Speed limits, cameras and traps

Portuguese speed limits are very similar to the rest of other continental european countries.

Speed limits in Portugal

On cities and built-up areas the limit is 50km/h. On the other roads (like country roads) the limit is 90km/h. Expressways (two lane roads outside built-up areas) have a 100km/h limit. On motorways the limit is 120km/h.

If you have a trailer you can only drive at 70km/h on country roads, 80km/h on expressways and 100km/h on the motorway.

Trucks and buses have lower speed limits than other cars, trucks for example can only go 90km/h on the motorway.

Speed cameras

There are two types of fixed speed cameras, the ones on big cities like Lisboa and Porto (pictured below) and others on motorways and secondary roads.

Picture by Tiago Melo (Global Media Group)
Picture by Tiago Melo (Global Media Group)

Speed cameras are named Radar or Radares (plural) in Portuguese.

The ones in the city are a bit tricky, there is only the indication of the speed limit and the word Radar on a luminous board that only lights up if you are near or above the speed limit.

In some areas they might even be partially obscured by overgrown trees and vegetation, so be aware

The other type of speed cameras are called Sincro, are accompanied by a blue road sign (pictured bellow) and are more common on expressways and motorways, although there are some in country roads and tunnels near cities.

Sincro speed camera in Portugal

These have a quirk, in 2017 only 30 speed cameras were bought by the Portuguese government, but there were 50 places where they can be installed. The idea behind this is that the speed cameras would rotate between these areas depending on traffic.

For example, during the week makes sense to have there speed cameras near the cities, during the summer in motorways leading to beaches and holiday preferred areas like Algarve.

There is no way to know if the speed camera is active, so if you see this road sign make sure you are driving at the correct speed limit. Usually the speed camera is at most 200 meters to 1 kilometer after the road sign depending on the speed limit for that road.

In both scenarios the ticket is sent to the car registered owner to be paid. If you don't pay the fine, the value will increase and you might have to go to court.

Speed traps

In Portugal there is a name for the speed traps placed by the police, Caça à Multa, literally means hunting for tickets.

The police might use unmarked cars on the motorways. Usually if you are speeding and see a car stay at the same speed behind you or accelerating fast to catch you, you probably are being filmed by the police car with your speed registered to be used as evidence of you speeding.

They will then make you stop on the hard shoulder or at the motorway services and show you the film with you speed and your car. In these cases the fine has to be paid on the spot or your car registration will be confiscated. Usually the police will carry portable ATMs in their vehicles to facilitate immediate payment of on-the-spot fines.

There may also be unmarked cars parked on bridges above motorways, on the hard shoulder or hidden in some other places with a fixed speed camera. These work in two ways, they might take your picture and you will receive the ticket at home and pay the fine or there might be some police car / bikes a few kilometers ahead and they will then chase you and make you pay the fine on the spot.

Sometimes there will be warnings on the overhead signs at the motorway saying "Controlo de Velocidade" or "Velocidade Controlada por Radar" warning that there are speed cameras or unmarked cars patrolling that motorway.

Fines for speeding

If you go 20km/h or 30km/h (outside build-up areas) above the speed limit the fine can go from 60 to 300 Euro.

Above 21km/h to 40km/h or 31km/h to 60km/h (outside build-up areas) the fine can go from 120 to 600 Euro and your license will be taken away to 1 month up to 1 year.

Above 41km/h to 60km/h or 61km/h to 80km/h (outside build-up areas) the fine can go from 300 to 1500 Euro and your license will be taken away to 2 month up to 2 years.

If you go 60km/h or 80km/h (outside build-up areas) above the speed limit the fine goes from 500 to 2500 Euro and your license will be taken away 2 months up to 2 years.

Article last updated on 07 of July, 2018