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Doing business in Portugal: Environmental rules

01 May 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 01 May 2012

Businesses in Portugal are obliged to comply with certain environmental legislation in order to be able to operate.


Legal requirements

Environmental control


Before a business can set up and start operating, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be carried out. The aim is to analyse the potential impact that an investment project could have on the environment. The results of the EIA are taken into account during the process of approving a project.

A special Decree-Law indicates which projects must be assessed in terms of their environmental impact.

Industrial businesses and certain agricultural activities must meet requirements relating to integrated prevention and control of air, water and soil pollution.

Integrated pollution prevention and control

Waste management

Waste management operations are subject to an administrative prior inspection procedure, which results in the issue of a licence, and to administrative procedures designed to effectively monitor the activity carried out after this licensing.

Decree-Law laying down the general rules on waste management


The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) has drawn up a list of hazardous chemicals, for which there is a harmonised system of classification and labelling at European Union level.

All hazardous chemicals placed on the EU market must be packaged and labelled in accordance with their hazard classification and must be accompanied by a safety data sheet.

Portuguese Environment Agency

Transport of hazardous goods – Rail transport

Transport of hazardous goods – Road transport


Portugal is committed to promoting the sustainable use of sea and ocean resources, by helping to develop the maritime economy, creating jobs, and encouraging training, education and sport associated with the sea.

At the same time, the problems facing the oceans need to be solved, such as pollution and over-exploitation of resources. As a result, policies need to be defined and coordinated so that they contribute to Portugal’s sustainable development objectives through a National Strategy for Maritime Affairs.

Office for Maritime Affairs

National Strategy for Maritime Affairs

Climate and air

The Action Plan for Air Quality aims to ensure that air quality is kept within recommended levels. Furthermore, the National Emission Ceilings Programme (PTEN) and the National Emissions Reduction Plan (PNRE) for Large Combustion Plants are helping to implement a coherent and harmonised strategy to combat air pollution.

Action Plan for Air Quality

National Emission Ceilings Programme (PTEN)

A national inventory of emissions of atmospheric pollutants is used to estimate reduction efforts and monitor and check compliance with the commitments made.

National Inventory (INERPA)

Noise protection

The General Regulation on Noise (RGR) applies to permanently or temporarily noisy activities, transport infrastructures, other sources of noise likely to cause annoyance, and neighbourhood noise. Special rules apply to transport structures and large population centres, in accordance with the Decree-Law transposing the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (DRA).

General Regulation on Noise (RGR)

Correction of the RGR

Decree-Law transposing the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (DRA)

Correction of the DRA

The Portuguese Standard entitled ‘Acoustics. Description and measurement of environmental noise ’, which has been harmonised with International Standard ISO 1996, lays down the procedures to be adopted when conducting acoustic tests to assess exposure to external environmental noise levels and noise annoyance.

Nuclear protection

The national energy mix does not include nuclear power stations. As a result, the likelihood of a radiological emergency is minimal. However, localised emergency situations may arise due to the use of radioactive sources in medicine or the transport of radioactive substances, for example. There is also the possibility of accidents at foreign facilities.

Applicable Legislation

Notification Mechanisms

Emergency Monitoring Network



The Ministry of the Environment and Regional Planning (MAOT) is responsible for environmental policy, nature conservation, biodiversity, planning, and territorial cohesion and balance, and for ensuring compliance by businesses with national and EU regulations.

Ministry of the Environment and Regional Planning

The Inspectorate-General for the Environment and Regional Planning (IGAOT) is responsible for the administrative supervision, control and inspection of activities with an environmental impact, and for the assessment and monitoring of regional planning and planning breaches.

Inspectorate-General for the Environment and Regional Planning

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Declaration procedures


When constructing commercial or industrial buildings, businesses must also comply with certain rules. All Planning Permission that is granted must be included by the respective Municipal Council in the Municipal Master Plan (PDM) for each municipality.

Authorisations and licences


Businesses based in Portugal must apply for an environmental licence from the Portuguese Environment Agency. This licence will set out the measures needed to prevent/reduce air, water and soil polluting emissions, waste generation and noise pollution.

Environmental Licensing

The licence application must be made by completing the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (PCIP) form.

The latest version of this PCIP form can be obtained in a Word version by sending an e-mail to:

The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) is the national authority for waste. All businesses with more than 10 employees and which generate non-municipal waste must send the APA an annual electronic waste record indicating the waste generated.

Portuguese Environment Agency

Integrated Registration System of the Portuguese Environment Agency (SIRAPA)

Portuguese Register of Emission Licences



You can find out about environmental legislation by consulting the Documentary Information System on Environmental Law (SIDDAMB), which is managed by the Portuguese Environment Agency.

SIDDAMB – Documentary Information System on Environmental Law 

The website of the Institute for Support to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Innovation (IAPMEI) contains pages on environmental audits, environmental impact assessment, integrated pollution control, environmental management, polluter-pays principle, environmental and energy programmes and initiatives, waste, eco-efficiency and clean production, and eco-labelling of products. It also includes an environmental glossary.

Environment and energy

Environmental glossary

The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) has a question and answer service on its website.

National development

The National Strategy for Sustainable Development (ENDS), which covers the period from 2005 to 2015, aims to coordinate the various public initiative programmes being prepared and implemented, and to help mobilise and harmonise the initiatives and actions of social, cultural and economic operators in civil society. The Sustainable Development Gateway contains information on the ENDS.

Noise protection

In April 2007 the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) held information sessions on the New Legal Framework for Environmental Noise.



As the reference framework for initiatives co-financed by EU funds during the 2007-2013 period, the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (ENDS) is coordinated with the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), which provides guidance on the development of thematic and regional programmes during that period.

Business incentives – National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)

Source: Your Europe

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