Piece of cake

If you emigrate to Portugal, you’re allowed to import 1 car per person tax-free as part of your household. The procedure can be outsourced to specialized companies and then it probably is a piece of cake.
If you, like us, are members of the do-it-all-yourself club, you can expect a real authentic Portuguese experience. Which you can see as an enrichment of your integration process. It requires patience, perseverance and proper understanding of the Portuguese language. And I’m happy to say that Nuno put our new Portuguese license plates on the Disco today!

In the Netherlands we had two cars: a Citroen C4 on LPG and a Land Rover Discovery. After we were officially registered in Portugal we started with the import procedure for the cars. For this you need a CoC, Certificate of Conformity, which confirms that the car complies with local regulations.
You can request this from a dealer in the country you’re coming from. For the Land Rover we got it very quickly and free of charge. For the C4 it was difficult to get it in the holiday month of August: one dealer was willing to help us for €125, -. So we put the C4 on hold and decided to start with the Land Rover.

The procedure should start off at the district office of IMT
(Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes) of your residency, in our case in Viseu. We took with us: passport, certificate of registration, CoC, original lisence certificate and filled in form ‘modelo 9’ (you can download it here)

Our first aim is to get the car allowed in Portugal and then to arrange at customs that no import tax has to be paid. It is all very disputable because we have free movement of goods in Europe, but anyway…

At the IMT in Viseu we received a print with the procedure explained. (the same info can be found here on the IMTwebsite)
They checked our paperwork and sent us directly to the nearest inspection station.

IMT’s checklist

The Discovery is not an unknown car in Portugal and the inspection seemed to be straight-forward. Until the men of the station saw that the CoC said that the car has 5 seats, while our model only has 2 and is registered in the Netherlands as a company car.
Fortunately, someone from Land Rover and someone from the DVLA in the Netherlands had already warned me about this on the phone. In 2002 both types received the same CoC. The Dutch DVLA man had pointed out to me that on the license card it says with a code that it is registrated as a company car with 2 seats (N1) and hopefully that could convince them in Portugal.

That Friday afternoon, it didn’t. We had to go back to the district office, after the weekend.
At that point we didn’t know yet these things are part of the authentic procedure: You think you are going one step forward, but at the same time something is added or you have to take one step back. An exercise in Portuguese patience …

Anyway, back to the district office: to give an explanation to the head of the department with a few rehearsed sentences. We got a new form for the inspection station again. Unfortunately, this meant that the car is labeled as ‘não está homologado’ and we have to go through a more expensive procedure. The director of the station himself deals with our case. And yes, he starts the technical inspection to allow the car on Portuguese territory! The only restriction is that we have to place a separation fence between the seats and the booth, because that is mandatory. The director trusts our blue eyes that we will do so and gives us the ‘approved’ papers. After we’ve made a fence we can go back to the IMT to collect the new license certificate.

Centro Inspeção Automóvel

A few weeks later on a Thursday morning we drive back to Viseu with a seperation fence in the car. It is nice and quiet on the road. On arrival we understand why: it is São Mateus. The city saint is honored today and the district office is therefore closed. Another step back and the day after I try again. Then it is quiet because the city is recovering from the hang-over.
When I leave the office, I realize that I have actually been a postman. I have personally delivered the inspection report from the station to them and I had to pay €165. Now we can go to customs to be exempted of import tax.

I try to find out which customs office we need to go and what we need to bring with us. Via the site of the Alfândega (customs) I choose the nearest office and I try to call them for some extra information.
There is some doubt, because they do not know either which office we have to go to due to a reorganization a few years ago.
But in the end it is the office in Braga and I call them to know what to bring with us (in Portuguese!). Fortunately, the employee is patient and can also speak slowly and in simple words and says: ‘Take everything from the list’.
“The list?” I ask.
“Yes, the list.”
Me: ‘And where can I find the list?’
She: ‘You don’t have it? Do you have email? “
Just a few minutes after our conversation I have the list in my mailbox!

The list

Just to be sure, I brought my laptop and our hotspot when we went to Braga.
That wasn’t unnecessarily. Of course there was a error in one of the forms. But I could change it on the spot and sent it in once more. Pfffffff, step by step every box on the list got checked. We succeeded!

A few days later the new Portuguese license certificate arrives by mail. Now we may go to the tax office to pay road tax. Our old Disco from 2002 is charged at the same rate as a car from 2018. A painful observation: instead of €50,- per year we need to pay 10 times more.

In the meantime, we’ve had already realized that we don’t need a second car. So we drove the C4 back to the netherlands and sold it there. Piece of cake.


We’re sorry to say, but after writing this post a reader suggested that the unexpected amount of tax, might be caused by a misstake in the process. Read about it in our follow-up. (sept 2019)


Useful Portuguese words

License platesMatrícula
License certificateCertificado de matrícula
Imported vehicleVeículo importado
DVLAIMT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes)
applicationPedido
FileFiche
FormModelo
AddressMorada
BrandMarca
MOT testInspeção técnica periódica
MOT test stationCentro Inspeção Automóvel
Certificate of ConformationHomologação
DeclarationDeclaração
DouaneCustoms
TaxImposto
Tax officeFinanças

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19 Comments

  1. Hi Dona Rolha,
    Just stumble into this post (have no idea how old it is) but I have good news for you: starting next fiscal year, your Disco road tax should be around 60Eur (the same as a 2002 registered LR) – this has been through the Parliament and is to be part of the next budget.

  2. Hallo!
    Heeft u enig idee of u ook registratie moest betalen speciaal voor het LPG gedeelte?

    1. Dankjewel voor je reactie.
      Ik kan je helaas geen antwoord geven op je vraag.
      We besloten onze auto op lpg alsnog te verkopen in Nederland, enerzijds omdat in onze regio de lpg stations dun gezaaid zijn en anderzijds omdat onze lpg installatie later was ingebouwd en niet op de COC vermeld stond. We hadden na de importperikelen met onze landrover onze portie bureaucratie wel gehad.

  3. Hello. Thanks for writing this blog. So from your article I am. Presuming it is much better to being a privately ownes car I to Portugal than a business vehicle? Or. Maybe its a matter of making sure it is registered as the correct type when entering… All seems so complicated.

    1. Hi Stephanie, Thanks for your comment.
      A business car will be cheaper for road tax.
      And your last comment is definitely true: make sure that your car is registered as on de Certificate of Conformity (from the EU).
      That makes the whole process much easier!

      1. Thanks for your help. I look forward to finally getting to Europe and getting this process started. I am coming from South Africa. I will buy the car in Germany as cars are cheaper there than in Portugal. I’ll then drive it to Portugal. I hope this does not complicate matters much.

        1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for the comment.
          If you want to avoid the import tax, you need to prove that you own the car for more then a year.

  4. Hallo!

    Dankjewel voor dit uitgreide informatieve artikel!
    Ik heb een vraag. Graag zou ik mijn Fiat Panda in Portugal willen importeren, echter bij het opvragen van de CVO, blijkt dat deze niet bestaat. Is het dan uberhaupt mogelijk om mijn auto te importeren?

    Ik ben heel benieuwd. Ik kon zo 123 het antwoord niet vinden op internet.

    Dankjewel alvast.

    Vriendelijke groetjes,
    Eva

    1. Hi Eva, dank voor je reactie.
      Je schrijft CVO, maar ik denk dat je het Certificate of Confirmity (CoC) bedoelt, hè?
      Ik kan me bijna niet voorstellen dat dat er niet is voor de Fiat Panda. Heb je contact gehad met een officiële Fiat dealer?
      Op basis van onze ervaring, zou ik me niet aan het import-proces wagen zonder CoC.
      Als je de auto niet wil missen in Portugal, kun je het voorleggen aan een import-specialist. Zij kunnen je vast direct zeggen of de Panda zonder CoC wel of niet in te voeren is.
      Op facebook kun je in de expat-groepen wel vragen/zoeken naar zo iemand.
      Succes en groet!

      1. Hi!

        Ja idd, COC, volgens mij zijn de CVO en COC hetzelfde.. Ik heb inderdaad contact gehad met Fiat, zij zeggen dat het er niet is en ook nooit geweest. Hoewel de auto uit 2004 is, niet eens zo oud.. Ja ik zal idd eens een import specialist inschakelen. Dankjewel voor je snelle reactie!

        Groetjes,
        Eva

  5. Can anyone recommend an outsource company as our vehicles are complicated. One car, one Motorhome both Spanish plated whilst we are one UK and one EU resident!!!!!!!!!! Far too complicated for us to manage. Any suggestions would be much appreciated

    1. Hello Vanessa, we can not recommend anyone ourselves. But maybe in the various facebook-expat-in-portugal-groups, you will find a company name. I hope you’ll manage with importing your cars. Good luck!

  6. Hi I live in Lagos, I have my NIF and Residencia, I want to import my Mitsubishi Space Gear 4×4 MPF but I can not get a COC because it was a Japanese import to the UK. I emailed Mitsubishi UK for the COC they referred me to Mitsubishi Japan and they will not issue me one because they don’t issue documents to people. The DVLA issue all Japanese imports with a 13 didget VIN and the companes I have engaged to find me the COC all say the require a 17 didget VIN..
    Can I import my vehicle without a COC.
    Michael

    1. Hi Michael, yes you can. You just have to pay more at the IMT and have a more detailed inspection.
      Follow this link and then under “Sem Certificado de Conformidade (CoC) e sem Homologação Nacional” you will find the required documents.
      If I were you, I would check if you see your type of car driving around with Portuguese plates.
      If they have done it, so can you!
      Good luck

  7. Hi Dona, first of all thank you for this article which helped me quite a lot at least to start the process. My job is so demanding and I am thinking to rely on an agency to finish the process which is telling me a few unexpected things. If you could help I have a few of questions for you:
    1 Is it true that you may also not present income from work in Portugal before the date of cancellation of residence in the country  of origin in order to not pay taxes?
    2 is it true that the application for tax benefit  must be submitted no later than 6 months after the date of cancellation of residence (in your own country) ?
    3 Can you confirm that if I moved my residency in Portugal I can drive with the original documents of the car for the first year in Portugal?
    4 last one, Do you know if I don’t pay taxes how much I need to wait before I can sell it?

    Hope this is not too much, I’d be happy to pay for breakfast or a drink if you are ever in Lisbon. these info are gold to me.

    1. Hi Jo. No thanks, just sharing our experience.
      That being said, we only know things from our own experiences, so I can not provide any official information.
      I will try to answer your questions:
      1. we don’t know. 2. Yes, that’s true. 3. I can’t confirm that. But I was stopped by the police once, while still having Dutch plates in our 4th month. I explained we were in the process of getting Portuguese plates and got away with that. But I am not sure if they would have let me go without a fine if it was in our 11th month…
      4. It used to be 5 years, but I remember something about shortening that period to I don’t know how many, years. (3, 2 or 1).
      Thanks for offering breakfast, you don’t need to.
      Greetings from the north, good luck.

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