Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Can I build within 200 metres of the beach in Portugal ? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Can I build within 200 metres of the beach in Portugal ?
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: johne-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 20 Aug 2002 10:00 PDT
Expires: 19 Sep 2002 10:00 PDT
Question ID: 56580
I wanted to find out if there are any laws or regulations in Portugal
which will prevent me from building a residential villa within 200
metres of the beach. I heard a rumour that it had become prohibited by national law.
Subject: Re: Can I build within 200 metres of the beach in Portugal ?
Answered By: historybuff-ga on 20 Aug 2002 13:52 PDT
Hi Johne,

You will run into building requlations within 500m of the Portugese
coastline.  Coastline building restrictions are handled at many

At the top level is the Eurpoean Union, whose function is stated,
"According to the Treaty on the European Union, the EU exerts its
competency in matters directly or indirectly related to the management
of coastal zones, namely, regional development and cohesion,
transport, fisheries, environment, agriculture, energy, research, and
industrial policies. "  The EU came up with guidelines which were
adopted in September of 2000.  Their mission was described, "Many of
Europe's coastal zones face problems of deterioration of their
environmental, socio-economic and cultural resources. Since 1996, the
European Commission has been working to identify and promote measures
to remedy this deterioration and to improve the overall situation in
our coastal zones.  From 1996 to 1999, the Commission operated a
Demonstration Programme on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM).
"  The EU guidelines for coastal zones can be found on the ICZM web

But Portugal has adopted more restrictive regulations for their
coastal zone.  The Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) web site says
"Other countries have issued more specific plans concerning the
coastal zones (Portugal, Finland, Spain)" in its document "Coastal
Zone Managemnt in the European Union".  Table 4, scrolling to the row
for Portugal, indicates that the legal body in charge is the Ministry
of the Environment and Natural Resources.  The applicable regulations

1. Planning and Building Decree-Law 1971
2. European coastal charter Decree-Law 1990
3. Coastal Strip Classification Plans (POOC) Decree-Law 1993

1. "In 1971 a Decree-Law clarified and revised the legal rules
governing public aquatic property, including the sea bed and coastal
margin.  It declares State ownership of the sea bed up to the ghih
water mark of equuinoctial tides, toghether with an adjoining strip o
fcoastal land extneding 50 metres inland from that line, or as far as
the beach continues beyond it...Private ownership that can be proved
to have existed in these areas before the 1860s is preserved, but the
bed and coastal margin are subject to public rights of access....."

2. "The European Coastal Charter of 1990 increased this coastal zone.
"A Decree-Law was passed in 1990 to implement the objectives...defines
a coastal strip extendfing two kilometres inland from the line of
highest equinoctial tides, and specifies policies for the occupation,
use and development of that area, which should be applied by the
authorities involved in licensing and planning.  Municipal plans must
contain rules for the coastal strip, and should normally be approved
only if they conform to the policies in the Decree-Law.  Wehere there
are no planning instruments, it is the duty of the government to
establish appropriate rules, and land subdivision and construction
works should not normally be authorised unless they comply with the
statutory coastal policies."

3. "In 1993, another Decree-Law was passed to provide for the
preparation of specific "coastal strip classification plans" (POOC). 
These can apply to a 'terrestrial zone of protection' extending to a
maximum distance of 500 metres from the water's is the
responsibility of the national Water Institiure (INAG) to draft submit them for approval to the Ministry of the environment
and Natural Resources...Poocs should observe the same coastal policies
as are specified in the 1990 Decree-Law..."

The full explanation can be found on page 19, section 2.2.12 Portugal.

A document  from the OECD published in 2001 gives an update on the
status of municipal land use plans, stating, "The country is now fully
covered by municipal land use plans."  It also notes "adapting
physical plans covering the entire country (e.g. national coastal area
protection plans, national nature protection plan, municipal land use
plans)..."  You can read the OECD report on Portugal here:

The green register published a summary of Portugese coastline
regulation, stating,"PORTUGAL: three main tools,strengthened in 98 by
the new planning policy (framework law 48/98)."  They list the three
main authorities in regulating coastline development.  You'll notice
again the reference to the 500m coastline zone:

--The regional plan (PROT) under the state's jurisdiction, Ministry
for Territorial Planning.
--Special plans (PEOT) under the state's jurisdiction, Ministry for
the Environment, consisting of the development plan within a 500 m
coastal strip (POOC) and the plans for protected zones (POAP).
--Local authority plans (PMOT) - consisting of the local guidelines
(PDM) and the special district plans - which should be compatible with
the two higher levels of planning, even where they precede (revision
of local plan if necessary).  The effort of the coastal local
authorities must be noted: 50 of the 55 coastal communes now have aPDM
ratified by the state.

They go on to say, "This planning system is expressly restrictive in
terms of coastal development.  The Alentejo regional plan (agreed
since 93) forbids all new construction within a kilometre of the
shore."  Scroll down to the section on Portugal to read the original:

The regulatory structure is confirmed in section 4.9 Territorial
Planning of this document on environmental issues in Portugal which
states, "Inasmuch as the goal of the territorial planning system is to
ensure that activities are carried out in the correct location and
that the various secortal policies are compatible with one another,
the vectors of the planning policy include the sustainable use of the
component elements ...the various Plans (Regional, Municipal and
Special Territorial Plans)."  This quote is from page 104 of this

In summary, you are looking at several layers of regulation.  The
state reserves the right to do what they wish within 500 meters of the
coastline.  The local regulations are called PLANOS DE ORDENAMENTO DA
ORLA COSTEIRA (POOC), and are written in Portugese.  I found no
evidence of a Portugese national law prohibiting construction within
200 meters of coastline.  However, it is quite possible and even
likely that a given local regulation would use the 200 meter mark for
new construction.  Before building within the 500 meters, I would
advise you to check the POOC that applies to your intented
construction site.  The local codes have to conform to the higher
level regulations, so if the local code gives you the ok, that
presumably clears you all the way up.

Good luck in getting your plans approved!



Clarification of Answer by historybuff-ga on 20 Aug 2002 17:38 PDT
To give you an idea of how localized the coastal regulations are, you
may want to look at this page, listing 9 different POOCs along the
Portuguese coastline.

You will find the following article, 'Portuguese Coastline Attracts
Wealthy Britons' alludes to building sites specifically approved by
local authorities.
"There are also development sites with planning consent...The
Portuguese government has imposed building restrictions along the west
coast, from Burgau to Sagres and north to Aljezur, which is now a
National Park -- the Costa Vincentina Nature Reserve. New speculative
development has been banned for the next two years,.."

I also want to stress that two different aspects of the regulations
are at play.  First, you need permission to build on a given location.
Second, be sure to check public access laws which may give the public
permission to walk right past YOUR house on THEIR way to the beach.
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy