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Driving in Portugal


The Rules of the Road

In general, the rules for driving in Portugal are much the same as those in Spain. There are a few peculiarities, however, of which you should be aware.

Speed Limits

The rules for speed limits in Portugal are slightly more straightforward than those for Spain; the fines for exceeding those limits are equally straightforward!

  • Built-up (Urban) areas: 50 km/h = 30 mph
  • Other (Rural) roads: 90 km/h = 54 mph
  • Motorways: 120 km/h = 72 mph - (minimum 50 km/h = 30 mph)
  • Inside Urban area - excess of less than 20 kms = Fine up to € 300.00
  • Inside Urban area - excess of 20 to 40 kms = Fine up to € 600.00
  • Inside Urban area - excess of 40 to 60 kms = Fine up to € 1,500.00
  • Inside Urban area - excess of 60 kms = Fine up to € 2,500.00
  • Rural roads - excess of less 30 kms = Fine up to € 300.00
  • Rural roads - excess of 30 to 60 kms = Fine up to € 600.00
  • Rural roads - excess of 60 to 80 kms = Fine up to € 1,500.00
  • Rural roads - excess of 80 kms = Fine up to € 2,500.00

"On the Spot" Traffic Fines are now applied. Police may demand immediate payment either in cash or using a Credit Card.

General Rules

The general rules are the same as for Spain; in other words, documents must be carried, seatbelts must be worn, children under 12 cannot sit in the front of the car etc.

Portugal used to have one of the highest road death tolls in Europe. This is no longer the case, thanks to new laws and a 'zero tolerance' policy on the part of the police. Please read and heed the list below:

  • Roads and un-motorized vehicles are not well lit at night, so drive with caution.
  • Vehicles parked on pavements other when permitted as indicated by signs, are subject to the vehicle being impounded for a period of up to one year.
  • Use of mobile phones when driving is illegal and subject to a fine of up to € 600.00.
  • Throwing objects or litter out of cars are subject to a fine of up to € 300.00
  • Parking cars facing against the flow of the traffic is illegal.
  • Vehicles must carry warning triangles signs. A fine of € 600.00 is applied if missing in the vehicle.
  • Crossing white lines, jumping red lights, ignoring policemen signals - all are subject to losing a licence to drive for up to one year.
  • Passing another vehicle on their right side then the driver can be fined up to € 1,250.00.
  • Drivers must remain at the scene of any accident involving death or serious injury until Police arrive.

Drivers failing to respect "Stop" signs can lead to a fine of up to € 2.500.00.

  • Driving below 50 Kms on Motorways can be fined € 300.00.
  • Speed limits are enforced by radar traps and unmarked police cars.
  • Driving a vehicle without Insurance carries a fine of up to € 2,500.00.
  • Drinking & driving laws are even stricter than the Spanish laws. Simple rule, don't!
  • All fines are subject under law to immediate payment. At the discretion of the law officer the vehicle can be seized until such payment is recorded.

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