Portugal - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.

Last published date: 2023-01-06

Business Customs

Portugal is a democratic republic located on the Iberian Peninsula in south-western Europe and is the western-most country in continental Europe. Portugal is bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. In addition, Portugal includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic, the Azores and Madeira Islands.

The Portuguese business community is very formal; titles such as Doctor, Engineer, and Architect are commonly used. Make sure you ask the title of the person with whom you are meeting and always use it before the person’s last name. Writing in red ink is considered an insult and, therefore, never used in the business community. When greeting a businessperson, a handshake is proper. Courtesy, in business and other spheres, is expected and easily extended. Legal contracts don’t have the strength in business associations that personal confidence, built over years of experience, offers. Aggressiveness is not acceptable in marketing because it may be interpreted as socially offensive. Pragmatism, of the American variety, is respected but only when presented as a possible option, not as a hard sell.

In terms of everyday business the Portuguese are outstanding and civil. They respect the time of their appointments and expect the same from others. They are thorough to a fault, often poring over all documents relative to a negotiation, and not eager “to just hit the highlights.” This is done partly to be careful (conservative) but also to demonstrate their grasp of the matter - exhibiting pedantic merit rather than pragmatic merit.

The quality of housing in Portugal is of European standards but so are rents. Executive location costs in Portugal are now in the same category as any major commercial center in the European Union. Food supplies are plentiful though there are seasonal variations in prices for perishable items. Supermarkets are fully stocked. Prices are very close to those found in the United States and often exceed them for packaged goods.

Travel Advisory

For Portugal’s information, please visit the State Department’s travel advisory

Visa requirements

Portugal is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa within any 180-day period. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet and the State Department Portugal Information.  

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website.

Currency

ATMs are commonplace in cities and towns throughtout Portugal, both on street, in retail outlets and gas stations and visitors should be aware that bank transaction fees may apply, including foreign transaction fees and conversion fees.  Traveler’s checks are not generally accepted for purchases. 

For currency or other numerical quantities, a decimal point (period) is commonly used to mark off the thousands position and a comma to denote decimal amounts – unlike the practice in the United States.

Telecommunications/Electronics

Portugal is a fully “wired” country with regard to communications, making available all the services found anywhere else in Europe: long-distance calls on Stateside credit cards; cellular telephones (can be rented from Vodafone at the airport departures area); video-conferencing in state-of-the-art facilities; Internet services; e-mail, etc. In Europe, Electrical sockets can be either “Type C” Europlug or “Type E” and “Type F” Schuko. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets make sure that you bring a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Portugal Electrical sockets usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. The ATM system in Portugal is one of the best in the world, as it enables you to do most payments and money transfers at an ATM terminal anywhere in Portugal.

Transportation

Portugal has direct airline connections from Lisbon, Porto and Ponta Delgada hubs to all major cities in the European Union, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Newark, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, DC. Direct connections also exist between Lisbon and a number of Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and major cities in Brazil. Travelers should verify the status of routes prior to trip planning as airlines have suspended and/or made modifications as a result of the pandemic.

Language

Many Portuguese speak two, often three or four languages. English is the second language of choice followed by Spanish and French. American business travelers can generally conduct their meetings with business and government contacts in English.

Health

Health care in Portugal is a constitutional right, but the public health facilities are overburdened and, therefore, not able to offer the level of service considered normal in the United States. There are a number of private clinics and small private hospitals that are adequate, plus there are several new hospitals planned to be built in the near future to offer better conditions to patients.

Portugal has a National Vaccination Plan which is universally available and free of charge to everyone. Babies born in Portugal are routinely given vaccinations at birth and then they follow a calendar of regular vaccinations during their first six months. There are no special immunizations or medications necessary for most trips to Portugal. However, it is recommended the revaccination every 10 years for Tetanus-diphtheria.

Local time, business hours, and holidays

Listed below are the American and Portuguese holidays which will be observed by the American Embassy in Lisbon in 2022.

U.S Embassy Lisbon Holiday Calendar

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Personal belongings may enter the country without barriers imposed by Portuguese Customs. If Portuguese Customs see that personal belongings are of very high value (such as jewelry, and other high end electronic material) they may require a monetary guarantee that will be reimbursed when leaving the country.

Entry of materials meant to be distributed at trade shows such as promotional literature, gadgets, tourism and technical information and brochures may enter the country but the company carrying these will have to fill out a customs request to bring them into the country and hand them out.

Companies that plan to temporarily bring materials and equipment not for sale will be requested to fill out a formal request of Temporary Importation of Products.

The Portuguese Customs Authority supplies this form upon entering the country. This will enable the U.S. company to take the equipment back without having to pay customs. If the equipment is sold while in Portugal, the U.S. company will have to pay the duties related to the specific equipment.