Why are cars so expensive in Portugal

Information on importing cars or motorcycles, changing registrations, taxes and insurance

One-time vehicle registration tax: ISV (Imposto sobre Veiculo)

Anyone who registers their car in Portugal (e.g. after moving) must pay the vehicle registration tax - Imposto sobre Veículopay. This applies to all vehicles - including new vehicles sold by dealers. This is another reason why motor vehicles (whether new or used) are more expensive in Portugal than in Germany, for example. Nevertheless, under certain conditions it can be cheaper to buy a car in the country: namely if you either who want to save the somewhat complicated procedure of importing a vehicle from abroad into Portugal or if the ISV is higher than the value of a used vehicle.

Note: It is possible to bypass the ISV when moving to Portugal. You can import a vehicle tax-free under certain conditions. The conditions include (as of 2018):

  • The deadline to apply for this tax exemption is no longer just six, but from 2018 twelve months.
  • The vehicle must have been owned by the applicant six months before moving to Portugal.
  • After the tax-free registration in Portugal, it may not be sold or given away within a certain period (twelve months). This is checked on a random basis. If this deadline is not met and the vehicle is sent to a person resident in Portugal, the remaining amount of the ISV is due.
  • A completely new provision is that people resident in Portugal who inherit a vehicle from someone abroad can also import it tax-exempt. The deadline for submitting an application is 23 months.

When registering for the first time of the vehicle in Portugal you need the identification documents (i.e. Cartão de Residência or passport / identity card plus) Certificado de Registo) the form Impresso Modelo Único as well as a certificate from the tax office that the vehicle is "debt free".

With a change of registration (if the vehicle already has Portuguese license plates) please use the same form as for the first registration and also include the vehicle documents and your tax number (NIF). The re-registration happens at Conservatória de Registo of the respective municipality, it costs € 65.00 (as of 2018). After the re-registration, the buyer (i.e. the new owner) receives temporary vehicle documents, the new one Documento Único Automóvel will be sent by post within 60 days. Usually, however, the new vehicle documents are sent within a few working days.



Determine vehicle insurance based on the license plate number

Anyone who buys a used vehicle or is involved in an accident may want to know which insurance company the used vehicle or the "opposing" vehicle is insured with. This is about that Portal de Consumidor the ASF (Autoridade de Supervisão de Desguros e Fundos de Pensões) easily identifiable:

  • simply the number-letter combination of the license plate in the Enter the ASF search mask.


Since 1.7.2017 you can use the Declaração Aduaneira de Veículo (DAV) to be submitted electronically to the tax authorities at customs. In addition, if you are not working with a customs agent, you have your own electronic access to theFinanças required.
From January 2018, other documents for re-registration / import (such as the inspection report) will only be submitted electronically. (Legal handling: Decreto-lei 53/2017 of 31. ai 2017)

Without Portuguese tax number (NIF) you cannot import a vehicle into Portugal and register it here. You will find detailed information on how to apply for your tax number and which documents you will need under the link provided.

Online access to the Portuguese tax authorities has been essential since 1.1.2017 if you want to "legalize" a vehicle, i.e. import it into Portugal. First of all, you have to log into the Portal das Finançasto register. The tax office sent by post your personal password to the address you provided within a few days. This gives you full access to your Portuguese tax account on the one hand and to the on the other official simulator for vehicle taxes.

Without access to the portal of the tax office, you can also find out about the expected tax amount (but without guarantee):
above this externalsimulator

You need these documents

Vehicle information and documents

Are you bringing your vehicle to Portugal from abroad (and with the appropriate license plate)?
This is not a problem for holidays or even a longer stay. Because:

Who is less than half a yearr stays in Portugal, you do not have to re-register your vehicle or pay the vehicle registration tax - Imposto sobre Veículopay. During this period, the vehicle may be driven by the owner, spouse or partner and first-degree ancestors or descendants. The following also applies: The respective vehicle driver may not stay in Portugal for more than 185 days per calendar year.

Note: During this time, the vehicle may not be lent or rented to someone who is domiciled in Portugal. This is also regulated in the same way across the EU and applies to citizens of the country in question as well as residents. Such a person is only allowed to drive the vehicle if you are sitting in the car. Friends or relatives who are visiting you in Portugal (and who do not have a permanent residence in the country) are allowed to use the vehicle (it may be advisable to record this with a written confirmation that can be presented to the police on request).


The "Portugal Book", which was out of print for a long time, has now been reissued: expanded, supplemented, updated.


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