Validity of foreign driving licences in Portugal

Validity of foreign driving licences in Portugal

The Decree-Law 46/2022, of July 12, modified the Highway Code concerning the conditions required to render a foreign driving licence valid in Portugal.

This Decree-Law introduces a simplification regime that enables citizens whose driver qualifications were issued by Member States belonging to the OECD or the CPLP to drive motor vehicles in Portugal, thus facilitating the mobility of citizens in these States.

The countries that are covered by this regime are: (i) CPLP Member States, which are signatories of one of the traffic conventions (1949 or 1968 Convention) – Brazil and Cape Verde; (ii) CPLP Member States, which signed a bilateral agreement with Portugal – Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe; (iii) OECD Member States that are not members of the EU or EEA and that are signatories to the traffic conventions (1949 or 1968 Convention) – Australia, Canada, Chile, Republic of Korea, United States of America, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Turkey.

As a result of the changes introduced, driving permits issued by the above-mentioned Member States are now valid for driving in Portugal, even if the drivers are resident, if the following requirements are met:

  • The issuing State is a signatory to one of the international road traffic conventions (Geneva, 1949 and/or Vienna, 1968) or has entered into a bilateral agreement with the Portuguese State for the recognition of driving permits;
  • No more than 15 years have elapsed since the issuance of the foreign driving permit or last renewal;
  • The holder is under 60 years of age;
  • The foreign driving permit must be valid;
  • The driver must be of the minimum age established in Portugal to drive the vehicle(s) in the category(ies) listed on his/her foreign driving permit;
  • The foreign driver’s licence is not seized, suspended, expired or revoked by virtue of a legal provision, administrative decision or court decision applied to its holder in Portugal or in the issuing State.

Observing the above requirements, driving in Portugal with these driving permits will be allowed, even after the drivers obtain residency in Portugal. It is a permit that only has an impact in Portugal, as it is not a question of exchanging a foreign driving permit for a Portuguese driving permit, but only driving in national territory.

If drivers with driving licences from OECD and CPLP countries (and also from the European Union) wish or have to exchange their driving licence for a Portuguese driving licence, they must comply with the requirements for issuing driving licences provided for in the Regulation of the Legal Qualification to Drive, namely assessment of physical, mental and psychological aptitude (medical examination), being exempted from taking driving tests for all categories that they intend to change.

If the foreign driver’s licence was obtained by exchanging it for an identical title, its exchange for a national driver’s licence will only be admissible if the original driver’s licence is issued by: (i) a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area; (II) Member State of the OECD or the CPLP, provided that the issuing State is a signatory to one of the international road traffic conventions or; (iii) State with which the Portuguese State has signed an international convention or treaty that obliges the mutual recognition of driving titles.

The simplification measures contained in these amendments entered into force on August 1, 2022.

By Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge
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Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge is founding member, senior partner and CEO of lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., created in 1987.
In his column, he addresses legal issues affecting foreign residents in Portugal.
Faro office at Gaveto das Ruas Pedro Nunes e José de Matos, 5 R/C
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