The participation of businessmen in official visits done by Heads of State or Government is a way found by official authorities to promote exports and the internationalization of the firms. There is a large body of literature about export promotion and the evaluation of export promotion programs. However, to date, no evaluation on the usefulness of official visits as a way to promote firms’ exports has been undertaken. This study provides a theoretical and empirical contribution to the literature in this regard. In concrete, the study presents a theoretical basis to substantiate the usefulness of official visits departing from the literature on export promotion, export promotion programs and trade missions. Additionaly, a survey to Portuguese businessmen who participated in 12 official visits was implemented aiming at evaluating their perception concerning the usefulness of those visits. Based on the answers of 136 firms’ representatives, we found that State Trade Missions are particularly important for estabblishing contacts and gain experience in exports. Business networking among participant firms is viewed as a critical contribution of state trade missions. State trade missions are considered fundamental for nationally owned SMEs, with little experience in international business but with innovative traits. Such results bring important policy recommendations. Specifically, policy makers should encourage firms to visit external markets via state trade missions targeting less experienced but innovative national SMEs. Such measures would surely contribute to reduce the costs associated with firms’ efforts to internationalize and thus contribute positively to firms’ and nations’ economic performance.