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  • Writer's pictureJoana Wheeler

Driving a foreign registered vehicle in Portugal.

Who can drive a foreign registered car in Portugal?


This is one of the most frequently asked questions by those who travel and bring their car to Portugal. We will examine the various problems associated with operating these vehicles.


The question that usually arises is:

Can we or can we not drive a vehicle in Portugal with a foreign license?


The Law (Law 22-A/2007 of June 29, Article 30) is very clear in this regard and the answer is yes. A driving license from a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area is recognized in Portugal, and its holder is permitted to operate any vehicle in Portugal, whether it has a Portuguese registration or a foreign registration, as long as the license entitles him to do so in his country of origin.


As a result, anyone with a license, for example a French license, allowing a person to drive a car in France may likewise do so in Portugal. As a result, unless specifically required by Portuguese legislation or European Union law, there is no necessity to swap a driver's license (from French to Portuguese or from Portuguese to French).


Situations where a new driver's license is required include:

· If you lose it, damage it, or it is stolen;

· If you commit a road traffic offence in the country where you live you must exchange the license to that of the country where you live;

· If it expires, it must be replaced with the residence country's license.


The law allows foreign driving licenses, however, the issue that you may have is when it comes to driving vehicles with a foreign number plate. A vehicle with a foreign number plate can only stay in Portugal for a total of 180 days each year. Additionally you will need to fulfill the following requirements, in order to be exempt from paying the road tax:

  • The car must be registered to a person who does not reside in Portugal. In other words, the driver of the car with an international license plate must not have registered residence in Portugal. Therefore, it is crucial and a requirement that the original countries address is listed on the legal documents;

  • Be brought into Portugal by the owner, the person who is listed on the cars documentation;

  • Only be used for personal use, no commercial activity may be involved;

  • Must only be driven by the legal owners;

And most importantly

  • The vehicle/owner must have all legal documentation like, ownership title, the registration booklet and insurance documents or any other paperwork that must always accompany the car;


The legislation does, however, allow for an exception to the requirement that a vehicle only be driven by its owner, allowing the owner's spouse, children, and parents to also drive it. But they are also bound by the prerequisites already mentioned, which state that they can only use it for personal use, that they must reside abroad, and that they cannot be used for business purpose on the national territory.


The last and most significant point regarding the permanence of a car with a foreign number plate in Portugal is that it can only be there as long as its owner is also there. The car cannot stay in Portugal if the owner is elsewhere.


In conclusion, we must state that, other from the three circumstances listed above, having a driver's license has no bearing on one's ability to operate any type of vehicle.


In order to avoid an unpleasant meeting with the National authorities, travelers to Portugal should pay attention to the conditions that have been revealed here regarding driving a car in Portugal.


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