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Licensing of real estate projects

Developing a real estate project in Portugal implies complying with urban planning and administrative licensing rules in order to obtain all necessary licences, authorisations and opinions.

  • Construction, alteration or expansion works in areas not covered by a zoning operation or detailed plan:
  • Works of conservation, reconstruction, extension, alteration or demolition of classified buildings or those in the process of being classified, as well as those carried out on buildings integrated in sets or sites classified or in the process of classification;
  • Construction works, reconstruction, extension, exterior alteration or demolition of real estate located in protection zones of classified real estate or in the process of classification;
  • Reconstruction works resulting in an increase in the height of the façade or number of floors;
  • Demolition works of buildings that are not foreseen in a reconstruction works permit;
  • Construction, reconstruction, extension, alteration or demolition works in areas subject to administrative easement or restriction of public utility;
  • Other urbanistic operations that are not subject to prior notification or are exempt from prior control.
  • The owner of the property or the holder of a right that allows them to formalize the request.
  • The process can be delivered in person at the Urban Planning Department of the competent City Hall, or through the online platform that the municipality may make available.
  • Documents proving the quality of owner of any right that confers the right to perform the operation;
  • Certificate of the description and all the inscriptions in force issued by the land registry office concerning the building or buildings affected;
  • Extracts from the planning, zoning and implantation plans of the municipal land management plans in force and the respective constraint plans, the summary plan of the allotment, if any, and a plan on a scale of 1:2 500 or larger, with a precise indication of the place where the work is to be carried out;
  • Location and framework plan on the scale of the master plan of the municipal master plan or on a scale of 1:25 000 when this does not exist, duly marking the limits of the area subject to the operation;
  • Extracts from the special land management plan in force;
  • Architectural project:
  • Descriptive and justification report;
  • Estimated total cost of the work:
  • Scheduling of the execution of the work;
  • In the case of reconstruction works, photograph of the property;
  • Copy of the notification from the Municipal Council communicating the approval of a previous information request, when it exists and is in force;
  • Engineering specifications in the event the applicant wishes to proceed with their presentation;
  • Terms of responsibility signed by the authors of the plans and project coordinator as to the compliance with the applicable legal and regulatory norms;
  • Statistical data sheet duly filled in with data relating to the urban operation to be carried out;
  • Accessibilities, if applicable.

General description of the process

The licensing application begins with the presentation of the architectural project to the municipal council.
Once approved, the applicant is invited to submit the specification projects.
After the approval of all the projects, the construction permit is issued and construction may begin.


Deliberation on the architectural project

30 working days
In cases in which external entities are consulted, a maximum of 20 working days is added for issuing the opinion.

Deliberation on the licensing application

45 working days
After complete instruction of the specification projects or after approval of the architectural project, provided that the specification projects have been delivered simultaneously.

What is prior communication?

It is also an administrative procedure of prior control to carry out works of construction, reconstruction, extension and alteration of real estate
  • Reconstruction works which do not result in an increase in the height of the facade or the number of floors:
  • Construction, alteration or extension works in an area covered by an allotment operation or detailed plan
  • Construction, alteration or extension works carried out in consolidated urban areas which respect the municipal or intermunicipal plans and which do not result in a building with a height (height of the facade) greater than the most frequent height of the facades of the built frontage on the side of the street where the new building is integrated, on the stretch of the street between the two nearest crossroads, on either side:
  • Building of swimming pools associated with the main building:
  • Urbanistic operations preceded by prior information favourably approved;
  • Construction works for special facilities.
  • When the consultations with external entities have been carried out within the scope of a valid prior information request:
  • When the consultations with external entities have been carried out within the scope of the approval of detailed plans or urban allotment operations;
  • When the interested party completes the prior notification with the consultations it has promoted.
  • In the prior notification it is mandatory to submit the architectural and specifications plans, the opinions issued by the external entities (or proof of the lack of response within the legal deadline) and the documents necessary for the execution of the work (documents of the contractor, technical construction director and inspection director).
The communication is considered admitted after 20 days (or 60 days if there is consultation with external entities) counting from the date of its delivery, if it has not been expressly rejected during that period.
The works may begin if the procedure is properly instructed and the appropriate fees have been paid, the only thing required is communication of the beginning of the works to the municipal council.
The works can start if the procedure is well instructed and if the payment of the due taxes has been made, being only necessary to communicate its beginning to the City Hall

What is a request for prior information?

Before beginning the licensing process, the interested party may make a request concerning the feasibility of an urban development operation.
The City Hall has a period of time to decide on the request and the decision it takes binds the competent entities regarding the licensing decision or the prior notification.


These depend on the complexity of the project and the fees charged by the municipality in question.

Three types of costs:

Project costs

These include study, design and construction costs. The costs of hiring an architect's office and a construction team, and the purchase of materials are an important part of the budget.

Costs for requirements of the process

These cover all costs related to the process of interaction with the municipal authority. Applications, plans and fees are included here.

License costs

These concern all payments and fees related to licenses (municipal taxes, for example).

Once the construction is completed, it is necessary to obtain a building use permit to verify the compliance of the work with the approved projects and the licensing or prior communication conditions.

Licensing of tourist developments

Tourist developments provide accommodation services against payment, and their operation is based on a set of complementary structures, facilities and services.

These provide accommodation and other accessory or support services, with or without the provision of meals, and are intended for daily rental. They are divided into three groups:
  • Hotels
  • Apartment hotels
  • Inns
A set of functionally interdependent facilities with coherent architectural expression, located in areas of territorial continuity and with internal circulation routes that allow for the transit of emergency vehicles, even when crossed by existing municipal roads and paths, water lines and strips of land assigned for the protection and conservation of natural resources. They are intended to provide accommodation and complementary support services for tourists.
A coherent group of accommodation units of the flat type, understood as part of a building which is accessed through common spaces, namely the atrium, corridor, gallery or staircase landing. They are intended to provide accommodation and other complementary services and support for tourists.
Groups of functionally interdependent facilities located in areas of territorial continuity, even if crossed by existing municipal roads and paths, water lines and strips of land assigned for the protection and conservation of natural resources. They are intended to provide accommodation and complementary support services to tourists, subject to a common administration of shared services and equipment for common use, comprising at least two tourist developments, one of which must be a hotel establishment.
Establishments of a family nature, located in old private buildings which, due to their architectural, historical or artistic value, are representative of a certain period, namely palaces and manor houses, and may be located in rural or urban areas.

These establishments are intended to provide, in rural areas, accommodation services to tourists, preserving, recovering and enhancing the architectural, historical, natural and landscape heritage of the respective locations and regions where they are located, through the reconstruction, rehabilitation or expansion of existing buildings, in order to ensure their integration into their surroundings. They are divided into 3 groups:

  • Country houses
  • Agro-tourism
  • Rural hotels
These can be public or private, depending on whether they are intended for the general public or only for members or beneficiaries of the respective owners or operators.

The following are not tourism developments

General description of the process

The licensing process for the installation of a tourist development takes place in the City Hall of the area where it is located.

It involves five phases:

Request for prior information

The Request for prior information regarding the possibility of installing the tourist resort and the respective conditions. It is valid for one year and binds the competent authorities when applying for licensing or authorisation of the urban operation.

Licensing or prior communication

Application submitted to the City Hall in order to obtain a permit or authorisation to carry out building works.

Works exempt from prior control

Works that are exempt from prior control must be communicated to Turismo de Portugal I.P., accompanied by the respective drawings, within 30 days after their conclusion, and provided that

Authorisation or communication of use for tourism purposes

Once the construction work is completed and prior to the use of the tourist resort, the Authorization of Use for Tourist Purposes must be requested.


The process of classifying tourism projects is compulsory and is designed to attribute, confirm or change the typology, group (where applicable) and category of the tourism projects, through a set of requirements that are legally stipulated.
  • Hotels -1 to 5 stars:
  • Apartment Hotels – 1 to 5 stars:
  • Inns (Pousadas) – operated directly by ENATUR or by third parties through franchise agreements or cession of exploitation, do not display stars but follow the criteria of 3 or 4 stars confirm the type of classification of the building or estate where they are installed.
  • Country house (there is no differentiation by premieres, the classification is country house);
  • Agrotourism (there is no differentiation by stars, the classification is agrotourism):
  • Rural hotels 3 to 5 stars.
Turismo de Portugal classifies the following tourist facilities:
  • ​Hotel establishments;
  • Tourism villages:
  • Tourism Apartaments:
  • Tourism complexes;
  • Rural Hotels.
The classification takes into account the quality of service and facilities and focuses on:
Local city councils classify the following tourist developments:

Local accommodation

Provide temporary accommodation services to tourists but do not meet the requirements to be considered a tourist development



The accommodation unit consists of an autonomous building, of single-family character


The accommodation unit is constituted by an autonomous fraction of a building or part of an urban building susceptible of independent use

Accommodation establishments

The accommodation units consist of rooms, integrated in an autonomous fraction of a building, in an urban building or in a part of an urban building susceptible of independent use. They can use the denomination hostel when the predominant accommodation unit is a dormitory, i.e., when the number of users is higher than the number of users in a room, and if they obey the remaining requirements for that purpose.


The accommodation unit is the owner’s residence (corresponding to the owner’s tax domicile) and the number of bedrooms does not exceed three.

Procedure for opening to the public:

In order to start the operation, it is necessary to carry out the registration in the Balcão Único Eletrónico.

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