Buying Property In Portugal

Buying property in Portugal


Language Matters Worldwide

Buying property is stressful anywhere, anytime, but in a foreign country not only do you have to deal with new procedures, laws and a foreign language, you can end up spending a lot more money unnecessarily. Did you know that you don t require a conveyancing lawyer to purchase property in Portugal? Some estate agents will tell you this and you may find this dubious, however, it is absolutely true and many property buyers, especially British and Irish add to their costs by paying Portuguese lawyers and UK based specialists to do unnecessary work.

The main reason for this is that when buying property in Portugal there are no searches to the extent that these must be conducted in the UK to buy and sell property. All checks, such as unpaid debts on the property in Portugal and land registry checks, are performed by the lending bank and the estate agent which then cross-reference the data. Estate agents employ their own notaries (not rios) who perform these tasks and draft their contracts of purchase and sale (contrato de compra e venda) on their behalf. Of course, if you undertake a private purchase or sale without an agent, it may be advisable to hire a notary to perform these checks for you.

Another point to bear in mind when buying property in Portugal is that to be valid, all legal documents must be drafted in the national language even if you use a British estate agent who is bound by Portuguese law. Some estate agents will offer a translation from Portuguese into English which you will pay for but be careful because many of them will translate it themselves and their written English may not be that fluent and certainly with no legal training or professional working knowledge of English or Portuguese legal terminology, their translation from Portuguese to English could be unreliable. Remember: there is a vast difference between translating what you think a document says (or should say) and translating what it actually says.


Do you really want to make a large purchase on the basis of what the legal position might be?

Similarly, it is easy for someone who has lived and worked in Portugal all of their life to take social, procedural and legal norms for granted and will presume you will do the same with their norms. Portugal is a highly regulated country so property buyers do not get ripped off very often; in fact the first contract you will sign, the promissory contract of purchase and sale (contrato de promessa de compra e venda) largely favours the buyer.

However, it is easy to feel cheated when things work differently to how they do at home and especially when you are told them by someone who will receive commission on your signature of the contract, so it is always best to rely on an independent professional to be sure everything is as it should be.

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide certain documents for the Portuguese authorities. In this case, you will be responsible for translating them from English to Portuguese. To translate documents from English to Portuguese or from Portuguese to English you can easily find such services using internet search engines such as Google. But how do you know which provider to choose? As above, many people offer services but are unqualified, untrained and inexperienced to do so. For instance, English spoken in India and other parts of the world is not the same as English spoken in the UK, nor is its legal terminology.

The translation of foreign legal documents requires knowledge of both languages involved, particularly, the legal language of those countries and legal systems. Therefore translating legal documents from Portuguese to English or personal or official documents from English to Portuguese requires university level qualification, professional standing and a working knowledge of the relevant legal systems and terminology.

In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Linguists is an accrediting and examining body to which linguists must be accepted to provide translations for official purposes and to demonstrate their levels of professional, academic, linguistic and specialist attainment. A company such as

Language Matters Worldwide Ltd

has teams of qualified and accredited linguists with such professional membership and can be relied on to provide translations and certified translations for official purposes both in Portugal and in the UK, R.O.I. and other countries.

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