Crime and Safety

Portugal’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow possible terrorist groups to enter and exit the country with anonymity. Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possibly near term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security. General strikes and public protests against government austerity measures have occurred sporadically over the last four years. You should avoid areas where these public protests are taking place.

Crime: Crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing and purse snatchers, particularly at popular tourist sites, restaurants, or on public transportation are common. Pickpockets take advantage of crowds getting on and off all forms of public transportation, using the jostling of the crowd as a distraction.

  • Safeguard your passport and identity documents when traveling to or around Portugal. Foreigners who arrive in Portugal without a valid passport will be returned to their point of origin.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take personal security measures to stay safe.
  • Thefts of backpacks, electronics and luggage occur regularly. Do not leave valuables in rental cars.Tourists are frequent victims of petty crime/car break-ins.
  • Avoid using automatic teller machines (ATMs) in isolated or poorly lit areas. Use the buddy system and indoor bank ATMs when possible.
  • Leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe.
  • Drug vending increases at night and travelers are often approached by drug dealers, in the downtown area, especially near the bars and restaurants.
  • Thieves are active on public transportation. Avoid standing near the doors on public transportation, as thieves will often strike just as the train/bus doors open and then dash onto the platform and disappear into the crowd.
  • Always use a taxi from the queue or kiosk.Do not go with someone who walks up to you and offers a ride.
  • Tourist should not leave personal items/valuables unattended while at the beach.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crime to the local police at 112. For social welfare emergencies such as domestic violence or child abuse, dial 144. English speaking operators are available. Contact the U.S. Embassy at +(351) (21) 770-2122 or the Emergency after-hours telephone : +(351) (21)-770-212 2 or +(351) (21) 727-3300. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

  • Portugal has a crime victim’s assistance program, administered through an organization known by its acronym,”APAV”. APAV – (Lisbon) can be reached by telephone at 21 358 79 00 or by email:
  • APAV office hours in Lisbon are weekdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 5:30 p.m.; tel: 351 21 358 79 00, and in Estoril, near Cascais, the office hours are weekdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; tel: 21 466 42 71.  English speakers are available to help you.
  • In Porto, the victims’ assistance program is called: Serviços de Sede (Porto) Rua Aurélio Paz dos Reis 351, 4250-068 Porto, tel. 22 834 68 40 | fax 22 834 68 41

The U.S. Embassy can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

A SOS immigrant line with English speaking operators who are ready to help you in case of emergency. You may contact them at 351 808 257 257 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

For further information: