Licensing requirements for holiday lets Nº 4.jpg

Licensing requirements for holiday lets Nº 4

The guest house – A Hospedagem

MANY FOREIGN homeowners wish to make extra income from their properties. While a few run rental activities from January to December, most prefer a mixed arrangement: for most of the year, private usage (typically out of season); for a few weeks or months and letting out to tourists (usually in the peak season summer months), on a weekly basis.

Within this hybrid category, some find their clients themselves, either through personal contacts or listing over the Internet.  Others make arrangements with agencies (both in Portugal and abroad) who both find and manage the holidaymakers who will be using the property.  

The guest house classification (Hospedagem) is intended for seasonal usage. Licensing contemplates both private usage by the owner, for part of the year, and letting out to tourists – by the house, apartment, or room by room. Regulations are far more basic than the hotel-style tourist houses, and the only real obstacles are the submission of technical plans and the defined inspection process.

Your alternatives

This solution contemplates three alternatives:

a) Hospedaria: This is the traditional guest house or bed and breakfast type establishment. Normally comprised of a minimum of six bedrooms and up to 30, this option would normally be complete with proper reception and support areas for the staff.

b) Casas de Hóspedes: This type of option is for letting the complete villa, usually between four to six bedrooms.

c) Quartos Particulares: This option contemplates letting out rooms individually, rather than the whole house.

The Hospedagem classification has been adopted by many councils throughout Portugal. In the Alentejo, it is quite popular in rural townships to accommodate hunters during the hunting season. Many of the municipalities in the Greater Lisbon area embraced this solution to deal with the overflow during the European Football Championship, a few years ago. In the Algarve, however, only around half the councils have passed this alternative into local statutes. Many local officials see this option as a scaled down hotel or inn, and are uncomfortable with the concept of mixed usage. Only a tiny handful of these licences have actually been granted, mostly for new properties. Licensing changeovers (habitation to hospedagem) are still almost unknown.


Like its cousin, the Moradia Turística, a guest house, also requires formal licensing. Unlike the elaborate regulations for full-time tourist houses, rules for Hospedagem tend to be simple and based on common sense. Once again, the main hurdles are the architectural project and the safety plan. While neither is formidable, both require qualified professionals to take technical responsibility for the projects as well as assure an absence of illegal modifications to the property.

Next: Renting – O Arrendamento Urbano

• Dennis Swing Greene is Senior Partner and International Fiscal Consultant for euroFINESCO. Private consultations can be scheduled at our offices in Guia (Albufeira) and Lisbon (Chiado). In the Algarve, call 289 561 333 or in Lisbon, 213 424 210 or e-mail: [email protected], or on the internet at