Public contracts in Portugal

Participation in public procurement: rules and procedures

There are different types of public contracts procedures:

  • Direct award – this is a procedure whereby one contracting authority directly invites a supplier of its choosing to submit a proposal.
  • Prior consultation – this is the procedure whereby the contracting authority invites at least three entities of its choosing to submit proposals, where they may directly negotiate aspects of the contract.
  • Open procedure – this is a competitive procedure that must be announced via institutional means, in particular in the Official Gazette and in the Official Journal of the European Union.
  • Restricted procedure – it is a competitive procedure that is published in the Official Gazette and the Official Journal of the European Union if the amount of the contract to be awarded exceeds EU thresholds. This procedure has two procedural stages, the first of which includes the submission of applications and the qualification of candidates, and the second involves the submission and evaluation of tenders and the award of the contract.
  • Negotiated procedure – similar to the previous procedure this is also characterised by having a qualification phase, with the distinguishing feature that the candidates (previously selected) can improve the attributes of their proposals during a negotiation phase.
  • Competitive dialogue – used when the contracting authority identifies their requirements but does not know how to fulfil them. It consists of a qualification phase, with the specific characteristic that there is a solution presentation and dialogue phase with the selected candidates before the submission of proposals. In this procedure, the tender document is only drawn up after the solution presentation dialogues have taken place. In this case there is no negotiation of bids from the candidates.
  • Partnership for innovation – intended for research and development of innovative products, services or works, with a view to the subsequent acquisition of such products, services or works, as long as they correspond to the previously agreed upon levels of performance and maximum costs.

Find out more details about the characteristics of each procedure.

Required documents

The documents which must be submitted for the proposals are:

  • the declaration from Annex i of the Public Contracts Code (Código de Contratos Públicos, CCP), which contains:
  • documents that, depending on the object of the contract to be concluded and the aspects of its execution submitted to the competition through the tender document, contain the proposal’s attributes according to which the bidder is willing to contract;
  • documents required by the procedure or invitation containing terms or conditions concerning aspects of the execution of the contract not submitted to competition in the tender documents, to which the contracting authority wishes the bidder to commit.

In the case of procedures for the creation of contracts for contract work and public works, the proposal should also include the following documents:

  • a list of unit prices for all types of work foreseen in the execution project;
  • a work plan when the tender document is part of an execution project;
  • a preliminary study, where the preparation of the execution project is the contractor’s responsibility.

Find out in detail which documents companies must submit when taking part in a public tender. 

Also find out which documents are required for tender applications limited by prior qualification, for the negotiated procedure, the competitive dialogue and in the partnership for innovation.

Proposal submission deadlines

There are minimum deadlines for submitting proposals, as seen in some articles of the CCP:

  • public tender: Articles 135 and 136
  • urgent public tender – Article 158
  • tender limited by prior qualification, Articles 172, 173 and 174 (at the stage of submission of applications and qualification of candidates) and Articles 190 and 191 (at the stage of submission and analysis of tenders and award) and Article 198 (at the stage of submission of applications and qualification of candidates)
  • competitive dialogue Article 218

All the articles can be consulted in the Public Contracts Code. 

There are several factors that prevent an economic operator from competing in public tenders, namely:

  • if they are insolvent
  • if they have been convicted of a crime affecting their professional good standing
  • if they have not kept up with their social security contributions and payment of other taxes

See the list of reasons that prevent a company from participating in a public tender. 

Regarding possible exclusions after the application has been made, these apply to proposals and not to candidates or bidders.

Information regarding public tenders can be found on the following websites:

When executing public tenders, contractors must issue electronic invoices, which must follow a set of rules, whenever applicable.

All doubts regarding the Public Contracts Code, either for contracting authorities or for economic operators, can be clarified by email If you need support in completing the European Single Procurement Document (DEUCP/ESPD) you can send an email to

Online submission of proposals in response to public invitations to tender 

With regard to the submission of bids to public tenders, they must be submitted through a set of public sector procurement websites. The proposal is considered to be submitted when the bidder completes the submission process, and in order for a proposal to be submitted on an electronic platform, it is mandatory that it is signed with a qualified digital signature. If a bidder submits different proposals, they may withdraw one of the tenders without affecting the remaining proposals as a result. 

The contracting authority may also set some requirements regarding the documents which constitute the proposals submitted by the bidders, where they must, to that end, include the specifications for those same requirements in the procedure or in the invitation to tender, including:

  • organisation of files, through a standardisation of the relevant tree structure;
  • number of files, document by document or as a whole;
  • size of the files, individually, per document or in total;
  • title of the files, which may include a predefined section relating to the document in question, as well as the order number of the interested party, or the relevant tax identification number, the proposal code, as defined in annex II of this law, of which it is part, and also the codes of the procedure or other aspects to be defined;
  • presentation of information, consisting of an index or description and explanation of the structure and content of the files that make up the proposal;
  • document format;
  • universe of computer applications that may be used.

It should be noted that the proposals may also include the following additional elements, to be entered in the appropriate form:

  • declaration referring to a set of files of another proposal of the same interested party, if the procedure programme allows for the submission of different proposals and if the interested party so decides;
  • explanatory note if the procedure programme does not mention the requirements made but the bidder presents its own structure and file contents.

The exceptions related to the possibility of submitting hardcopy documents are related to reasons of excessive volume or complexity of the data to be submitted on platforms. 

Electronic platforms for public procurement are responsible for providing clarifications for any queries raised by users during the use of the electronic platform in question, through the provision of a working telephone line during working hours. 

Reporting irregularities in relation to tender procedures

In order to exercise its rights, an economic operator who feels aggrieved will have to resort to an administrative appeal or to a judicial or arbitration court (in the case of the latter if this is the chosen jurisdiction).

It should be noted, however, that the Institute for Public Markets, Real Estate and Construction (Instituto dos Mercados Públicos do Imobiliário e da Construção, IMPIC), in the use of its administrative jurisdiction, receives reports from public entities about non-compliances by economic operators and opens administrative infraction proceedings against them, but this is limited to reports and not to complaints from economic operators.

Pursuant to Article 270 of the CCP, the period for administrative plea is 5 business days after notification of the act, and the period for the contentious plea (pre-contractual litigation) is 1 month (Article 101 of the Code of Administrative Courts Procedure (Código do Processo dos Tribunais Administrativos)).

Contacts for assistance

If you need more information, you should contact Instituto dos Mercados Públicos, do Mobiliário e da Construção (IMPIC).