Should You Carry Your Passport With You in Portugal? – Portugal, a very popular travel destination, requires travelers, visitors, and tourists to carry valid photo identification on their person at all times, but it doesn’t have to be the original copy of your passport. Carry your photo identification (international driver’s license, enhanced driver’s license, military ID, etc.) along with a photocopy of your passport. Keep your passport locked up with you in your hotel.
As with several other countries (e.g., Brazil, Greece), no visa is required for American citizens to visit Portugal for up to 90 days, within a 180-day period.
Your passport should be valid for a period of 3 months after the date you intend to leave the country. You’ll likely also be asked to present proof of sufficient funds (a credit card may be used) and a return ticket. Leave 2 pages of your passport for entry stamps.
The country of Portugal (formally known as the Portuguese Republic) is located in southern Europe at the end of the Iberian peninsula, just to the west of Spain, and facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Portugal has historically been influential on Western culture, it features amazing food, picturesque beaches, and architecture and history going back to the 1500s.
Do I Need a Visa to Enter Portugal?
If you’re wondering about whether or not you’ll need a visa to visit Portugal, U.S. citizens can travel there for a brief stay (i.e., touring, business) of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. For short visits within that 6-month period, all you’ll need is your passport, and it should be valid for 90 days after the date you intend to depart Portugal. Upon entry to the country, be ready to present proof of sufficient funds or a credit card and a return ticket.
Check the Embassy of Portugal’s website for the most updated visa information available.
Note that if your accommodations, while you’re in Portugal, are not at a hotel or other similar temporary tourist accommodation, you’re required to register with the Portuguese Immigration Service (SEF) within three business days after your arrival in the country.
You’ll need to download a “declaration of entry” form (declaracão de entrada) from the SEF website and personally submit it to an SEF office. Should you fail to comply with registration requirements, you could incur a relatively hefty fine (between $60 to $160 USD).
Are There Special Requirements For Visiting Portugal With Minors?
The Portuguese government requires foreign minors (< 18 years of age) coming in and out of Portugal to present a notarized authorization letter of parental permission for the minor(s) to travel with any adult(s) who are not legal parents or guardians.
The letter needs to be signed, dated, and notarized, and must include travel dates and reason for travel, as well as details about the adult(s) traveling with the minor(s).
You can find all relevant information regarding traveling with minors to, within, and from Portugal on the Portuguese Immigration Service’s webpage.
How Can I Carry My Passport Safely?
If you happen to be a traveler who insists on carrying the original hardcopy of your passport with you as you tour around your country of choice, it’s a good idea to carry it safely with a security pocket for your pants, or a money/security belt to wear around your waist.
You should also keep a photocopy of your passport locked up at your hotel, and even to carry a photocopy with you securely in another pocket, along with a valid photo identification.
Then, scan your passport, and any travel insurance documentation and email them to yourself so you can easily access them electronically if you need to.
The U.S. State Department strongly recommends treating your passport as you would any other valuable by keeping your passport secure under lock and key at your hotel while traveling. Lost or stolen passports may cause unforeseen travel delays.
Should You Carry a Copy of Your Passport When You Travel Throughout Portugal?
Wondering whether or not you should carry a copy of your passport while traveling within Portugal? Once you’ve cleared airport security/immigration, the Portuguese government does not require travelers to carry their physical passports with them once they’ve arrived.
You should carry a valid form of photo ID with you at all times, as well as a photocopy of your passport. Keep your original passport locked up at your hotel or wherever you’re staying.
Acceptable forms of valid photo identification include an enhanced driver’s license, an international driver’s license, or a military ID to name a few.
Tips for Entry, Exit, and Traveling Through Portugal
1 – Crimes like purse-snatching and pickpocketing are common, especially in popular tourist areas, clubs, restaurants, and public transportation, so be on your guard. Criminals can take advantage of bustling crowds moving about. Avoid standing near the doors on public transportation, as thieves may snatch something from you as the doors open, then disappear into the crowd in the blink of an eye.
2 – Keep doors and windows of rental vehicles locked at all times, with extra caution if the vehicle can be easily accessed from the street or other places. Be extra careful not to leave backpacks, bags, purses, electronics, and other valuables in your rental vehicle when you park, particularly rentals with identifying stickers, as thieves will target them.
3 – Leave extra cash, credit cards, and documents at home or in a safe at your hotel. Avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs in poorly lit and secluded areas, and use a “buddy system” while you’re focused on your ATM withdrawals. Indoor bank ATMs are the safest to use.
4 – Sources indicate that terrorist groups plot possible attacks throughout Europe, and so all European countries are potentially vulnerable to these attacks. Terrorists tend to focus on transportation venues, tourist areas, government facilities, and shopping areas. They also tend to focus on hotels, restaurants, clubs, parks, places of worship, big events, educational campuses, and airports. Be vigilant at all times, and be aware of your surroundings.
5 – Illegal drug sales increase in their activity at night, so beware if approached by anyone in downtown Lisbon, especially in areas with bars and restaurants. Be extra careful of any drinks you may imbibe in at bars or clubs, and never leave your drink unattended.
6 – For using taxis, only use those you hail from a queue or kiosk. Never get in a cab with someone who walks up to you and offers you a ride. For using ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, make sure that the vehicle and driver information in the app match whatever vehicle you are getting into.
7 – While at the beach, never leave personal items or valuables alone.
8 – Always secure your belongings and lock the windows while you’re away from where you’re staying and while sleeping.
Bonus Tip: Be aware of demonstrations that may occur in areas you’re visiting. They could be in response to political or other socioeconomic issues, during international events like the World Cup, and on holidays with political significance, like April 25th (Freedom Day) and October 5th (Republic Day).
9 – Avoid areas near demonstrations and other protests and demonstrations. Even peaceful demonstrations may become violent at times.
10 – It is recommended that all U.S. citizens enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for important alerts, security messages, alerts, and to make it easier to be located during an emergency.
11 – Keep in mind that U.S. citizens are always subject to Portuguese laws while in Portugal. Violation of local laws, whether knowingly or not, can get you arrested, imprisoned, fined, and even told to depart the area.
12 – Note that photographing and filming Portuguese police, military, and certain buildings is illegal and could get you arrested and detained for questioning.
13 – Possession and/or use of illicit drugs can cause you to incur fines, administrative penalties, criminal penalties, mandatory drug treatment, and even prison, depending on what type and quantity of drugs are in question. Criminal prosecution of illegal drug trafficking is severe, with long prison sentences awaiting offenders.
14 – U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Note that your U.S. passport will not get you out of arrest or prosecution.
15 – Note that violation of certain laws can be prosecuted in the United States as well, regardless of whether a crime was perpetrated in Portugal, the U.S., or wherever else (e.g., crimes against minors and seniors).
Victims of any crime in Portugal should immediately contact the local police to file a police report before leaving the country. You should also inform your home country’s embassy or consulate, though local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. Tourists and visitors are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance.
So, Should You Carry Your Passport With You in Portugal?
You’ll need a valid passport to be allowed into Portugal by immigration authorities, but while traveling throughout the country, a photocopy of your passport and some other form of valid photo identification are adequate. It’s a good idea to keep your original passport locked up in your hotel or other accommodations while you’re out and about. U.S. citizens are not required to apply for visas for tourism/business visits lasting up to 90 days.
Make sure you have at least three months of validity on your passport beyond the date of your intended departure. Upon arrival in Portugal, you’ll also need to present proof of having sufficient funds (or credit card) and a return ticket should you be asked to depart the country.