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Top tips for driving in Portugal

Driving in Portugal - 15 Things You Need To Know

The greatest way to enjoy Portugal's hidden gems is by vehicle, and each detour and incorrect turn might lead you to a new gorgeous town or hamlet. From the Algarve to the Azores, there are many stunning locations to be discovered and having your own car, or hiring one, is one of the most popular ways of travelling through Portugal. That being said, it’s important to keep a few things in mind to have a seamless and safe trip. Here are 15 things you need to know about driving in Portugal:


Stick to the right

Driving is done on the right side of the car, with the steering wheel on the left. In free-flowing traffic, overtaking on the right is unlawful. For the same, you might face a fine of up to 1000 euros.


Strap in safely

If the vehicle has seat belts, all passengers, front and rear, must use them. Children under the age of 12 and shorter than 1.5 metres are not permitted to sit in the front seats. Unless the vehicle only has two seats or no seatbelts, they must be seated in the back using a size-adapted restraint system.


Driving in Portugal Street Sign
Driving in Portugal Speed Limits

Obey the speed limits

The following are the legal speed limits for non-trailer private automobiles. In built-up areas, the speed restriction is 50 kmph; and outside built-up areas, the speed limit is 55 mph. Speeding penalties are assessed on a sliding scale based on how much you have violated the speed limit. For example, if you exceed the speed limit by 30-60kmph on a rural road, you may face a punishment of up to 600 euros; but, if you exceed the speed limit by 60 to 80 kmph, the fine may be as high as 1500 euros.


Pay attention to parking signs

No parking signs are referred to as Estacionamento Probido. A no-parking zone is commonly denoted by a white and blue sign with a red line across it. No parking zones are also designated by yellow or red signs painted on the curb. You are not permitted to park within 5 meters of a junction, 25 meters before or after a bus stop, or 6 meters from a tram stop. Parking on a one-way street must always be done in the same direction as the traffic. If you are caught parking illegally on many occasions, you may get points deducted from your license. This has an impact on your insurance prices.


Do not drink and drive

The legal limit for alcohol concentration per litre is 0.5 mg/ml. Any reading exceeding 0.5 mg/ml may result in a substantial fine and the suspension of one's driving privileges for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 2 years. The police may also conduct drug tests on drivers.


Prepare for toll roads

In Portugal, electronic toll roads have been in operation since 2012. You have the option of using Via Verde, TOLLCard, TOLLService, or EASYToll. The Via Verde system requires you to pay a monthly charge in exchange for an electronic gadget that is fitted to your windshield and automatically registers you when you pass through the toll. The TOLLCard is a pre-loaded card that may be used to pay electronic tolls. TollService is a pre-loaded ticket that is valid for three days. Easytoll requires you to input your license plate number and bank card information at a toll machine at the start of your travel, and the costs are automatically deducted from your account. Green lanes on highways are designated for cars that use automatic payment systems. If you are not a member, you should avoid them.


Carry all necessary documents and equipment

It goes without saying that a valid driving license and identification are required, since Portuguese police may impose on-the-spot penalties if you do not have them. You must also have valid insurance, registration, and IPO certificates with you. Registration paperwork, license plate certificates, and logbooks have been replaced by the DUA All-in-One Vehicle Document (Documento Unico Automovel), which is now more convenient to carry. Foreign visitors should also bring their passports. You must also apply a sticker indicating the nation of origin of your car.

As for equipment, you'll need to always have a reflective warning triangle and a reflective danger jacket on hand. Spare bulbs and tyres are also essential in case of a breakdown or headlight blowout.


Driving in Portugal Toll Roads
Driving in Portugal Equipments

Obtain suitable insurance

Having third party insurance is compulsory if you wish to drive in Portugal. You need to display your insurance sticker on your windscreen.


Pay road taxes

Motorists are required to pay the Imposto Unico Circulacao. You must pay it yearly on the anniversary of the car's registration, and you must maintain your receipt as evidence of payment. If your automobile was registered before 2007, the amount of tax you must pay is determined by the vehicle's age and capacity. Newer automobile taxes are dependent on engine power and CO2 emissions.


Find a gas station

Petrol, diesel, and LPG are all readily accessible at gas stations. If you use a credit card to make a payment, you may be charged a small fee.


Pay attention to street signs

You'll find in many places that street signs are often scarce or absent altogether. Therefore, it is usually best to utilize GPS or a printed map. Additionally, since many roadways do not have sidewalks, you must be cautious of pedestrians. In remote places, cattle may be encountered on the road, necessitating extreme caution.


Driving in Portugal Emergency Call
Driving in Portugal Gas Station

Watch out for dangerous roads

Some highways, such as the IP5 and N125 routes to the Algarve, the EN125, the A20 near Porto, and the Antigua ER101, are particularly hazardous. In rural places, the nation also contains numerous winding and narrow roads that are poorly maintained. Look out for and drive cautiously on these.


Put your phone away

Using mobile phones while driving is illegal and you may be fined up to €600 if you are caught.


Call emergency services

In the event of a roadside emergency in Portugal, contact 112.


Hire a car

Portugal's driving age is 18. However, most car hire firms need a minimum age of 21 and a valid license held for at least 5 years. EU nationals may drive in Portugal until their license expires. Non-EU citizens may exchange their license for a Portuguese one or apply for a new one depending on if their home country has a reciprocal agreement with Portugal.


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