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Safety and Security tips for British Citizens Traveling to Portugal

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Road travel

According to the Department for Transport, there were 495 road fatalities in Portugal in 2020 (source: Department for Transport). This is a 4.8 road death per 100,000 people. It compares with the UK’s average of 2.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020.

Documents and licenses

If you have a British driving license, it is possible to use it in Portugal. If you are going to Portugal by car, you can use the same license to travel around the country once you have entered the border. Portugal is a fascinating place to visit, and traveling by car can further your experience in the country.

Driving a British car abroad

To drive outside of the UK, you may require a UK sticker. UK stickers replaced the GB stickers on 28 September 2021. For more information about what to do if driving outside of the UK, visit the GOV.UK Displaying number plate website.

Driving regulations

Driving is on your right. You can check the cost of tolls and ensure that your vehicle insurance is comprehensive if you rent a car.

Portugal: Bringing your vehicle

You can bring your vehicle to Portugal as a tourist for up to 183 days during any 12 months. Your vehicle must be used only for tourism, and you cannot loan it to others. To legally import the car if you plan to stay longer, you must apply to the Portuguese Customs authority. If you are found without your vehicle, you will be penalized.

Local travel


It can be challenging to walk the levadas (ancient irrigation canals). Only choose the ones that suit your level of fitness and experience. You should be prepared for uneven, narrow paths and high elevations. Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy walking shoes.

You can leave details about your destination with the hotel reception. Also, bring your mobile phone. You can also join a group of walkers to go with a guide. You should take extra precautions if it has rained, as the ground can be slippery and unstable. Before you set off, check with your local organizer or tour guide.

Swimming and beaches

Every year, drownings occur on beaches in Portugal and swimming pools. The Maritime Police has the power to acceptable bathers who ignore the warning flags of the lifeguards.

Beach warning flags should be taken seriously. Red flags indicate danger. Never enter the water if the flag is flying. A yellow flag means you can swim but cannot paddle at the water’s edge. The green flag signifies that it’s safe to swim, and the chequered flag that the beach is temporarily closed. If jellyfish are found, follow local advice.

Be careful when walking along unsupervised beaches close to the water’s edge. Waves can be unpredictable, and there is often a strong undertow.

Avoid beaches that connect to/from rivers or beaches without lifeguards. Do not dive into unmarked waters as hidden rocks and shallow depths could cause severe injury or even death.

Watch out for warning signs about cliff erosion. Falling rocks pose a danger, especially in the Algarve. Those who ignore warning signs could be fined.