in some cases, it may be difficult for Portuguese authorities to understand certain countries' driving licences... this is a sample of a Japanese licence.

Driving licence rule changes do away with need to exchange 

Holders of CPLP and OECD country licences “can now drive in Portugal”

Holders of driving licences issued by member states of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) can now drive in Portugal without having to exchange their licences.

What this means is that drivers from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, São Tomé e Principe, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique are all cleared to drive on their own countries’ licences if they settle here as new residents (no questions asked).

The same goes with drivers from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to an amendment to the current law, published today in State gazette Diário da República, driving licence exchanges are now dispensed with, “making it possible to drive in the country with driving licences issued in those states, through the recognition of foreign driving licences”.

This recognition applies to driving licences in which the issuing state is a signatory to a bilateral agreement with Portugal, provided that no more than 15 years have elapsed since the issue or last renewal and provided that the holder is under 60 years of age.

The decree-law published underlines that these driving licences only allow drivers to drive in Portugal “if their holders have the minimum age required by Portuguese law for the respective qualification and are valid and not seized, suspended, expired or revoked by virtue of a legal provision, administrative decision or court judgement applied to their holder in Portugal or in the issuing state”.

Freedom of movement is an essential element for the full exercise of citizenship“, states the decree-law published today, stressing “Portugal has sought to strengthen the rights of foreign citizens travelling to our country, whether in the case of temporary travel for tourism purposes or for work or investment in our country“.

In the document, the government reiterates its commitment “for the integration of migrants, which includes improvements to their quality of life“, stressing that it is “essential to simplify the entitlement to drive motor vehicles“, an element it considers “fundamental to guarantee mobility throughout the country”.

The various explanations make no reference to the chronic delays people requesting replacement licences have experienced, for years – nor the fact that registry offices in this country are staging strike action through August.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com