If you are considering importing your car to Portugal and you have owned it for less than 12 months in another EU country or you have already brought one car in free from ISV, then you need to read this.
First of all you can drive any car in Portugal for a maximum of 183 days perfectly legally. If you are here on a specific term, temporary work contract or as a student or any other reason and you plan to take it back to your home country (even if longer than 183 days) you can avoid importing it. In this case you need to contact your local customs office as soon as you arrive in Portugal to register this intent.
You cannot have a non-Portuguese registered car in Portugal for more than 183 days of the year. If you travel in and out then it is advisable to get proof of each entry/exit. If you have a holiday home in Portugal and only use your car for 2 weeks of the year but keep it in Portugal, then the car is classed as being used here and the rules apply. The 183 days do not need to be consecutive, if the authorities can show that you have had the car inside Portugal for this time then they will apply the law.
If you fail to comply with the Portuguese law on foreign car use here, and you are caught, then the Portuguese Customs Office (Alfândega) have the power to IMPOUND YOUR CAR. This could be on a GNR/customs spot check, which are occuring more frequently. If this happened then firstly you will be told not to use your car other than to present yourself at your nearest customs office. You will be fined up to €15,000.00 and they will give you the following three options;
1) you start the matriculation process by paying the ISV,
2) you agree to a date when you will drive the car out of Portugal, they will give you written permission to drive it on that date only,
3) you give them the keys and they keep the car and destroy it.
This is not meant to scare you but it should, the writer of this article knows 3 people personally that this has happened to in Central Portugal.
Before you decide to import a car from outside Portugal and pay the import tax (ISV) please check the costs. The tax has gone up substantially in the past few years. Look at the example given below, this is the editor's experience.
There is a good simulator which allows you to calculate the Import tax (ISV) and Annual Road Tax (IUC). It is in Portuguese, but it's quite straight forward. Click Here for simulation.
This will help you with the simulation...
To calculate your cost you need to change the numbers in the boxes outlined in blue. Don't worry about the make of car as it is not used in the simulation.
Preco do veiculo - PVP = value of car
Cilindrada do automovel = engine size cc
Emissoes CO2 = CO2 emmissions (you need to put the amount in for your fuel type (Gasolina=Petrol, Gasoleo=Diesel, GPL/GN ou hibrido=LPG or hybrid)
Qual e a idade do veiculo = what is the age of your vehicle (type sim in the appropriate box)
The results are shown in highlighted yellow boxes. Total Impostos is the amount you will pay to import the car, in addition to any changes of lights, and providing other required documentation.
E.G. Just to give you an example of the increase in cost over recent years. A Ford Mondeo 1997 1.8Diesel imported in 2008 cost approx €2500 euros ISV plus approx. €500 additional costs, and now costs €275 per year IUC.
If the same car was imported in 2010 it would cost €7250 ISV plus costs, and €303 per year IUC.
There is a lot of pressure being applied to the Portuguese Governement from a variety of different organizations, including The EU itself, to stop the ISV tax but despite stories you might read about it stopping there have been no changes in the law yet. We will monitor this and keep these articles up-to-date. If there is any major change to the current system we will notify our Registered Users. But for the moment think carefully about importing a car.
If you do decide to go ahead then your first stop should be customs. If you are driving your car into Portugal then stop at the border and register there that you plan to import it. You have to do this within 20 days of bringing your car into Portugal and taking Residency, so you might as well start it straight away.
Customs will tell you everything you need to know and do. You will then have another 6 months to carry out all the required changes and get the documentation together, there are people who can help you with this, for a fee.
It is possible, in certain circumstances to import your car without paying tax. Importing a car into Portugal - Tax.Free Option