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Driving in Portugal

Driving in Portugal

Driving rules and regulations in Portugal are similar to most other European countries.

Speed limits are:

  • 120 km per hour on auto-estradas(motorways).
  • 90 km per hour on estradas nacionais (national routes).
  • 50 to 70 km per hour in built-up areas.

Other regulations are:

  • The legal age for driving a car is 18.
  • Seat belts must be worn when travelling in both the front and rear of the car. The driver is responsible for ensuring this.
  • Children under 12 and/or 150 cm in height must use an approved child seat and are not allowed to travel in the front of the car.
  • Alcohol levels must not exceed 50 mg per 100 ml of blood.
  • It is illegal to wear headphones and also to use telemóveis (mobile phones) while driving unless there is a hands free system.
  • It is illegal to carry any radar detection equipment, whether or not it is switched on.
  • Dogs must be restrained when a car is in motion.
  • Cars already on a roundabout have the right of way.
  • Traffic coming from the right has priority unless otherwise indicated.
  • Baggage carried on a vehicle must not exceed the vehicle's length by more than 55 cm at the front and 45 cm at the back.
  • It is illegal to carry passengers under seven years old on a motorbike and motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets at all times.
  • On-the-spot fines are the norm.
  • Headlights must be used in tunnels.
  • Many motorways in Portugal have tolls. Some have tollbooths, but others only have an electronic system for paying, which is operated by Via Verde Portugal. Toll machines can be hired or bought in special Via Verde shops or at Portuguese post offices. If you end up on a Via Verde without a toll machine, you will need to pay the toll within 48 hours or you will earn a fine on top of the toll fee. For more information regarding this, you can consult www.portugaltolls.pt, http://portagens.ctt.pt, http://www.estradas.pt/portagensestrangeiros or http://www.viaverde.pt.
  • If you are involved in an accident, you must remain at the scene until the police arrive, especially if it involves a death or serious injury.
  • If you have an emergency on the motorway, there are orange telephones situated at intervals along the hard shoulder or you can call 112 (the emergency services number).

The following must always be carried in the car:

  • A reflective vest, which you must be able to gain access to without exiting the car.
  • A reflective red warning triangle.
  • A spare inflated wheel and tools to change it.
  • Spare bulbs and tools to change them.

The following documentation must be carried/displayed in the car:

  • A Carta or Título de Condução (driving licence).**
  • Imposto Único de Circulação (road tax).
  • A Título de Registo de Propriedade (vehicle registration document) and Livrete (log book), or Documento Único Automóvel - DUA (all-in-one vehicle document).*
  • If a car is more than four years old, it must have a valid Documento de Inspecção Periódica Obrigatória - IPO (MOT certificate) with the corresponding sticker displayed correctly on the windscreen.
  • Seguro Automóvel Contra Terceiros (third party car insurance) with the corresponding sticker displayed correctly on the windscreen.

*Note that the Título de Registo de Propriedade, Livrete and Certificado de Matrícula (licence plate certificate) have all been replaced by one single document called the Documento Único Automóvel - DUA (all-in-one vehicle document).

**For information regarding the use of British and Portuguese driving licences, check this British Embassy link: http://ukinportugal.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-portugal/driving_Licences.