New Highway Code Portugal 2014 – changes in the Portuguese traffic regulations
In this article you can get an overview of the most important alterations to the new highway code in Portugal.
New traffic code in Portugal from January 2014
As of 1 January 2014 significant alterations to the Highway Code in Portugal come into force.
The changes applied to the Code in force by the Portuguese National Authority for Road Safety (ANSR - Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviária) introduce new rules for drivers, cyclist as well as pedestrians.
The paper copy of a new, updated, Road Code is to be printed and distributed free of charge by the ANSR between December 2013 and January 2014.
Alternatively, you can purchase the new code through from publishing houses or visit, for any additional doubt, the official website of the ANSR – the Portuguese National Authority for Road Safety (in Portuguese only).
The most important alterations to the Portuguese Highway Code:
1. Cyclists and pedestrians
1.1. A new concept of a Vulnerable Road User. According to the new regulations, the drivers of motor vehicles must ensure that their behaviour does not endanger in any way the safety of pedestrians with reduced mobility, children, elderly and pregnant women, as well as cyclists. The drivers are obliged to facilitate their circulation of the above mentioned road users in the traffic.
1.2. Children up to the age of ten on bicycles are allowed to cycle on sidewalks as long as they respect and do not endanger the safety of the pedestrians.
1.3. A new concept of a Co-Existence Area. In designated and clearly marked areas, the circulating of both motor vehicles and pedestrians is allowed. Parking is forbidden in those areas and the pedestrians can utilize the whole of the designated spaces, as long as they don’t hinder or obstruct traffic. The speed limit in co-existence areas is of 20 km per hour.
1.4. Cyclist aged 10 and over are not allowed to circulate on the sidewalks. The can utilize hard shoulder provided that caution is taken with other cyclists and possibly pedestrians.
1.5. In designated areas the cyclist have right of way when crossing the road. The cyclist must, however, pay utmost attention to the traffic and avoid endangering their own safety as well as the safety of other road users’.
1.6. The drivers of motor vehicles must maintain the minimum lateral distance of 1.5 m from cycles circulating on the road during overtaking.
1.7. Two cycles are allowed to ride side by side except for the areas with reduced visibility.
Drives (residents in Portugal) who cannot present the Portuguese identification card (Cartão do Cidadão), are obliged to carry with them and show when requested by proper authorities the tax number card (Cartão de Contribuinte).
3. Children in the car – new rules about child restraint in Portuguese Highway Code
The height of children required to use booster seats in motor vehicles is reduced from 1.5 m to 1.35 m.
The outer lane of a roundabout should be used exclusively by the drivers who intend to leave the roundabout on the next immediate exit. The only exceptions from this rule – animal drawn vehicles, bicycles, heavy vehicles – can use the outer lane regardless of the intended exit, as long as priority is given to the vehicles leaving the roundabout.
1.1. When fined, driver can opt to pay voluntarily on the spot or to deposit within 48 hours the amount of the penalty following the instructions provided by the road police officer. Drivers who intend to dispute the fine and chose the option of delaying the payment of the fine via the deposit, have 15 days to submit the complaint to the ANSR (the National Authority for Road Safety) and in case their complaint is upheld, the deposit is fully refunded.
Whenever the fine exceeds 200 euros, drivers can opt for paying in instalments. No fines payed voluntarily on the spot will be refunded.
1.2. Parking tickets can now be issued by the city halls.
1.3. The fiscal address becomes the official address of the driver.
6. Lower legal alcohol limits for drivers
According to the new regulations of the Portuguese Highway Code, the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is lowered from 0.5 to 0.2 g/L for drivers who have had their licence for less than 3 years, as well as for professional drivers (drivers of ambulances, school buses, taxis, heavy vehicles, etc.)
The threshold of blood alcohol content considered to be a grave offence when driving is reduced from 0.8 g/L to 0.5 g/L. Driving with blood alcohol content at 1.2 g/L continues to be a criminal offence.