International Service of Process in Portugal

An in-depth knowledge of both U.S. law and the laws of the receiving country is necessary to serve legal documents in any foreign country. If either is violated, obtaining and enforcing a judgment can be extremely difficult—if not impossible. Cultural and linguistic barriers can also create unnecessary delays when an individual attempts to serve documents without an understanding of local customs.  

Serving legal documents abroad doesn’t have to be a challenge, though. Working with an experienced process server can help you overcome these obstacles to effectuate service legally and efficiently. 

DGR Legal has handled international process service in more than 100 countries, including Portugal. With our extensive global network, we offer dependable process service worldwide.

The Hague Service Convention and International Service of Process in Portugal

Portugal is a signatory of the Hague Service Convention, a multinational treaty that streamlines formal process service across international borders. As a result, international process service to Portugal can be performed inexpensively and conveniently using the procedures set forth in the treaty. 

Benefits of effectuating service through the Hague Convention

Provided that the process server follows the right steps and submits the correct documentation, serving documents through the Hague Service Convention makes service more likely to be enforced. This method also tends to be faster than other formal methods of process service.

How to serve legal documents in Portugal

A court clerk or attorney must fill out the request form, and add their title to the “Identity and Address” and “Signature/Stamp” section. Applicants must then submit two copies of any legal documents to be served directly to the Portuguese Central Authority. 

Upon receiving the documents, the Portuguese Central Authority will forward them to the proper court/entity to be served.   

The process is rather straightforward, but the process can be lengthy—and even more so if each step is not followed accurately. An experienced process server can ensure that all your bases are covered so you can avoid any unnecessary delays.

When is it Appropriate to Use Letters Rogatory to Effectuate Service to Portugal?

Letters Rogatory is another formal method of process service in which the sender requests that the receiving country’s diplomatic channel provide assistance in fulfilling service in alignment with local rules and regulations. 

In many cases, Hague Service Convention service can be quicker and more affordable than Letters Rogatory, because the Letters Rogatory method relies upon Portuguese courts to effectuate service without pre-agreed upon terms. 

Portuguese officials may also refuse service through Letters Rogatory, depending on the quality and format of the information provided (or the lack thereof).

It’s vital to note that the Hague Service Convention only applies to civil and commercial proceedings. Documents associated with criminal cases may need to be served through Letters Rogatory. Subpoenas should also be served using this method.

To streamline the process as much as possible, choosing an experienced process server is crucial—and DGR Legal has effectuated service hundreds of times. We can help you decide whether Letters Rogatory is the right service method for your documents and if so, make a request in Portugal’s preferred format. 

Is Service Via Mail Allowed in Portugal?

Because Portugal didn’t formally object to service under Article 10 of the Hague Service Convention, legal documents can be served by registered mail.

If registered mail fails, regular mail is also allowed. Personal service by a local court clerk is also an option. 

What about service via agent?

When documents are served informally via agent, U.S. courts may not allow a judgment to be enforced. It’s also possible that, depending on the case, Portugal may not permit this method of service.

Translation Requirements

The majority of Hague Service Convention signatories require that legal documents be translated into the official language of the receiving country. In this case, the documents to be served must be translated into Portuguese (along with the summary of the document and its annexes). 

The Portuguese Central Authority will likely reject your request if you fail to include translations of documents, even if the defendant’s first language is English. 

If the defendant primarily speaks a language other than Portuguese or English, we can help you determine which additional languages the documents should be translated into and obtain the necessary services.

How Long Does International Process of Service in Portugal Take? 

The typical timeframe for serving documents in Portugal is three to six months—and the skill of your process server directly impacts the speed of service across international borders. With experience serving documents in a wide range of countries, including Portugal, the DGR Legal team is able to offer fast and efficient service worldwide.

Serving Legal Documents in Portugal

DGR Legal’s dedicated team monitors U.S. and international legislation, so you can rest assured that we will serve your legal documents in the most appropriate and timely manner without compromising on legal procedure.

With over 40 years of process service experience, we’ve successfully served legal documents in over 100 countries, including Portugal. If you would like to learn more about international process service to Portugal, or any of our other services, please contact us.


What if I don’t know the individual’s address?

The Hague Service Convention doesn’t apply in Portugal if the address of the recipient is unknown. Our team can assist you with locating the current address of a person or business as needed. 

Is process service in Portugal the same as service to other Hague Convention signatories?

Portugal’s process service rules aren’t an exact match for the rules of other Hague Service Convention signatories. Process service procedures differ under the treaty, due to varying reservations, declarations, and notifications in each country.

How do I know which method of service is best? 

If you’re unsure which method of service to use, it’s advisable to consult an expert. Process service legislation varies from nation to nation, and the proper method for one legal document might not apply to another. (Subpoenas, for instance, cannot be served using the Hague Service Convention.) The team at DGR Legal can help you determine the best method for your needs. 

The staff of DGR Legal are not lawyers, nor is our organization a law firm. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Rather, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.

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