With some truly spectacular scenery, driving in Portugal is nothing short of a dream. Take meandering through the Natural Park of Arrábidal, which offers sublime views of the glimmering Atlantic, or driving from Porto to the Northern coast, perfect for wine and nature lovers alike, for instance. However, to enjoy these sublime views from the convenience of your car, how do you get your Portuguese driver’s license?
In this article, we’ll cover how to get your Portuguese driver’s license and whether you are eligible to use your current driver’s license. We will also provide you with important practical information, such as renting a car, so that you are ready to begin your driving experience in Portugal.
How to get your Portuguese driver’s license
Although the public transport in Portugal is very good and relatively cheap, it is much more practical to have a car so that you can get around easily. For example, heading to Costa da Caparica from Lisbon for an evening swim, or heading to Alentejo for a weekend away is much simpler by car. It goes without saying that having a car (and a valid driver’s license) will save you a lot of hassle.
The process of obtaining a driver’s license in Portugal is probably very similar to that of your home country. However, one difficulty that you will likely face is in taking both the theory and practical tests in Portuguese. Here, we will provide you with everything that you’ll need to know about getting your hands on your Portuguese driver’s license.
Who can get a driver’s license?
As long as you fulfill the following requirements you are eligible to get a driver’s license in Portugal:
- Be 18 years old or older.
- Live in Portugal for, at least, 185 days.
- Comply with the physical, mental, and psychological conditions required.
- Not be prohibited, by a court or administrative authority, to drive.
- Not hold a driver’s license of the same category from another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway.
If you do hold a driver’s license of the same category from another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway, you must:
- If the license is valid – you may use it in Portugal. You must, however, inform IMT within 60 days that you reside and drive in Portugal.
- If the license has expired or is in a different category – request the exchange of your license for a Portuguese license.
What documents or requirements are there to get your Portuguese driver’s license?
- ID – A Portuguese Citizen Card or an identification card. If you are a foreign national you must submit one of the following:
- Temporary or permanent residence permit or a card issued by SEF (Immigration and Borders Service). Our article here shows the process of securing residency.
- Passport and a study, work, temporary stay or residence visa that is issued by SEF, the Portuguese Consular Office, or another service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- For Brazilian citizens, you will need a Portuguese Citizen Card or identity document (from the general status of equal rights and duties by the Friendship, Cooperation, and Consultation Treaty between Portugal and Brazil).
- Electronic medical certificate. This certifies that the driver is physically able to drive and must be sent by the doctor who made the assessment to the Mobility and Transport Institute.
- Psychological assessment certificate and report (only in Portuguese), which shows you are psychologically able to drive. This must be submitted by the candidate to the driving school.
How do you get your Portuguese driver’s license?
The driver’s license needs to be obtained at a driver’s school. To get the license, you will need to complete the theory and have the necessary classes. After you are confident and have had the preparation classes, your driver’s school will enroll you in the exams that you will need to take.
Where can you get a driver’s license?
You must get your license at a driving school, and there are many. Driving schools are private companies that provide preparation classes and enroll students in the exams that they will need to pass to obtain the license. Ensure you pick the right one for you, as not all allow you to get all the categories.
How much does it cost to get a Portuguese driver’s license?
The prices will vary depending on the school and the category. However, you will be pleased to hear that getting your Portuguese driver’s license is cheaper than in many other countries. On average the cost is around €400 all-inclusive.
After you take your test, you will find out straight away if you have passed. If you have, then you will need to pay €30 for the issuing fee, which you will receive at your address within 15 days.
Unfortunately, for an expat in Portugal, the language barrier will make it difficult for you to get your Portuguese driver’s license. While some driver’s schools offer lessons in English, both the theory and the practical test will be done in Portuguese.
It may be a good idea to do all the training in Portuguese. Therefore, you will be able to get to grips with the language while learning to drive. Although difficult, it is a possibility. English is widely spoken in Portugal and if you have a nice driving instructor, you may even get some nice English lessons while driving.
Using a driver’s license from another country
If you are a US citizen, you are able to drive in Portugal with your US-issued driver’s license for 185 days. After this time period, you will need to have Portuguese residency. You will have 90 days to exchange your license without having to take a driver’s test in Portugal. During this time, you will still be able to drive.
However, after 90 days you will no longer be able to drive in Portugal. For the following two years, you are still able to exchange your US license without needing to complete a driver’s test.
To exchange your US driver’s license you will need to visit the Portuguese driving authorities at the Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (Institute of Mobility and Transport).
Following Brexit, UK citizens have to exchange their UK license for a Portuguese one when they become a resident here. You will have 90 days after you become a resident here to exchange your UK license. After this time period you will need to do a Portuguese driving test.
To exchange your UK driver’s license you will need to visit the Portuguese driving authorities at the Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (Institute of Mobility and Transport).
If you are an EU citizen in Portugal, you can use your own valid EU driving license for 90 days. After this, you will need to apply for your Residence Permit. Once you have your Residence, you will have 30 days to register your EU driver’s license.
Driving in Portugal
You can travel from the North to the South of Portugal in less than a day. This is a testament to the size of the country. However, do not think that the relatively small size translates to a lack of variety in landscapes. From mountains (Serra da Estrela) to beaches with stunning rock formations, to green rolling hills, Portugal certainly will not disappoint.
And with spectacular landscapes across the country, driving is not just a way to get from A to B. You can enjoy widespread views of the Atlantic, vineyards spreading for miles in every direction, and quaint, picturesque villages. Each will have its own traditions, special cuisines, and local customs. Indeed, if you live in Portugal, you will be sure to experience some beautiful locations from the road.
As an expat in Portugal, ensure that you have your license with you and your Inspecção Périodica Obrigatória (IPO) when you are driving. This is essentially a roadworthiness test, similar to the MOT in the UK. Also, you should have your NIF number (Tax Identification Number) and Certificado de Matricula (vehicle registration certificate).
Renting a car in Portugal
Renting a car in Portugal is relatively cheap, when compared to other countries. Prices will vary depending on the part of the country that you are in. Also, factor in whether it’s tourist season and on the car rental shop that you have opted for.
Prices can start as low as €14 per day, even in the tourist season. The cheapest prices tend to be listed as weekly rentals with the same pick-up and drop-off location.