Recently approved, Decree-Law no. 10/2024 marks a crucial step in the reform and simplification of urban planning, land use planning and industry licensing in Portugal. Furthermore, in the context of the SIMPLEX Program of the XXIII Constitutional Government, it reaffirms the commitment to eliminate unnecessary licenses and administrative procedures, in line with the “zero licensing” philosophy.

In an ongoing effort to boost the country’s competitiveness and attract investment, the government in Portugal has recognized the need to overcome challenges in the area of housing and buildings. In addition, international institutions such as the European Commission and the World Bank have highlighted excessive barriers in the licensing of economic activities, prompting the inclusion of simplification measures in the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR).


Simplex Urbanístico – What changes in urban licensing

With most of the 26 measures coming into force as of March 4, it is crucial to understand the impact of the simplex on urban planning procedures, covering not only future projects but also those already underway.

It should be noted that these changes not only shape the present, but also have retroactive repercussions from January 1, 2024, with successive adjustments expected until 2030. The Ordem dos Arquitetos presents these transformations in schematic form and provides a timeline with the key dates for understanding the changes in force. In a scenario of constant evolution, it is essential to keep up to date with the current regulatory framework.


Simplex Licenciamento

Source: Ordem dos Arquitetos


Simplification Measures in the Urban Planning Area

Decree-Law no. 10/2024 establishes several measures aimed at simplifying administrative procedures and licensing, especially in the area of urban planning. We highlight some significant changes:

  • Prior communication and exemptions: introduction of new cases of prior communication, dispensing with the need to obtain urban planning licenses in certain situations. For example, the allotment license can be waived through prior communication, simplifying the process for certain detailed plans or execution units;
  • Additional exemptions: incorporation of new exemption situations, eliminating prior administrative control procedures. Exemptions apply to interior works that do not affect the stability structure, simplifying, for example, the creation of interior floors in industrial establishments;
  • Building permit: Elimination of the building permit, replaced by a receipt for payment of the fees due, with the aim of simplifying and reducing costs for applicants.
  • Tacit approval: the introduction of a tacit approval regime for building permits, “in other words, if the decisions have not been adopted in due time, the private individual will be able to carry out the intended project”;
  • Electronic platform for urban planning procedures: plans to create a mandatory electronic platform for municipalities from January 2026, simplifying the submission and management of urban planning requests throughout the country;
  • Reclassification of rural land: Simplification of the process of reclassifying rural land as urban land for industrial, storage or logistics purposes, speeding up large-scale projects.


Impact of SIMPLEX on Architecture and Construction

These measures aim not only to simplify bureaucracy, but also to encourage the creation of more affordable housing. In this sense, the elimination of requirements, the introduction of prior communications and the simplification of the procedures for obtaining urban planning permits can reduce costs and speed up the completion of projects.

At first glance, simplifying licensing is seen as a crucial step towards boosting the real estate sector and increasing the supply of housing. However, it is necessary to create a balance between simplification and accountability, ensuring that reducing bureaucracy does not compromise legal certainty and the quality of projects.

Thus, Decree-Law 10/2024 represents a significant change in licensing in Portugal, promoting efficiency, reducing costs and stimulating economic activity. These changes are essential for modernizing the business environment and have a direct impact on the work of architecture and construction professionals.

If you need further information or would like a quote for your project, please do not hesitate to contact MJARC Arquitetos.