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Self-Drive Motoring holidays in Portugal.

Tips on driving abroad in Portugal. Motoring rules and regulations in Portugal. Portuguese motoring laws.

Self-Drive Motoring holidays in Portugal. Tips on driving abroad in Portugal. Motoring rules and regulations in Portugal. Portuguese motoring laws.

Motorway and tunnel Tolls throughout Europe
Tolls in Portugal
Distances from Channel Ports 
International Driving Permit
Interactive Route Planner

Relative Carbon Emissions

Buy Road Maps of Portugal

Make sure you Drive Alive! Drive on the right!

  • Be especially careful when setting off from service stations or restaurants on the left side of the road.

  • Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead.

  • Portugal has strict drink driving laws.

  • Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere.

  • When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signed otherwise.

  • Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent.

  • Remember - Speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on-the-spot fines.

  • Tolls are charged on may motorways.

In all countries a full UK driving licence is required. As in the UK, seat belts should be worn front and rear. Below are motoring regulations relating to Portugal.

Speed limits Motorway Open Road Town Alcohol mg/ml
Portugal 120 km/h 90-100 km/h 50 km/h 0.5

Children in cars: Child restraint is mandatory for all children aged to 12 and that are shorter than 1.5m. They can only travel in front with proper restraint and the airbag switched off. Cars with no seat belts in the back seats can't carry children under 3 years old.

Documentation: always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. Ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. The MOT certificate is mandatory, if applicable. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.

Drinking and driving: Don't do it. Over 0.05 per cent and you could face anything from a severe fine, withdrawal of your licence, up to imprisonment.

They have to be paid on the spot. Most Police vehicles have a portable credit/debit card machine. Failure to pay on the spot will result in documents apprehension and, eventually, the vehicle. In case of documents apprehension, the Police Officer will issue an official document stating that your documents are apprehended and allowing you to drive for a few days. In this case, make sure you understand the address where you will pick up your documents and that you are given two documents: the apprehensiondocument and the traffic citation.

First-aid kit is advised, but not compulsory.

Fuel: All grades of unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are available as well as lead substitute additive.

  • Unleaded Petrol: Gasolina Sem Chumbo (sold in 95 and 98 octanes and also 100 octanes in some places).
  • Lead Substitute Petrol: Gasolina Aditivada
  • Diesel: Gasoleo
  • LPG: GP

It is not allowed to carry fuel in cans, even in small amounts. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they probably won't work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps open out-of-hours and at lunch-time (from noon to 3pm) away from the Highways. It's a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.

GB sticker: UK registered vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need a GB sticker  when driving in European Union countries.

Glasses (Spectacles): It is recomended to carry a spare pair, but not mandatory.

Headlamp converters are compulsory.

Lights: dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.

Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car and for a motorcycle over 75cc. If you've got an old-style all-green licence you might find the police will not understand them, so either get them up-dated or take an International Driving Permit as well.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets.

Motor insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory. A green card is not required but your insurer should be advised of your trip.

Replacement bulb set is compulsory.

Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted.

Tolls are charged on many motorways in Portugal. These tolls are not collected manually and rely on number plate recognition. Short term visitors to Portugal must either purchase a temporary toll device, a three day ticket, or pre-paid credit. More detailed explanation and the ability to buy online can be found at the Visit Portugal website, where there is also a list of the electronically controlled toll roads.

Visibility Vests are now compulsory in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car, and put on before getting out. Do this and you will not have a problem.

Warning triangle is compulsory.


All information on this page is provided as a service to our clients. It is intended as a guide to the more important rules for the different countries to which we offer driving holidays. It is not meant to be a comprehensive document. We try and keep the information on this page up-to-date, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies. If you find a mistake or would like to send us some additional information, please email us. Your co-operation is appreciated.

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