Buying, registering and selling a vehicle in Portugal
This page provides information on the following:
- Registering a foreign vehicle
- Buying and registering a new vehicle
- Buying and registering a used vehicle
- Special procedures for vehicle use and registration
- Penalties for failure to comply with registration rules
- Vehicle taxes
- Periodic inspections of motor vehicles
- Cancellation of registration
If you move to Portugal, you can use your vehicle while it is still registered in another country. However, you have up to 60 days to register your vehicle after a registration number has been allocated (see how to register an imported vehicle).
You will have to register the vehicle if you are the owner or the holder of the registration certificate, or if you use a vehicle that does not belong to you (for example, a family member’s vehicle). Registration is compulsory and can be done online.
A vehicle must be registered by the person or undertaking that purchases it or by their legal representative (lawyer, solicitor or notary). Registration is compulsory and must be done within 60 days of allocation of the respective registration number.
You can use the Automóvel Online platform to make a number of applications to register motor vehicles. If you prefer, however, you can register a vehicle in a Vehicle Licensing Office or a Citizen Shop.
Applications to register a vehicle must be submitted to the Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT) [Institute for Mobility and Transport].
If you buy a used vehicle which is already registered in Portugal you have up to 60 days from the date of sale to regularise the registration. You must regularise the vehicle registration via the Automóvel Online platform, a Vehicle Licensing Office or a Citizens Shop.
This also applies to a vehicle that has already been registered in another Member State.
Portugal has a temporary admission procedure which allows vehicles registered in another Member State to remain in the country and be used without paying tax for a maximum of 6 months, whether consecutive or not, in each 12 months.
The vehicles concerned must have a permanent registration number in another Member State and must be registered in the name of a citizen who is not resident in Portugal. They must also be brought into Portugal by their owners or lawful keepers for their private use.
The vehicles may be driven in Portugal by their owners, spouses or common law spouses, parents or lawful keepers, provided that they are not normally resident in Portugal.
This procedure is permitted for persons who are in Portugal for a fixed term, for education or for training, and who retain their residence and personal links in another Member State. The procedure is fixed for the time required to fulfil the respective purpose.
It also applies to cross-border workers who live in Spain and travel regularly between their residence and their place of work in Portugal.
Applications for the temporary admission procedure in these circumstances must be submitted to the Direcção-Geral das Alfândegas e dos Impostos Especiais sobre o Consumo [General Directorate for Customs and Excise] within no more than 30 days of arriving in Portugal, with the documentation requested.
If you are a national of another European Union country who is studying in Portugal:
- you do not have to register your vehicle with the Portuguese authorities during the period of your studies (this exemption also applies if the owner of the vehicle is one of the student’s parents who does not live in Portugal);
- the exemption is only valid for temporary importation;
- the vehicle is also exempt from payment of motor vehicle tax in Portugal.
To benefit from this exemption you must provide proof of enrolment with your university or educational establishment, which will be valid for 12 months or for the period of your studies in Portugal, and proof of residence in another Member State.
To apply for an exemption you must complete the Declaração Aduaneira de Veículo (DAV) [Vehicle Customs Declaration] on the Portal das Finanças [Tax and Customs Authority website], within 30 days of the date the vehicle enters Portugal.
If you also work in Portugal while you are a student, you must register your vehicle and pay the applicable taxes.
If you are a national of another EU country and have a second home in Portugal, you must only register your vehicle in Portugal if it is imported under the temporary importation procedure for over 6 months, whether consecutive or not, during any period of 12 months.
If you are a cross-border worker, i.e. you work in Portugal but live in Spain and go home on a regular basis in your own vehicle, you may apply to the customs service for an exemption from vehicle tax (temporary importation).
Cross-Border workers must present evidence that:
- their habitual residence is in Spain;
- they work in Portugal (e.g. a copy of their employment contract).
If you come to Portugal to live, you can apply for exemption from payment of Vehicle Tax (ISV). You have 12 months from the date of your change of residence to Portugal to do this.
The following may also benefit from exemption from ISV:
- persons over 18 years of age who change their residence to Portugal and who had previously lived in another Member State or another country for at least 6 months;
- Portuguese nationals or nationals of another Member State who earn income which is taxed in Portugal for 24 months (members of co-operatives, teachers, officials contracted abroad to provide services in Portuguese diplomatic and consular posts or to represent Portuguese public services, and officials of international organisations).
Applications for exemption must be made online via the Tax and Customs Authority website.
The Portuguese Highway Code allows applications for the seizure of vehicles, with a view to scrapping vehicles whose record of ownership has not been regularised.
In the event of the sale of the vehicle, the new owner must regularise the registration within 60 days of the date of sale. If after those 60 days the vehicle remains in the name of the former owner and is driven on the road with an out-of-date ownership record, an application may be made to seize it.
The former owner may apply to have the vehicle seized for failure to regularise its ownership via the Vehicle Licensing Authority or the IMT help desk in their area of residence by presenting their identification card and the necessary form.
The IMT will forward this application to the traffic control authorities (PSP – Polícia de Segurança Pública, and GNR – Guarda Nacional Republicana), responsible for seizing the vehicle.
If the vehicle is not located by the authorities within 6 months it is deemed to be missing and the IMT may remove it from the record.
As a national of an EU country, if you wish to register and use your vehicle in Portugal you must pay:
- a registration fee: Vehicle Tax (ISV);
- a road tax: Imposto Único de Circulação (IUC) [Uniform road tax].
The following categories of vehicles are exempt from Vehicle Tax (ISV) but must be registered in Portugal:
- vehicles whose owners have changed their residence to Portugal from another EU country or from a non-EU country;
- vehicles brought in by diplomats who are returning to Portugal;
- vehicles belonging to EU officials and agents;
- vehicles acquired by local authorities to transport school-aged children;
- vehicles acquired by the fire brigade to fight fires;
- vehicles acquired by the military, security forces or local police;
- vehicles acquired by people with disabilities.
The Imposto Único de Circulação (IUC) [Uniform Road Tax] is applied to:
- vehicles in categories A, B, C, D and E;
- vehicles in category F – private pleasure craft;
- vehicles in categories A, B, C, D, E, F and G which, while not subject to registration in Portugal, remain here for a period in excess of 183 days, whether consecutively or otherwise, in each calendar year, with the exception of goods vehicles with a gross weight equal to or greater than 12 tonnes.
Vehicles in categories A and B, recorded or registered in Portugal, which are subject to IUC are:
- Category A: Light passenger motor vehicles and light mixed-use motor vehicles with a gross weight not exceeding 2 500 kg, which have been registered for the first time in national territory or in the territory of another Member State of the European Union or of the European Economic Area.
- Category B: Passenger motor vehicles and light mixed-use motor vehicles with a gross weight not exceeding 2 500 kg, the date of first registration of which in national territory or in a Member State of the European Union or of the European Economic Area is subsequent to the entry into force of this code.
The following categories of vehicles are exempt from Uniform Road Tax (IUC):
- central, regional or local government vehicles, military and security force vehicles and vehicles acquired by humanitarian fire-fighting associations or municipal councils;
- motor vehicles and motorcycles owned by foreign states, diplomatic and consular missions, international organisations and specialised European agencies and their officials;
- motor vehicles and motorcycles of over 30 years of age or which constitute public museum pieces which are used on an occasional basis and do not cover more than 500 km per year;
- non-motorised vehicles, exclusively electric or powered by non-combustible renewable energies, special non-carrying goods vehicles, ambulances and other vehicles for transporting patients under the applicable regulations, funeral vehicles and agricultural tractors;
- category B vehicles with a level of carbon dioxide emissions of up to 180 g/km and vehicles of category A for hire with driver (letter T) or for taxi services;
- vehicles seized in criminal proceedings;
- vehicles considered to be abandoned in the terms of the Portuguese Highway Code, as soon as they revert to the State or local councils;
- vehicles declared to be seized for the benefit of the State;
- vehicles used by teams of forest fire-fighters as part of the system to protect forests against fires.
The following are also exempt from this tax:
- disabled persons whose degree of incapacity is equal to or greater than 60% in relation to vehicles in category B;
- private social solidarity institutions.
Anyone who does not register their vehicle in Portugal when required to do so is subject to Vehicle Tax (ISV) and the corresponding penalties for late payment and tax evasion.
Periodic inspections are intended to ensure that good operating and safety conditions for all equipment and the safety of light and heavy vehicles and their trailers are maintained on a regular basis.
A range of simple checks can be carried out regularly by the driver of the vehicle before taking it to an inspection centre.
To find out when your vehicle is due to be inspected, see the simulator on the Institute for Mobility and Transport website.
Cancellation of registration removes the authorisation for a vehicle to be driven on the public highway and can be applied for by the respective owner in the following circumstances:
- cancellation because of failure to transfer ownership of the vehicle;
- cancellation because the vehicle is no longer used on the public highway;
- cancellation because the vehicle is missing;
- cancellation because the vehicle has been exported;
- temporary cancellation of the registration of heavy goods vehicles used for public transport;
- when the vehicle is rendered inoperative.
See the Institute for Mobility and Transport website to find out how to apply to cancel the registration.
You can also consult the cancelled registration database on the IMT site.
End-of life vehicles are motor vehicles which are unfit to drive due to an accident, breakdown, poor condition or other reasons, and are categorised as waste.
To cancel the registration of an end-of life vehicle the owner must hand it over to a reception centre or an authorised dismantler. These bodies issue a certificate of destruction which they forward to the Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT).
No tax is levied for this service, but since the Single Circulation Tax is annual it must be paid until the registration is cancelled or the vehicle is scrapped.