Car insurance for ex-pats in Portugal

What you need to insure a car in Portugal / Gtres
What you need to insure a car in Portugal / Gtres
19 November 2018, Tom Beck

When you move to Portugal, it’ll really make you feel at home to have your car there. Whether you take your car from home or you buy one there, you’ll need to get insured, so how does car insurance work in Portugal?

What do you need to get insured on your vehicle in Portugal? What types of coverage are there? How much are Portuguese insurance premiums? We answer all these questions and more in our guide to Portuguese car insurance.

Driving in Portugal with car insurance from another country

When driving in Portugal, you will be covered as long as your car is insured in another European country, or with an insurer who explicitly specifies that you will be covered when driving there. In Portugal, trailers towed on the back of the car need separate insurance. Your number plate serves to demonstrate that you’re insured, so you shouldn’t have any problems.

Even so, you’d do well to carry your insurance papers with you, just in case. These include the International Motor Insurance Certificate, better known as the Green Card or Carta Verde in Portuguese, which proves your insurance is valid across international borders. You should be given this piece of green paper when you get the insurance in the first place, but if not you can ask to be given one at any time, absolutely free.

Driving in Portugal with Portuguese car insurance

In Portugal, vehicle insurance is legally required to at least third-party liability level. What’s more, it is not the driver but the vehicle that is insured. This means that anyone can safely and legally get behind the wheel of your car at any time (provided they have a clean driving license!). You must first register your vehicle with the authorities in Portugal to be able to insure it there.

This vehicle registration is mandatory if you’re a permanent resident of Portugal, but you can choose to do it anyway even if you don’t live there full-time. If you can prove you only live in Portugal temporarily, you don’t have to register your vehicle.

Any EU citizen can drive in Portugal with their driver’s licence from their home country, and non-EU citizens if they have an international permit. It is worth noting, however, that if you get permanent Portuguese residency, you will have to exchange your license for a Portuguese one.

What types of car insurance are available in Portugal?

As mentioned, it is the car and not the driver that gets insured in Portugal. The downside of this is that they generally don’t accept No Claims Discounts, and so even if you’ve been driving safely and without making any insurance claims for many years, this won’t count towards your final quote.

As a result, insurance can often be much more expensive, especially fully comprehensive. That said, the final quote for your insurance premiums will depend on a number of factors, such as the condition, age, make and model of the vehicle. These are the 2 main insurance options that exist:

  • Third party insurance: The legally mandated seguro obrigatório de responsabilidade civil automóvel covers damages to the property and person of others if you have an accident on the road.
  • Fully comp: The Seguro de danos próprios is a more comprehensive coverage, and as well as covering third-party damages, it makes sure you’re insured against fire, theft and personal injury.

By following these rules for car insurance in Portugal, you will be legally covered in the event of an accident, but the best advice is to always be safe on the roads, and in this way prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Happy driving!

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