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Portugal Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

The Portuguese government ended a nationwide state of emergency to limit the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak on 3 May. A very gradual relaxation of controls mainly applies to small businesses, with some areas of the Lisbon metropolitan area still subject to tight restrictions. Controls on Portugal’s border with Spain were relaxed on 1 July.The large share of the tourism sector in the economy makes Portugal particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, and activity is expected to contract markedly in 2020 before a gradual recovery in 2021. The aid package established by the government in mid-March (worth 9.4% of GDP) should help to limit the downturn, but will also lead to a substantial widening of the fiscal deficit throughout 2020.Incumbent Prime Minister António Costa’s Socialist Party (Partido Socialista: PS) won a new mandate in the general election on 6 October 2019, strengthening its position from 86 to 106 parliamentary seats, but still without an overall majority. It is thus likely to continue to work with the left-wing Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda: BE) and Unitary Democratic Union (Coligação Democrática Unitária: CDU) to maintain government and policy stability in the next four years. Until the advent of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, this stability reflected a benign external environment and sustained economic growth.Although the new anti-immigration party Chega won its first ever parliamentary seat in the October 2019 general election, it gained only 1.3% of the overall vote, confirming that there are currently no strong indicators suggesting a significant upsurge in populist nationalism or a significant current of Euroscepticism shaping the political environment.

Operational Outlook

Portugal's stable social climate, low crime rate, and high security standards mean that it offers a generally positive operational environment. Recent legislation has aimed to raise education levels, contain nominal wage growth, reduce public-sector bureaucracy, improve infrastructure, and expedite the creation and closure of companies. Excessive bureaucracy remains a problem, however, as does corruption in public works contracts. An unprecedented economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has moderately increased risks of widespread industrial action during 2020. Isolated sectoral strikes over wages and conditions remain more probable and are likely to affect ports, marine cargo, railways, and the public sector.


Portugal does not face an elevated terrorism threat, either domestic or international, and there are no indications that this will change over the 12-month outlook. No group that advocates political violence is currently present in the country, although eight Portuguese men were charged by the Portuguese authorities in late 2019 on suspicion of fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. The most credible terrorism threat is the possibility of a low-capability attack by a lone actor. Although unlikely, such an attack would probably come from jihadist militants. The most likely targets would be state institutions and foreign embassies in Lisbon and public places most frequented by foreign tourists.


The crime rate in Portugal is generally among the lowest in Europe. Violent crime is comparatively rare and, despite a small increase in extortion, declined by 8.6% during 2018, the most recent year for which full data is available. Many of the country's violent crimes are, and are likely to remain, drug-related, given Portugal's status as an important staging post for drug and human trafficking from North Africa and Latin America. Petty crime, including pickpocketing and bag snatching, remains common in tourist areas in central Lisbon and Porto, as well as on these cities' public transport networks. This is generally opportunistic and does not usually involve weapons or violence.

War Risks

The risk of inter-state war is likely to remain very low. The country's principal diplomatic disputes are with neighbouring Spain over uninhabited islands in the Atlantic (Olivenza and the Savage Islands, known as "Ilhas Selvagens" in Portuguese), fishing rights, and environmental concerns. Nonetheless, the strong ongoing commercial relationship between the two, coupled with their shared membership of the EU and NATO, means that any disputes are extremely unlikely to degenerate into armed conflict. Beyond Europe, Portugal's ties with its former colonies, including Angola, are likely to remain stable overall.

Social Stability

Risks of social instability have declined overall since the PS administration first took office in 2015, largely thanks to an economic recovery and the end of Portugal’s bailout programme in 2014. Such developments have enabled the centre-left administration to ease the austerity measures of its predecessor and to increase social welfare spending. A predicted 9.5% decline in GDP during 2020, following the COVID-19 virus pandemic and associated lockdown, is likely to bring an increase in protest risks, especially among public-sector workers. However, such demonstrations are likely to remain small and almost always peaceful.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers entering the country from an endemic zone and wishing to travel to the Azores or Madeira islands.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis B : a vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio : a booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Portugal is struck each year by a number of forest fires, some of which cause significant damage. Always obey safety instructions issued by authorities. From June 1st to September 30th, it is strictly forbidden to create fire in forest zones. This interdiction includes camp fires, barbeques, fireworks and firecrackers, matches, candles, and cigarettes. It is also forbidden to smoke on the roads crossing forest areas.

Furthermore, there is a substantial risk of earthquakes in the country; in 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, which was responsible for the deaths of nearly 100,000 people. Moreover Portugal as well as Acores and Madera can be subject to dangerous storms.

Beach goers should be aware that ocean currents along Portugal's coasts can be dangerously strong. It is advised to strictly follow advise provided by authorities; a fine of EUR 55 is imposed for swimming when a beach flag is red or yellow.  


The quality of public transportation is high. However, it is necessary to be vigilant due to the presence of pickpockets on public transport, especially the Lisbon tramway system (electricos number E25 and E28).

The Portuguese motorway network is in good condition. Most of the country is connected by physical roads, except in very remoted areas or in historical centers. The toll system is entirely electronic. After taking a picture of the license plate, the payment can be done by direct debit or in a post office. This last option is only possible if the license plate is Portuguese. If you are driving a vehicle with a foreign license plate, it is necessary to consult the Portuguese toll website.

Driving in the Acores can be challenging due to the narrow paved streets, blind curves and herds of livestock on countryside roads. Unlike continental Portugal, in the Acores, toll payments cannot be made directly. Violations of road regulations are registered by radar and sent to the offender by mail.

Buses and taxis are reliable. It is advised to check the price of a taxi ride on the meter before paying. It is recommended not to use informal taxi companies. In the Acores, taxis do not have meters: the fare is based on a starting fare price plus an indicated kilometric rate. Buses are inexpensive. The services start at 07:00 and usually finish at 20:00 depending on the destination.

Portugal is served by five international airports: Acores - João Paulo II airport (PDL), Faro (FAO), Lisbon - Humberto Delgado airport (LIS) -, Madera - Cristiano-Ronaldo airport (FNC) and Porto - Porto-Francisco Sá-Carneiro airport (OPO)-.

The Acores (PDL) and Madera (FNC) airports are subject to temporary closures due to strong winds.

Practical Information


Portugal has a Mediterranean climate in the south and an oceanic climate in the north.

The average annual temperature inland is 13°C in the north and 18°C in the south. Springs and summers are generally sunny while autumns are rainy and windy. In the winter temperatures can fall very low in the north of the country (-12°C) while being very high in the summer in the south (44°C). Coastal regions have a milder climate, with temperatures fluctuating between -2°C on the coldest winter mornings to up to 37°C during the summer.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +351
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 112
Ambulance: 112


Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal