Buying or Selling a Car in Portugal

Information on the paperwork and process involved whether buying a car from a dealership or a secondhand car through a classified advertisement...

The Government Traffic Department, Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes Terrestres, IMTT (previously the DGV) deals with all aspects of car ownership, registration and licensing.

The Institute of Registration and Notaries (Insitituto dos Registos e do Notariado, IRN) provides civil registry offices where citizens take care of many administrative matters, including vehicle registration.

Note that most of the websites and documentation needed are in Portuguese. For those who don't speak Portuguese, staff at the Citizens Shops (Lojas do Cidadão) can help with all matters concerning vehicles and registration.

Buying a New Car

Dealerships selling new cars take care of the registration of the vehicle on behalf of the buyer. Dealerships also often offer insurance deals (it is a legal requirement for all vehicles to have at least third party car insurance).

Documents

When the vehicle is turned in for destruction to a VFV-compliant centre, the owner provides the following documents:

Buying and Selling a Second Hand Car

Buying a second hand or used car (de segunda mão/usado) in Portugal is generally more expensive than in other European Union countries. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that depreciation is slower and higher taxes on purchases means that new cars tend to hold their value better than they do in other countries.

A foreigner may buy a Portuguese-registered car in Portugal provided they have at least one of the following documents:

  • An official Residence Permit (Cartão de Residência) or
  • Proof that they are a Portuguese home owner (by showing title deeds) or
  • A rental contract for a minimum duration of one year

Where to find a second hand car

Used cars for sale are available through dealerships, or may be advertised in automobile magazines, such as:

Newspapers also carry motor classified advertisements:

Websites:

When scrolling down online publications look for words such as classificados (classifieds) and then automoveis or carros (cars). The site may specify new cars (novos) or second hand cars (usados).

There are also two Internet auction sites (Leilões) in the Lisbon area which deal in cars:

Transfer of ownership

It is the seller's responsibility to register the change of ownership  using the form Transferência de Propriedade or Contrato verbal de compra e venda. This Form 2 (Modelo 2), available from the IRN, contains information about the vehicle, the previous owner and the new owner. At the point of sale it should be completed and signed by both the buyer and the seller. This transaction must be completed within 60 days of the change of ownership. Any disagreements of the purchase details by the buyer must be noted within 15 days of the change of ownership.

The seller must provide

At the point of sale the seller should provide the following:

  • The transfer of ownership Form 2 for completion and signing
  • The vehicle's registration papers:
    This will either be a DUA All-In-One Vehicle Document (Documento Único Automóvel) also called license plate certificate (Certificado de Matrícula) or two documents:
    • vehicle registration document (Título de Registo de Propriedade)
    • log book (Livrete)
  • Proof of roadworthiness: a valid IPO (Inspecção Periódica Obrigatória) test certificate
  • Green Technical Inspection card/certificate (Calendário das Inspecções Técnicas de Veículo, also called: Carta Inspecção Técnica Periódica) which details the vehicle's inspection history and when the next inspection is due
  • Owner's Municipal Vehicle Tax Contribution (Imposto Municipal de Veiculo) documents or card as proof of paid up vehicle tax

Note: The DUA document of more recently registered vehicles incorporates the information previously kept in three separate documents.

Registering the new owner

A foreign buyer will need to provide the following documents when registering the vehicle at the IRN office:

  • Proof of residence in Portugal as outlined above (proof by means of residence card, property title deeds or rental contract)
  • Proof of vehicle roadworthiness (the IPO test certificate) provided by the seller
  • The vehicle registration papers provided by the seller
  • Proof of up-to-date payments of vehicle tax (Imposto Municipal de Veículos) provided by the seller
  • A registration fee

Note: The registration of transfer of ownership of a used vehicle bought from a dealership will be handled by the dealer who should also provide a warranty and service history.

If, following the process above, the buyer does not submit the change of ownership documents to the IRN vehicle registration department, responsibility for all fines or accidents involving the vehicle remain the responsibility of the seller. It is strongly advised to confirm that the buyer has completed the transfer process.