A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Portugal


Portugal was the first neutral nation to establish diplomatic ties with the United States. The two countries have maintained positive relations since 1791 and share strong defense ties. Portugal is a member of the European Union and NATO.

Modern Flag of Portugal


Portuguese Recognition of U.S. Independence, 1791.

The Portuguese Government suggested in early 1791 that Lisbon and Washington exchange permanent diplomatic missions, indicating a de facto recognition of the United States. However, Portugal did not officially recognize the United States until it accepted the credentials of U.S. Minister David Humphreys on May 13, 1791.

Consular Presence

U.S. Consulate in Madeira, 1790.

On June 17, 1790, U.S. President George Washington appointed John Marsden Pintard as Consul for the island of Madeira, the second appointment of a consular officer under the Constitution of the United States. There is now a U.S. Consular Agency in Madeira.

U.S. Consulate in the Azores, 1795.

U.S. President George Washington appointed the first official U.S. Consul to the Azores, John Street, in 1795, stationed in Horta on the island of Faial. The U.S. Consulate, which was established the same year, in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel, is the oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world. For a short time, the United States also had a Consular Agent on the island of Flores.

The following is a list of other U.S. Consulates to Portugal over time:

  • Oporto (1821-1966)
  • St. Ubes (1835-?)
  • Lisbon (1863-current)
  • Paco d’Arcos (1864-?)
  • Vianna (1867-1870)
  • Aveiro (1870-?)
  • Leca and Matozinbos (1870-?)
  • Setubal (1874-1905)
  • Faro (1895-1908)

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in Portugal, 1791.

Diplomatic relations and the American Legation in Lisbon were established on May 13, 1791, when U.S. Minister to Portugal Col. David Humphreys presented his credentials.

U.S. Legation moves to Rio de Janeiro, 1810-21.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the King of Portugal fled to Brazil. The U.S. legation followed and was located there from 1810-21. It closed in July 1821.

U.S. Legation Returns to Lisbon, 1822.

In 1822 the U.S. legation returned to Lisbon, along with the King of Portugal, where it has since remained. Henry Dearborn, Sr. was appointed U.S. Envoy to Portugal on May 7, 1822, and arrived at Lisbon before August 16, 1822, but did not report a date of presentation of credentials.

Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1944.

The U.S. legation in Lisbon became an embassy on June 20, 1944, when R. Henry Norweb presented his new credentials to Lisbon after he was promoted from Minister to Ambassador.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Portugal
  • Department of State Country Information: Portugal