Exchanging UK Driving License for Portuguese

Many British people dream of moving away and starting a new life abroad. With fantastic weather and sandy beaches, it’s no wonder why people would prefer living outside of the UK. There are so many fantastic destinations on offer! While some may venture further afield and try Australia or America, others prefer to stay somewhat closer to home and stick to Europe – one of these European destinations being Portugal!

When moving to Portugal, it’s important to know the steps that need to be completed in order to make you move official. These steps can be difficult, and sometimes confusing, but they are essential. If you are interested in bringing your car from the UK to Portugal, or perhaps getting a new car once you have moved, it is necessary to exchange your UK driving license for a new, Portuguese one. The rule in Portugal is that you must exchange your driving license within 90 days of becoming an official Portuguese citizen and failure to do so will result in you having to take your driving test again. However, this test will be conducted entirely in Portuguese!

There are many benefits to doing so. For example, it will make getting around your area a lot easier and, while the majority of Portugal has great public transport, you won’t need to rely on it as you will have your own car. This is particularly important if you live in a quiter, more rural part of the country. These areas are less likely to have public transport links and so, if you want to get around, you’re going to need to have a car which you can legally drive.

The process of exchanging your driving license can be tricky but, hopefully, this guide will make things a lot easier for you!

Of course, recently, the entire process of most things has changed as a result of the UK leaving the EU due to Brexit. Before Brexit, you would not have to exchange your driving license once you have gained settlement within Portugal as the country accepted all licenses for members of the EU. If you had a license issued by another EU member then all you had to do was register it with the IMT – Portugal’s equivalent to the DVLA – within 60 days starting on the day you became an official resident in the country. The process was reasonably simple as all you had to do was fill out a form and hand over your residency certificate, your original driver’s license as well as a photocopy and your passport.

However, before Brexit, it was still an option to simply exchange your UK driving license for one issued by the Portuguese authorities. To do this, you would need to complete a form and bring to your local IMT office. You would also need to bring your original driver’s license, photocopy of your passport as well as your original, your Portugal Fiscal Number (NIF), a medical report and the appropriate fee you need to pay in order to exchange your license – this being around £26.

Now, since Brexit has been completed, you will need to follow the same steps mentioned above. However, as also previously mentioned, you must complete this process within 90 days or you will have to retake your test in Portuguese. When you start the process, the IMT will issue you with a temporary driver’s license known as a Guia and that allows you to legally drive in Portugal while your new license is being prepared. It is illegal to drive in the country without an official Portuguese driving license or the temporary Guia.

If you are unlucky and miss the deadline, you will need to take a driving test in Portuguese. Portuguese driving tests are in 3 sections, the theory, the technical and the practical. In order to take your test, you will need to apply to the IMT or a driving school to get yourself a registration form. This form, when completed, is given to the IMT. When applying, you will need to bring proof of your identity, 2 recent photos of yourself with your name printed on the back. 2 stamped self-addressed envelopes and a medical certificate signed by a doctor.

This medical certificate is very important and proves that you are fit and well enough to drive safely. This should be simple to obtain and involves a Portuguese doctor accessing your medical records through the Portuguese NHS and confirming your ability to drive.

The theory test has a total of 30 questions and you must answer at least 27 correctly within 35 minutes. Next, there is the technical side of the test. During this, you will need to take an oral test on the technicalities of driving which will last a total of 50 minutes. If you are not familiar with the Portuguese language, you can be provided with an interpreter to help you conduct the test. This is followed by the practical test which takes between 45 to 55 minutes and tests your ability to drive on the road and respond to traffic.

So, to conclude, exchanging your UK driver license for a Portuguese license can indeed be a very complex process. There are a lot of important steps to follow as well as some deadlines that you should most certainly aim to meet! Exchanging your license before the 90 deadline will make things a lot easier for you but, luckily, there are other options if this is not possible. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to make following your dream of living abroad a whole lot easier!

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