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Portugal Traffic Rules

The traffic rules in Portugal are sometimes slightly different than in your home country. We list the most important general rules for you.

Traffic rules in general

  • Some important general traffic rules are listed here, including some traffic rules that differ from other countries.

Drive safely

Driving under the influence

  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 per mille.
  • A limit of 0.2 per mille applies to drivers who have held a driving license for less than three years.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs is prohibited.

Mobile phone

  • Drivers of vehicles (including cyclists) are prohibited from holding a mobile phone while driving.
  • Hands-free calling is allowed.

Headphones or earphones

  • The use of headphones or earphones is prohibited. You may only use a special headset that is only equipped with one earpiece.
  • Note: It is also prohibited to use a headset with two earphones or headphones and then only put one earpiece in or cover only one ear.

Safe walking

  • Pedestrians are obliged to walk outside built-up areas on the left side of the road as much as possible if there is no pedestrian path, unless this is dangerous to them.
  • Pedestrians are not allowed to walk next to each other in the dark or in poor visibility, but must walk behind each other.

Basic traffic rules

  • You have to drive on the right and overtake on the left.

Priority

  • At an intersection or T-junction, you must give way to drivers from the right, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Motor vehicle drivers have priority over cyclists.
  • You must give way to crossing passengers who have gotten off a tram at a tram stop without a traffic island.
  • You must always give way to soldiers, military columns and police escorts and vehicles on rails.
  • You may only enter an intersection if you know that you can continue unhindered afterwards. If you are expected to stop in the middle of the intersection in heavy traffic, you are not allowed to enter the intersection, even if you have right of way or the traffic light is green.

Pass

  • On narrow roads where vehicles cannot pass each other, the vehicle nearest to an alternate should swerve and reverse if necessary. If the distance of both vehicles from the alternate is equal, the lightest vehicle must swerve or reverse.
  • On narrow mountain roads, ascending traffic has priority over descending traffic.
  • Motor vehicles always have right of way over other vehicles when passing.
  • A vehicle more than 2 m wide should stop if necessary to facilitate passage.

Roundabout

  • A driver who wants to enter a roundabout must give way to drivers already on the roundabout.

To overtake

  • If you are being overtaken, you should drive on the right side of the road as much as possible and do not accelerate.
  • You may only pass a stationary tram if there is a traffic island for boarding and alighting passengers.

Standing still

You are not allowed to stop a vehicle in the following places:

  • On bridges and viaducts and in tunnels and underpasses.
  • Within 5 m of a pedestrian or bicycle crossing.
  • Within 6 m of a tram stop.
  • Within 5 m before and 25 m after a bus stop.
  • Outside the built-up area within 50 m of an intersection, junction, bend or other unclear road situation.

Parking

  • It is forbidden to park on the left side of the road (against the direction of travel), unless it is indicated that parking is prohibited on the right side and on the left side.
  • Parking is prohibited in the following places:
  • Within 5 m of intersections or curves if your vehicle may not be visible in time.
  • Within 3 m of a tram stop and within 10 m of a bus stop (or other passenger stop).
  • At the height of a yellow line along the road or sidewalk.
  • Within 10 m of a level crossing.
  • Within 5 m of a gas station.
  • In the centers of much larger cities, such as Lisbon, Oporto, Sebutal and Albufeira, you have to pay to park. You can park in blue marked areas with a parking disc, which is available at police stations, among others.

Hazard lights

  • Drivers are obliged to use their hazard lights on motorways to warn other road users in the event of sudden braking, when approaching a traffic jam or other hazards, such as accidents.

Audible tones

  • In built-up areas it is prohibited to give audible signals at night unless there is an immediate risk of a collision.
  • Outside built-up areas, you may give a sound signal in case of danger, if you want to overtake and in confusing traffic situations.

Lanes

  • On roads with traffic in two directions, there may be an alternating lane, marked on both sides by a double broken line.
  • This lane is intended for use in both directions of travel. Vehicles using this lane must use dipped beam at all times.
  • On highways, green lanes are reserved for drivers using an automatic payment system.
Traffic rules car

Traffic rules car

Lighting

  • The use of dipped beam is mandatory in tunnels and on exchange lanes (lanes on which the direction of travel can be reversed).
  • Furthermore, motorists are only obliged to use the lights during the day if their visibility is seriously obstructed.

Children

  • Note: Children under the age of 12 who are shorter than 1.35 m are not allowed to sit in the front seat; they must be carried only in the rear seat in an approved and appropriate child restraint or on an approved and appropriate booster seat with safety belts.

Children may only sit in the front in the following cases:

  • Children under 3 years old may be transported in the front seat in a child seat in which the child is placed with the back forward. In that case, however, the airbag must be deactivated.
  • Children 3 years of age or older may only be transported in the front seat or on a booster seat if there are no rear seats or seat belts.
  • In a car without seat belts, no children under 3 years of age may be transported.

Load

  • Cargo must not protrude to the side and must not protrude more than 55 cm at the front and no more than 45 cm at the rear.
  • Note: As in Spain, in Portugal, cargo projecting to the rear (such as a bicycle carrier) must always have a reflective aluminum or plastic warning sign of 50 x 50 cm that is white with 3 red diagonal stripes.

Bicycles

According to Portuguese law, the transport of a bicycle carrier with bicycles on the tow bar of a car is allowed, provided the following strict requirements are met:

  • The bicycles may not be wider than the car.
  • The bicycle carrier with bicycles must not protrude further than 45 cm from the towbar.
  • The bicycle carrier must be approved by the EU.
  • The reflectors, number plate and the entire lighting including fog lamp etc. must remain fully visible (13-pin plug).
  • The towbar must be approved and demonstrably suitable for the load.
  • Incidentally, the transport of bicycles on a bicycle carrier on the towbar is not recommended by the Portuguese government (this does not apply to a camper).

For the transport of bicycles on the back of the car on a rack that does not rest on the towbar, slightly less strict requirements apply:

  • The bicycles must not protrude further in width than the side mirrors.
  • The bicycles must not protrude further than 45 cm to the rear.
  • The reflectors, number plate and lighting must remain fully visible.

The Portuguese government advises cyclists to transport bicycles on top of the car. The following requirements apply to the transport of bicycles on top of the car:

  • The bicycles may not protrude in width.
  • The bicycles must not protrude more than 55 cm forwards and 45 cm backwards in length.
  • The car with bicycles may not be higher than 4 m in total.
Traffic rules caravan and trailer

Dimensions, maxima

  • Width combination (excluding mirrors): 2.55 m
  • Height combination: 4 m
  • Trailer length (including drawbar): 12 m (A)
  • Combination length: 18.75 m (A)

A: Any bicycle carrier on the back is included in the length.

ECE 70 marking plates

  • In Spain and Portugal, ECE 70 marking plates must be affixed to the rear of a vehicle combination (such as a car or camper with caravan or trailer) that is longer than 12 m (including bicycle rack, etc.) These are reflective yellow plates with a red border.

Plates of different sizes are allowed:

  • Two short plates of 50 x 25 cm (place these in horizontal or vertical position on the left and right of the rear of the trailer).
  • One long plate of 130 x 25 cm (place this in horizontal position in the middle of the rear of the trailer).
  • Plates with slightly different dimensions (such as 56 x 20 cm or 113 x 20 cm) are also allowed.
  • The plates must be installed at a height of 50 to 150 cm above the road surface.
  • The plates are available at car parts stores. When purchasing, make sure that the ECE 70 mark (or ECE 70-01) is affixed to the plates.
  • As far as is known, the use of these marking plates is not permitted in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

Bicycles

  • Bicycles may be transported on the back of a caravan, provided they do not protrude from the side and protrude no more than 45 cm at the rear.

Parking

  • Parking a disconnected trailer on public roads is not permitted.
Traffic rules motorcycle

Traffic rules motorcycle

Helmet

  • The wearing of a helmet is mandatory for the driver and passenger.
  • The drivers and passenger (s) of a trike or quad are required to wear a helmet, unless the vehicle has a closed body or safety cell and the seats are equipped with seat belts.

Lighting

  • The use of dipped headlights during the day is mandatory.

Passengers

  • It is allowed to transport a passenger if he can hold on tightly and can rest his feet on the footrests.
  • It is forbidden to transport children under 7 years old on the motorcycle.

Trailer

  • A trailer may be coupled behind the motorcycle.
Traffic rules moped

Traffic rules moped

  • There is no separate definition of a light moped in Portugal; this falls under mopeds.
  • A moped should not be able to go faster than 45 km / h.

Helmet

  • Wearing a helmet is mandatory.

Lighting

  • Mopeds and mopeds must also use low beam during the day.

Passengers

  • It is allowed to carry a passenger.
  • It is forbidden to transport children under the age of 7 on a moped.
Traffic rules bicycle

Traffic rules bicycle

Helmet

  • It is not mandatory to wear a helmet on a regular bicycle, but this is advised.
  • Children who are transported on the back of the bicycle must wear a helmet. This does not apply to babies.
  • Wearing a helmet is mandatory on an electric bicycle.

Mobile phone

  • Cyclists are prohibited from holding a mobile phone while driving.
  • Hands-free calling is allowed.

Headphones or earphones

  • The use of headphones or earphones is prohibited unless only one ear is covered or only one earpiece is used.

Lighting and other requirements

  • Bicycles must have fixed lights. The light on the front of the bicycle must have the color white or yellow and the color red on the back of the bicycle.
  • The bicycle must have a reflector on the rear fender and on the side on the spokes of each wheel (at least three per wheel) or reflective bands on both sides of the wheels.
  • The bicycle must also be equipped with properly functioning brakes and a bell.

Passengers

  • It is allowed to transport a passenger if the bicycle is equipped with a special seat.
  • Children up to 7 years old may only be transported by bicycle in a child seat that is suitable for them and wearing a helmet.

Cycling children

  • Children up to the age of 10 are allowed to drive on the sidewalk as long as they do not hinder or endanger pedestrians.

Trailer

  • It is allowed to ride with a bicycle to which a trailer is attached.

Riding side by side

  • Riding side by side is only allowed on the cycle path.

Cycling under the influence

  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 per mille.

Place on the road

  • Where there are cycle paths, they should also be used.
  • In the absence of a cycle path, you should drive on the right-hand side of the road as much as possible.

Electric bike

  • For an electric bicycle (bicicleta el├ętrica) with pedal assistance up to 25 km / h and a maximum power of 250 watts, almost the same rules apply as for a normal bicycle.
  • Note: For the time being it is mandatory to wear an approved bicycle helmet on an electric bicycle (not on a normal bicycle). However, there is currently a discussion going on in Portugal about the obligation to wear a helmet on an electric bicycle.
  • Where possible, an electric bicycle should be used on the cycle path.

Speedpedelec

  • As far as is known, the same rules apply to a speed pedelec with pedal assistance up to 45 km / h as to a moped.
  • The driver is obliged to wear an approved moped helmet (standard ECE 22.05). As far as is known, wearing a special speed pedelec helmet (standard NTA 8776: 2016) is not permitted.

Transport of bicycles

  • Bicycles that are transported behind a car, camper or caravan on a bicycle carrier must have a reflective aluminum or plastic warning sign of 50 x 50 cm that is white with 3 red diagonal stripes.
  • Even without bicycles and even when folded, a bicycle carrier must be equipped with a red and white warning sign.
Winter tires

Winter tires

  • Not compulsory – The use of winter tires in Portugal is not compulsory.

Snow chains

  • Permitted – The use of snow chains is only permitted on roads covered with snow or ice.
  • In mountainous areas it is recommended to bring snow chains in winter.
  • Please note: in France and Spain, the use of snow chains may be mandatory in winter conditions.

Studded tires

  • Prohibited – The use of studded tires is prohibited.
Snow chains

Snow chains

  • Mandatory when signposted – The use of snow chains is mandatory if indicated by a round, blue sign with a white car tire with a snow chain. The obligation to fit snow chains also applies to cars with winter tires or studded tires (unless a bottom sign at the snow chain sign indicates that cars with such tires are relieved of this obligation).
  • It is strongly recommended to bring snow chains in the car during the winter period.
  • Snow chains may only be used on roads that are completely, or almost completely, covered with snow or ice and must be fitted in such a way that they do not damage the road surface.
  • If snow chains are mandatory, they must in any case be mounted on the driven wheels.
  • For cars driving on snow chains, a maximum speed of 50 km / h applies, or lower if a lower maximum speed is specified in a manual for the chains.
  • Plastic snow chains are not permitted for the time being.
  • Snow chains can possibly be rented at major border crossings.