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Rules for Truck Driving in Portugal

Truck driving in Portugal follows both local laws and European Union standards to promote road safety, efficiency, and legal compliance, ensuring all truck driving rules are met. This guide is essential for drivers and fleet managers, providing a thorough overview of Portuguese truck driving regulations. It covers important areas such as domestic transport rules and the necessary paperwork for transporting goods across Portugal. This guide aims to give a clear understanding of all aspects of truck driving in this dynamic country.

Rules for Truck Driving in Portugal

Geographical Context of Portugal

Portugal, set on the southwestern edge of Europe, features a varied landscape that ranges from a lengthy Atlantic coastline to rugged mountains, influencing transportation and logistics activities. Its location on the Iberian Peninsula, next to Spain, positions it as a key junction for goods moving in and out of Europe.

Understanding Portuguese Road Networks

Portugal's comprehensive road network supports effective truck transport nationwide. Yet, drivers must be aware of and adhere to specific driving in Portugal rules, especially concerning regional and infrastructure differences that might impact their routes. For example, mountainous areas often present sharper bends and steeper grades, necessitating speed and driving tactics adjustments.

Cabotage Regulations for UK Operators

Since Brexit, UK transport companies, including Portugal, have encountered new cabotage regulations in the EU. UK hauliers can deliver goods to, from, or through Portugal and conduct up to three internal transport operations within a week after their international delivery. These operators need to understand these rules to manage their logistics efficiently within Portugal.

Detailed Look at Cabotage Opportunities

Cabotage refers to the movement of goods within a country by a foreign vehicle and is strictly controlled. In Portugal, although there is some leeway for UK operators, they must carefully plan and follow EU laws to prevent any fines.

Dangerous Goods Transportation

Portugal follows the European Agreement on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). Adhering to ADR regulations, which include maintaining proper documentation and implementing safety protocols, is essential.

Specifics of ADR Compliance

Vehicles carrying dangerous goods must be well-equipped and their drivers fully trained. ADR documents should always be complete and accessible within the vehicle. Additionally, some routes may be restricted for safety reasons, such as the 25 Abril Bridge, which limits the transport of dangerous goods during certain hours to reduce hazards.

Abnormal Loads Regulations

In Portugal, transporting oversized or overweight loads requires prior authorisation. Applicants must seek approval at least 30 days in advance and ensure that all vehicle and load dimensions comply with national standards.

Process for Authorization

The application to transport abnormal loads must provide comprehensive details about the load, the planned route, and the vehicle used. Authorities might require route surveys or police escorts, complicating logistics planning.

Taxation and Customs

It's crucial for truck operators, particularly those engaged in international transport, to understand the applicable taxation and customs regulations. In Portugal, truck operators can benefit from certain tax breaks, including duty-free importation of fuel in the vehicle's tanks.

Navigating Customs Regulations

Adhering to customs regulations is essential, especially for cross-border transportation. Operators must have all the required documentation, such as TIR Carnets for international travel and CMR consignment notes, to ensure smooth passage through customs.

Movement Restrictions

Local restrictions can impact truck movements in urban areas like Lisbon. These rules often include specific times during which loading and unloading are restricted, as well as bans aimed at reducing traffic during peak hours to improve city living conditions.
Traffic Bans for Trucks in Portugal

The driving ban details for trucks in Portugal, particularly on the Tagus Bridge and A23 motorway tunnels, highlight restricted times and areas, crucial for planning routes to avoid fines.

Tagus Bridge (25th April Bridge) Prohibitions

Frequency: Daily, including Sundays and public holidays.

Hours: From 5:00 AM to 2:00 AM the following day.

Area Affected: Entire span of the 25th April Bridge over the Tagus.

A23 Motorway Tunnels Prohibitions

Frequency: Year-round.

Tunnels Affected:

  • Barracao Tunnel, southbound, exit Guarda Sul (km 210.8)
  • Barracao Tunnel, northbound, exit Benespera (km 201.2)
  • Ramela Tunnel, southbound, exit Guarda Sul (km 210.8)
  • Ramela Tunnel, northbound, exit Benespera (km 201.2)
  • Gardunha Tunnels, southbound, exit Fundao Sul (km 158.1)
  • Gardunha Tunnels, northbound, exit Castelo Novo (km 148.8)

Additional Information: Mandatory exit signage is posted 1500m before the exit ramps.

Specific Roads Prohibitions

Frequency: Fridays, Sundays, public holidays, and the day before public holidays.

Hours: From 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Roads Affected:

  • EN6 Lisbon - Cascais
  • EN10 Infantado - Vila Franca de Xira
  • EN14 Maia - Braga and other major roads listed in the original document.

Lisbon and Porto Access Road Prohibitions

Frequency: Mondays, except in July and August.

Hours: From 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM.

Roads Affected: 

  • A1 Alverca - Lisbon
  • A2 Almada - Lisbon
  • A5 junction with the CREL - Lisbon
  • IC19 junction with the CREL - Lisbon (Damaia)
  • Numerous other roads leading into Lisbon and Porto.


Vehicles carrying dangerous goods essential for public health, armed forces, police, and those involved in seaport operations are exempted from these restrictions. Additionally, special provisions apply for fuel transport to airports and sea ports.

Special Authorizations:

The Direcçao Geral de Viaçao (General Directorate of Traffic) may grant special permissions for vehicles affected by these restrictions under specific circumstances. These include vehicles involved in loading operations during restricted periods or carrying dangerous goods necessary for continuous operations of production units.

Local Traffic Restrictions:

Lisbon: Restrictions on heavy goods vehicles between 8:00-10:00 AM and 5:00-7:00 PM. Specific pedestrian zones have additional loading and unloading restrictions.

Porto: Heavy goods vehicle movement is restricted from 2:00-7:00 PM within defined city zones.

General Note:

Other cities also enforce local driving restrictions, and areas affected are clearly signposted to guide drivers.

Impact of Restrictions on Daily Operations

Drivers and fleet managers need to meticulously plan their routes to comply with these regulations and avoid fines and delays. Familiarity with the timing and geographical limits of restrictions in major cities is essential for efficient and timely delivery of goods.

Low Emission Zones (LEZ)

Portugal shows its dedication to environmental health by establishing Low Emission Zones. In Lisbon, the LEZ, which applies to all vehicles, strives to cut down on pollution and encourage the use of cleaner transportation options.

Compliance with LEZ Standards

Trucks entering Low-Emission Zones (LEZs) must adhere to specific emission standards, possibly necessitating fleet upgrades or adjustments. Following these standards is crucial for supporting environmental efforts and avoiding penalties.

Public Holidays in Portugal

Public holidays can disrupt transportation due to business closures and reduced staff availability. Truck drivers need to be aware of these dates, as they can affect delivery schedules and logistical planning.

Public Holidays

Planning Around Public Holidays

Knowledge of national and regional holidays is vital for effectively scheduling deliveries and operations. Adapting transit schedules and activities to accommodate these dates helps maintain smooth and efficient logistics.

Road Toll System

Portugal uses an advanced road toll system that calculates fees based on the distance travelled and the vehicle's characteristics. Familiarity with this system is critical to managing costs and optimising route planning.

Toll Categories and Costs

Toll charges depend on the type of vehicle and the road used. Electronic toll collection systems make payments more accessible. Drivers are advised to use an Onboard Unit (OBU) to simplify toll payments and minimise delays.

Current Bridge Toll Rates (as of April 2024) for crossing the Vasco da Gama and Tagus (25 April) bridges are as follows:

Vehicle Documentation and Safety Requirements

All vehicles operating in Portugal must have the proper documentation, including the Green Card, vehicle registration, and legally required safety equipment.

Warning Triangles: Carrying a warning triangle in your vehicle for use during emergencies is mandatory. In case of a breakdown or accident, position the triangle no less than 30 meters away from your vehicle. Ensure it is clearly visible from at least 100 meters to alert approaching traffic.

Reflective Jacket Requirement: Heavy vehicle drivers must wear a reflective waistcoat outside built-up areas at night or in poor visibility conditions. This applies if they must exit their vehicle on the carriageway or hard shoulder due to a breakdown or emergency. Non-compliance may lead to a fine. Reflective jackets are available for purchase at most fuel stations and service areas.

Fire Extinguisher Requirements: Local regulations mandate that all vehicles must be equipped with a fire extinguisher. For heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes, a 2kg powder extinguisher must be placed within the cab. Additionally, a 6kg extinguisher should be stored in another accessible location on the vehicle. All extinguishers must meet the BS EN 3 standard.

First Aid Kit Requirement: All heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) must be equipped with a first aid kit.

Requirements for UK Drivers

UK drivers must carry a passport, a valid driving licence, and travel insurance adjusted for post-Brexit conditions. These documents are essential for legal operations in Portugal and provide emergency coverage. 

Drivers must also possess an ADR certificate for transporting dangerous goods.


Observing speed limits is essential for both safety and legal compliance. In Portugal, speed restrictions differ based on the type of road and the size of the vehicle, influencing how fleet operators manage their travel plans and schedules. The maximum speed limits in km/hour on various road types, unless signed otherwise, are as follows:

Adapting to Local Speed Regulations

Understanding and following local speed limits is crucial for preventing accidents and avoiding traffic fines. Fleet managers need to ensure that all drivers are informed about these limits and adhere to them to uphold safety and operational efficiency.

Driving Hours, Rest Times, and Tachograph Regulations

The European Union created elaborate rules concerning Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV), which emphasise the safety of drivers by controlling their daily driving hours to minimise road accidents resulting from fatigue. Such laws prescribed maximum daily, weekly, and fortnightly driving hours aimed at fighting chronic fatigue, as well as minimal required breaks after every four and a half hours of driving and minimum daily and weekly driver rest timing. Portugal is a member of the EU and follows these EU guidelines regarding truck driver rest rules, truck driver log book rules, and truck driver hours rules as part of its commitment to road safety.

Additionally, to avoid excessive work besides driving, the EU adopted Directive 2002/15EC, which limits the number of working hours to ensure drivers have adequate time to rest. Maintaining compliance is enforced through tachographs and time sheets as they record the hours of driving, breaks and rest periods. Failure to comply can lead to strict penalties, such as large fines, license suspension, or negative consequences on the driver’s professional record, thus demonstrating the significance of these practices in protecting the health and well-being of all road users. For more information on these guidelines, please read our article HGV Driving Hours, Break & Rest Regulations.

Maximum Permissible Weights for Lorries in Europe

Non-drive Axle Weight: 10 tons

Drive Axle Weight: 12 tons

2-Axle Lorry: 19 tons

3-Axle Lorry: 26 tons

4-Axle Road Train: 37 tons (Note 1)

5+ Axles Road Train: 44 tons (Note 2)

5+ Axles Articulated Vehicle: 44 tons (Note 3)

Additional Notes:

  • Under specific conditions, the European Modular System (EMS) allows for combinations up to 25.25 meters in length and 60 tons in weight.
  • (Note 1) The limit for a tractor with a semi-trailer and a four-axle combination is 30 tons.
  • (Note 2) Increased weight limits apply to certain transport types.
  • (Note 3) The 44-ton limit applies to carrying either two 20 ft or one 40 ft ISO containers. Under special conditions, such as the transportation of woody materials, paper products, and ceramic products, the weight can be increased to 60 tons.

Eurowag Helps Ensure Compliance And More

Telematics is a powerful fleet management software that helps streamline the record-keeping process for driving and rest period compliance. An electronic logging device (ELD) from Eurowag can record all breaks, rest periods, and consecutive driving periods. 

Because the information is logged automatically, telematics can streamline the administrative aspect of compliance. This saves time and money for drivers, dispatchers, owners and managers alike. The data captured can even be used to help lower fuel consumption, track vehicle maintenance needs, and improve driver behaviour and productivity. 

Contact us to learn more about Eurowag’s telematics fleet management software and how we can help HGV companies with many of their needs.