THE FOLLOWING ARE MANDATORY WHEN DRIVING IN PORTUGAL AND MUST BE
CARRIED IN THE VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES:
* VEHICLE REGISTRATION DOCUMENT OR RENTAL CONTRACT
* LETTER OF AUTHORITY TO DRIVE, IF YOU ARE NOT THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE
* CURRENT M.O.T. CERTIFICATE
* CURRENT CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE (MULTI-LINGUAL ON THE REVERSE)
* PHOTOCARD DRIVING LICENCE OR INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT, IF YOUR LICENCE DOES NOT HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH, A PASSPORT IS NEEDED TO VALIDATE THE DRIVING LICENCE.
* SPARE BULB KIT
* WARNING TRIANGLE
* FIRST AID KIT
* INTERNATIONAL ACCIDENT DECLARATION FORM
* HIGH-VISABILITY VEST - These have to be placed near the driver, so that he or she can put it on before getting out of the vehicle.
* You MUST NOT carry spare petrol cans in a vehicle
Children in cars:
Children under 12 are not allowed in the front passenger seat. Child baby and booster seats are required by law up to age of eleven and must be used with their fastening system.
Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility.
Compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted
Speed limits & Fines:
Beware speed limits are enforced by Speed Cameras & Unmarked Police Cars.
Motorways = 120km/h
Dual Carriageways = 90 km/h
Rural Roads - 90 km/h
Towns = 50 km/h.
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
Do not pass trams when passengers getting on/off, this also incurs a fine.
All fines are subject under law to immediate payment. At the discretion of the police officer the vehicle can be seized until such payment is recorded. In all events an official receipt should be issued.
Drinking and Driving:
Your blood alcohol level is not allowed to exceed 0.05 percent and the penalties are extremely stiff and high amounts may include time in prison of up to 2 years and a fine of € 2,500.00. Exceeding the limit by 0.5% to 0.8 % is a fine of € 1200.00. From 0.8% to 1.2% is € 2,500.00.
These roads are denoted with the letter 'A'. Tolls are charged and must be paid in cash, Credit/Debit Cards are NOT accepted. Do NOT use the green lanes as these are reserved for motorists that subscribe to the automatic pay system.
Caravans & Trailers:
Towing vehicles must display sign (yellow triangle-blue background). Caravan contents should be listed and made available to the police when requested. Please be aware that the speed limits when towing a caravan/trailer are lower.
A millisecond after the green light comes on at the traffic lights, all drivers behind you will start honking their horns furiously. This is because green lights also last only three milliseconds; they are carefully programmed to let only one or two cars get away. To be a true native, you must honk your horn too, even if your car is the first in the line. This will also help you avoid hearing the racket other drivers will be making.
Beware of taxi drivers, who are a harassed race and tend to have short tempers. If a taxi driver insults you, ignore him completely and drive on. If you choose to retaliate, you may find yourself intercepted at the next corner, dragged out of your car and embroiled in a fistfight.
Traffic police are easily identified. They carry a thick notebook for scribbling the licence plate number of the 'infractor' - person who's going to get a ticket. They also wear a red armband with a T for 'Trânsito'.
Random 'operações STOP' (a police operation to check car documents etc.) are also common, especially in the countryside by the G.N.R. (Guarda Nacional Republicana), a militarised police force for rural areas. Make sure you STOP if requested to do so. Otherwise their trigger-happy law enforcement officers, will be more than happy to convince you... with a few bursts from their automatic rifles! If you're caught using a cellphone, microphone or any other electrical device while driving, you face getting a swift fine.
In Lisbon, you will quickly find out, that it is a most favorable environment for tailgating. Jams are frequent and prolonged. If you try to be civil to your fellow human beings and refrain from blocking the intersection, letting other drivers pass first, you’ll have the opportunity to learn some choice words in the Portuguese language about your mother, your own profession if you are a female, or your masculinity and/or sexual prowess.
Keep this in mind, cars behind you are probably going 50 or even 100 km/h faster than you are, so you have to be very careful about cars coming up behind you.
Look at it this way, if a car is coming up behind you with its left-turn signal blinking, it means that the driver intends to pass. If the car behind you flashes its headlights, it means that it definitely wants to pass.
One last thought all Portuguese drivers are lunatics, you have been warned.
This information has been provided with the assistance of the Portuguese Directorate-General for Traffic (DGV)