Legal basis for administrative and geospatial data access in Portugal

by | Jan 20, 2022


Principle 1, data access, administrative data, legal arrangements, NGIA, INSPIRE


This use case describes the legal arrangements for access and use of administrative data in Portugal. Beyond the mandatory terms, Statistics Portugal has also established collaborative processes, signing memorandum agreements and protocols with several institutions, to provide and share administrative and geospatial data.

The access to administrative data by Statistics Portugal was not always effective. To solve this problem and ensure a timely and effective access to administrative data, in 2015 Statistics Portugal made some proposals to change the National Statistics Law, including mandatory terms and involvement in the administrative data workflows for statistical purposes. In addition, institutional collaborations and agreements were established to promote the provision and sharing of data, including geospatial data, and improve statistical production processes.

Under the National Statistical System’s Law Statistics Portugal is mandated to use administrative records for the purposes of compiling statistics. Administrative data owners must provide the data free of charge.

Since 2013 and under the legal act that regulates the Indicator System for Construction and Housing Statistics (SIOU) the municipalities are obliged to provide to Statistics Portugal, on a monthly basis, all the completed buildings and buildings permits including X,Y location and addresses of each building. SIOU is, in this way, the reference data source to update dwellings in the National Dwelling Register and buildings in the Buildings Geographical Database.

However, although the Statistical Law apparently covers sufficiently the accessibility of administrative data, Statistics Portugal is not always successful in accessing administrative data.

To solve this problem in the Peer Review report of March 2015, on compliance with the Code of Practice and the coordination role of the National Statistical Institute is mentioned that Statistics Portugal:

  1. will make proposals to change the National Statistical Law in order to ensure timely, faster and effective access to administrative data for statistical appropriation;
  2. will make proposal to change the statistical law in order to ensure Statistics Portugal right to be involved in the design and modification of any administrative data system in order to improve its suitability and quality for statistical purposes.

Beyond these mandatory terms, Statistics Portugal has established collaborative processes, signing memorandum agreements and protocols with several institutions, to provide and share data and geospatial data. The most relevant examples are the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Statistics Portugal and the Directorate-General for Territory– the Portuguese National Mapping and Cadastral Agency (NMCA) – and the Protocol Agreements celebrated with  the Portuguese Municipalities  for the development of a common  and harmonised geographical information infrastructures, which are fundamental to the effective management and planning of municipal territory and the production of geo-referenced statistical information for small areas of the territory.

The first institutional collaboration enables to access national official geospatial reference data (ex. ortho-imagery and official administrative boundaries map). The second one, it is very important for the preparation and execution of a Population and Housing Census operation that requires geo-referenced information based on small territorial units. The institutional (and technical) cooperation with the Municipalities is particularly important when designing the Census geography (Geographic Information System of Statistical Portugal – BGRI) since the fundamental system of geographic reference used to support Census processes – and, at the same time, a tool for census data dissemination – contains the administrative delimitation, dividing parishes in small statistical areas – statistical sections and subsections.

In the context of Census operation, the Municipalities also play a more active role when defining localities (territorial delimitation consisting in a population cluster with 10 or more residential dwellings and to which a distinct place name is attached, irrespective of whether it belongs to one or more parishes) since they have a deeper knowledge of the territory and toponomy. Statistics Portugal has as well established an agreement with ADENE, the national authority responsible for managing the Energy Certification System of Buildings, to share data and location regarding Statistics Portugal’s National Buildings and Dwellings register.

In addition, Statistics Portugal is a full member of the Advisory Council of Geographic Information National System (CO-SNIG) for INSPIRE, which is the strategic body responsible for the implementation of the European Directive in Portugal.

At a technical level Statistics Portugal is also strongly engaged in the CO-SNIG Monitoring and Reporting Working Group (GTI-M&R), the Operational Working Group (GTI-Op) and the Thematic Networks that ensure the link of entities with INSPIRE themes and ongoing work in European clusters.

Within SNIG (National Portuguese Spatial Data Infrastructure) and the implementation of INSPIRE (mainly under the Law “DL nº 180/2009, from 7 of august” that constitutes the legal basis for SNIG constitution and activity and for the application of INSPIRE in Portugal), Statistics Portugal also contributes to the national repository of geospatial data. Concerning the INSPIRE themes under its responsibility Statistics Portugal provides metadata for INSPIRE compliant datasets and services to the national geospatial data metadata catalogue and provides geospatial information through services.

In more general terms Statistics Portugal has been establishing agreements with various entities of the state administration to access administrative data. In this context, the Tax Authority and access to geo-referenced data on municipal property tax.

More information

Read more about the Law Nº 22/2008 of 13 May 2008 here: