Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in Portugal

The experience of driving in Portugal isn't very much different from what one would experience when driving in other countries in Western Europe. You drive on the right hand side and overtake on the left of the road. If you’re eighteen years old, then you can drive in Portugal, since that’s the minimum driving age. Just make sure you've got the necessary documents with you at all times in order to avoid complications when you get pulled over by Portuguese authorities.

If you are a citizen of any European Union member state, any locally issued license you may have with you is considered valid in Portugal. Those who come from countries other than in the EU will need to couple their local license with an International Driving Permit, which is essentially a translation of your current license.

You’re also going to need you car’s registration papers and other documents related to that. If it’s got information about your vehicle, it’s better to keep them with you when driving in Portugal. Third party liability insurance is also required by law. Full coverage is only optional, but highly recommended. You can never be too safe when you’re driving in a foreign country.

In case you’re driving a car with a Portuguese license plate, you’ll need to pay a road tax. Keep the receipts with you as well. If your car is as old as four years, you will need an IPO certificate, which serves as proof of your vehicle’s road-worthiness.

In addition to the above mentioned documents, you will also need to keep both a reflective warning triangle as well as a reflective safety vest when driving in Portugal. Take note that these things are required by law to be in your car, and getting caught without them means paying a fine.

Once you’re good to go, you’ll need to keep in mind a couple more things. First, make sure your seat belt is worn. Both the driver and passengers should wear a seat-belt when the vehicle is outfitted with them. Children under 12 years old cannot sit in front, and should be given appropriate child car seats.

On the road, the speed limit are:

  • 50 km/h in residential areas
  • 90 km/h while on open roads
  • 120 km/h on motorways

It’s good to enjoy the food and wine in Portugal, but remember that there are limits to when you’re allowed to drive when under the influence of alcohol. The rules are strict, so it’s better to stay off the wine if you plan on driving anytime soon. It’s still okay to drive as long as your blood alcohol content is below 0. 5 grams/liter, and anything beyond that will get you in trouble, which ranges from fines to suspensions. Anything beyond 1. 2 grams/liter is a criminal offense.

Take time to be familiar with tolls in Portugal as well. There are many ways to pay for tolls. First, you can pay directly by paying the fee at the toll booth at the end of the toll road. Make sure you get the ticket as you enter the toll road. You can also subscribe to a Frequent User System, so you only have to pay monthly for an electronic device that will be attached to your windshield so you can pass toll roads without paying. You can also subscribe to the electronic toll system, which is relatively new for those driving in Portugal.

Summary

You drive on the right hand side and overtake on the left of the road.
If you’re eighteen years old, then you can drive in Portugal.
Its recommended to keep all necessary documents with you at all times.
At the minimum, third party liability insurance is also required by law.
You must have a reflective warning triangle as well as a reflective safety vest in your car at all times. Car hire companies will provide these.
Seat belts must be worn at all times.
Alcohol limit when driving is 0. 5 grams/liter.

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