Salt Cod and Grilled Sardines: Important Things You Need to Know About Shipping to Portugal

You know that old saying about selling ice to the Eskimo? Well, there’s a similar sort of thing going on with the Portuguese and fish. Salt cod and grilled sardines, in particular. They’re two of the country’s national dishes and if there’s one thing you don’t want to think about freighting to Portugal, it’s probably piscine in nature! Other than that though, despite an unfair reputation, Portugal is actually a pretty easy place to ship to. You simply need to follow the rules and find a market for your products.

Portugal’s Trade Reputation

Portugal is not known as an easy destination to trade with. It’s nothing to do with the country’s customs and excise procedures. Being in the EU, organising imports and exports between the UK and Portugal is a relative doddle – at the time of writing. How that will change post-‘Brexit’, only time will tell. But for the present, as a market Portugal is no easier or harder for UK businesses to access than anywhere else in the EU. And decidedly easier than some other locations – Russia, for example.

Portugal’s prohibited and restricted items list isn’t that extensive either. Certainly not enough to make potential traders think twice.

The main problem with Portugal is simply that carriers don’t go there as often as other places. Why? Because until recently, Portugal didn’t have that much to trade, salt cod notwithstanding. So, unless you had a lot of contacts in the ceramics industry, then there wasn’t much use for freighters… Fortunately, that’s exactly what we had.

Plexus Freight have been operating a daily service throughout Portugal for many years now. We collect. We deliver. It’s what we do. And we have a strong enough customer base to be able to offer a variety of services: economy; express; cross-trade. But we are rather in the minority. So, the reality is that Portugal isn’t a difficult trading partner, just that most people just haven’t found the right freight forwarder to work with. Once you’ve done that, it all becomes much easier.

Sending Freight to and from Portugal

When sending shipments between Portugal and the UK, your main considerations are:

  • What you want to send/receive. And whether it is restricted or prohibited. Make sure you check out UK government guidelines as well as those of Portugal.
  • How you want to send it. With Plexus Freight, our express service operates 24/7. Economy options are available across Europe.
  • You will need somewhere to store your goods at either end of your journey. Plexus can assist with that.
  • Regardless of what’s going on with the EU and ‘Brexit’, admin must be done. If your paperwork is incomplete, then your goods will never reach your destination. A freight forwarding service, can help with that.
  • Taking on a local distributor. Finding your feet and negotiating trade in an unfamiliar territory and/or language is tough. Even if you know what you’re doing, it can be easy to miss opportunities simply because you’re lacking contacts.
  • Working with a local agent or distributor can remove that problem.


Despite the post-recession problems that the country has faced, Portugal is a great place to do business. The systems used are very similar to ours. Competitors are limited. And the opportunities are high. The only problem you really face is finding a reliable freighter… And you’re reading this, so we’re going to assume that you already have!

If you’re thinking about extending your export business to include Portugal, or simply want a more efficient way to conduct your existing Portuguese exports, fill out our contact form, or call the Plexus service team today. We’d be more than happy to help: (+44) 01823 335666

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