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  • Writer's pictureJoana Wheeler

A guide to Legalizing imported cars

How to legalize imported cars abroad?

You can legalize your vehicles and take advantage of specific exemptions, like the ISV* exemption, when you return to Portugal. But pay attention: it takes time because this is a complicated process with many steps and a lot of red tape. The challenges and bureaucracies are the same whether you arrive in Portugal from Belgium or Brazil.


Simply put, you need to gather a number of documentation in order to legally register an imported vehicle. You will need to get in touch with the IMTT**, the Inspection Center, the Motor Registry, and the Portuguese Tax Authority (Finance) during the procedure. You must submit and complete several pieces of paperwork in each of the entities for a variety of purposes.


In the end, you will be required to pay additional taxes, such as the IUC*** and ISV*, which are calculated based on a number of variables, in addition to the fixed charges. It might, however, and in some circumstances, qualify for a tax exemption application.


How do you calculate the price for Car Legalization?

The cost of petrol, tolls, and other charges must be considered before you decide whether to make the journey and take the vehicle yourself or hire a professional moving company.


There are fixed and variable costs associated with the legalization of vehicles:

  • The cost of a vehicle registration, and an inspection is assumed by the value of the fixed component;

  • The car's characteristics, specifically its displacement in cm3, CO2 emissions, and the country of import, will have a significant impact on the value of the variable component. Taxes such as the vehicle tax (ISV*), single movement tax (IUC***), and occasionally VAT are levied in order to cover this variable portion.



What are the conditions to benefit from the Vehicle Tax Exemption (ISV*)?

ISV* is available to those over 18 who formerly resided in an EU member state or a third nation and move their permanente Residence to Portugal, provided that certain requirements are completed.


  • The individual in question must show proof of residence in another EU Member State or in a third nation for a minimum of six months;

  • If the residence has been in non-consecutive periods and the country of origin establishes residence restrictions, the total length of stay in the country shall be counted, based on a certificate issued by the competent consular entity, and each period may not be less than 183 days per calendar year;

  • Possessing the vehicle in the country of origin for at least six months prior to the change of address, measured from the day the title to the vehicle was issued;

  • Individuals who spend up to two years abroad for work, school, or training do not consider themselves to be residents of another Member State or of a third nation.


You can have a free simulation of the ISV's value or determine whether the ISV exemption applies to your situation by clicking here.


Sites to visit:


Steps to follow:

  • Get national approval number in IMT (face-to-face or online), with COC or without COC

  • Inspect for registration at the Inspection Center (face-to-face), obtaining model 112

  • Fill out Customs Vehicle Declaration (DAV) on the Customs Authority Portal (online)

  • Pay taxes at the ATM, bank (online or face-to-face) or in a finance service (face-to-face)

  • Make the registration plates in a car parts store, fast services, etc. (online or face-to-face)

  • Hire car insurance

  • Deliver model 9 to IMT (face-to-face)

  • Register at the Motor Register Registry (online or in person)

  • Pay IUC (online or face-to-face)




ISV* - Imposto Sobre Veículo (Vehicle Tax)

IMTT* - Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes Terrestres (Institute of Mobility and Land Transport)

IUC*** - Imposto Único de Cirlulação (Single Cirlulation Tax)

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