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Understanding the car matriculation process


The car matriculation process in Portugal can be confusing. Thankfully Steve Robinson, from the PP community, has shared his knowledge with us.

Each adult new immigrant is allowed to import one motor vehicle free of import tax IF (note the big IF) the vehicle meets the required criteria which is:

  • The importer can prove the vehicle has been registered to the him/her for at least 6 months  previously (in the country it’s coming from) & that he/she has lived in that country for that time period, the importer must provide a Certificate of Conformity or if the vehicle was manufactured pre CoC they will accept a downloaded copy of the original sales brochure that shows the tech spec of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle must be standard or any (obvious) changes to the vehicle must be listed on a letter from a main dealer or manufacturer listing all changes from standard stating & that all said changes from standard are acceptable replacements.
  • The matriculation process must be started within 12 months of the applicant getting his/her Residencia. Whilst you can do the matriculation process yourself, it’s much easier if you have a local agent do it for you & current (at time of writing (March 2018)) cost is usually about €400 plus the one off matriculation inspection of about €125 + annual road tax.

Road tax is calculated on engine size & emissions and priced as a new car on the date of matriculation not on year of manufacture. If you do go the tax free import route, you are not allowed to sell the car for 1 year unless you repay the tax you’ve avoided.

If you pay the import tax it’s calculated on age of vehicle, engine size & emissions NOT on value & is often VERY expensive, especially for cars with large engines/high emissions & some cars can cost tens of thousands of Euros & one day difference in the date of manufacture from one year to the next can sometimes mean a massive increase/decrease in tax payable so do your research on the simulator link below very carefully.

If you import/matriculate the vehicle tax free under the new immigrant rules you may not sell the vehicle for 12 months after matriculating it without having to repay the tax you avoided but if you did pay the tax then you can sell it any time you wish.

You’re allowed to keep a foreign registered car in Portugal for 180 days maximum before you either matriculate it or remove it back to the country it came from for a further 180 days. The only exception to this rule is for some (but not all) students on some (but not all) study permits

If you have a foreign registered car in Portugal, it must be taxed, tested & insured in it’s country of registration all the time it’s in Portugal & if the GNR catch you with an overstaying vehicle or without tax, test or insurance, they can & often do, permanently confiscate the vehicle which they will then sell or destroy. Note that whilst a foreign registered vehicle can be put through a Portuguese IPO/MOT inspection the pass certificate has no legal standing & is not a replacement for the test certificate from the country of origin.

During the Portuguese matriculation/registration process the vehicle has to be submitted for a one off matriculation inspection which is a greatly enhanced safety inspection which includes a rolling road test & if the vehicle comes from a country that drives on the left the headlight units will need to be changed. Beam deflectors are not acceptable.

Once matriculated the vehicle is subject to the ordinary Portuguese IPO annual inspection.

If importing from the UK you will be expected to provide a ‘Car Importation Certificate’ Details of how to obtain that here:

You can calculate the import tax (if payable) & annual road tax payable here:

Act here:

Note: The required ownership period prior to matriculation used to be 12 months but was reduced to 6 months in January 2018.


If you are wanting to import and Register a Classic Car/Motorcycle in Portugal…Classic cars/Motorcycles can be driven freely into Portugal providing they are for personal, temporary use and have the necessary vehicle taxation, insurance, and documentation.

Those wishing to import a classic car permanently into Portugal may drive the car for four days before registering it with the Portuguese customs office. (Alfândegas).

Vehicle tax (Imposto Automóvel) must be paid for all classic cars unless registered as a vehicle of historical interest to Portugal when it becomes exempt. This classification must be renewed annually.

Vehicles made before 1960 are taxed at a lower rate

Classic cars brought into Portugal on a permanent basis must meet the following legal requirements:

  • Be classified by the International Classic Car Federation (Fédération Internationale des Véhicule Anciens, FIVA )
  • Have a Classic Car Certificate (Certificado de Automóvel Antigo) from FIVA or ACP also known as a classic car passport.
  • Have a Technical Logbook/Manual (Ficha Técnica) from FIVA or other competent organisation. They will accept an ordinary workshop manual or ecopy of such.
  • Have a colour photograph of the vehicle which also goes in the FIVA classic car passport
  • Have a vehicle Logbook (Livrete) and Owner’s Document (Título de Propridade) issued in the name of the owner/driver from the country of import.
  • Have the original and latest commercial purchase receipt from the date you purchased the car  (Factura Comercial)
  • Have an Authority to Circulate Document (Guia de Circulação) issued by Customs (Alfândegas) which is issued on arrivalVehicles from the USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India or the UK must meet European Union homologation approval standards if the vehicle is more than 30 years old. This means headlights, running lights & indicators etc might need to be changed. Vehicles over 30 years old may be classified as having cultural and historic interest to Portuguese State Heritage and might not need to undergo any kind of homologation adaptations such as catalytic converters etc. As a European Union member state Portugal adheres to the Mutual Recognition Scheme which means that the IMTT needs to be sure that any vehicle imported into Portugal is suitable for use on Portuguese roads. The driver/owner must provide documentary evidence from FIVA or the manufacturer of any physical alterations made to the vehicle.

Import duty – A classic vehicle may be imported into Portugal tax-free provided.

  • The vehicle is for private use only.
  • The vehicle has been used by its registered owner in their former country for at least 6 months previously.
  • The owner has submitted a copy of passport, driver’s licence, residency (or application), tax details (fiscal number).

You will need a certificate of cancellation of residence issued by the person’s consulate. The consulate may charge you for this but if you use an agent to do the matriculation this document may sometimes not be required. They may (but not necessarily) also require you to prove your residency in the country of registration for 6 months prior to import.

The Portuguese Classic Cars Club (Clube Português de Automóveis Antigos) has a lot of useful information (in Portuguese). Clube Português de Automóveis Antigos (Head Office) At: Rua Duque de Saldanha 308, 4300-094 Porto – Tel: 225 377 699 / 225 362 128

If coming from/importing your classic or non classic vehicle from a non EU country, you need to list it on the certificate of baggage (in the name of the registered owner) that you must obtain from the Portuguese Embassy or High Commission in the country you’re coming from BEFORE you leave & to do that, you will need:

  • Registration document of the vehicle (that shows the car has been registered in your name for at least 6 months)
  • Export Clearance Certificate
  • Employment letter or letter from bookkeeper stating you were employed/self employed etc.
  • Signed declaration stating that you are planning to reside in Portugal on a permanent basis.
  • Drivers licence.
  • Passport or other document that shows your residence permit in the country you’re coming from.

Online calculator for both import & annual road tax here: IUC – Imposto Único de Circulação 2017** Note this recent message from ACP Classicos:”Tax Table About Vehicles (ISV)

With the entry into force of the State Budget 2017 the import of classics underwent a significant change.  In response to the European decision to condemn the Portuguese state by excessive taxation on imports of used cars, the 2017 State Budget amended the maximum discount percentage in the ISV table. The discount, here 52% for cars with more than 5 years, changed to 80% cars with more than 10 years.

This amendment has no expression in cars everyday, once the market registers demand for vehicles with a maximum of 4 or 5 years. However, when we think of the import of classics (by definition all over 10 years), this change is important but a limited number of cars.

The classic cars produced before 1970 are not affected by the scale of the environmental component because the ISV is calculated only by the table for the displacement. In this motor assembly, the reduction in tax payable is in some cases very considerable.

At the other extreme are the later classics to 1970, that the deterioration relating to emissions, also suffered a considerable deterioration in the final value of the ISV

In these examples below, the year of manufacture before or after 1970, it is absolutely crucial in the final value.


Jaguar E TYPE 4.2 S2 4235 cc 350g / km 31/12/1969 € 6972.12
01/01/1970 € 50,011.10

Porsche 911 T 1991 cc 250 g / km 31/12/1969 € 2188.36
01/01/1970 € 16,950.31

Alfa Romeo 1600 GT 1570 cc 190 g / km 31/12/1969 € 1290.87
01/01/1970 € 5818.15

Mini 1000 998 cc 150 g / km 31/12/1969 € 334.47
01/01/1970 € 1866.71

Above shows some examples of the increased tax burden on headquarters of ISV (Tax on Vehicles) on imports. It wants, above all, to draw attention of all enthusiasts of the importance that the first registration date may have the final tax payable. In selected models, the simple 1 – day difference (1969 to 1970) may cause a worsening of thousands of euros.

CO2 values were estimated and are intended to show an order of magnitude. Before making purchasing decision, we strongly advise consulting the ISV simulator or ACP import department. ”

NOTE: Classic vehicles can (as mentioned previously) sometimes be exempt from the annual road tax fee (and now also exempt from annual IPO inspection) if you can get it registered as a car of historical interest to Portugal & to do that, you need to join & remain a member of ACP & ACP/ Classicos who will inspect the vehicle & then issue an annual certificate that you then present to the fiscal office every year.

This however does only allow very limited mileage but the upside is it also allows for very inexpensive insurance. Some people paying in the region of €36 per year for a classic car with a 5.9 litre engine.

Be aware that Portugal often tends to suffer from what might be described as ‘variable bureaucracy syndrome’ where individual civil servants interpret the rules any way they choose to which can make this relatively simple process needlessly complicated and that a matriculation agent will achieve far more in less time than if you do the process yourself simply because they know the rules inside out & will correct the civil servant with ‘variable bureaucracy syndrome’ far more easily than you ever will.

Thank you Steve, PP appreciate!

Questions? A personal experience to share on the topic? Let us know in the comment section below!

6 thoughts on “Understanding the car matriculation process

  1. hello 🙂
    we are in the process of buying a plot near Pedrogão Grande, we are EU citizens but live in Canada.
    I filled in the fields of the link you provided to calculate tax if we buy a vehicle in the EU.
    we are planning to buy a small van (similar to Mercedes Vito) in Germany, as they have good prices for secondhand cars, for about 10.000€ and then drive that ourselves to Portugal.
    According to the link we the taxes on that vehicle would be about 20.000€.
    It appears to me there must be an error somewhere….

  2. Hi deborah,
    perhaps you can shed some light on me importing a motorbike (with sidecar) from germany to portugal. It is a 1985 model, so older than 30 years, but no registered classic.
    Also, it is a WASP (british frame) with BMW engine – so no COC, and also nothing you could/can buy off the floor.
    It has been registered and passed technical in germany since 1985 and the old german reg. papers show all details such as manufacturer, engine size, tire size etc.
    Could you recommend the best way to import? I will move to portugal next year permanently.
    Perhaps there is a knowledgable agent in the Odemira area you could recvomend?
    Thank you and have a nice weekend!

  3. Dear Deborah,
    It would be a great help if you could give us a list of matriculation agents in Lisbon as we will be moving to Lisbon from the UK in few month time and want to bring our car with us.

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