Connecting to utilities in Portugal
If you are planning to buy a property in Portugal you will need to consider how to set up the supply of utilities such as water, gas and electric to the property and arrange the payments for them.
Dealing with Portuguese utilities companies can be a daunting task especially if you are not fluent in Portuguese.
It is therefore becoming increasingly common for lawyers dealing with the purchase of property in Portugal to offer services to arrange for the transfer of the utilities, especially if they regularly deal with UK clients buying in Portugal.
If you wish to save yourself the hassle of setting up the utilities to your Portuguese property including water, gas and electricity it may be worthwhile asking your Portuguese lawyer if they provide this service.
Total Buying Abroad can put you in touch with recommended English Speaking lawyers in Portugal who can provide this service in addition to assisting you with the purchase of your property in Portugal.
We have however provided some helpful basic information below.
Connecting to Water Supply in Portugal
Mains water is available in most towns and cities in Portugal and more and more areas are being connected thanks to EU regulations. If your property in Portugal is connected to mains water you will need to arrange for the water supply to be registered in your name. You should check during the purchase process that the previous owner has paid all water bills.
An application for connection to mains water or to transfer the water supply into your name should be made to the local council in Portugal (Câmara Municipal) or the local water board. Details of the local water board can be found here: www.adp.pt.
Residential water consumption is metered and billing is based upon usage. Most people set up automated monthly payments by direct debit from a Portuguese bank account to settle any bills.
If you are buying a property in a rural area of Portugal and are not connected to mains water, you may gain your water supply by other means such as a borehole, well or water tank on the property.
If you are buying a property with a borehole, make sure that it has an up-to-date licence called an Alvará de Licença de Captação de Águas Subterrânea issued by the Ministe´rio do Ambiente. This should be passed on to you by the previous property owner.
Water can also be delivered by truck to the property. This can be relatively expensive so make sure you shop around, as prices can vary. Your new neighbours should be able to help point you in the right direction about how best to deal with this.
Sewerage comes under the responsibility of the local council or water board if your Portuguese property is connected to mains drainage. However, rural properties may not be connected to mains drainage and therefore should have a septic tank.
Boreholes and septic tanks that empty into the water table or soil need to be registered with another authority called the Admministração da Região Hidrográfica (ARH).
Connecting to Waste Disposal in Portugal
Most households in Portugal don’t have individual dustbin collections. Household waste and recycling is taken, by the householder, to the nearest recycle point (ecoponto) or large general waste bin.
Many places in Portugal have a very good network of recycling facilities for the general public and rubbish should be sorted before being taken to the local ecoponto and waste point.
Connecting to Electricity Supply in Portugal
Once you have bought your property in Portugal you will need to sign a contract with an electricity company for the supply of electricity.
Portugal’s main electricity companies include EDP, Galp, Gas Natural Fenosa, Endesa, Iberdrola Portugal.
Electricity can be expensive in Portugal so shop around for the best deal for your circumstances and make sure you fully understand the contract.
Most companies will allow registration online or by telephone. In order to set up a contract for the supply of electricity to your Portuguese property you will usually need some identification as well as the reference number for the electricity supply. You may also be required to provide details of bills paid by the former property owner.
You should ensure that all previous bills have been paid by the previous owner and that the contract is put into your name from the day you take over.
The ERSE (Portuguese Energy Services Regulatory Authority) regulates the electricity sector and can advise consumers on electricity contracts.
Connecting to Gas Supply in Portugal
Most towns and cities in Portugal have mains gas available, however bottled gas is still the most common way of using gas in Portugal. Bottled gas is available in supermarkets and petrol stations. You will need to check your gas storage area in your new property to ensure that you get the most suitable gas bottle size.
If your Portuguese property has mains gas, you must contact the local gas company to have the gas switched on, the meter read and to sign a supply contract. Galp is the main supplier.
In rural areas, gas is often stored in a large tank outside the house. Generally, the tank is installed by the gas company and remains their property. A supply contract needs to be signed and you will usually be charged for a fixed minimum usage of gas per year. Property insurers will need to be informed if you have a gas tank.
Broadband, Telephone and TV
Connecting to Broadband, Telephone and TV in Portugal
Many of us dream of living or getting a second home in Portugal, only to be put off by missing our family and friends or even our favourite TV shows. In this digital age, a good broadband connection can bring your family and friends to your Portuguese place in the sun.
Mobile technology combined with online media applications such as Skype and Facetime have made face-to-face catch ups a daily event.
Having a reliable fast broadband connection can be essential to making your place in the sun a home from home. If this will be an important factor in helping you stay connected to loved ones, make sure that the property that your purchasing has good internet options and speeds.
Internet in some areas of Portugal can be slow or non-existent so it would be worthwhile checking with a service provider that you will be able to connect to broadband and the likely speeds before you purchase.
There are several companies offering a variety of packages and rates, which may include broadband, TV and telephone.
Portugal Telecom (PT) is the national supplier of telephone landlines. There are also a variety of other companies offering telephone services at competitive rates.
If there is no phone line to the property, check with PT if it will be possible to install one and the likely costs and timescale involved. Further information can be found at their website www.telecom.pt.
Hopefully the above will at least provide you with some starting points. In general, however the previous owners of your property in Portugal will let you know how their utilities were set up, which will at least start you off while you find out the most cost-effective options for you.
Most people now choose to pay bills by direct debit from their Portuguese bank account. Just make sure that you keep the account topped up so that there is enough to settle any bills to ensure that the service is not disconnected. If you are not planning on being in Portugal full-time, it may be worthwhile giving the service provider your permanent address so they may contact you in case of any problems.
During the purchase your Portuguese lawyer should check that all the utility bills are up to date and paid in full before completion, otherwise you could become liable for these debts. You should also check that you take meter readings as soon as you move in so that you can check this against your bills.
As mentioned above, many Portuguese lawyers will be happy to assist with setting up connections to Utilities and setting up the direct debits for you. It is worthwhile asking your lawyer at the outset if you think that you may require this service as they can ensure that they include the authority for them to do this in the Power of Attorney if you are providing them with one.