Two aspects of this article have been examined;
In Portugal the blind traveller uses a full fare ticket while his or her guide or guide dog travels for free on the national rail network. Partially-sighted people are not entitled to this concession.
The regional concession scheme is closely modelled after the national system.
There are various location-specific urban concession schemes. The concession system may vary from city to city, depending on factors such as local government or on the local transport company.
The Portuguese Railways (CP) signed the IUR Agreement on Rail Transport for Blind People and their Guide issued in 1997 and amended in 2005. Visually impaired people residing in and travelling to any of the countries who signed this Agreement are entitled to a free ticket for their guide or guide dog provided that the return ticket is purchased in the country where the disability card was issued. In practice the Agreement does not apply to additional fees such as ‘reservation' or ‘couchette' which must be paid in full for both passengers. Furthermore, a survey conducted by EBU in 2000 revealed that in many countries the Agreement was not well known or was simply ignored by transport operators and authorities.
In theory, it is impossible to benefit from Portuguese schemes as a foreign visitor as locally-financed concessions are limited to local residents. In practice, concessions are sometimes granted depending on the willingness of ticket vendors. Foreign guide dogs are likely to receive a discounted or free ticket.
How many guide dog users are there in your country? The number of guide dogs varies on a day to day basis as new dogs enter service and others are withdrawn. Please provide an estimate figure.
At the end of 2009 the Escola Profissional Beira Aguieira, the unique guide dog training school based in Portugal, had delivered 83 guide dogs to 75 blind persons.
What regulations, if any, govern guide dogs access to:
Public buildings (administration, hospitals, schools, etc.)
Cultural and sports facilities (cinemas, theatres, museums, libraries, stadiums etc.)
Leisure facilities (restaurants, hotels, holiday centres, beaches, etc.)
Retail facilities (supermarkets, department stores, shops, etc.)
The Decree-Law No. 74/2007 of March 27 enshrines the right of access for a person who is blind or visually impaired accompanied by a guide dog to access to local transport and public facilities including:
a) Public transport, including aircraft of national airlines, ships, trains, buses, trams, underground and taxis;
b) School facilities, public or private;
c) Vocational training or rehabilitation centres;
d) Sports Venues of any kind, including stadiums, sports halls, swimming pools and others;
e) Performing arts and leisure centres; art galleries, gaming rooms;
f) Buildings of central government agencies and departments, including regional and local;
g) Health facilities, public or private;
h) Any place where any service is provided which is open to the general public, such as banking, insurance, postal services and others;
i) Retail shops, including malls, hypermarkets and supermarkets;
j) Facilities related to the catering industry and tourism, including restaurants, cafeterias, beverages and other houses open to the public;
l) Accommodation facilities such as hotels, guesthouses, pensions and the like;
m) Elderly care and nursing homes;
n) Leisure and tourism facilities in general, such as beaches, camping sites, thermal venues, gardens, and;
o) Work places.
The same Decree-Law specifies that access to a guide dog is free of any kind of extra charge, independent of any other written instructions. Non-compliance with the rights specified in this Decree-Law is punishable by a fine that, for individuals, varies between €250,00 and €3740,98 and, for entities, ranges from €500,00 to €44891,81. For planes, it is also worth mentioning EU Regulation no. 1107/2006 and Decree-Law 241/2008, which imposes a fine on any airline that refuses to transport a guide dog with its owner against national legislation (i.e., for example, imposing any extra charge or forcing the dog to be taken as cargo).
The Decree-Law n. º 58/2008 de 26 of March specifies, in the article 9º n. º 7 that guide dogs are transported inside train carriages for free and they don't need to be muzzled according to the decree-Law n. º 74/2007 of March 27.
What are the regulations for the import and export of dogs into/from your country, including quarantine and vaccination procedures?
Common continental EU pet travelling regulations.
Are exceptions made for guide dogs?
Are the regulations such as to restrict spontaneous voyages?
It restricts spontaneous voyages when travelling from outside the EU member countries.
Airlines usually request that the person travelling with a guide dog must register it when making a reservation, meaning that, in certain circumstances, it could impose a kind of limit to spontaneous air travel.
How much time is needed to fulfil the requirements?
For the first time
For subsequent visits with the same dog
Guide dogs are transported for free inside the aircraft cabin.
Conditions for transport:
- Use a harness;
- It cannot move through the aircraft;
- It can occupy a passenger seat ;
- Must be identified as a guide dog ;
- Must fulfil all the health measures and to present specific legal documents;
- Must have documents which certify that the dog has been officially trained by a professional
Is there a certification process for the training and provision of guide dogs? If yes, please provide basic details, in particular on the difference between mandatory and optional certifications.
The status of an assistance dog is only given to dogs educated and trained in a suitable licensed establishment employing specific qualified trainers.
The Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação, I. P., shall register and disclose the establishments accredited for the training of assistance dogs.
Certification of training of the animal as an assistance dog is made through the issuance of a special card and badge by the national or international body for assistance dogs training.
The Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação hasn't disclosed yet the list of authorized guide dogs' training facilities, though it is common sense to recognize as guide dogs those trained by a member of the French Federation of Guide dogs Schools (FFAC) which is recognized by Instituto Nacional de Reabilitação and for the International Federation Guide Dogs Schools (IGDF).
Is there an allowance or other financial aid to help guide dog users with the upkeep of their animals (food, veterinary, etc.)?