27 de September, 2023
When you move to Portugal as an expat, one of the first things you need to consider is how to validate your foreign driver’s license (or “carta de condução”, as it’s called here) . Portugal, like many European countries, has specific rules for foreign driver´s license holders, even those with dual citizenship. It is important to understand these rules to ensure that you are driving legally.
The country offers a relatively simple process for expats who wish to drive legally on its picturesque roads, even for those who wish to work driving a vehicle. In this guide, we’ll explore the steps required to validate your driver’s license and tips for driving in Portugal.
Yes, as a tourist you can drive in Portugal with a foreign driver’s license for a limited period.
If you want to live in the country, you need to be aware of the law which lays down certain conditions depending on the origin of your document, the length of your stay in the country and the category of vehicle you are driving.
A foreign driver´s licence is only valid for a period of 185 days after entering the country.
Driving licenses issued by countries belonging to the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) are valid in Portugal until the document expires. However, drivers who decide to take up residence in Portugal need to inform the Regional or District IMT Service of their area of residence within 60 days.
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You must include the documents with your application:
If your driving license has no expiration date, you will need to exchange it for a Portuguese license within 2 years of obtaining residency in Portugal.
Since July 1, 2022, driver’s licenses issued by a member state of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) will now be valid in Portugal. According to Decree no. 46 of 2022, documents issued by these countries do not need to be validated in Portugal
This rule applies to countries such as Angola, Australia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Canada, Chile, the United States, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Mozambique, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Switzerland and Turkey.
In these cases, even if you are resident in Portugal, it is not necessary to exchange your license for a Portuguese one if you meet the following criteria:
If you want or need to exchange your driving license for a Portuguese one, you will be “exempt from taking exams for all the categories they wish to exchange”, according to Decree-Law no. 46/2022.
If your driver’s license was issued by a country that does not adhere to the international conventions, you must exchange it immediately. To obtain a Portuguese document you will need to take a driving test for each category of license you have.
To be issued with a Portuguese driving license, you must present the following documents:
If your qualification is not in Portuguese, English, French or Spanish, you must submit a sworn translation of the document authenticated by the consular service of Portugal or another member state in the respective country.
In addition, a declaration may be required from the entity that issued the license or from a diplomatic or consular authority proving the authenticity of the driving license, its date of issue, validity, vehicle categories and the passing of a driving test.
Anyone aged 18 or over who has a residence permit in Portugal can obtain a driving license for cars in Portugal. You also need to be physically, mentally and psychologically fit, and you must not be banned from driving in your country of origin. Read more at IMT website.
The driver’s license transfer fee is 30€.
However, you will have to consider other costs that you may have: a medical certificate, translation of the license (if necessary) and proof of driving. As published in the Público newspaper code and driving tests can cost more than €200.
Traffic and traffic laws in Portugal are similar to those in other European countries, but it is important to know the specific rules when driving in Portugal. Be aware of a few details:
Although Portugal has an efficient public transportation service, driving in the country can be a wonderful experience, allowing you to explore its rich culture and stunning landscapes. However, it is essential to follow all traffic rules and regulations to avoid fines, which can be significant.
Traffic laws in Portugal are strictly enforced in practice. The Portuguese traffic authorities have an efficient enforcement system to ensure safety on the roads. This includes enforcement of speeding, drunken driving, the use of seat belts, the use of cell phones while driving, among other infractions.
With this information in hand, you’re ready to start your journey on Portugal’s roads safely and legally. Make the most of your stay and enjoy the beauty this country has to offer while driving responsibly.
*Silvia Resende is a journalist at Atlantic Bridge. Brazilian (from Bahia), she arrived in Portugal in 2015 to build a new life with her family. She has a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Porto. She has worked as a TV presenter, reporter and event producer. As well as being a content creator, she also works as a tour guide in Porto.