How to buy or sell a car in Portugal, new or second-hand vehicle ?

Your took the decision to become an expat in Portugal, now is the time to think about what you will do your vehicle. Portugal is fiercely protecting its domestic market and heavily taxing vehicles coming from abroad, European countries being no exception. Although some may qualify for an exemption from the ISV tax, the rules are often unclear and changing so despite a certain attachment and sometimes a significant investment, many expatriates decide to sell their car in former country to buy another in Portugal. Here again the rules are sometimes vague, and we must be careful that the act of buying or selling a vehicle is done in the rules to be protected, whether a new car or a second-hand one. How to buy a car in Portugal ? What are the steps to sell your vehicle ? What to check for when buying a used car in Portugal ? Bob, the expatriate assistant in Portugal gives you all the details to buy and sell your car serenely.

You will know how to buy or sell a car in Portugal

You will know how to buy or sell a car in Portugal


 Who can buy a car in Portugal ?

As a foreigner, you can buy a car in Portugal, but you must have:

• A proof of Portuguese domicile (a rental agreement, proof of purchase of real estate or a resident's card)

• A tax number (NIF)

• An identity document (CNI, passport, driving license ...)


If you live in Portugal for more than 6 months a year, you must register your foreign vehicle within 12 months of your installation in the country. Choosing to take your car with you or buy one in Portugal usually depends on two factors. On the one hand, the amount of ISV tax that can quickly climb and on the other hand, the selling price of cars in Portugal which are usually 30% more expensive than in other countries. There is an ancestral rule passed from expat to expat that says that for a car worth less than 10 000 € better sell it and buy one in Portugal when you arrive.


How to buy a new car in Portugal ?

As in other EU countries, the purchase of a new car is done directly in the concession of the brand of your choice. Most major car brands are present in Portugal: BMW, Renault, Peugeot, Mercedes, Toyota, Fiat, Seat, Nissan ... And it is the seller who takes care of registering your purchase with the relevant authorities. It can also offer you a maintenance contract for your vehicle and even help you find insurance. In Portugal it is the car itself which is insured and not the designated drivers. Which means you can lend it to your family and friends without worries.

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Buy a second-hand car in Portugal

Used cars or "segunda mão / usado" (second-hand, used cars), are more accessible in terms of price, this is not surprising. By cons, the value of the latter depreciates less quickly than new cars in terms of taxes that will tax you more than if you had just bought a new car.


Bob advises you to pay careful attention to the documents presented by the seller especially when it is an individual. It's up to you alone to verify that the data provided is correct. Make sure that the identification number indicated on the chassis corresponds to the number of the documento único automóvel gray card, and check that there are no signs of tampering. The documento único automóvel booklet and the registration of the property are fundamental. We must make sure of its origin and, now, with the new legislation, the registration of fines. Indeed when you buy a car in Portugal you buy the debts and mortgages attached to it. The purchase and sale contract must distinguish the price, the registration and the year of manufacture of the car. Attention also because in certain situations, the seller accepts only the transfer of final ownership after the buyer has paid a deposit of the amount due. In case of trouble after you obviously do not recover the amount already paid. It's up to you to have a fine nose.


Where to find a used car in Portugal ?

You can carry out your research directly at the dealers but also online on the sites of the specialized press such as Guia Automóvel, Auto-Comércio, Auto-Hoje but also the sections dedicated to the classifieds auto on the sites of the newspapers of news like Correio da Manha and Jornal de Noticias. Finally, websites specialized in car resale like Automó may have your future car.


Used cars sold by stands

In Portugal it is common to buy your used car in stands. The bigger the stand, the more likely it is to have a wide variety of second-hand cars for sale. Legally, all must provide a guarantee (1 or 2 years), which may be of the brand or other companies offering this type of services. However, since most of these vehicles come from auto foreclosures and auctions, you should know that you are not buying a new car and that you need to ask for information about the history of the vehicle. Prices for stand cars may vary, but as vehicles need to be refurbished, it is normal for them to be more expensive than when they are purchased from a private seller.



Second-hand cars sold by private individuals

One of the main reasons people are afraid to buy a used car from an individual in Portugal is the risk associated with this type of transaction. Therefore, before arriving at the appointment to see the car, you must have already asked the seller a number of questions about the vehicle. Ask about the maintenance history, the number of kilometers and, most importantly, the general condition of the car. Do you see bumps or damage, even very small ones ? Is the painting in good condition or does it show signs of burning or scratches ? Is the interior of the car stained, worn or cracked on the dashboard ? How is the car driving ? Is the direction aligned or falling on one side or the other ? Do the brakes work well ? Are the tires worn ? Are they all the same ? Very important also : the vehicle is in the name of the seller and he has in his possession the gray card (documento único automóvel) of the car ?


How to sell a car in Portugal ?

When you resell your car in Portugal, it is you who must take care of making the change of ownership by completing the Transferência de Propriedade or Contrato verbal de compra e venda. In this document are noted all the information concerning the vehicle (valid technical inspection, payment of taxes, etc.), the previous owner (you) as well as the new owner of the car. It is to be signed by both parties during the validation of the sale. This declaration of change of ownership is to be made within 60 days.


This declaration of change is done through the form of the documento único automóvel, which allows to modify the name or the address of the owner. Bob tells you right away how to do it.


Declaration of sale and purchase of cars (declaração de venda automóvel)

Whether you are a seller or a buyer of a car in Portugal, you will have to go through the declaration of sale and purchase car. This form is simply the form of the documento único automóvel, and it is a document whose purpose is to indicate the parties involved in a registration process of a vehicle (seller and buyer of the vehicle). The sale of a car may have a motor liability term, but only the sales declaration is valid before the authorities. The declaration of the documento único automóvel can be delivered to the service counters of the Institute of the register and the notarial institute (IRN) and the citizens stores.



The car sales declaration is officially called a car registration application, because although the registration of the purchase of a car is the main purpose, it is used for other purposes, such as:

-      Change of address and name ;

-      Verbal contract of purchase and sale ;

-      Loss or theft ;

-      End of the reserve on the property or financial lease ;

-      Duplicate order

To simplify your life, Bob offers you to download the form for documento único automóvel, simply by clicking here.


Here are the different costs associated with car buying and selling in Portugal.


-      Initial registration (first registration) - € 55;

-      Subsequent registration (purchase and sale, change of ownership) - € 65;

-      Registration of changes (name, company, address, etc.), 2nd way request or substitution - 30 €.


It can be paid in cash, by check or by Multibanco ATM. To these amounts are added stamp duties and other possible costs provided by law. Be careful because a registration made after the deadline is increased by 50%.

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