COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Portugal is a developed and stable democracy with a developed economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the
Department of State Fact Sheet on Portugal for additional information on U.S.-Portugal relations.
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SMARTTRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM(STEP)/ EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to visit or live in Portugal, please take the time to tell our Embassy in Lisbon, Consulate in Ponta Delgada, or Consular Agency in Madeira about your trip. Enrollment can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements and help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Lisbon, Portugal
American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Lisbon
Av. das Forças Armadas, Sete-Rios
1600-081 Lisbon, Portugal
Telephone: 351 21 770-2122
Emergency after-hours telephone: 351-21-770-2122 or 351 21 727-3300
Facsimile: 351 21 727-2354
Facebook: AmCits in Portugal
U.S. Consulate Ponta Delgada
Av. Príncipe do Mónaco No, 6-2 F
9500-237 Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
Telephone: 351 29 628-2216
Emergency after-hours telephone: 351 29 628-2216 (listen for the duty officer’s cell phone number)
Facsimile: 351 29 628-7216
U.S. Consular Agency Funchal
Rua da Alfandega 10-2 F, Room A-B
9000-059 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Telephone: 351 29 123-5636 (available Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to noon)
Emergency after-hours telephone: 351 91 616-6820
Facsimile: 351 29 122-9360
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Portugal is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens for business or tourism are permitted to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days without a visa within a six-month period. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
Portuguese law requires some non-European Union foreign nationals to register with immigration officials within three working days of entering Portugal. The law only affects those who transit through another Schengen area country by air en route to Portugal and stay at noncommercial accommodations. If you would like to ensure that your entry is properly documented, you may need to request a stamp at an official point of entry, or download a “declaracão de entrada” (declaration of entry) from the Portuguese Immigration Service’s (SEF) website, and submit it to a local SEF office or police station within three days of entry. If you do not have a stamp in your passport, you may be questioned about how long you stayed in the Schengen area. If you are unable to prove how long you stayed, you could be fined upon your departure.
For updated visa information, contact the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, DC or the Portuguese Consulates in Boston, MA; New Bedford, MA; Providence, RI; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; or San Francisco, CA. The Embassy of Portugal is located at 2012 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel. (202) 350-5400. Visit the Government of Portugal's website for the most current contact information for Portuguese embassies and consulates.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Portugal.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Portugal remains largely free of terrorist incidents; however, like other countries in the Schengen area, Portugal’s open
borders with its Western European neighbors allow possible terrorist groups to enter and exit the country with anonymity.
U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security.
General strikes and public protests against government austerity measures have occurred with increased frequency during 2012. These are rarely violent, but travelers are advised to avoid areas where these public protests are taking place.
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CRIME: Portugal has a relatively low rate of violent crime; however, crime in all categories is steadily increasing. Your greatest
crime risk is becoming a target of pickpockets and purse snatchers, particularly at popular tourist sites and restaurants,
or on public transportation. Rental cars and vehicles with out-of-town or foreign license plates are frequent targets for
break-ins, particularly when parked in popular tourist destinations and beaches. You should always remove visible luggage
or personal items from cars when parking. The Embassy has learned of incidents where travelers discover a flat tire and someone
immediately volunteers to assist. Capitalizing on the distraction, an accomplice meanwhile steals valuables from the vehicle.
Keep your car doors locked when stopped at intersections. You should also avoid using automatic teller machines (ATMs) in
isolated or poorly lighted areas. In general, visitors to Portugal should carry limited cash and credit cards on their person,
and leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe. While thieves may operate anywhere,
the U.S. Embassy receives most reports of theft from the following areas:
Lisbon: Pick pocketing and purse snatchings in the Lisbon area are most likely to occur in buses, hotel lobbies, restaurants, the airport, trains, train stations, and trams, especially onboard tram number 28 to the Castle of São Jorge. At restaurants, items that hang over the backs of chairs or are placed on the floor are particularly vulnerable. Unattended luggage can be stolen at the Lisbon Airport. You should take special care in the Oriente, Santa Apolonia, and Rossio train stations, the Sete Rios bus station, the Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto districts, and the tourist area of Belém.
Outside Lisbon: Thefts have been reported in the popular tourist destination towns of Sintra, Cascais, Mafra, Fatima, and in the Algarve. Thieves reportedly scout parking areas alongside tourist attractions and beaches watching for rented cars. You should take special care when parking at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra; and at the beachfront areas of Guincho, Cabo da Roca, and Boca do Inferno. We have received some reports that vacation homes have been robbed in the Algarve. When renting vacation lodging, make sure to assess the accommodation’s security systems.
Madeira: Pick pocketing, while infrequent, may occur in the Old Town and Santa Catarina Park areas of Funchal.
Trains: Public transportation is considered safe and reliable; however, during the summer months, there are occasionally reports of youth gangs accosting passengers riding trains between Lisbon, Cascais, and Sintra. The authorities have increased their patrols in response to these incidents.
Taxis: Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, though you should be alert to possible discrepancies between the meter fare and the amount requested by the driver. Always ask the taxi driver to use the meter. A tourism information kiosk in the arrivals area of the Lisbon airport sells taxi vouchers at standardized prices for many locations in the city and metro area. As part of this voucher service, a member of the tourism office will also escort you to your taxi. Some cases have been reported involving taxi drivers in the arrivals area of the airport who overcharge, threaten and/or harass passengers.
Beaches: Beaches are generally considered safe, but beachgoers should not leave their personal belongings unattended. Youth gangs have been known to congregate along the beaches between Lisbon and Cascais and occasionally accost beach-goers. The authorities have increased their patrols in response to these incidences.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S.
embassy or consulate. We can:
Portugal has a crime victim’s assistance program, administered through an organization known by its acronym, "APAV." Office hours are weekdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 5 p.m; tel: 351 70 720-0077. English speakers are available to help you.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Portugal is 112. For social welfare emergencies such as domestic violence or child abuse dial 144. English-speaking operators are available.
There is also a SOS immigrant line with English speaking operators ready to help you in case of emergency. You may contact them at 351 808 257 257 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Portugal, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own..
Although it is not illegal, it is advisable not to take pictures of military and security sites in Portugal. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy bootleg or pirated goods.Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Portugal, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Possession and use of narcotic drugs is an administrative offense in Portugal, and users can face mandatory drug treatment. Penalties for trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and offenders can expect long jail sentences.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Portuguese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or exportation from Portugal of such items as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples, and other items. It is advisable to contact a Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Portugal's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/ Temporary Admission) carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of The Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA carnet in the United States. For additional information, please e-mail, or visit the United States Council for International Business for details.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Portugal, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations considerably different from what is available in the United States. General information on this subject is available on the website of Portugal’s Tourism Board.
Public transportation: Public transportation vehicles in general have specially reserved seats for individuals with disabilities, but some vehicles may not be equipped to load and secure wheelchairs mechanically.
Trains: The State Railway Operator, Caminhos do Ferro Portugueses (CP) has a service called “integrated mobility service” (SIM) aimed at helping passengers with reduced mobility. English-speaking customer service representatives can be reached by phone at 351 808 208 746 (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday-Friday). SIM staff provide for train and station accessibility; assistance during boarding/exiting or during the train ride; and they also assist with trip planning. Some train stations are equipped with elevators. Note that while SIM service is free of charge, requests for information or assistance must be made at least 48 hours before travel. Additionally, CP offers discounts to residents of Portugal of up to 25 percent upon presentation of the “cartão do deficiente” (disabled person’s card). The card is available from CP ticket offices and is valid for two years. To qualify, applicants must have a Portuguese taxpayer ID number and provide certified proof of disability and proof of annual income. For additional information, please visit CP’s website.
Subway (Metro): Thirty-one of Lisbon Metro’s 52 stations offer full accessibility to people with disabilities. There are no reduced fares for passengers with disabilities. There are, however, elevators and moving walkways at main stations that provide access from the platform to street level, as well as payment machines adapted for passengers with disabilities and/or visual impairment. Passengers with visual disabilities can travel with their guide dogs as long as their service animals are leashed and muzzled. Check Lisbon Metro’s website for more information.
Porto’s new metro system affords accessibility for passengers with disabilities system-wide with a network of elevators, ramps, and spaces for wheelchairs onboard metro cars. Check Porto Metro’s website for more information about accessibility available only in Portuguese.
Airports: All Portuguese airports provide wheelchairs and bathrooms to accommodate disabilities.
Parking: Parking for people with disabilities, designated with a wheelchair symbol, is available in most supermarkets and commercial centers. Some lots offer free parking to vehicles displaying a disabled parking sign. There are no discounts for street parking.
The National Help Line for the Disabled (Linha Nacional de Apoio à Deficiência) can be reached by phone at 35121 795-9545 (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday). Assistance is only available in Portuguese.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical care is available, but facilities may be limited outside urban areas. Public hospitals offer services at costs
lower than private hospitals, but sometimes do not maintain the same comforts as hospitals in the United States. You should
obtain insurance that covers medical services from a private Portuguese hospital or clinic. Private hospitals will ask for
a credit card or other form of payment upon admission. In a life-threatening emergency, you can ask for a public ambulance
by calling the national emergency response telephone number, 112. On the other hand, private ambulances should only be used
for transport, not life-threatening emergencies, and usually require on-the-spot payment. Note that the responsiveness of emergency services is not up to U.S. standards.
Prescription Medicines: Travelers sometimes request that relatives or friends in the United States mail prescription medicines to them in Portugal, but doing so violates Portuguese law and usually results in the shipment of medications being impounded by the Portuguese customs office. When this occurs, your medications may not be released. If you use prescription medicine, you must bring a sufficient supply with you to cover your anticipated stay in Portugal, along with a copy of your physician's prescription. Should an unforeseen need for prescription refills or new medications arise, Portuguese pharmacies generally carry equivalent medications to those found in the United States; however, they may be sold under a different brand, may not be available in the same dosage, and may require a prescription from a local doctor.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website., which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Portugal, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
While Portugal has significantly expanded its motorway network with well-constructed roads, leading to a resulting decrease in accidents and fatalities, its road-accident fatality rate is still higher than the EU average, according to Eurostat. You should use caution, as aggressive driving habits and high speeds pose special hazards. Use appropriate care and caution while on the roadways, practice safe driving habits, and adhere to the applicable speed limits.
Fines for traffic offenses are substantial in Portugal. Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the use of mobile phones while driving are heavily penalized. Use of seatbelts is mandatory for drivers and passengers. Small children must be in child safety seats with the seatbelts fastened in the back of your car. The police in continental Portugal have the authority to fine on-the-spot and most of their vehicles have portable ATM machines to facilitate immediate payment.
Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, but are subject to the same road conditions listed above. Refer to the crime section of this page to alert yourself to other threats relating to taxis.
Buses are reliable.
In the Azores, driving can be challenging due to narrow cobblestone streets, blind curves, blind corners, and herds of cows on country roads. In contrast to the situation on the Portuguese mainland, payments are not made on the spot; traffic violations are registered by radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service. Taxis do not have meters; the fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled. Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7 a.m. and generally operate until 8 p.m., depending on the destination.
U.S. citizen visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months. For international driving permits, please contact AAA or the National Auto Club.
Please also refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
For specific information concerning Portuguese driver's permits, road safety, vehicle inspection and mandatory insurance, please contact the Portuguese National Tourist Office located in the U.S. by telephone at (800) 767-8842 or visit the website for the Institute of Mobility and Land Transport.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Portugal’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Portugal’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Portugal dated November 8, 2011.