Fiches Belges
Measure Implementation
Measure possibility

Legal Framework
Applicable Framework

Competent authority
Execute/recognise measure

Accepted Languages

Execution Deadline

Legal info
Special requirements
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Fiches Belges: Portugal

Interception of mail (104)



Is this measure possible in your Member State under International Judicial Cooperation?

The seizure, even at post offices, of letters, packages, valuables, telegrams or any other mail, is permitted by law when there are substantial reasons to suspect that: a) the mail has been sent by the suspect or that he is the recipient under another name or via another person; b) it is a crime punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding 3 years, and c) that such a step may be useful in establishing the true facts or for the purposes of evidence. Seizure or any other form of interception of the mail between the accused and his/her lawyer is prohibited, unless the judge has a good reason to believe that it constitutes an object or an element of the crime. The seizure of mail is also allowed as a cautionary measure, when parcels or sealed values liable to be seized, if there is a reason to believe that they may contain information useful to the investigation of a criminal offence or that they may lead to its disclosure and that they could be lost in case of delay.



International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, CoE, 1959; Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, CoE, 1978; Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime, CoE, 1999;Convention applying Schengen Agreement.



* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

The seizure is ordered or authorized by a judge or during the investigation phase by the examining magistrate at the request of the Public Prosecutor. The Criminal Police can seize the evidence in case of urgency and submit it to the competent judicial authority for validation.

* execute/recognise the measure (if other than the receiving authority)




Accepted languages for the request/decision

Portuguese and French.



Deadlines for the execution of the request/decision (where applicable)




a. Special requirements

Interception/seizure of mail takes place under the Criminal Procedure Code searches and seizures provisions, hence double criminality check may apply, depending on the applicable instrument. In cases where it is necessary to seize mail, the Criminal Police will forward it, intact, to the judge who authorized or ordered the measure. The judge who ordered the interception is the first person to examine the contents of the seized mail. If he/she deems the mail to be relevant as criminal evidence, he/she shall order it to be added to the criminal file; otherwise, he/she shall forward it to the addressee and it cannot be used as means of evidence. The judge is bound to secrecy in respect of all the information he/she received and is not taken in as evidence. When the seizure of mail is applyed as cautionary measure, the Criminal Police informs the judge as quickly as possible. The judge may order such items to be opened forthwith. Once such grounds are established, the Criminal Police can order the suspension of all mail deliveries to post and telecommunication offices. If, within 24 hours, the order is not executed by reasoned order of the judge, the mail will be handed to the addressee.

b. Other useful information

The Minister of Justice may authorize the participation of foreign judicial and police authorities in criminal proceedings to be carried out in the Portuguese territory. This participation is permitted only by way of assistance to the Portuguese judicial or police authorities concerned in the proceedings, whose presence is mandatory in all cases, provided the provisions of the Portuguese criminal procedure and the reciprocity condition are complied with.Requests for mutual assistance addressed to Portugal are processed in accordance with the fundamental principles of Portuguese law. However where the other State expressly requests it, or if there is an international agreement, treaty or convention to that effect, assistance may be granted in accordance with the law of that State as long as it is not incompatible with the fundamental principles of Portuguese law.

Last reviewed on 6 July 2016 by EJN Secretariat
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