Portugal

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 07 November 2013.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. The overall level of the advice has not changed.

Portugal overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Portugal.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Strikes and demonstrations, often disrupting transport services, have occurred in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon.
  • There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Portugal for the most up to date information.

Portugal is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with 24 other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Portugal without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for further information.

While in Portugal, if you have any queries regarding entry, visa requirements and extending your stay, please contact the Portuguese Immigration Service.

Travellers have recently reported that some low cost airlines have refused to uplift passengers who were unable to provide proof of entry or have overstayed in the Schengen territory.

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) who are carrying Euros 10,000 or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Civil unrest/political tensions

General strikes and public protests do occur in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon and Porto. Most strikes are of a short duration. Transport services, including buses, trains, metro, ferries and flights, can be affected. You should contact your travel or tour operator for information on your transport service. Check local media for details and latest updates. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they have the potential to turn violent.

Crime

Petty crimes, such as bag snatching, pickpocketing and theft from cars, do occur in Portugal. Travellers should pay close attention to their personal belongings at tourist attractions, public transport (especially the E28 tram to the Castle of Sao Jorge, E25 tram to Prazeres and E15 to Belem), railway stations, museums, beaches, restaurants and hotel foyers.

The incidence of thieves targeting motorists (often by convincing them to pull over using the pretext of a flat tyre or another problem) is on the rise in the Lisbon area. Such thieves particularly target vehicles with foreign licence plates and rental cars. Always keep your car doors locked and keep luggage and personal possessions out of sight from opportunistic theft. While thieves may operate anywhere, particular care should be taken when parking vehicles at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra and beachfront areas of Guincho, Ericeira, Cabo da Roca, Boca do Inferno, and in the Algarve.

While travelling, don’t carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras will make you a tempting target for thieves. Many thefts occur in restaurants and sidewalk cafes, where travellers place bags on the backs of chairs or at their feet.

It is recommended you use ATMs in controlled areas such as within banks, shops and shopping centres and avoid ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night.

There has been an increase in the number of robberies and assaults on foreigners occurring in the Algarve area, particularly at popular tourist locations.

Travellers should be alert to the possible occurrence of ‘drink spiking’ at popular night clubs.

Lock your luggage as a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. The currency of Portugal is the Euro. Credit cards may be not be accepted in smaller towns and rural areas.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Australians are required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Portugal has high rates of motor vehicle accidents and road fatalities. Hazards include unpredictable local driving habits, vehicles travelling at excessive speed on motorways, poorly marked roads, narrow cobblestone streets, blind corners, poor lighting and wandering livestock in rural areas, including in the Azores. Rockfalls can occur on regional, winding coastal roads.

Portuguese law requires that all traffic accidents be reported to the police. There are heavy on-the-spot fines for traffic violations, especially for drink-driving, speeding or using a mobile phone while driving.

Australians in Portugal may drive for up to six months with a valid Australian driver’s licence, accompanied by either an official Portuguese translation or an international driving permit. For information on Portuguese driver’s permits, road safety, vehicle inspection and mandatory insurance, please visit the Institute of Mobility and Land Transport website.

Taxis are a reliable means of transportation but travellers should take appropriate precautions to ensure they are not overcharged. There have been reports of taxi drivers overcharging, threatening and harassing passengers at Lisbon airport.

Public transport, including trains are generally considered safe and reliable.

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Portugal, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

It is a legal requirement to carry photo identification (passport preferred) that can be shown if requested by police or judicial authorities.

The minimum age for driving is 18 years. The use of mobile phones while driving is illegal.

The personal possession and consumption of illicit drugs is an administrative offence which attracts a hefty fine. The selling or trafficking of illegal drugs is a criminal offence and subject to severe penalties, including jail sentences. See our Smartraveller Drugs page for important information.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted on returning home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Portugal recognises dual nationals. For taxation and other purposes, the Portuguese authorities consider a dual national living in Portugal to be Portuguese.

Our Dual Nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of private medical facilities and care in Portugal's major cities is high. Public facilities, particularly in regional and rural areas, however, may vary in standard. Costs for treatment are very expensive. Payment for medical services is expected at the time of treatment. Private hospitals may seek confirmation of insurance cover or seek a guarantee of payment before admitting a patient. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to London would cost between $A16,000 to $A24,000 depending on circumstances.

The phone number for emergency medical services is 112.

Portugal has five decompression chambers available to the public. Two are located on mainland Portugal (one in Lisbon and the other in Oporto); one on Madeira Island (Funchal) and two on the Azores islands (one on Sao Miguel Island and the other on Faial Island).

Dengue fever in Madeira

Health authorities have advised the public to take preventative measures and are implementing controls to reduce the risk of local transmission, and to prevent the export of infected vectors from the island. You should consult your doctor or travel clinic if you intend to travel to the Madeira Island archipelago.

Where to get help

In Portugal you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian Embassy, Lisbon

Victoria Building
Avenida da Liberdade 200 – 2nd Floor
1250-147 LISBON
Telephone +351 21 310 1500
Facsimile +351 21 310 1555
Email: ausemb.lisbon@dfat.gov.au

If you are travelling to Portugal, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Portugal is in an active seismic zone. Further information is available from the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere.

Forest fires are common during summer months in the inland areas of Portugal. You should monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks. Causing a forest fire is treated as an offence in Portugal, even if unintended.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. Information on natural disasters can also be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.