The easiest way of acquiring a vehicle with valid Portuguese registration documents is to purchase a new vehicle from an authorised agent in Portugal who will register the vehicle for you.
This has the added advantage of having agents close by to provide service, with guarantees.
However, importation is an option and there can be tax advantages for new residents from within the EU who import a vehicle they have owned for more than 12 months.
You cannot have a foreign licenced vehicle in Portugal for over 6 months in a year. After 180 days you will need to legalize the vehicle.
In order to do the car Importation you should follow these steps:
Firstly, to use the vehicle legally whilst the importation process is underway, the owner should apply at the Customs for a long-term permit Guia de Circulação.
In the same place the owner will, if applicable, apply for exemption or determination of vehicle tax. The vehicle will then be registered with IMTT and the Documento Único (Car Document) will then be posted to you.
Individuals who are moving to Portugal and who have resided in another EU state, for at least 12 months prior to their arrival in Portugal, and who can provide proof of this (presentation of recent tility bills),may be eligible for exemption from ISV.
For new residents in Portugal who come from an EU member state country, the vehicle must have been bought in the country of their previous residence, not have been exempted from any tax, and have been owned for at least 12 months before transfer of residence, when transferring the residence, you must cancel the residence in your country of origin immediately. Exemption must be requested within six months of transfer of residence, providing that you did not have any income from in Portugal until then. This can be done at one of seven Customs offices (Lisbon, Matosinhos, Aveiro, Setúbal, Faro, Funchal and Ponta Delgada).
After presentation of the documentation to the Customs, they provide a receipt that permits the vehicle to be driven in Madeira for the period indicated on the receipt. This period is renewable until the importation process is complete, which can be up to one year.
Exemption from vehicle tax can only be claimed once in any ten years.
Portuguese vehicle registration (Matricula)
The Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes Terrestres (IMTT) is the government department responsible for registering vehicles and vehicle ownership and for issuing registration numbers.
Portuguese number plates can only be issued for a vehicle previously registered in another country when its technical specifications meet Portuguese and/or European Union standards.
If the model has not been approved for use in Portugal but the vehicle was registered in another EU country, then the original or a notarised copy of the manufacturer's certificate from that country is required. The vehicle will also need a technical registered test centre.
For motorbikes this includes a noise level test.
The approval of models not previously registered in the EU is much more complicated.
After submitting the documentation an inspection to the vehicle needs to be done to confirm the vehicle's chassis and motor numbers, the number of passengers, and that lights, reflectors and safety equipment meet Portuguese standards, this inspection is done only in Inspection Centres classed as “Centro de Inspecção Classe B) Following successful inspection, the IMTT will issue the vehicle registration document (Documento Unico),
Vehicle tax (Imposto Sobre Veiculos, ISV)
Vehicle tax is based on engine size and age of vehicle as well as the CO2 emission. For light non-commercial and 4-wheel drive vehicles/ commercial vehicles the tax, can be calculated from the following tables, multiplying the capacity (cc) by the appropriate tax rate, then subtracting the deduction adding to than the result of multiplying the CO2 emission by the relative tax then subtracting the deduction. For used vehicles there are reductions on the tax related to CM3 when the vehicles are more than six months old and are imported from another EU country where all relevant taxes have been paid.
Necessary Documents to import Motor-cars by foreigners
· European certificate of conformity
· Technical Inspection performed at a “classe B” inspection centre
· Document “modelo 9” certified by Alfandega and the inspection centre
· Document from Alfandega (customs) proving the payment or exemption of ISV Vehicle tax.
· Original car papers + 3 copies
· Photocopy of the Contribuinte Card (Fiscal number)
· Photocopy of ID, Bilhete de Identidade or Residencia Certificate.
· Photocopy of Driving licence
· Stamped, self addressed envelope
For those applying for exemption of tax you will also need:
· Document proving the official cancellation of residence (from the country of origin or consulate)
· Document to request exemption “Modelo 22.1100” filled in and signed. The same form is used for severely disabled people or any other situation entitled to exemption.
· Certification from “Junta de Freguesia” with the official residence (since an exact date)
· Certificate from “finanças” proving that you didn’t earn any money in Portugal, during the last 3 years.
· Certificate of Debt, from Finanças, proving that you do not owe money to the Government.
· Certificate of Debt, from “Segurança Social” proving that you do not owe money to them.
· Vehicle Registration Document (in your name for more than 12 months)
· Utility bills from your country of origin and in your name for the past 12 months.
· Residençia Certificate