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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Portugal. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • All Portuguese airports will be affected by 48 hour strike activity on the weekend of 24 - 25 June 2017. Contact your airline or tour operator for the latest information. Anticipate disruptions and plan to arrive at the airport well in advance.
  • A number of bush fires and large forest fires have occurred in central Portugal in the Pedrogão Grande area, causing a number of deaths and injuries. Avoid the affected areas. Monitor local media reports for updates and follow instructions from authorities. See Additional Information.
  • Strikes and demonstrations sometimes disrupt transport services, particularly in Lisbon.  Avoid demonstrations and be ready to adjust your travel plans.  See Local travel.
  • Terrorism is a threat in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Portugal is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Portugal without a visa in some circumstances. 

In other circumstances, you'll need a visa. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service or the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Portugal for up-to-date information.

More information:

Other formalities

Make sure you get a clearly legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area (including Portugal) for the first time. Travellers have 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.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Carry copies of your passport's photograph page with you in case you are stopped by local authorities.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to handover your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between Portugal and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Portugal, you will be fined. You do not need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

The currency of Portugal is the Euro.

Foreign ATM cards are not widely accepted in smaller shops, restaurants, towns or rural areas. There is a daily withdrawal limit of 200 Euros at ATMs in Portugal.

Australian credit cards are generally accepted at larger hotels and shopping centres.  

Safety and security

Crime

You could encounter petty crime, such as bag snatching, pickpocketing and theft from cars. Many thefts occur in restaurants and sidewalk cafes when travellers place bags on the backs of chairs or at their feet. Tourist attractions, public transport (especially the E28 tram to the Castle of Sao Jorge, E25 tram to Prazeres and E15 to Belem), railway stations, cruise terminals, museums, beaches, restaurants and hotel foyers are often targeted by thieves, especially during the peak tourist season of summer.

Thieves who target motorists (often by convincing them to pull over using the pretext of a flat tyre or another problem) often target vehicles with foreign licence plates and rental cars.  Parked cars are also targeted, particularly 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.

Robberies and assaults on foreigners have occurred in Lisbon and the Algarve area, including at popular tourist locations. Foreigners have also been robbed and sexually assaulted after having their drinks 'spiked' at night clubs.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in places frequented by tourists.
  • Always keep your car doors locked and keep luggage and personal possessions out of sight – when driving and when parked.
  • Whenever you can, use a secure parking facility, especially overnight. Don't leave your vehicle unattended for long periods of time.
  • Avoid using hire cars with decals or rental company stickers on the outside of the vehicle.
  • Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location. Keep your passport and other identity documents separate from each other.
  • Avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid ATMs that open onto the street, especially at night. Use ATMS in banks, shops and shopping centres.
  • Avoid walking in quiet and poorly lit streets, especially at night.
  • Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
  • Stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs.
  • Include a card with your contact details in your wallet/purse. Tourist police in Portugal will always attempt to contact you if lost/stolen property is handed in to police stations.
  • Beware of scams involving the sale of fake tickets to attractions such as monuments and museums in the popular area of Belem. Only use official websites or tickets purchaced at the door.
  • Accommodation scams, particularly in the Algarve, have also been reported and are on the rise.
  • Keep an eye on local sources of information on crime.

Civil unrest and political tension

General strikes and public demonstrations are common in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon and Porto. Transport services, including buses, trains, metro, ferries and flights, can be affected. Demonstrations and other large public gatherings can turn violent.

  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations where possible.
  • Keep an eye on the local news and other sources for information on planned and possible unrest.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Contact your travel or tour operator for information on your transport service.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Europe. In recent years, terrorists have staged attacks in a number of European cities, including Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Moscow, Nice, Paris, St Petersburg and Stockholm. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Keep an eye on the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. While the impact on Portugal has been limited, be sure to carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone. Check border conditions through local news sources and transport providers directly.

Beaches and swimming

Deaths by drowning occur every year on Portuguese beaches and in swimming pools. You could be fined if you disobey lifeguard warnings or flags.

Never leave belongings unattended on the beach. Youth gangs have been known to congregate along the beaches between Lisbon and Cascais and occasionally have robbed beach-goers.

Take warning flags on beaches seriously. The red flag indicates danger; never enter the water when the red flag is flying. The yellow flag indicates you may paddle at the water's edge, but not swim. The green flag indicates that it is safe to swim. The chequered flag means that the beach is temporarily unattended.

Pay attention to signs warning of cliff erosion and remain behind the barriers at viewing spots. Falling rocks are a hazard, particularly in the Algarve. You could be fined if you ignore warning signs.

Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.

Road travel

Portugal has a high rate of motor vehicle accidents and road fatalities. Hazards include unpredictable local driving habits, vehicles travelling at excessive speed on motorways, poorly marked secondary roads, narrow cobblestone streets, blind corners, poor lighting and wandering livestock in rural areas, including in the Azores. There are occasional rock falls on regional coastal roads.

By law, all traffic accidents must 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.

More information: Road travel

Drivers licence

You can drive for up to six months with a valid Australian driver's licence, provided you also have  either an official Portuguese translation of your licence or an international driving permit.

More information:

Taxis

Taxis are generally reliable but there have been reports of taxi drivers overcharging, threatening and harassing passengers at Lisbon airport. Some ride-sharing services such as Uber are legal in Portugal, but they are the subject of ongoing protests by Portuguese taxi groups

  • Take precautions to ensure you are not overcharged.
  • Always ask for a receipt, which must be provided by taxi drivers on request.

Public transport

Public transport is generally safe and reliable.  Queues for tickets can be long.

Sea travel

If you enter Portugal via a sea port, including on a cruise ship, the same visa and other entry requirements apply, regardless of the duration of your stay. See Entry and exit.

Portugal's Maritime Police and Port authorities report that cruise ship passengers are targeted by petty criminals. Pay particular attention to your personal belongings when disembarking from cruise ships or transferring to busses and local transport.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Portugal.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

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.

More information: Drugs

Other laws

Gambling is only legal in establishments licensed by the government, such as official casinos. Games of chance are illegal if held on unlicensed premises. Organisers, participants and anyone on the premises may be arrested, charged with a criminal offence and fined or imprisoned. Check if the establishment you're entering is legally licensed.

You must always carry photo identification that can be shown if requested by police or judicial authorities.

All traffic accidents must 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.


Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

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

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

Prescription medicines for personal use can be imported into Portugal. Take prescription medicines to cover your entire stay with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.  

Portuguese pharmacies generally carry equivalent medications to those found in Australia. 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.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks in Portugal are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

The standard of private medical facilities and care in Portugal's major cities is comparable to Australia. Public facilities, particularly in regional and rural areas vary in standard.

Costs for medical treatment are very high. Payment for medical services is expected at the time of treatment. However, private hospitals may seek confirmation of insurance cover or seek a guarantee of payment before admitting a patient.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 112.   Obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the local police contact the local police at the nearest police station. There are also tourist police stations in Lisbon, Porto, Portimão and Cascais which can be contacted on +351 21 342 1634, +351 21 342 1623 or email: lsbetur@psp.pt.

You can complete a request for a police report online after departing Portugal by contacting the Portuguese Police by email: lsbetur@psp.pt.

If you become a victim of crime, you can also seek support from Portugal's Victims of Crime support unit, 'APAV'.

APAV – (Lisbon)

Rua José Estévão, 135 A, Pisos 1/2
1150-201 Lisbon
Tel: 21 358 7900
Email: apav.sede@apav.pt
Website: APAV Victim Support

Portugal has a National Immigrant Support Centre 'CNAI' providing support to foreigners with resident status in Portugal.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

If you are not satisfied with the response they provide, request the Complaints book (Livro de Reclamacoes).  If the service provider refuses to make the Complaints book available, you can contact local law enforcement authorities (PSP, GNR) or lodge an online complaint on the ASAE website - http://www.asae.pt/ (only in Portuguese).

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Lisbon.

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
Website: portugal.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Portugal

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Portugal is in an active seismic zone and experiences regular earthquakes.

More information:

Bushfires are common during summer months in the inland areas of Portugal. In June 2017, a number of bush fires and large forest fires occurred in central Portugal in the Pedrogão Grande area, causing a number of deaths and injuries. Causing a bushfire is an offence in Portugal, even if unintended.  Visit the Portuguese National Civil Protection Authority website (in English) for more information during bushfire events.

  • Keep an eye on the local news and other sources for information about natural disasters and possible safety risks.
  • If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Additional Resources