Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Portugal’s Safety and Security

Is Portugal Safe?

Portugal, celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes, rich historical heritage, and lively culture, has steadily become a popular destination for expatriates from around the world, including a significant number of US citizens.

From its low crime rates and efficient law enforcement to its excellent healthcare system and welcoming communities, Portugal provides a secure and enriching environment for US citizens considering relocation.

Whether you are seeking a peaceful retirement, a vibrant cultural experience, or a new place to work remotely, Portugal’s robust safety and security measures ensure you can fully embrace and enjoy your new life.

If you are a US citizen considering a move to Portugal, understanding the safety and security landscape is crucial. Here’s a detailed look at what makes Portugal a secure and attractive option for relocation.

1. Exceptionally Low Crime Rates

Portugal is renowned for its low crime rates, consistently ranking high on the Global Peace Index—Portugal is often listed among the top ten safest countries globally. The overall crime rate is relatively low when measured against other European countries. Violent crime is rare, and petty crimes such as pickpocketing, while present in tourist areas, are not pervasive. For US citizens accustomed to varying levels of urban crime, Portugal undoubtedly offers a refreshing contrast with its general sense of safety.

Portugal Visas & Immigration
We Can Help!

[email protected]

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.

2. Reliable and Efficient Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement in Portugal

Portugal has an efficient and professional law enforcement system. The country’s police forces, including the Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard (GNR), are well-trained and equipped to handle various security situations. They are visible in urban areas, especially in tourist hotspots, ensuring a swift response to incidents and providing a reassuring presence.

3. Comprehensive Healthcare and Emergency Services

Portugal’s healthcare system is robust and highly regarded (more information here), and medical facilities are equipped to handle various health issues. Both public and private healthcare services are of high quality, with the public system accessible to residents and offering comprehensive coverage. In emergencies, the response time of medical services is commendable, and emergency numbers are easily reachable. US citizens moving to Portugal can feel reassured by the availability of excellent healthcare options.

4. Stable and Peaceful Political Environment

Portugal enjoys a stable political climate, with a democratic government that prioritizes safety and public welfare. Political stability reduces the likelihood of civil unrest or violence, making the country a peaceful place to live and visit.

5. Safe and Efficient Travel Infrastructure

Portugal’s transportation infrastructure is modern and well-maintained. Roads are typically in good condition, and public transportation options, such as buses, trams, and trains, are both reliable and safe. Major cities have well-developed public transit systems, making intercity travel convenient and secure. Airports and major transportation hubs maintain strict security measures, enhancing the overall sense of safety. Refer to our article on Portugal’s Public Transportation System here.

6. Welcoming Community and Social Cohesion

Portuguese society is known for its friendliness and hospitality. Its strong sense of community, social cohesion, and collective vigilance help maintain a secure environment. This communal spirit enhances personal safety and creates a supportive environment for newcomers.

7. Natural Disaster Preparedness

While Portugal does face natural hazards such as earthquakes (small and not often) and forest fires, the country has effective preparedness and response systems in place. The government invests in disaster risk reduction and has robust emergency protocols in place. Public awareness campaigns educate residents and tourists on how to respond during such events, minimizing risks and ensuring safety.

Portugal Visas & Immigration
We Can Help!

[email protected]

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.

Comparing Safety: Portugal vs. the US

Portugal and USA Safety

Like we said before, for US expats considering a move to Portugal, understanding the safety and security landscape, especially when compared to what they’re familiar with back home, is essential. In this sense, Portugal and the United States differ significantly.

Portugal has a relatively lower intentional homicide rate, with 0.7 murders per 100,000 people, compared to approximately 6.5 murders in the United States. 

As for firearm access, it is heavily regulated in Portugal – the Global Peace Index rates Portugal very low on access to weapons (1/5)- resulting in low gun crime rates. Conversely, the United States has high gun ownership rates, correlating with higher instances of gun-related homicides and violent crimes. The US also experiences frequent mass shootings, a phenomenon virtually absent in Portugal.

These contrasts highlight Portugal’s safer environment, especially concerning violent crime and gun violence.

Practical Safety Tips for US Citizens Moving to Portugal

Here are some practical safety tips to keep in mind if you are preparing your relocation to Portugal:

  • Residency and Legal Requirements: Ensure you have the necessary visas and understand the residency requirements. Keeping your legal status in order helps avoid complications and ensures you have access to all the services you need. Hiring a professional Portugal immigration service like ours may help you avoid denial or unnecessary delays.
  • Health Insurance: While Portugal’s public healthcare is excellent, having private health insurance can ensure quicker access to certain services and cover any gaps in the public system. This is particularly important in emergencies where quick, reliable care is paramount.
  • Emergency Contacts: Make sure you familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers: 112 for police and medical emergencies, 118 for fire. Ensure that, if you are moving with your family members, they know them as well. It’s also wise to have the contact information of the nearest US embassy or consulate.
  • Learn Basic Portuguese: While English is widely spoken in urban areas and tourist regions, learning basic Portuguese can significantly enhance your safety. It aids in better understanding of public safety announcements, communicating in emergencies, and integrating into the local community.
  • Secure Housing: Look for areas with the lowest crime rates and good lighting. Consider properties with security features such as secure entry systems or gated communities. If you prefer, reaching out to a real estate agency can offer valuable guidance.
  • Stay Informed About Local Laws and Customs: Understanding and respecting Portuguese laws and customs is essential for your safety. This includes knowing local traffic laws, public behavior norms, and any specific regulations that might differ from those in the US. Staying informed helps avoid legal issues and enhances your personal security.
  • Use Reliable Transportation: When using taxis or ride-sharing services, ensure they are licensed. If you will be driving, familiarize yourself with Portuguese traffic laws and road conditions.
  • Engage with the Community: Building a network within your local community can enhance your safety. Neighbors can provide valuable local knowledge and support in times of need. Participating in community events and activities helps you stay connected and informed about any safety concerns in your area.
  • Stay Alert and Aware: While Portugal is safe, it’s important to stay alert, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots. Be mindful of your surroundings, keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid displaying valuables publicly. This reduces the risk of petty crimes like pickpocketing.

Portugal Visas & Immigration
We Can Help!

[email protected]

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.

Frequent Questions

1. Is Portugal safe for US citizens?

Yes, Portugal is considered very safe for US citizens, with low crime rates and a stable political environment.

2. What is the crime rate in Portugal?

Portugal has a low crime rate, consistently ranking high on the Global Peace Index among the safest countries in the world.

3. How effective is law enforcement in Portugal?

Portugal’s law enforcement, including the PSP and GNR, is efficient, professional, and well-equipped to handle various security situations.

4. Is healthcare in Portugal reliable for US expats?

Yes, Portugal’s healthcare system is robust and highly regarded, with both public and private options providing excellent services.

5. How politically stable is Portugal?

Portugal enjoys a stable political climate with a democratic government that prioritizes safety and public welfare.

6. What is the transportation infrastructure like in Portugal?

Portugal has a modern and well-maintained transportation infrastructure, with reliable and safe public transit options.

7. Is it safe to travel within Portugal?

Yes, travel within Portugal is generally safe, with well-maintained roads and reliable public transportation systems.

8. Are there any natural disaster risks in Portugal?

While Portugal faces some natural hazards like earthquakes and forest fires, the country has effective preparedness and response systems in place.

9. What are some practical safety tips for US citizens moving to Portugal?

Ensure legal residency, have health insurance, know emergency contacts, learn basic Portuguese, secure housing, and stay informed about local laws.

10. How can US citizens avoid petty crimes in Portugal?

Stay alert in crowded areas, keep an eye on belongings, avoid displaying valuables publicly, and use reliable transportation.

11. Is it necessary to learn Portuguese to live in Portugal?

While many locals speak English, learning basic Portuguese can enhance safety, communication, and integration into the local community.

12. How can US expats stay connected with the local community?

Engage in community events, build a network within your local area, and participate in social activities to stay connected and informed.

13. What are the emergency numbers in Portugal?

The emergency numbers are 112 for police and medical emergencies and 118 for fire emergencies.

14. How does Portugal compare to the US in terms of safety?

Portugal has significantly lower violent crime and gun violence rates compared to the US, making it a safer environment overall.

15. Can US citizens get private health insurance in Portugal?

Yes, US citizens can get private health insurance to complement the public healthcare system, ensuring quicker access to certain services.

16. What is the best way to find secure housing in Portugal?

Look for areas with low crime rates, good lighting, and security features like gated communities or secure entry systems.

17. Are there specific laws US citizens should be aware of in Portugal?

Understanding local traffic laws, public behavior norms, and specific regulations different from the US is essential for safety.

18. How can US expats ensure safe transportation in Portugal?

Use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services and familiarize yourself with Portuguese traffic laws if you plan to drive.

19. What role does the local community play in safety?

The friendly and hospitable Portuguese society, with its strong sense of community, enhances personal safety and support for newcomers.

20. Why is Portugal a good choice for US expats?

Portugal offers low crime rates, a stable political environment, excellent healthcare, and a welcoming community, making it an ideal destination for US expats.

Portugal Visas & Immigration
We Can Help!

[email protected]

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.