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Things to know when driving in Portugal

July 17, 2015 | By | In Buying Guides
Things to know when driving in Portugal

According to a recent survey by TripAdvisor, Portugal is one of the top European holiday destinations for UK travellers. 

With its equally stunning beaches and city stops, it’s easy to see why holidaymakers would want to hire a car and make the most of their time in sunnier climes.

But driving abroad can be daunting if you’ve not done it before or you’re unsure of the rules of the road. Here’s our handy guide for the key things to know when driving in Portugal:

What you need to keep by law

When driving in Portugal you must be at least 18 years old and it is your responsibility to ensure you and all of your passengers are wearing seatbelts at all times. Additionally, it is the law in Portugal to carry the following items in your car at all times:

– A valid UK driving licence, both parts (even though the rules on counterpart driving licences have changed in the UK, it might be worthwhile keeping hold of it if you wish to drive abroad). If you need to hire a car, don’t forget to generate a licence check code on the gov.uk website so that the hire company can access your driving record. Codes can be generated in advance and will be valid for 21 days

– Your passport

– Your V5 registration form, insurance certificate or your hire car paperwork, as well as an MOT certificate if your vehicle is more than three years old

– A GB sticker on the back of the car, if it’s UK registered

– A warning triangle

– Headlamp converters

– A reflective jacket

– A yellow '90' disc must be displayed if you've had your licence for less than a year 

– Spare bulbs for the car’s external lights

– A spare pair of glasses or contact lenses if you normally wear them

Other considerations

In addition to the items you need to keep by law, there are also some useful nuggets of information to bear in mind while navigating the roads in Portugal. Here are our top five tips:

1.No more ‘bagsying’ the front seat for under 12s, as children under this age aren’t allowed to sit in the front. Time to start that game of eye spy as a distraction technique!

2.Protect your bank balance by behaving on the road. If you’re caught committing a driving offence you are likely to be given an on-the-spot fine. Money better spent in the pool bar later on, we think!

3.The drink-driving limit is less than here in the UK at 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood rather than 80mg per 100ml. Bear in mind though that the heat and potential dehydration may affect your body’s ability to handle alcohol while abroad, so it’s best for you to be fuelled by water alone while out driving.

4.Keep some spare change handy! If you’re using motorways in Portugal, you will need to pay for tolls on some of them. Steer clear of the green lanes too as these are reserved for those using automatic payments systems.

5.Switch your brain from miles to kilometres. This is how distance and speed is measured on the continent so keep that in mind if your speedometer is measuring in MPH. The speed limit is 50kph in built-up areas, 90kph on open roads and 120kph on motorways.

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