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Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated - removal of U.S. Travel Alert for the holiday season.
Portugal - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Portugal. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Violent crimes toward tourists are rare in Portugal. Non-violent petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, however, are on the rise. The petty thieves are very skilled, and often work in groups. Be vigilant in public areas, all tourist attractions, beaches, restaurants, hotel lobbies, bus stations, train stations and airports.
In Lisbon, exercise caution at all train and underground stations, and particularly on electric trams numbered E28, to Castelo de São Jorge; E25, to Prazeres; and E15, to Belém.
Exercise caution when travelling to Queluz and Sintra, to visit the castles and palaces, as well as to the Costa da Caparica beach, south of Lisbon. If visiting the Estoril coast and the village of Cascais, be especially careful at Guincho Beach, Cabo da Roca and Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell).
In Porto, do not walk alone after dark, especially along the waterfront of the Douro River.
Do not let your guard down outside of the main cities, as thieves may be watching and can strike anywhere. Be especially careful in the Algarve region in such towns as Lagos and Albufeira, as well as in small coastal towns along and up to the north side of the country, such as Aljezur, Nazaré, Ericeira and Peniche, where petty crimes have been reported.
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, Portimão and Cascais.
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. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Rental cars and vehicles with foreign licence plates are frequently targeted for break-ins. Avoid leaving personal items and documents (especially passports) in plain sight in a vehicle.
If you experience car trouble, stop at a gas station or rest stop, if possible. If you must stop unexpectedly, be aware of your immediate surroundings and keep a careful watch on bystanders, including those who offer to help.
Be suspicious of anyone signalling you to stop on roads or highways. Thieves have been known to use this tactic to steal valuables, unattended bags and even the vehicle.
Incidents of thieves on motorcycles slashing rental car tires when the car is stopped at an intersection have been reported. This forces the vehicle to stop on the side of the road and allows for the thieves to approach and distract the passengers by offering assistance, while another steals belongings that are within reach. If this occurs, when possible, lock your doors and call your rental car agency or emergency services from within the car. Avoid opening your window, unlocking the car or stepping out of the vehicle. Official assistance and road monitoring vehicles are present on Portuguese highways and will come to your assistance. When possible, wait for the police to arrive.
Do not open the trunk before you finish parking when you arrive at your destination; this prevents thieves from knowing what is hidden in the trunk.
Whenever possible, use secure parking facilities, especially overnight. Do not leave your vehicle unattended and ensure that windows are closed and doors are locked at all times.
Excessive speeds, unpredictable driving habits and reckless motorcyclists create hazards. Be aware that slow-moving machinery may be found travelling on rural and national roads.
Local and inter-city train and bus services are good.
Taxis are widely available. Confirm the fare prior to getting into the taxi or ensure that the meter is used.
A ferry runs between the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
A tourism information kiosk in the arrivals area of the Lisbon airport offers a wide range of tourism information, including expected taxi fares, and sells taxi vouchers at standardized prices for many locations in the city and metro area. Use a taxi from the queue or kiosk and do not accept rides from someone who approaches you.
Daily domestic flights link the mainland to the islands of the Azores, as well as to Madeira.
Demonstrations occur frequently in larger urban centres and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Beaches and water activities
While beaches are generally considered safe, do not leave your personal belongings unattended.
During the summer months, deaths by drowning have occurred on beaches and in swimming pools. Take warning flags on beaches seriously. The Portuguese Maritime Police have the authority to fine bathers who disobey the lifeguard’s warning flags. Don’t swim at beaches that link to/from rivers, as the water currents can be very strong. 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. Do not 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.
General safety information
You must carry identification at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings and passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Pay attention to your surroundings, avoid showing signs of affluence and do not carry large sums of cash. If possible, carry only the documents, cash and belongings you will need for the day, and leave all other items in a hotel safe.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Portuguese authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Portugal or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket.
Upon entry into Portugal, non-European Union (EU) foreign nationals that will be staying in non-commercial accommodation and have transited through another Schengen country by air en route to Portugal must register their entry at any immigration office, or police station if entering by a land border, within three business days of arriving in the country.
Portugal is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Business visa: Not required for stays up 90 days*
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel. For more information, see Schengen area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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. Advance payment is required. Keep all receipts of payment to reclaim expenses if you have travel insurance.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Portugal are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Portugal. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Portuguese citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Portuguese passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
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. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and a jail sentence.
The use of mobile telephones while driving is illegal, unless the phone is fitted with a hands-free device.
A reflective vest and warning triangle are mandatory in all vehicles. They must be used immediately if you are in an accident or stop your car by the side of the road.
Use of low-beam headlights is obligatory at all times.
Traffic violations may be registered by radar and tickets sent to the offender by mail.
Fines for traffic violations are substantial and must be paid on the spot, or the vehicle can be impounded until the fine is paid.
As in many European countries, toll stations are set up on highways.
The currency of Portugal is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards are widely accepted and automated banking machines are widely available.
Traveller’s cheques are no longer commonly used but can be exchanged in local banks; a processing fee may be applied. The euro is the recommended currency for traveller’s cheques.
If you are carrying at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon your entry or exit to the EU. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU country sites, see the European Commission’s Cash Controls.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Forest fires are common during summer months. Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence, punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment.
Heavy rain and wind storms may occur in the fall and winter months with the extreme weather changes.
Portugal is located in an active seismic zone. While seismic activity is rare, it can be devastating.
For up-to-date information, visit the National Authority for Civil Protection’s website.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Lisbon - Embassy of Canada
Faro - Consulate of Canada
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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