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Portugal is a Republic headed by an elected President and has a population of 10.6 million. Legislation is enacted by a Parliament (Assembleia da República) which is headed by a President appointed by the assemblymen. Local administration in Portugal is carried out by several Regions (Unidades Territoriais para fins estatisticos) which include the islands of Madeira and Acores. There are also 305 Municipalities (Municípios) and 4052 Parishes (Freguesias).
Portugal covers a land area of 88,880 sq km and is one of the oldest countries in Europe. The Republic was established in 1910 and modified by the new constitution in 1976.

Organisational Structure and Background

Central government exercises metrological control through the Instituto Português da Qualidade (IPQ) (Portuguese Institute for Quality) which is part of the Ministerio da Economia. The IPQ is the national body responsible for standardisation, accreditation, and metrology. The metrology section includes the Central Laboratory and the Serviço de Metrologia Legal (Legal Metrology Service) both located at the same address. The IPQ is responsible for type approvals, carrying out its verification functions through 5 Regional Directorates (Direcções Regionais) at the Ministry of Economy. Local inspections and verifications are also carried out by 173 staff (aferidores) in 126 Municipal Metrology Services (Serviços Municipais de Metrologia) reporting to the Directors of the Regional Directorates. Accredited private and public laboratories and manufacturers perform initial verification in approved circumstances.

Portuguese metrology law now extends to all instruments concerned with trade, safety, health, consumer protection and energy consumption. Special acts are published for individual measuring instrument categories such as taximeters, chronotachographs, gas meters, water meters etc. Portugal has however, a long history of legal metrology, the first general law creating a uniform system of standards being introduced in 1253. In 1499 local authorities were issued with copies of the national volume and weight standards in order to check grain, olive oil and wine. The metrology system was reformed to a decimal system in the 19th century Metrology in modem Portugal is an essential part of the Portuguese Quality System under the auspices of IPQ.

Equipment Subject to National Controls

  • Simple length measures in trade use
  • Area Measuring instruments
  • Non-liquid volume measures
  • Medium accuracy weights in trade use
  • Liquid volume metering instruments

    • Petroleum
    • Liquefied petroleum gas
    • Bulk milk
    • Lubricating oil

  • Cold water meters
  • Gas volume meters
  • Electricity meters
  • Non-automatic weighing instruments

    • Self-indicating
    • Non self-indicating

  • Automatic weighing instruments

    • Continuous totalising (beltweighers)
    • Catch weighers

      • Checkweighers
      • Weight graders

  • Medical measuring instruments

    • Clinical thermometers
    • Ionizing radiations measuring instruments

  • Road traffic instruments

    • Taximeters
    • Tyre pressure gauges
    • Exhaust emission meters
    • Smoke meters

  • Law enforcement instruments

    • Chronotachographs
    • Speed detectors
    • Breath analysers

  • Measuring instruments for grading cereals (hectolitre mass)
  • Warm water meters
  • Length meters
  • Alcholmeters
  • Fixed storage tanks
  • Road and rail tanks
  • Sound level meters
  • Parking chronometers
  • Automatic level gauges for measuring liquid in fixed storage tanks
  • Refractometers
  • Pressure gauges and vacuum gauges
  • Temperature control of chambers for storage of food

All the instruments are generally subject to type approval, initial verification and mandatory verification.

Type Approval

Type approval responsibility rests with the Portugese Institute for Quality. 218 technical officers (engineers) and 6 metrologists are involved in this task. Type approval is necessary for all instruments subject to legal metrology controls. Fees are calculated on a cost recovery basis for each approval. A fees list is published. The greatest volume of national certificates are issued for non-automatic weighing machines, followed by liquid volume metering instruments other than water, road traffic and law enforcement instruments, cold water meters, and electricity meters. All certificates are in Portuguese only.

The Portugese Institute for Quality will use external laboratories for certain type testing needs. These will not all be EN45000 accredited. The IPQ intends to expand its own laboratory capability to perform testing in instrument areas in which it does not have capacity, at present. This may be domestic instrument manufacturer led.

Initial Verification

Initial verification is performed by the IPQ for thermometers, speed detectors, breath analysers, refractometers and instruments for measuring car exhaust gases and by the accredited laboratories of manufacturers for cold water meters, gas meters, electricity meters and liquefied petroleum gas meters. The 5 Regional Directorates and 45 verification bodies perform all other initial verification work. The laboratory accreditation scheme is based fully upon EN45001 and EN45002. Verification fees are set by law.I

Inspection and Reverification

A mandatory reverification system is applied in Portugal, carried out by the 5 Regional Directorates, and 126 local authorities. The inspection intervals are set by law:

trade weights 1 year
weighing instruments in trade use 1 year
petrol pumps 1 year
cold water meters 15 years
gas meters 10 years
electricity meters 15 years
law enforcement instruments 1 year

The failure rate for non-automatic weighing instruments in 1992 was about 15%. The failure rate for the 15,389 petrol pumps inspected was high at 31%. Errors are normally based on mpe x 2.

Accredited repairers are permitted to reverify repaired instruments. IPQ accredits and audits these repairers.

Legal Metrology Practitioners and Scope

18 technical officers are employed at IPQ for type approval purposes. A further 10 are employed at Regional Directorates for initial verification purposes. These officers are all graduates with degrees in physics, mechanical, chemical or electrical engineering or they are technical engineers possessing a Technical Institute degree in mechanical and electro-technical applications. All receive 1 year's supervisory training.

6 metrologists are employed at IPQ and another 215 throughout the Regional Directorates and local offices. These all have 11 years of academic school background and receive 140 hours of training, including some quality assurance training.

Officials have a restricted legal metrology function. They will however, deal with consumer complaints about instruments and advise businesses on legal requirements and EN29000. They also have a role in approving systems for controlling prepackages under the average system.


The Portuguese system of sanctions is based on administrative penalties applicable to all types of metrological infringement. Where an inspector discovers an offence it is reported to the Regional Director who determines the amount of administrative fine calculated normally as:

  • Verification fee x 10 plus an extra amount where special circumstances should be considered (number of instruments, activity, type of fraud)

The administrative penalty ranges from a minimum 100,000 PTE to a maximum 3,000,000 PTE. Offenders may appeal to a court who may impose an unlimited fine. Only cases involving fraud are generally subject to prosecution in the courts

Directive 90/384/EEC

A Portuguese Decree defines the scope and establishes the required technical and administrative general procedures in implementation of the Directive. A specific Regulation fixes the metrological requirements.

All instruments in Article 1(2)(a) were subject to national controls prior to the Directive. Gravity zones have been identified and values established. The Portuguese legislation makes it an offence to use an instrument outside its marked weighing range.

All accreditations of manufacturers seeking self-declaration of conformity status will be performed by IPQ . Accreditation will be based on EN29000 criteria.


Directory Contact Point
Ms Pollyana Soares

Instituto Português da Qualidade (IPQ)
Portuguese Institute for Quality
Rua António Gião, 2
2829-513 Caparica
E-mail: psoares@ipq.pt
Tel: +351 919410338
Fax: + 351 21 294 81 01


Updated March 2018