All cars in Portugal are actually imported but if you intend to bring a car from another country and will be living here for more than 6 months, the car will have to be matriculated. This is a complicated process and can be very costly. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you fully research the process and costs before making this decision. Two good starting points are:
You can also read the recommendations of a fellow expat with his experience importing a car into Portugal in the lifestyle section of this website.
Buying through a dealer is a straight forward process. The dealer will arrange the documentation, they usually offer a few days free insurance (to get you home) and some form of warranty. It is advisable to check the warranty period as this can differ from other countries, even on new cars. Financing options may also be available subject to your status. Most dealers will take your old vehicle in part exchange but beware as offers can be widely different from one dealer to another.
Buying from an individual (private seller) needs more caution. You need to establish the seller is the true owner and you need to verify that the documentation matches the numbers on the vehicle – VIN and registration. When you buy a car in Portugal, you may inherit any outstanding debt and/or fines attached to the vehicle so it is recommended to visit a notary (Conservatoria) who can check all outstanding finances against the vehicle registration number. The buyer is responsible to arrange the transfer of documents and new registration which will require a trip to Finances and payment of fees.
A lot of expats will tell you to beware of driving in Portugal due to the driving habits of the Portuguese. The fact is that the Portuguese have their own driving style – just like the Italians for example – and it is good to be aware of this. Driving in Portugal can be a real pleasure.
Currently, there are approximately 4.9 million cars registered in Portugal. This compares with 38.4 million in UK. So, the roads are much quieter and generally in good condition. The scenery is pretty good too. A few tips to help you enjoy the driving experience here:
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