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Portugal

If you’re travelling to Portugal, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.     

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Latest Travel Alert

Forest fires in Portugal have claimed the lives of 27 People and injured hundreds. The government declared a state of emergency for regions north of the Tajo River. Wild fires are still burning in many municipalities and fire danger will remain high over the coming days. Monitor local media and follow all instructions from local authorities.

Given recent terrorist attacks in European cities, Irish citizens are advised to follow the advice of police and local authorities and to exercise increased vigilance, especially if attending large public gatherings or other crowded locations. Attacks could occur at any time and could target tourist attractions, restaurants, transport hubs or other public areas.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Portugal by dialling 112.

Our tips for safe travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

Safety and security

Terrorism

Along with other European countries, there is potential for Portugal to experience international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Portugal but you should take sensible precautions. 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Leave your car doors locked and the windows rolled up, both when you park and when driving through urban centres at night
  • Crimes such as pickpocketing, handbag snatching and theft from cars are increasing in main tourist areas including Lisbon and the Algarve. There have also been reports of thefts from safe boxes ­in apartments and hotels.
  • On hikes in remote areas, including pilgrimage walks, we advise that women should not travel alone. Attacks, although rare, are not unknown.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Portugal, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy if you need help.

The Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) is a non-profit organisation with qualified personnel that informs, protects and supports victims of crime with a personalised and confidential service (also available in English). APAV Helpline: 7007202277.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Portugal, be aware that driving regulations and customs are different from those in Ireland. Traffic is faster and the accident rate is much higher. Cars drive on the right side of the road so traffic will be coming from the opposite direction to traffic in Ireland.

If you want to drive:

  • Be aware of Portugal’s traffic laws, such as speed limits. Fines have recently be increased considerably for several offences
  • Never allow children under 12 to travel in the front passenger seat
  • Carry a high-visibility vest and a hazard warning triangle in your vehicle
  • Portugal operates a toll system on its motorways and you risk heavy fines if you don’t or can’t pay toll fees. Don’t use the green lanes at the tolls – they’re reserved for motorists who subscribe to the automatic pay system (Via Verde)

Pedestrians

Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, be careful at crossings on busy roads, as designated crossing places are often poorly marked. Pay particular attention late at night or in busy commercial and entertainment districts in cities such as Lisbon and Porto.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

If you’re caught consuming or carrying drugs for personal use, you may be fined or have your personal belongings seized by the police. Selling or trafficking of drugs is a criminal offence and subject to severe penalties, such as imprisonment.

Personal identification

Under Portuguese law, you must carry identification at all times. We advise you to carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport, and keep the original in a safe place.

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

European Health Insurance Card

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.

Zika Virus

The World Health Organisation has noted that the Portuguese island of Madeira is at high likelihood of being at risk for the Zika virus. People considering travelling to Madeira, should be seek medical advice before travelling. Mainland Portugal has a low likelihood of being at risk for the Zika virus.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

You need a valid passport to visit Portugal. You can enter Portugal up to the date of expiry.

A significant number of citizens have had their passport seized on arrival in Portugal this year due to the fact that they were travelling on a passport that had been reported lost or stolen sometime in the past. Please make sure that the passport you are travelling on has never been reported lost or stolen, as this will produce an alert on the Schengen Information System and your passport will be apprehended by the Portuguese Immigration Authorities on arrival.

Minors travelling from Ireland

In Portugal, unaccompanied minors (travelling alone or with an adult who is not their legal guardian) are sometimes requested for letters of permission when they arrive at immigration in Portugal. The Embassy cannot advise you on this. You should contact the Embassy of Portugal in Dublin before you travel. They can advise on what documents you may need.

Buying property

If you intend to buy property in Portugal, we strongly advise you to consult an independent legal advisor from the beginning of the process.