Buying vehicle

Hi everyone . I am moving to Portugal , I am american . I was hoping for some assistance . I would like to buy a car there . I hear the taxes and costs are outrageous . Would it be better to buy a car in Spain. (cheaper price ) and transfer it and pay the fees or just bite the bullet and buy from Portugal .

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You might look at buying the car before you move, as with some visas, you can import a car that you have owned for more than 6 months duty-free. I am researching this for the TBird that we have in storage in the UK. There must be a thread here somewhere on the rules to achieve this

A Canadian here who just bought a farm in Portugal and moving there soon. I wanted to take my truck to Portugal and after a lot of research and asking people who had experience doing this, I decided not to go ahead with shipping my truck . The regulations and the cost involved shipping your vehicle specifically from North America makes this option too expensive. I have decided to buy a car in Portugal, it will be cheaper for me and no headaches. Hope this helps on your decision. Good luck!

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It is helpful . Thank you

Yes that is an option but the car has to be owned by you for at least 6 months prior to shipping to Portugal , and the cars here in London drive from the wrong side :grin:

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Consider renting.

That what I’m looking at . Summer rentals are on , prices are crazy expensive . Guess they haven’t heard the restriction continue for the UK .

There are quite some drawbacks in importing procedure as well. If you want the tax exemption, you have to 1) own the car for a year at the place of previous residence i.e. you have to prove you lived there (not electricity bills but city hall paper), 2) you have to de-register yourself from the previous address (which I personally don’t want to do) and present the paper about that, 3) prove that your car is a car i.e. all sorts of certificates if it’s not from EU, if it’s from EU - just one document that.

My case - I lived in country A, for a long time, owned a car there. Then I submitted my Golden Visa documents to SEF. While waiting for that I’ve lived in Country B. Now I’m in Portugal and I want to import my car here, but hey! Last half a year I wasn’t living in the country of my car, so no can do.
I also have a car in country B, but it’s outside EU so 1) it’s a nightmare with documents, 2) I have to de-register from my own house to get the necessary “relocation” paper - no thank you.

One more thing is that this procedure is not quite common. There are some companies that can help legalize the car, less speak proper English, even less reply to emails, no single one can give any guarantees. The process is not that common as Golden Visa for example.

So, imho it is surely doable but 1) your case is really simple e.g. relocating within EU (then you wouldn’t be on this forum though), 2) only worth the effort if you can’t get the same car here (rare car, oldtimer, your favorite pink mini etc).

Thank you very much . Think I’m going to long-term rent until I figure it out . With UK blocked again , prices should drop .

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Price for Tesla cars the same like in others EU countries. It is a best option.

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I found a transport company that talks sense. However the cost of the move is hard to justify on anything but emotions grounds. Once I have completed the import I will set out the steps if it works.

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It sounds like you’ve studied this issue, while I’ve merely grazed on it. I gather that the taxes are very high on new vehicles in Portugal. At first glance it seems like there are decent savings to be had by importing rather than buying locally, assuming that one is exempt from certain taxes in certain migration scenarios. This potential savings must be balanced against the hassle.

Here are my numbers and estimates for a new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid base model:

USA purchase price: $28,900 + tax + fees (2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid)
Taxes+fees: $5000 (approximate)
Transportation: $1000-$2000 (
Localization: $1000 (guess)
exempt from IVA for certain situations like mine (Portuguese taxes on cars)
Total for USA->Portugal option: ~$37,000

Portugal purchase price: 39,825€ (Toyota RAV4 Active SUV 5 Portas | 100% SUV. 100% Híbrido.)
IVA: 9,000€ (Portuguese taxes on cars)
fees: ???
ignoring ISV+IUC
Total for buying in Portugal: at least 49,825€ = $58500

Savings for import route: $21,000, or ~35%

What do you think?

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Once you have residence you are allowed to import one car that you have owned for more than 6 months. I have a Ford Thunderbird 2005 in storage in the U.K. and just arranged to have it imported. The theory looks good so far I should write this up once I have the full experience

I am told it will take a month to arrive and shipping costs are currently higher than pre pandemic


As an alternate option you could look at getting “MT plates” from Andorra. You do not need to be a resident of Andorra for this, and you can benefit from the cheap registration costs plus cheaper insurance too. It may also be a bonus to know that Andorra does not share ownership records with the EU.

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A problem with this approach is that the poster will be a resident in the EU.

Each country will be limiting the time a car with foreign plates can spend on its territory (probably around the 90-days mark). Also, I’d say that many, if not most of EU ones will not allow their residents to drive cars with foreign plates (unless certain exception criteria are met - rent-a-car vehicle, a foreign resident who has legal rights to drive that foreign car is also present in the car; those are the two I remember, perhaps there are more).

Now, those are the rules above, but not every country, customs or police in it is enforcing it, however, it can definitely be a problem down the road.

@voyager while there may be a technicality that states it’s not possible, in reality I’ve never heard of anyone being stopped. Spend some time in Barcelona and you’ll see plenty of MT plates around.

It’s the law that states it’s not allowed, unless exceptions :slight_smile:
Law not being actively checked or enforced is something else. As for the MT plates in Barsa, it does not mean that the vehicle drivers/owners were EU residents, or that they’ve been staying for extended periods of time in Spain, (the Australians in your example check both boxes), but our poster fren here will be a resident in Portugal :slight_smile:

Another legal loophole people used would be registering a rent-a-car company in Bulgaria, that has favorable car taxes, buying/importing a car, then legally renting that company’s car to yourself wherever you are.
(I’m familiar with this concept only in broader terms.)

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I have just purchased a car for the later import into Portugal, so the 6-months clock has started ticking while it is staying in the parking lot.
If you could share any tips from your experience, as well as the import company contacts (via PM) that would be greatly appreciated!
Meanwhile, sharing the link to an awesome PT resource I mentioned in another thread here:

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When I did some research (a year ago) I found one company that was actually speaking English with me, but my story ended not far from there :slight_smile: Here is it
As for driving in Portugal with another license plate… I’m not saying you should, but I didn’t have problems for a year, and I know many people doing that for years and years - there is no possibility to check that if you are also a resident of another country (you could always say that you or your grandma just entered last week). I lived in NL with another license plated for 2 years. And trust me - they are very good when it comes to controlling something (and I was not really hiding - just parking it in front of my door and driving around all year round).
But it’s better to import it to PT since 1) you can sell it for much more because of the import tax, and 2) you pay way less tax than in many other countries (e.g. 10 times less than NL). Of course buying one in Poland and getting here is cheaper. Also depends on a car… sometimes it’s hard to find one in one country.

Many thanks for the tip on the import company, I’ll check them out.
Regarding the other considerations - well, I have already crossed the bridge, i.e. bought the car :wink:
Hope it should all work out nicely with the import as I have ruled out the option of driving forever on the foreign plates - hard to hide in a place where the car can only arrive by sea :grin: