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Portugal Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

Language

Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood.

Travel Health

There are no health risks when travelling to Portugal. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for entry for anyone travelling from an infected area and destined for the Azores or Madeira. Health facilities are good and reciprocal health agreements exist with most European countries. It's advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and travel insurance is therefore advised.

After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU.

Tipping

Service charges are not usually added to hotel and restaurant bills but it's customary to leave a 10 percent tip. Bar staff and taxi drivers also expect tips, which usually entails rounding up the bill to the nearest Euro.

Safety Information

Generally, safety is not a problem for travel in Portugal but reasonable care should be taken. Road maintenance is fairly poor so exercise caution and drive defensively when driving.

Local Customs

Family is an important pillar of Portuguese society, with familial loyalty overriding everything, even in the corporate environment. Thus it's not uncommon for employers to hire family members as they feel comfortable around those they trust. Self-respect through appearance is also of high importance, with dressing smart for all occasions not a rare occurence. In terms of cuisine, the Portuguese love seafood as well as sweet treats like honey cakes and pasteis. As a nation which is predominately Roman Catholic and conservative, overly exuberant foreigners are frowned upon while lateness and informal etiquette is also considered rude.

Business

Business culture in Portugal observes a strict hierarchical top-down approach to management and leadership. Subordinate employees are expected to do as they are told. Strong business relationships are built on trust between colleagues, and personal connections are important.

Business etiquette is formal yet relaxed. Use titles such as 'Señhor' and 'Señhora' until strictly instructed not to do so, and show deference to those in obvious positions of authority. Business meetings in Portugal must be made by appointment.

The dress code in Portugal is strictly smart and formal - with a strong emphasis placed on presentation. Business hours in Portugal vary, but are generally from 8.30am to 1pm, and 3pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international access code for Portugal is +351, and wifi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants throughout Portugal.

Duty Free

Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarrilos, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22% or 2 litres of liquor less than 22% volume; 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette; other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers.

Our Travel Expert

Steve Masters first visited Portugal in 1989 and, later, lived in Porto for several years before returning to the UK. He speaks the language and is well versed in the culture of Portugal. He currently works on behalf of Rocha Brava, a holiday resort located in the Algarve.

>Read Steve's tips on Portugal
>Ask Steve a question


Become our Portugal Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Portugal travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Portugal or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.