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Portugal - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Portugal.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, occurs. Thieves are very skilled and often work in groups. Be particularly vigilant in these public areas:
- all tourist sites and attractions
- hotel lobbies
- transportation hubs, including bus and train stations
While crime occurs mostly in larger cities, thieves can strike anywhere, including in small towns popular with tourists and, in particular, towns along the coast. Be particularly careful in the greater area of Lisbon:
- Sintra, and particularly Queluz
- Costa da Caparica beaches
- Guincho beach
- village of Cascais
- Cabo da Roca and Boca do inferno
Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Pay attention to your surroundings, avoid wearing or carrying expensive watches, jewellery, cameras, etc. and do not carry large sums of cash. If possible, carry only the documents, cash and belongings you will need for the day; leave all other items in a hotel safe.
In Lisbon, exercise caution at all train and underground stations, and particularly on electric trams numbered E28, to Castelo de São Jorge (São Jorge castle); E25, to Prazeres; and E15, to Belém.
In Porto, do not walk alone after dark, especially along the Duoro River waterfront.
If you are robbed, go to the nearest police station to report the crime and obtain a police report. There are tourist police stations in Lisbon, Porto, Praia da Rocha (Portimão) and Cascais. Local establishments, such as hotels will be able to direct you to the police station.
Violent crime targeting tourists is rare in Portugal.
On the road
Theft from cars occurs. Thieves often target rental cars and vehicles with foreign licence plates. Don’t leave personal items and documents (especially passports) in plain sight in a vehicle.
Use secure parking facilities, particularly overnight. Ensure windows are closed and doors are locked at all times. As a precaution, remove or place items in the trunk of your vehicle before arriving and parking at your destination. This will avoid criminals from knowing what valuables are in there.
Be suspicious of anyone (outside of police) signalling you to stop on roads or highways. Thieves use this tactic to steal valuables, unattended bags and even the vehicle.
If you experience car trouble, stop at a gas station or rest stop. Be aware of your immediate surroundings and keep a careful watch on bystanders, including those who offer to help.
Official assistance and road monitoring vehicles are present on Portuguese highways. They will come to your assistance. When possible, wait for these service providers to arrive or if you are in sight of an SOS phone (which are spread along the highways), use it to call for help.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave your drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. Drugs may be present that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities and further attacks are likely.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
Excessive speeds, tailgating, unpredictable driving habits and reckless motorcyclists pose hazards. Slow-moving machinery can also pose a hazard and you may come across them in both rural and national roads.
When walking around in the cities, be careful with the uneven and often slippery pavement “calçada”. Cross only at pedestrian cross walks. Always be alert and make sure vehicles have stopped before crossing.
Public transportation is generally safe.
When using taxis, particularly from the Lisbon Airport into the city, confirm the fare prior to getting into the taxi. You should also make sure the meter is used, so that you are not over charged.
Taxi drivers normally turn off the meter when they leave the city limits. Once the driver turns off the meter, the fare is calculated by kilometre. This rate along with baggage rates should be posted somewhere in the vehicle. Take note of the number or licence plate of the taxi in case you need to report unsatisfactory service, reckless driving or if you leave items behind by accident.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Demonstrations and labour disruptions
Demonstrations and labour disruptions can occur in larger urban centres. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Beaches and water activities
Always obey warning flags at beaches, lakes and rivers. The main warning flags used in Portugal are:
- Green: calm waters, swimming allowed
- Yellow: agitated waters, no swimming allowed
- Red: dangerous waters, it is forbidden to swim or enter the water
- Checkered black and white: life guard is temporarily off duty
The flags are there for your own safety. The Portuguese Maritime Police could fine you for disobeying a flag.
Don’t dive into unknown water, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death.
In the fall and winter months, be cautious when walking along beaches close to the water’s edge because waves can be very unpredictable in size and may come onto shore further than expected and with strong undertows.
Don’t visit beaches or coastal areas during periods of severe weather warnings. Exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Look out for signs warning of cliff erosion. Falling rocks are a hazard, and authorities can fine those who ignore warning signs.
In marine areas, coral, jellyfish and other ocean life found along reefs can poison, sting or cause infection if touched or stepped on. Ask local authorities about the presence of such species and whether they are dangerous. If you get hurt, immediately seek medical assistance.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Portuguese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Portugal is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days (see Schengen area for details)
Business visa: Not required for stays up 90 days (see Schengen area for details)
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
If you arrive in Portugal from a Schengen area country and you are staying in private accommodations, you must register your presence in the country within 3 business days of arrival. You can register at any immigration office or police station.
Customs officials may ask you to show them proof of a return ticket.
Chilren and travel
Minors, under the age of 18, who are travelling alone must carry an authorization letter from the parent or parents not travelling. The letter must indicate who will be taking care of the minor during their stay in Portugal, and specific dates of travel.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Europe - December 5, 2017
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are generally good in major centres but may be limited in rural areas. Many private hospitals and clinics exist throughout the country. Some require advance payment prior to treatment. Keep all receipts of payment to reclaim expenses from your travel insurance company.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and Portugal are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Portugal to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Portuguese authorities.
You must carry photo ID when in Portugal. To minimize the risk of your passport getting lost or stolen, carry a photocopy of your passport or other form of valid photo ID with you. Leave your passport in a safe location. If required, the police may escort you to retrieve your passport from safekeeping.
If you carry your passport as official ID, keep a photocopy or digital copy in a separate, safe place, should the original be lost or seized.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Portugal.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Portugal, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Penalties for selling or trafficking illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Illegal or restricted activities
It is illegal to film or photograph police and military, as well as certain government buildings. Offenders could be detained or arrested.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a car in Portugal.
You can drive using a Canadian driver’s licence for up to 180 days.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, car seizure and a jail sentence.
In some areas, traffic radar registers violations and municipalities send tickets to the offender by mail. This includes out-of-country offenders. Fines for traffic violations are substantial. If you are stopped by a police officer, you must pay the fine on the spot or the vehicle may be impounded until the fine is paid.
The use of mobile telephones while driving is illegal, unless the phone is fitted with a hands-free device.
The use of a seatbelt is mandatory for the driver and all passengers in a car. Children up to 135 cm tall or under 12 years old must ride in appropriate car seats.
You must use low-beam headlights at all times.
If you are involved in an accident, you must not move the vehicle and you must immediately report the accident to the police.
In case of car trouble or an accident, you must immediately wear the reflective vest that is found in all vehicles and set up and place the warning triangle up to 30 meters behind the vehicle. These items are mandatory in all vehicles.
More information about driving in Portugal - European Commission
The currency of Portugal is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are widely available.
If you are carrying more than €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon your entry or exit to the European Union. The sum can be in cash, cheque, money order, traveller’s cheque or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
More information about cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
High temperatures can create dry conditions, which can lead to large fires throughout continental Portugal. Fires can cause disruptions to communications and transportation networks. They can also cause road (including major highway) closures.
In case of fire, stay away from the affected area. Always follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel. Monitor local media for up-to-date information.
The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and affect travellers with respiratory ailments.
Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence, punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment.
Extreme weather changes result in heavy rain and wind storms in the fall and winter months. Rogue waves pose a hazard along the entire west coast.
Portugal is located in an active seismic zone. While seismic activity is rare, it can be devastating.
Information about active events (primarily in Portuguese) - Portugal’s National Authority for Civil Protection
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Lisbon - Embassy of Canada
Faro - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Lisbon and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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