Driving is the best way to travel through Portugal. When you drive, you can see not only cities, but also beautifully villages and picturesque beaches. Many of Portuguese traffic rules are similar to the rest Western European countries.

The main traffic laws and requirements include:

  • Traffic moves on the right side of the road.
  • Overtaking is on the left side.
  • The minimal driving age is 18 years.
  • Drivers and all passengers must wear seatbelts. A driver is responsible for passengers; if passengers don’t wear seatbelts, he will be fined.
  • Children under 12 years may only ride in the back seats of the car in special child seats unless they are taller than 150 cm.
  • It is forbidden to carry children under 7 years on the motorbikes.
  • Driving and using a cell phone without a hands-free system is illegal.
  • Driving with earphones connected to any sound devise is forbidden.
  • Using radar detector is illegal.
  • In moving vehicles, dogs must be restricted.
  • In tunnels, headlights are always required.
  • Each vehicle must be equipped with one red reflective warning triangle, spare bulbs and the required tools, a spare wheel and required tools, reflective danger jacket (red, orange, or yellow).
  • When driving, a driver must have a valid driver license. A driver license from any European Union country is accepted in Portugal. Foreigners from non-European Union countries must have their National driving permits and International driver licenses. Foreign drivers can drive with their National driving permits accompanied by International Driver Licenses for three months (90 days).
  • Each driver must also have vehicle registration documents and a log book, or an All-in-One Vehicle Document (DUA).
  • If a vehicle is alder than four years, it is required to have a valid IPO certificate about roadworthiness; the corresponding sticker must be placed in on the windshield.
  • Any driver must compulsory have garage service records.
  • It is compulsory to have the third party car insurance; the corresponding sticker must be placed on the windscreen.
  • The baggage carried on the car must not exceed its length by more than 55 cm at the front and 45cm at the beck.
  • Parking 25 meters before and 5 meters after a bus stop and within 5 meters of a road junction and 6 meters of a tram stop is illegal.
  • Parking facing oncoming traffic is illegal.
  • The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.5 grams alcohol per one liter of blood. If a driver has from 0.5 to 0.8 grams alcohol per liter of blood, his license may be suspended from one month to one year and his fine will be between 250 and 1,250 EUR. A driver with alcohol level between 0.8 to 1.2 grams may have a fine from 500 to 2500 EUR. If find more than 1.2 grams alcohol, the driver will be imprisoned for one year and deprived of the right to drive for three years.
  • Speed limits are: on motorways (Autoestrada) – 120 km/h; on main trunk roads – 100 km/h; on built-up areas – 50 km/h; on rural and secondary roads – 50 km/h unless other signs.
  • If driver has held his driver license less than 12 month, his/her speed limit is 90 km/h (55mph).
  • For using a toll road, driver must take a ticket at the start of the road and carry for the route and pay at the end of the route at the toll booth with an electronic device, or by credit card, or cash. For foreign-registered vehicles, electronic devices may be rented from some post offices or motorway service stations. They are designed for using no more than 90 days.
  • The police phone number is 112.
If you want to rent a car in Portugal, you must have the following documents:
  • Valid passport with visa;
  • Identity Card;
  • Valid Visa credit card;
  • Proof of address in Portugal
  • Official document with name, date of birth, address and post code
  • Valid National driving permit and International driver license for tourists from non-European Union countries.
Generally, roads in Portugal have good conditions; the biggest cities are well served by highways. It is possible to drive from the North to the South of the country without leaving the highway. But, driving in Lisbon and Porto for tourists who don’t speak Portuguese is hard. Other cities are much better in spite of the fact that they have narrow roads.

Portugal Road Traffic Signs

 Driving Overseas - Short Information