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Who has priority in the queues?

Find out what the law says about priority in queues, who has it and the fines foreseen for those who disrespect it.

The law that assigns priority in queues certain citizens is not recent, but still causes some doubts to many Portuguese.

Who has, after all, the legal right to enjoy priority in queues? What happens if there is more than one person entitled to priority in the same queue? What if someone asks for priority and it is not granted?

The answers to these questions not only keep you informed about the law, but are also a way of guaranteeing a healthy coexistence among all citizens, avoiding possible discussions in public assistance services.

Priority in queues: clear your doubts

Having priority in queues means not having to wait to be served. A citizen who has priority can arrive and be attended to on time, even if there are other citizens waiting to be attended to at the same service.

It may be necessary, however, that display a receipt to enjoy their rights, in particular in cases of disability or incapacity.

Why is there a law?

Unfortunately, in Portugal it was necessary to create a law (Decree-Law No. 58/2016of August 29) so that priority in queues was respected, since, in many situations, it was not granted to those in need.

Where does the law apply?

The law that regulates who has priority in queues applies to public and private services. From Social Security to the supermarket, all establishments are required to offer priority service.

What entities are excluded?

The same law, however, contains some exceptions. There are entities that are excluded from the obligation to provide priority assistance, namely:

  • Health care providers, since the priority must be determined according to the assessment of the person’s health status;
  • Conservatories and other registration entities, only in situations where the change in the service order jeopardizes an advantageous position or a right of others;
  • Services provided by appointment, such as by telephone or online?? In this case, users who previously booked the service have priority in the service.

Who is entitled to priority in queues?

According to the law, it is mandatory to provide priority assistance to:

  • Persons with a disability or incapacity;
  • Elderly people aged 65 years and over who have
    evident alteration or limitation of physical or mental functions;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Persons accompanied by infants.

People of any age with proven physical disability equal to or greater than 60% have the right to pass ahead, although the law admits that they may have to prove, by certificate, their degree of incapacity. This means that these citizens must bring with them the document that officially proves that they are citizens with a disability.

Seniors aged 65 years and over and that they have a visible difficultybe it physical or mental, are entitled to priority in queues.

pregnant women and adults (men or women) with children in arms who are no more than two years old also enjoy priority in queues.

Note, however, that queuing priority is not applied when the order of service gives advantage. If, for example, you want to buy a ticket for a show that has limited tickets, you cannot use priority to buy first.

What if there is more than one priority citizen in the same queue?

If there is, in the same queue, more than one citizen of priority status, the service is done in order of arrival?? All priority passengers are served at the front, in the order in which they arrived at the location.

Calls that are already in progress

It is important that all citizens, priority or not, know that nothing gives them the right to interrupt an ongoing service.

Imagine that you have priority in the queues and, arriving at a store, the cashier is assisting a customer. You cannot demand that the employee interrupt this service to talk to you: he has to finish and only then can he give you the attention he needs.

If priority in queues is not respected

If your queue priority is not respected – or if you watch an episode where it is not respected – can file a complaint??

The complaint can be in the form of a complaint, in the complaints book (which is then forwarded to the competent authority) or can be made in writing to the National Institute for IP Rehabilitation or the General Inspection, regulatory entity, or other entity to whose inspection or sanctioning competences the entity that committed the infraction is subject.

For example, in the case of catering and beverage establishments, you can file a complaint with the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE).

At fines for disrespect of priority in queues vary between €50 and the 500€ for natural persons; or of €100 to €1000in the case of collective entities.

See too
Want to make a complaint? Know who to address your complaint to

The “arbiter” of priorities

The interpretation of the law on priority in queues is up to the National Institute for Rehabilitation. Thus, you can turn to this entity to clarify doubts about the rules of priorities before formalizing a complaint.

Bear in mind, however, that this entity does not register complaints or assume responsibility for supervision.

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