How can I apply for asylum in Portugal?

Step 1. Application

You can express your intention to seek international protection in person or in writing, in your own language, with the help of an interpreter, as soon as you arrive to Portugal.

You can apply at:

The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). SEF is the public entity responsible for border management, issuing passports and identification documents to foreign nationals, deciding on asylum applications, preventing migration-related organized crime and trafficking in human beings.

Asylum and Refugees Department (GAR). GAR is the department of SEF that is responsible for the registration and analysis of asylum applications.
Rua Passos Manuel, n. 40 – 1169-089 Lisbon
E-mail: [email protected]
Visit their website for more information.

– or you can express your willingness to apply for international protection to any other police authority (they are obliged to convey it to SEF in 48 hours):

  • Public Security Police (PSP)
  • National Republican Guard (GNR)
  • Maritime Police (PM)
  • Any other police force



Information on your application for international protection is confidential. This means that anyone involved in the process, including SEF, will not share any information – without your consent– with external individuals or entities, including authorities of your country of origin.


What if I do not speak or understand Portuguese?

If you do not speak Portuguese, you can speak in a language of your preference or a language you can understand during the whole asylum procedure and receive free support from an interpreter and translation services provided by the government of Portugal.

Make sure to inform the person managing your case at SEF on your language preferences and requirements.

Your documents may also be translated free of charge by interpreters working for the Portuguese authorities, in case you are unable to pay for the translation yourself.

Step 2. Identification

Once you express your intention to apply for international protection to the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) or any other police authority mentioned above, you will be registered by SEF through a process called identification.


During Identification:

  • Fingerprints will be taken (if you are at least 14 years of age);
  • A photo of you and each of your family members will be taken;
  • You will need to fill out a preliminary form, which includes information on identification, itinerary, grounds of the asylum application, supporting evidence, and witnesses.


Once your application for asylum is registered, SEF will issue a Declaration proving the submission of your application for asylum, which allows you to remain legally in the country while the process is ongoing. This document also allows you to work.

Step 3. Interview

You will be interviewed by an employee of SEF, with an interpreter if necessary, on a date and time that will be communicated to you by SEF.

During the interview, SEF will ask you questions about:

  • your identity (name, surname, date and place of birth, nationality),
  • personal condition (current domicile, contact details, education, work, religion, previous residences, languages known),
  • your family composition,
  • personal history,
  • your journey to reach Portugal and
  • the reasons for fleeing from your country of origin.



  • If you do not speak Portuguese, you have the right to be assisted by an interpreter.
  • Bring to the interview all documents in your possession that could be useful to understand your situation, including birth, identity and marriage certificates, documents confirming the circumstances and facts on which the asylum claim is based, previous residences and asylum applications, itinerary, etc.
  • If you have specific needs do not hesitate to speak to the SEF officer about them.

Specific needs include situations such as: you are under the age of 18, you are pregnant, you are a survivor of violence or torture, or you are affected by serious disease, etc. – See Can I get special assistance if I have a health problem or other specific needs? for more information.

The interview will also include questions that aim to determine whether Portugal is the country responsible for examining your claim or it should be analysed by another EU country (in which case you will be transferred to that country). This process is called the Dublin procedure. Click here to know more about the Dublin procedure and Dublin Regulation.

After the interview, a written report is prepared and shared with you by SEF. You will have 3 working days to present any comments and observations regarding this report. The report includes the preliminary indication of the decision on whether your application will be admitted to the regular procedure or whether it is considered inadmissible/unfounded, and will be rejected.

Remember that you can use legal support throughout the procedure. Contact CPR’s legal department to obtain legal support free of charge.

Related information

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