee from the debtor as much as possible. Therefore, a successful collection case will cost you almost nothing! That is what we call justice, as you will receive what you are entitled to.

Debt collection costs

If the collection is successful, we try to recover the collection costs from the debtor as much as possible. In that case, your Portuguese customer will pay the outstanding invoice and the collection costs. This way, you will pay little to no collection fees to our organisation.

Our Portuguese specialists

Do you have an outstanding invoice with a Portuguese customer? Or do you have another conflict with your client? Our collection specialists and lawyers will be happy to help you solve your payment conflict. Please feel free to contact us for more information. Are you tired of waiting for your payment? Then hand over your invoice immediately. Our specialists will then get straight to work for you.

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