Portugal Drivers License

I don’t know where to post, so if you can move it to the right place.

From what I gather, possessing a residence visa grants you a six-month window to acquire a Portuguese driver’s license. This process involves passing a three-section exam conducted in Portuguese.

Should this information be correct, I’m curious whether there are certain types of vehicles, such as electric cars, that can be operated without the need for a driver’s license.


Good question, maybe @Ruben-AnchorLess or @BrendaL have the answer

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Hi Brad!

From which country is your drivers license?

Hey @BrendaL,

I have an american driver’s license

So @Brad508 , if you’re under 60 and your driver’s license was renewed less than 15 years ago, you can drive in Portugal with your American license.

If you’re considering switching to a Portuguese (and EU) driver’s license, you’ll need to visit a doctor for a check-up (to assess your driving suitability, e.g., vision and blood pressure - I had mine done a couple of years ago for 30 euros - this exam will be electronically submitted to the IMT). Then, you’ll need to fill out a form on the IMT website (similar to the DMV in the US) and have the required documents ready (copies of IDs, correct address in the Finanças Portal, etc.).

After a couple of weeks, the IMT will contact you via email to inform you when to visit the nearest IMT office to pay the fee (around 30 euros, same as the exam) and provide biometric data (e.g., photos, fingerprints, signature). You’ll then receive another email instructing you to send the physical documents (your original American license, printed form, driver’s license authenticity certification, and any other requested documents) to an address provided by the organization. You’ll receive a letter allowing you to drive in Portugal while waiting for your Portuguese driver’s license to arrive - be aware that it may take months for the Portuguese license to arrive, and you may need to renew the temporary driving permit.

Also, a quick reminder: you’ll need to authenticate your American driver’s license at an American embassy, consulate, or any American public institution that offers this service. This certification ensures that your license is genuine and valid. You’ll also nee da certified translation of your American license, made by a lawyer or certified translator.

Ensure that your documents are up-to-date before applying. What does this mean? Make sure your exam and authenticity certification are recent when you apply for the change and fill out the form - documents that are 3 or 6 months old may not be accepted (after starting the procedure, it’s fine to have older documents; it’s important to have recent documents when filling out the form, as documents may lose validity during the process, but you won’t be penalized for this).

Also, the law that allows you to drive with your American driver’s license in Portugal is Decreto-Lei n.º 46/2022 (the US is a member of the OECD).

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If you’re over 60 or your license is older than 15 years, you’ll need to complete the entire procedure at an IMT office.

This involves tests, including practical driving and theoretical knowledge of road signs and regulations. Depending on your circumstances, such as license category, you may also need to attend classes before taking the tests.

This process is more expensive than a simple transfer (though you may receive the Portuguese license a bit earlier than through a simple transfer).

The only vehicles that allow you to drive “without a license” are small electric vehicles with 500 cc engines that go up to 45 km/h.

Do they really allow you to drive without a license?

In reality, no! The vehicle category doesn’t mean you can drive without a license.

You’ll need a license for category AM or B1, which is way easier to obtain: 40 hours of classes (28 theoretical + 12 practical) and a small test of 30 questions.

This category is commonly used by minors (e.g., those above 16 and under 18, who are not legally allowed to apply for a regular driver’s license).

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Thank you for all your clarifications @BrendaL !


just another option as a possibility - not all that different from the us drivers license but useful if you want to drive into spain and other countries… -
get the international drivers permit from AAA before you leave the usa or in the uk.

not expensive but renting a car in some countries like spain , morrocco etc - might require it (depends on agency) so we found it very helpful and not expensive…

also as a note remember things take time - so don’t expect your license in portugal too quickly and keep copies of anything you give to the Portuguese authorities – things get “lost”…