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Driving in Portugal
 
 
 

General

Traffic drives on the right. Every town and village can be reached by an adequate system of roads. Petrol stations generally open 7am-8pm, although some are open 24 hours. Travel by motorway is subject to a toll according to distance covered and type of vehicle.

The minimum age for driving is 18 (but drivers must be at least 21 to 25 if renting a car). Cars may be imported for up to six months. Traffic signs are international. Drivers should dip headlights in built-up areas and use side lights when parking in badly lit areas. Children should not travel in the front seat. Seat belts should be worn. Warning triangles are compulsory. It is forbidden to carry cans of petrol in vehicles. Speed limits are 50kph (30mph) in built-up areas, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 120kph (70mph) on motorways.

Portugal's road and highway system is ranked lower than that of many western European countries. The majority of highways consist of two lanes, and there can be long delays because of heavy commercial truck traffic. Toll roads are very expensive, and thus rarely utilised by local drivers, adding to the congestion on secondary roadways.

Poorly lit roads and construction zones, occasional straying livestock and slow moving agricultural equipment all contribute to the hazards of driving in Portugal. Fines for traffic violations are substantial and usually must be paid on the spot.

Driving Licence

If you are visiting Portugal as a temporary visitor (up to six months) you may drive using your current licence (do check with the relevant authorities), international licence or the new pink EU licence which some people have been issued with. Once you have become a resident in Portugal if you have an EU licence this is valid, otherwise you must obtain a Portuguese licence. You do this by applying at the local traffic department, Direccao de Viacao (your town hall will be able to direct you to the relevant place), and producing all relevant documentation. You will be required to pass a Portuguese driving test.

These documentation will generally include:

• Valid drving licence;
• Passport or ID card;
• Residence Permit;
• 2 passport-style photographs;
• Application forms.

Insurance

You can obtain the international insurance certificate (green card) from any insurers before you leave your home country and this will cover you whilst in Portugal . Ordinary car insurance is also easily obtainable once within the country, from any insurance company (companhia de seguros). The best thing would be to enquire where other expatriates have obtained theirs. For shorter-term cover, check with your own insurers for extended warranty for Europe , especially for roadside recovery, which can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of breakdown problems. The AA reckons that one in 26 motorists need breakdown assistance while abroad. The important thing to check is that you are covered for third-party damage.

 
 



 



 


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