Road Traffic Accidents in Portugal

Information on what to do when you have a road traffic accident: who to call and how to fill in the accident report document for insurance after a car crash...

It is obligatory for all drivers in Portugal to have, at least, third party insurance.

The procedure in the event of a road traffic accident in Portugal depends on the severity of the accident, whether there are injuries and if it is necessary for the police to be involved.

At the Scene of an Accident

  • Stop immediately
  • Put on the red, orange, or yellow reflective jacket (colete) before leaving the car in dark conditions, bad weather or at night
  • If the vehicle can be driven or moved then move it to the side of the road
  • Switch on the hazard lights and place a red reflecting warning triangle 30m from the scene to warn oncoming traffic
  • Try and make sketches of the position of the vehicles involved, and if possible take photographs
  • All drivers involved must exchange details: registration number, insurance details, name and address
  • Take the licence plate number of all the vehicles and witnesses involved (this could be vital if the case goes to court)
  • Never sign any paperwork unless certain it's understood and agreed with
  • If damage is caused and the owner is not there to report it (a crash with a parked car or into someone's property), it must be reported to the nearest police station so that they can make contact

If the accident is a minor one

In the event of a minor accident with no injuries the parties involved must exchange details and make a declaration of events. This will form the accident report submitted to the insurance companies. If the parties involved do not agree on a version of events, do not sign any documentation.

The police do not usually need to be involved, although it may be helpful for insurance purposes to go to the nearest police station and fill out an accident report form. The police will want to see all vehicle documents.

If the accident involves an injury or fatality

In a major accident all involved parties are required to make out a report to the police and fill out and sign an accident report form. The police will want to see all documents and may make charges of driving offences. If you suspect the other driver has been drinking or taking drugs inform the police.

  • Call or get someone to call the emergency services (serviços de urgência) on Freephone 112. It operates in English, French and Portuguese. Depending on the severity of the crash, possible injuries, and in the case of someone being trapped inside the vehicle ask for the police (polícia), an ambulance (ambulância) and the fire services (bombeiros)
  • Try to give the location as accurately as possible including any landmarks, street names, shop names or signs
  • Make sure the injured person is comfortable but under no circumstances try to move them
  • Do not move the car until the police arrive, even if it is blocking the road
  • Place a red reflective triangle 30m in front of the vehicle to warn oncoming traffic

The Accident Report

The insurance form (usually in the insurance documents policy wallet) called a DAAA or Declaração Amigável (Friendly Agreement) is straightforward and is completed and signed by both parties and forwarded to each one's insurer.

The Folheto Participação de Sinistro (Não Amigável) Non-Friendly Accident Claim Form should be completed when there is not agreement and forward to the insurer. Most insurance companies have an 800 Blue Line telephone number to call immediately after an accident, whereupon they can advise on the necessary steps to take.

Included in the accident report are the following details:

  • Date and place of the accident (full address)
  • Vehicle information: make, model numbers and vehicle registration numbers
  • Drivers' information: full names, addresses, driving licence details (number, category, date and place of issue)
  • Details of insurers and policies of all drivers
  • Witnesses: names and addresses
  • Any injuries
  • An illustration and explanation of the accident including details of damage caused, with photographs or a sketch

What to do immediately after

  • Notify the insurance company of the incident as soon as possible (on taking out insurance find out how soon after the accident the company needs to be notified - it could be from two to seven days)
  • If there are injuries make sure that the insurance company is informed and provide a medical certificate

Note: You have up to two months to bring charges against other parties involved although a court case in Portugal can be a lengthy process that can take years to settle. Most disagreements of this nature are therefore settled out of court.

Contacting the Police or Road Traffic Police

In the case of a severe or large accident police generally arrive within 30 minutes (in urban areas) of the accident.

Only call the PSP (Polícia de Segurança Pública, the Public Security Police operating in large, urban areas) or GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) police in the following circumstances:

  • In case of injuries
  • If the vehicle owners do not have valid, up-to-date insurance or other documents
  • In the case of aggression, hit-and-run and theft

Note: At the end of 2008 the GNR Police Traffic Brigade (Brigada de Trânsito) was dissolved and replaced by the new National Traffic Unit (Unidade Nacional de Transito, UNT) which is the GNR body responsible for road traffic patrol and safety. This came into force in January 2009.

Further Information