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Driving Laws in Portugal

Rules & Regulations

Drive on the right in Portugal
The legal age for driving a car is 18 years
It is illegal to drive with headphones connected to a sound device
Mobile cellular telephones (Telemóveis) may only be used with a handsfree system
It is compulsory to wear seat belts (both front and back seats if fitted). It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers wear their belts (and it is the driver who will be fined if the passengers are not belted)
Children under 12 years of age may not ride in the front passenger seats unless they are over 150cm tall. If possible special child seat belts should be used
It is forbidden to carry devices used to evade police vigilance (radar detectors, for example)
Dogs must be restrained in a moving car
Suitcases and baggage carried on the vehicle must not exceed the vehicle’s length by more than 45cm at the rear and 55cm at the front
Headlights must always be used in tunnels
It is illegal to overtake on the right in free-flowing traffic
It is illegal for a motorbike to carry passengers under the age of seven
If involved in a car accident the driver is obliged to stop and help injured people, collaborate in avoiding danger and other possible accidents and call the police if there are injured people or the vehicle is blocking the road and cannot be moved (Police Tel: 112)

Driving & Drinking

The legal blood/alcohol limit for driving when drinking in Portugal is under 0.5g/l (grams of alcohol per litre of blood) for all drivers. Those tested and found with between 0.5 and 0.8g/l face high fines  and licence suspension between one month and one year. Levels between 0.8g/l face even higher fines .

Those found with 1.2g/l or above face up to one year in prison and a three year driving ban.

What to Carry in the Car

It is obligatory to carry the following items in the car at all times. Not having these can result in a fine if pulled over by the police.

A yellow, orange or red reflective dangerjacket. The vest must be accessible without leaving the car
Each car must carry one red reflective warning triangle
Spare bulbs and the tools required to fit them
A spare wheel, inflated and the tools necessary to change it
Approved child seats for children under 12 and/or 150cm

Obligatory paperwork

It is compulsory for the driver to carry a driving licence. Valid Portuguese and EU country driving licences are accepted in Portugal. Certain non-EU licences are accepted for a period of time if accompanied with an International Driving Licence
Road tax must be paid
It is compulsory to carry vehicle registration documents and log book, or DUA (All-in-One Vehicle Document)
If a car is older than four years it is compulsory to have a valid IPO certificate as proof of road worthiness (MOT)
It is compulsory for the vehicle to have a garage service record
It is obligatory to have at least Third Party Car Insurance

Parking in Portugal

Parking regulations vary depending on the time of day, day of the week or even the month. Towns and cities have different regulations.

No Parking signs are often white or blue with a red line across
Yellow or red painted signs and lines on the curb also indicate No Parking
Where the words “Proibido Estacionar” appear beside a police code number on a garage door, police have authorisation to tow away the illegally parked vehicle
It is illegal to park within 5 metres of a road junction, 25 metres before and 5 metres after a bus stop and within 6 metres of a tram stop
Parking offenders risk getting points on their licence for persistently breaking the law
Always park facing the same direction as the traffic on one-way streets.
Some places require a residents or company parking permit during work hours between 08:00-18:00
Some places require residents parking permits at all times, particularly in residential zones
Official parking attendants are normally in uniform

Types of Roads

The motorway network is the Auto-estrada; road signs are blue
The regional road signs are white with black lettering


The speed limit (limite de velocidade) on Portuguese Auto-estradas is 120 Km/h for cars and small trucks (LGV) and 100 Km/h for tricycles and vehicles with a trailer
Motorway entries (entradas) and exits (saidas) are numbered
Motorways have service stations with fuel, cafeterias, newsagents and supermarkets. They also have emergency telephones, information points and repair garages. There are free orange emergency SOS telephones positioned about every three to five kilometres on motorways. To use an emergency telephone, press the SOS button and wait for an answer. In the event of a motorway breakdown, wear a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangles 30m behind and in front of vehicles to warn other drivers.

For up to date information on the Portuguese motorways, tolls, road works and traffic conditions: Website – http://portugaltolls.com/en/web/portal-de-portagens/home/
For the traffic police website: Website – http://www.gnr.pt/

Motorway tolls

A toll fee is charged on most motorways, paid at the toll booths. Each motorway is run by one of several major private companies and has its own pricing structure, so tolls vary. A ticket is taken from the Portagem at the start of the route and handed over at the toll booth where the payment is made at the end of the stretch of motorway.

Frequent users can use the Via Verde (Green Route) system which allows drivers to pay monthly using the Multibanco. An electronic device automatically registers the vehicle when it passes through the tolls and calculates the mileage and cost accordingly. The Via Verde system also offers savings and priority passage at the toll points.

Website for Via Verde – https://www.tolltickets.com/country/portugal/viaverde.aspx?lang=en-GB&mnu=c

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