1. Explain briefly what official permissions are needed in relation to buildings, and what authority grants them.
According to Portuguese law (article 4of the Decree-Law 555/99), regardless of the buildings age, the following urbanization acts are subject to an administrative permit :
- The operations of allotment;
- The urbanization works and renovations of land in an area not covered by subdivision operation;
- The construction, alteration or expansion in area not covered by subdivision or by operation detailed plan containing the elements specified in subparagraphs c), d) and f) n. 1 of article 91. º of Decree-Law no. 380/99 of 22 September, which establishes the legal framework of land management instruments;
- The works of reconstruction, extension, alteration, maintenance or demolition of buildings classified or pending classification, as well as integrated into property sets or classified sites or in the process of classification, and the construction, reconstruction, extension, alteration exterior or demolition of buildings located in areas protected for properties classified or awaiting classification;
- The reconstruction works without preservation of the facades;
- The works of demolition of buildings that are not provided in license reconstruction works.
2. Are buildings of a certain age exempt from any of these requirements?
The use of any new building, reconstructed, enlarged or changed, when the change resulting significant changes in their characteristics, requires municipal permit (Article 8 of Decree-Law n. º 38382/51, 7 August, General Regulations of Urban Buildings). This permit must be submitted to the notary and mentioned in the deed of any transfer of ownership of urban property or its fractions, without which the act is vitiated by nullity (article 1 Decree-Law 281/99).
- Buildings constructed before 7August 1951 do not need to have this permit, if the construction date is stated at any legal document no further document is needed, if not a statement of that date from the municipality is required;
- The same happens with buildings constructed by the State or other public bodies, but in this case a statement of these entities must be submitted to prove this fact.
3. Is official permission needed for the use to which land or buildings are put?
Only the existence of permit of use can be inscribed at the Land Register, and just since 2008. However, the fact that the license not be registered does not mean it does not exist. To obtain information about the existence of any permits for urbanization or use should be consulted the Municipality.
4. How does one discover whether the necessary permissions exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?
There may be restrictions of public policy in certain urban areas (see above what is referred to fold legal restrictions).
5. Are additional permissions needed in particular geographical areas? How does one discover whether a property is in such an area? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?
To alter or demolish any building, as said before, a permit from the municipality is needed. No permits may be granted for full or partial demolition of real property classified as monuments or part of on classified sites of historical or architectural interest, or being classified as such, without the express prior authorization of the competent central government, region or municipality, as appropriate.
The classification of property as historical or architectural heritage should be subject to land registration. However, this registry is not always requested by the competent authorities, so information must be obtained by from the municipality or from the Institute for Management of Architectural and Archaeological Patrimony (IGESPAR) – www.igespar.pt.
6. Are there additional requirements for permission to alter or demolish certain buildings because of their age or architectural or historic value? How does one discover that such additional requirements exist? Is it recorded in the land register, cadastre or some other register?