Portugal Basics

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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.

Money: The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. There are numerous banks, bureaux de change and ATMs available in main cities and tourist destinations. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and automatic currency exchange machines. Banking hours are generally 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday. Major credit cards are widely accepted.

Currency Exchange Rates

EUR1.00 = USD 1.11GBP 0.86CAD 1.45AUD 1.62ZAR 16.16EUR 1.00NZD 1.75
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

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

Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay is required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject', 'British Overseas Territories Citizen', and Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar must be valid for the duration of intended stay. British passports with any other endorsement must be valid for three months beyond period of intended stay. Visas are not required for British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Subjects, and those with Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay, and a Schengen visa.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals do not require a visa to visit Portugal. A passport valid on arrival is required.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors, except EEA member states, must hold tickets and documents for their return or onward journey, and proof of paid accommodation (equivalent in convertible currency accepted). The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no health risks attached to travel 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, including the UK, whose citizens can receive low-cost emergency care at state hospitals. It is advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and medical insurance is therefore advised.

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

Safety Information: Generally, safety is not a problem for travel in Portugal but there is a rising incidence of petty theft and pick pocketing in tourist areas, so reasonable care should be taken. Portugal has a very poor road safety record so exercise caution and drive defensively when exploring in a rented car.

Local Customs: It is a legal requirement for foreigners to show some form of identification on request.

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 ('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, and should not ordinarily be scheduled for times when they might conflict with important family or religious holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.). 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. Pre-paid sim cards can be bought at airports and used in unlocked mobile phones. Wifi is available in most hotels, cafes and some 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.