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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Portugal

Portugal - Consular Information Sheet
September 8, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Portugal is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for entry into Portugal. A visa is not required for tourist or business stays of up to 60 days. Portuguese law requires some non-European Union foreign nationals to register with immigration officials within three days of entering Portugal. The law affects those who transit a Schengen country (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands) by air en route to Portugal and stay at noncommercial accommodations. For further information concerning entry requirements for Portugal, travelers may contact the Embassy of Portugal at 2125 Kalorama Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-8610, or the Portuguese consulates in Boston, MA; New Bedford, MA; Providence, RI; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; San Francisco, CA; or Los Angeles, CA.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Portuguese laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Portuguese citizens. U.S. citizens who are considered to have acquired Portuguese citizenship may be subject to certain aspects of Portuguese law such as mandatory voting and military service. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our flyer on dual nationality.

CRIME INFORMATION: Though Portugal has a relatively low rate of violent crime, petty crime against tourists is on the rise in continental Portugal. Travelers may become targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly at popular tourist sites, restaurants, and on public transportation. Rental cars and vehicles with non-local license plates are targets for break-ins, and travelers should remove all luggage from vehicles upon parking. Travelers should also avoid using Automatic Teller Machines in isolated or poorly lit areas. Drivers in continental Portugal should keep car doors locked when stopped at intersections. In general, visitors to Portugal should carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe.

While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of theft from the following areas:

Lisbon Area: Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching in the Lisbon area occur in buses, restaurants, the airport, trains, train stations, and trams, especially tram number twenty-eight to the Castle of Sao Jorge. Gangs of youths have robbed passengers on the Lisbon-Cascais train. At restaurants, thieves snatch items hung over the backs of chairs or placed on the floor. There have been reports of theft of unattended luggage from the Lisbon airport. Special care should be taken at the Santa Apolonia and Rosso train stations, the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, the Castle of Sao Jorge and Belem.

Other Areas: Thefts have been reported in Sintra, Cascais, Mafra and Fatima. Automobile break-ins occur in parking areas at tourist attractions and near restaurants. Special care should be taken in parking at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra; and at the beachfront areas of Guincho, Cabo da Roca, and Boca do Inferno.

Azores: In contrast to continental Portugal, pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are not common occurrences in the Azores. There are no reports of organized crime or gangs.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The emergency number for medical and police assistance is 112. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Medical facilities are available in Portugal, but in some cases they may not meet U.S. standards. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require health care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Plea Please check with your insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or autofax service at (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Portugal is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of roadside Assistance: Good to Fair

Portugal has one of the highest rates of automobile accidents and fatalities in Europe. Portuguese driving habits, high speeds, and poorly marked roads pose special hazards. In continental Portugal, fines for traffic violations are substantial and usually must be paid on the spot. Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, though travelers should pay attention to discrepancies between the meter fare and the amount requested by the driver. Buses are reliable and inexpensive.

In the Azores, driving can be treacherous due to narrow cobblestone streets, blind curves, unprotected embankments, herds of cows in the countryside roads, and the high speeds of other drivers. In contrast to the continent, traffic violations are registered by radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service - payments are not made on the spot. Taxis do not have meters. The fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled. Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7 a.m. and generally operate until 8 p.m. depending on the destination.

U.S. visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months. For international driving permits, please contact AAA in the U.S. at tel. 1-800-222-4357. For specific information concerning Portuguese driver's permits, vehicle inspection and mandatory insurance, please contact the Portuguese National Tourist Office by telephone at 1-800-767-8842 or via the Internet at http://www.portugal.org.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Portugal's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Portugal's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Portuguese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Portugal of such items as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, D.C. or one of the Portuguese consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding Customs requirements. Portugal's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Portuguese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Portugal are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Portugal has a history of infrequent but severe seismic activity. Responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Portuguese authorities. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www/fema.gov.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov.children's_issues.html or telephone(202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting Portugal may register at the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon and obtain updated information on travel and security within Portugal. The Embassy is located on Avenida das Forηas Armadas,Sete Rios, telephone (351)(21) 727-3300, fax (351)(21) 726-9109, Internet home page: http://www.american-embassy.pt. The U.S. Consulate is located in Ponta Delgada on the island of San Miguel in the Azores. The address is Avenida D. Henrique, telephone (351)(96) 282216/ 7/ 8/ 9. There is also a Consular Agency located in Funchal, Madeira, on Rua Tentente Coronel Sarmento,Ed. Infante, Bloco b-4 Andar, Apt. B, 9000 Funchal, telephone (351)(29) 174-3429 orFax (351)(29) 174-3808, open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

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