Driving in Portugal
In Portugal, driving is on the right with overtaking on the left and you can be fined more than 1,000 Euros if you pass a driver on the right.
The documents you need to have while driving:
- Driving Licence (photo licence, otherwise you need to obtain and International Driver's Licence)
- Vehicle registration document
- valid certificate of insurance or Green Card
Portuguese traffic police often insist on other forms of ID. For this reason we recommend you carry your passport at all times.
You are expected to have a minimum of third party insurance whilst driving in Portugal and the means to prove it.
Seat belt laws in Portugal make it compulsory for the driver and all passengers to wear seatbelts whilst the car is moving. Failure to do so will incur a fine.
No child under the age of 12 can sit in the front and when in the rear of the car they must have an appropriate restraint system that conforms to EU regulations.
- 50 kilometres per hour in built up areas
- 90 kilometres per hour on rural roads
- 120 kilometres per hour on motorways (with a minimum speed of 40km per hour)
Speed limits are enforced by unmarked police cars and radar traps. Cars towing trailers or caravans can only travel at 70/80km per hour.
- Give priority to traffic from the right unless otherwise stated.
- You must give way to traffic already on a roundabout.
- If you don't for a stop sign, you will be given an on the spot fine.
- You must carry a reflective jacket that is within easy reach and a spare set of bulbs.
- If you break down and attempt to carry out repairs you must wear a reflective jacket to do so. It is also necessary to put out a warning triangle if you have broken down.
- If you ignore a policeman, cross a white line or jump a red light, you can forfeit your licence.
- Don't use the green lanes on the motorways. They are for drivers that have an automatic toll collection device.
- You mustn't carry a can of petrol in your car.
Cars flashing headlights at you mean they want right of way, not that they're giving way.
Roads and some cars are not that well lit at night so you should drive carefully.
- Parking regulations
- No parking is indicated by white or blue signs with a red line across them. The signs can sometimes be red or yellow or there can sometimes be red or yellow lines painted on the kerb.
It's illegal to park closer than five metres from a junction, 25 metres before or five metres after a bus stop or six metres from a tram stop.
You mustn't park across driveways that give access to property. If you do, your car can be towed away.
- Paid parking
Some places require you to use a blue disc for parking. They are indicated on signage and the discs can be obtained from local police stations. In the big cities you'll find parking meters or ticket machines as well as many areas which are for residents only.
- Disabled parking
Portugal recognises the EU blue badge disability scheme but as with any country, it's best to check locally what the badge will entitle you to.
Portuguese traffic lights follow the conventions of the Vienna agreement and so should be familiar to most drivers. You cannot turn right on a red light unless indicated and you should also be aware that many local drivers run red lights.
Most of the motorways in Portugal have tolls. You'll also find tolls on some bridges. Tolls can be paid in cash at the toll booths or, if in Portugal for some time, you can buy an automatic toll kit read by sensors on the toll roads (Via Verde).
You have to be 18 to drive in Portugal but if you're hiring a car you'll find the minimum age is 23 or sometimes 25. Even then you may be asked to pay a premium as an inexperienced driver.
The maximum allowed alcohol level in Portugal is 50mg per 100ml of blood. IIt means that even a single drink can take you over the limit. For that reason and the harsh penalties you'll incur if caught, we recommend that if you're going to drink, take a taxi.
There are both fixed and mobile speed cameras in operation in Portugal. If you are caught by a fixed camera you'll receive a ticket to the address your car is registered to. If you're in a hire car, the hire car company will pass it on to you.
Fines for using a mobile phone whilst driving are high - 600 euros in many cases. You will also get a 300 euro fine for dropping litter from a car.
For most motoring offences you'll receive an on the spot fine. For more serious offences you'll get a ticket and usually a court appearance which will decide the punishment. Examples are drinking and driving and if you have caused damage or injury through dangerous driving.
Driver's Licence and Car Registration
Simulation of correspondence between different categories of driving licenses. (select your country of origin)
The IMT - Institute of Mobility and Transport is the portuguese organisation dealing with the aspects of foreign Driver's Licence and Car Registrations.
The IMT Services On-line (The NIF or Citizen's Card number is required)