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Your Drivers Licence In Portugal

Here we hope to dispel some of the myth and confusion which comes with driving in Portugal and whether you need to do anything with your driver’s licence be it an EU licence, British licence or a driving licence from outside of the EU.

You will not, as a rule, need a Portuguese driving licence if you are just a temporary visitor in Portugal (temporary being anything up to six months) generally, you are permitted to drive using your international licence or EU license during this period of time.

However, if you are relocating to Portugal, this rule changes as soon as you get Portuguese residency, at this time some nationalities (EU citizens for example) will be allowed to continue to drive without a Portuguese licence (but you will still need to register with the traffic authority in Portugal), other nationalities will have a timeframe in which they must apply for a Portuguese driving licence.

Which documents do I need in order to register for a Portuguese driving licence exchange?

Proof of residency
IMT Modelo 13 application form (which has been completed!)
Photocopy of your current driving licence
And you may need to pay a fee and/or provide a medical report if requested

If you have an EU driving licence which is valid for an unlimited period, you will still need to renew your licence for a Portuguese one 2 years after gaining residency papers.

Do I need a Portuguese driver’s licence? 
To have a licence you must be 18 years of age or older in order to drive a car in Portugal. As a temporary visitor, you will be allowed to use a valid international licence for up to 6 months.

If you continue to use your driver’s licence after this date, without arranging for a Portuguese driving licence exchange, you could face heavy fines!! If you are a visitor in Portugal it might be worth purchasing an ‘International Driving Permit’ (even though it isn’t required in all cases).

Driving licence exchange: for EU licence holders
If you want to continue using your international driving licence, you will need to inform the IMT/Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (Institute for Mobility & Transport) within 30 days of being given your residence documents. You can however still continue to use your EU driving licence until it expires but failure to let the IMT know you’ll be using your old licence can result in significant fines!! It might still be worth arranging for a Portugal driving licence exchange, mainly because if your licence is lost, stolen or damaged it can only be replaced by the organisation that issued it, this could be very problematic and time-consuming as many driving licence authorities will not replace a licence for people at foreign addresses.

Exchanging to a Portuguese driver’s licence : for non-EU citizens
You will be allowed to drive in Portugal using your foreign licence for a fixed period. The length of time you are allowed to use your non-EU licence depends on the country your licence is from.

If you are using a licence from a country that is a part of the RTIA (Road Traffic International Agreements), you will be required to exchange your driving licence within 185 days of getting a residence certificate in Portugal. If you hold a South African, Australian, Canadian, or a US citizen driver’s licence, you can use your licence for the first 6 months, and then you will need to exchange it for a Portuguese one.

AUSTRALIA: Because your licence has not got a valid from date noted on it, you might need to get a document from the Australian authorities to confirm their licence start date.

USA: If you are exchanging your US licence for a licence in Portugal, as an American citizen you will have to apply for an abstract of your driving record from the last state of residence and you will need a doctor’s certificate to prove you are fit to drive. If you have previously exchanged your foreign licence in another country, you are free to use your EU licence.

If you are unsure which rules apply to you you will be able to find out more from the IMT website for the country you obtained your licence from.

Having a driving test in Portugal:
If your foreign licence expires, you will need to pass a Portuguese driving test. The test is in 3 parts – technical, theoretical and practical:

Theoretical – 30 questions in 35 minutes (you will need to get 27 out of 30 to pass)
Technical exam – 50 minutes long
Practical driving exam – 50 minutes long with instructor / examiner in the car with you.

Before taking your exam, you will be required to take a minimum of 32 hours of driving lessons from government licensed driving centre, and you must also have passed the theoretical part of the test.

If you do not speak Portuguese, you might be able to a translator from your Embassy – in which case they can come with you on your exam to translate.

Drivers are required to undergo a medical and a psychological examination to renew your Portuguese license at 50, 60, 65 and 70 years old, drivers older than 70 must take a revalidation test.

Replacing a lost or stolen Portuguese licence
If you lose or damage your Portuguese licence or have to update personal details on it, you will need to apply for a replacement by providing an IMT form, a photocopy of your passport and 2, colour passport size photographs.

Contact for IMT – IMT – Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes
Av. das Forças Armadas 40, 1649-022 Lisbon
T: + 351 217 949 000 |  E: | W:

One thought on “Your Drivers Licence In Portugal

  1. I am 71 years old and i am hoping to buy a property in the algarve next year to relocate and retire. I wonder what the licence situation is and do I have to have Portugese nationality. regards. Brian

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