Importing a car to Portugal can indeed a tempting prospect, especially when considering the comparatively high costs of purchasing a new vehicle locally when compared with other countries in Europe.

However, before taking this route, it’s vital to approach the decision with a clear understanding of the potential challenges and financial implications. Portuguese roads may be expensive, but navigating the complexities of taxes, customs duties, and registration processes can equally daunting. 

To make an informed decision, prospective importers should thoroughly research and plan ahead, ensuring that they are well-prepared to tackle the intricacies of vehicle importation and compliance with Portuguese regulations.

What you should consider before importing a car to Portugal?

Before importing a car to Portugal, there are several important factors to consider to ensure a smooth and successful process. Here are key considerations:

  1. Car Prices in Portugal 
  2. Taxes to import a car to Portugal
  3. Importing a car from the UE to Portugal
  4. Importing a car from outside the UE to Portugal
  5. Car Insurance in Portugal
  6. Used cars value in Portugal
  7. Is Portugal left or right hand drive?
  8. Shipping your car to Portugal
car traffic

1. Car prices in Portugal

Car prices in Portugal tend to be relatively high compared to some other European countries due to several factors, including taxes, import duties, and transportation costs. Portugal imposes various taxes and fees on both new and used vehicles, which can significantly increase the overall cost of purchasing a car.

If you are planning to move to Portugal from a closed or more expensive country in Europe, bringing your own car may indeed a cost-effective option. Importing your car could save you money compare to buying a new or uses vehicle locally, especially if your current vehicle meets Portuguese emission and safety standards.

2. Taxes to Import a Car to Portugal

Portugal has various taxes and duties, including customs duties, value-added tax (VAT), and vehicle registration tax (ISV). You must fulfill your tax obligations within 20 business days from the vehicle’s entry date into Portugal related to:

ISV (Imposto Sobre Veículos)

This tax, often capped at 10%, is impose on import vehicles. To determine the ISV amount applicable to your vehicle, you can use this online calculator. We will delve into tax exemptions, particularly for individuals relocating from EU/EFTA countries, which come with several advantageous provisions.

VAT (Value-Added Tax)

VAT applies to all cars classify as new. Vehicles with a registration period of less than 6 months or fewer than 6,000 kilometers on the odometer are categorize as new. Consequently, you will always be subject to a 23% VAT charge, regardless of whether you’ve already paid it in the country of origin.

Tax Exemption

Not everyone is obligate to pay taxes when they decide to import their personal vehicles into Portugal. Portuguese citizens who live in another country for more than 6 months are exempt from paying taxes on vehicle imports.


Everyone intending to drive in Portugal is obligated to pay the Imposto Único de Circulação (IUC), which translates to the Single Circulation Tax. This tax is a mandatory requirement for all vehicles in Portugal and must be paid annually.

taxes in portugal

3. Importing a car from the EU to Portugal

For EU citizens originating from countries outside of Portugal who aspire to become residents in Portugal, there is a possibility of being exempt from taxes on importing a vehicle. However, specific eligibility criteria must satisfy. 

Eligibility Requirements for Tax Exemption

  • Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Ownership Proof: You must be able to provide evidence of car ownership for a minimum of 6 months before the importation.
  • Residence Duration: You should have resided in your previous country for a continuous period of at least 6 months.

Documents required for Tax Exemption

In order to confirm your eligibility for a tax exemption when importing your car into Portugal, you will need to provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of residency in your previous country for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Car documentation demonstrating your ownership for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Supplementary evidence of your foreign residence, which may include rental receipts, utility bills, and other relevant documents.

You are obligated to pay Value Add Tax (VAT) solely for brand new cars or those owned for less than six months. Additionally, if you have already paid VAT on the vehicle in another European Union (EU) member state, you have the opportunity to reclaim it.

4. Importing a car from outside the EU to Portugal

Importing a car to Portugal from a country outside the European Union (EU) entails specific customs requirements and financial considerations. Beyond the standard importation paperwork, individuals looking to bring a vehicle into Portugal from a non-EU location must complete additional customs documents. 

A significant financial aspect to mindful of when importing a car from outside the EU into Portugal is the payment of Value Added Tax (VAT). Vehicles imported from non-EU countries often attract VAT. It’s crucial to budget for this tax and understand the possibility of reclaiming VAT if it has already been paid in the vehicle’s country of origin, making compliance with Portuguese customs regulations a well-informed and financially sound endeavor.

Shipping car to Portugal

5. Car Insurance in Portugal

In Portugal, it is a legal requirement for all vehicles to have annual insurance coverage to address third-party damages. The car insurance Portugal is mandatory and serves as a safety net in the event of accidents or other unforeseen incidents on the road. 

The cost of this insurance can vary significantly, primarily based on the vehicle’s engine size and other factors.

Annual insurance car price for third-party damages typically range from €150 to €700 or more, depending on various elements such as the vehicle’s engine capacity, age, and the driver’s personal history.

6. Resale value and used cars Portugal

Portuguese car buyers often have a strong preference for German car brands, which are renowned for their engineering, reliability, and quality. Cars from brands like Volkswagen, BMW, and Audi tend to be more appreciated and can command higher prices as used cars due to the trust they inspire among consumers.

Additionally, Portugal, like many European countries, is witnessing a surge in the popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles. As environmental consciousness grows and regulations favor cleaner transportation options, these eco-friendly cars are in high demand. Their resale value tends to remain strong as more buyers seek efficient and sustainable mobility solutions. 

Furthermore, SUVs often retain more value compare to combi (station wagons) or sedans in the Portuguese market. SUVs are favored for their versatility, spaciousness, and capability, making them a desirable choice among buyers and contributing to their relatively robust use cars resale values.

resale value car

7. Is Portugal left or right hand drive?

Portugal follows right-hand traffic rules, making left-hand drive vehicles the standard If you are relocating from the United States, this aligns with your existing driving practices. 

However, if you are contemplating a move from the United Kingdom, it’s essential to be mindful of this distinction. 

Transitioning from left-hand drive to right-hand drive or vice versa can significantly impact your driving experience and road safety. It involves adjusting to new traffic patterns, road signs, and vehicle controls.

8. Shipping your car to Portugal

Shipping your car to Portugal is a practical choice, especially if you’re moving from outside of Europe. If you currently reside within Europe, you have the delightful option of embarking on a road trip to Portugal, enjoying the scenic routes and vibrant cultures along the way. It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore different countries en route to your new destination.

However, for those living outside of Europe, shipping your car becomes the more logical and convenient choice. The cost of shipping can vary depending on your starting point. 

Shipping a vehicle from the United States to Portugal may typically range between €2,500 and €3,500, considering factors like the car’s size and shipping method. Conversely, if you’re already within Europe, the shipping cost can considerably lower, often around €1,000, making it a cost-effective and efficient way to transport your vehicle to Portugal.

Documents to import a car to Portugal

Vehicle Documents

  • Transaction Declaration: These document prove your ownership of the vehicle and typically include the vehicle’s title or registration certificate.
  • Customs Certificate (DAV): The DAV (Documento Único Automóvel) is a certificate issued by Portuguese customs that is require for the registration and legal use of imported vehicles. 
  • IMT Form Model 9: This form, issued by the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes – IMT), is used for vehicle registration purposes.
  • Certificate of Conformity: If your car was originally registered in another European Union (EU) country, the EU Certificate of Conformity is essential. It confirms that the vehicle complies with EU safety and environmental standards.
  • Certificate of Homologation: Certificate confirming that the vehicle is a recognized type in Portugal and that the details provided in the Certificate of Conformity (COC) are accurate.
  • Vehicle Inspection Certificate: Only applies if the car is more than 4 years old since in Portugal, cars that are more than 4 years old are subject to mandatory periodic inspections for roadworthiness and safety. 

Personal Documents

  • Driver’s license
  • Identity card
  • Proof of residency
  • Tax fiscal number 
signature contract man portugal residency advisors scaled

Step-by-step to import a car to Portugal

Step 1 – Online Registration at Portal das Financas

To begin the process, register on the Portal das Financas, the online platform for the tax department. During registration, you’ll provide your NIF number (Portuguese tax identification number), and a password will send to you via mail, which may take a few days.

Step 2 – Certificate of Conformity

Ensure you possess the Certificate of Conformity, a document issued by the manufacturer confirming your car’s specifications and legal compliance. Take this certificate to the IMT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes) for homologation, a free process that may require a few days. 

Step 3 – DAV Form Submission

Access your Portal das Financas account to complete the DAV form online. DAV stands for Declaracao Aduaneira de Veiculos (Customs Declaration of Vehicles). Ensure you submit it within 20 days of your arrival in Portugal. 

Step 4 – Payment of DUC

After car arrival in Portugal, you have 20 days to pay the DUC (Documento Unico de Cobranca), which specifies the amount due for the DAV. This document can be found on the Financas Portal a few days after DAV submission. 

Step 5 – Payment of VAT and ISV Taxes

If you’re eligible for tax exemptions, these taxes may not apply to you. However, if you’re not exempt, visit a local Financas office to settle your tax liabilities. Upon payment confirmation, you’ll receive a Portuguese license number.

Step 6 – Car Inspection

Car inspections are mandatory and ensure your vehicle is safe for the road. The frequency of inspections varies but is usually done annually. Select the closest IMT-approved garage here. Inspection fees typically amount to around 65 euros

Step 7 – Get your Portuguese Car Document

Visit the IMT office with your Model 9 form, inspection papers, proof of tax payments, and all relevant car documentation, including the COC. After submission, you have 60 days to request your Portuguese car document, known as the Documento Unico Automovel, which costs approximately 80 euros.

Step 8 – Register your in Portugal

Following your application for the documento unico, you’ll receive it a few weeks later. Proceed to your local civil registry conservatory with your documents to complete the vehicle registration process, typically costing around 50 to 65 euros.

Step 9 – Pay the Annual Car Tax (IUC)

The Imposto Unico de Circulacao (IUC) is an annual car tax that everyone in Portugal must pay to drive on Portuguese roads. The amount varies based on your vehicle, and you have 90 days to make this payment.  You can simulate your IUC here.

Step 10 – Acquire your new License Plate

Get the Portuguese license plates for your car. You already have your Portuguese license number, and local shops can produce the plates for a cost around €25. And ow you can enjoy your driving in Portugal.

Import a car to Portugal

How we can help you?

Are you considering bringing your car to Portugal? It’s a significant decision that can be made much smoother and error-free with the assistance of professional services. Importing a vehicle involves a multitude of intricate steps, including navigating through legal and administrative requirements, taxation, and ensuring compliance with local regulations.

Professional services, such as those offered by car importation experts, can prove to be invaluable in simplifying this process and helping you avoid costly mistakes. These specialists possess the expertise and experience to guide you through every aspect of importing your car, ensuring that you meet all necessary legal obligations and requirements.

At Portugal Residency Advisors, we understand the importance of a seamless transition when relocating to Portugal. That’s why we can connect you with the most reputable and trusted providers of professional services for car importation.

Frequently asked questions about How to Import a car to Portugal

Are there tax exemptions for importing a car?

Tax exemptions may apply, particularly if you’re relocating from another EU/EFTA country. Eligibility depends on various factors, so consult with authorities or experts for guidance.

How long does the car importation process take?

The process duration can vary, but it typically takes several weeks to complete all required steps, including inspections and paperwork.

Do I need to pay taxes when importing a car to Portugal?

Taxes like ISV (Imposto Sobre Veículos) and VAT (Value-Added Tax) may apply, but exemptions can also be possible. The tax amount depends on various factors.

Can I drive my imported car in Portugal while the import process is ongoing?

es, you can typically drive your imported car during the assessment period, provided you have the necessary documents like the DAV (Customs Declaration of Vehicles) and proof of residence cancellation from your previous country.

How much does it cost to import a car to Portugal?

The cost of importing a car to Portugal can vary widely depending on factors such as the car’s value, age, origin, and compliance with Portuguese regulations. Key expenses include customs duties, Value Added Tax (VAT), registration and licensing fees, transportation costs, technical inspection fees, possible modifications for compliance, documentation charges, and agent or broker fees if used.

What is the cost of car inspections in Portugal?

The cost of vehicle inspections in Portugal can vary but is usually around 65 euros. It’s essential to use an IMT-approved garage for the inspection.

How do I register my imported car in Portugal?

To register your car, visit your local civil registry conservatory with the required documents. The process usually costs around 50 to 65 euros.

Can i importing a car from Canada to Portugal?

Yes, you can import a car from Canada to Portugal; however, importing a car from outside the European Union (EU) is a bit more complicated. The process involves complying with Portuguese regulations, including customs duties, Value Added Tax (VAT) and other customs requirements.