Decree-Law no. 80/2017 was published on 30th June, in the Portuguese Official Gazette and proceeds to the fifth amendment to Decree-Law no. 39/2008, of 7 th March, which approved the legal regime of the installation, exploitation and operation of tourism projects.

This Decree-Law aims, in line with the SIMPLEX + 2016 program, to simplify the legal regime of tourism projects, expediting the procedures related to the installation of these projects and reducing the unpredictability as to their time-line.

Among the main amendments to the legal regime of the tourism projects, the following must be highlighted:

Implementation of the prior notice procedure with deadline (comunicação prévia com prazo) as rule regime

For the purpose of construction of tourism projects, Decree-Law no. 80/2017 foresees the implementation of the prior notice procedure with deadline as rule regime, remaining, however available the other types of procedures (licensing and prior notice). It innovatively foresees that, once deadlines for the appreciation expire, the submission is considered tacitly admitted, and the interested party can start the respective construction works.

Re-introduction of the possibility of opening the projects in case of absence of a usage permit for tourism purposes

Once construction is concluded, the interested party must request to the competent municipality the attribution of the usage permit for tourism purposes which should be decided within 10 days (5 days, if an inspection takes place), as well as the emission of the respective license (a single one for the entire project). If a decision is not issued within the referred deadlines, the interested party can communicate to the municipality its decision of opening to the public. Such communication, along with the proof of the regular submission of the request and of the payment of the fee due, constitutes a valid title for the opening to the public.

Creation of a specific procedure for prior information requests regarding the installation of tourism projects in rural land

This Decree-Law introduced the possibility for any interested party to submit to the municipality a request for prior information regarding the viability of certain urbanistic operation on which depends the installation of a tourism project in rural land and information as regards the respective legal and regulatory constraints. Such request will be appreciated jointly by the municipality and all the entities whose opinions, authorizations and approvals are required or which restrain the decision to be issued, and through a concertation mechanism. After the issuance of a decision such entities shall, within 120 or 180 days according to the acts, adopt the administrative acts and the material operations legally necessary to authorize and permit the construction and installation of the tourism project.

Reduction of the competences of Turismo de Portugal, I.P. in particular in the prior control phase of the construction

Decree-Law no. 80/2017 eliminates the mandatory intervention of Turismo de Portugal, I.P. in the prior control phase of the construction, namely the requirement of a prior opinion to be issued by such entity, with exception of allotment operations, which comprise the installation of tourist projects and which are not covered by a Detailed Zoning Plan. Turismo de Portugal will now only be intervening in the classification of tourism projects. Notwithstanding, the interested party can, optionally, request the appreciation of the project to the Tourism of Portugal, I.P.

Catering and drinking establishments

This Decree-Law reentered into force the regulations of Decree-Law no 39/2008, of 7th March, which foresees that the dispositions of this legal framework are not only applicable to the installation of tourism facilities, but also to commercial and catering and drinking establishments which are part of it. The emission of the license of a usage permit for tourism purposes or the communication of the opening of a tourism project substitutes the permission of functioning of all its integrant parts, including the catering and drinking establishments.

Decree-Law no. 80/2017 is applicable to both existing and new tourist projects. This Decree-Law entered into force on 1 July 2017 and can be accessed here.