As of today, British expatriates residing in Portugal face potential roadblocks as new driving licence rules come into effect, requiring UK citizens to exchange their licences for Portuguese ones. The change stipulates that DVLA photocard usage will no longer be permitted for UK expats living in Portugal, necessitating a transition to a Portuguese driving licence.
While existing UK licences can still be utilised until their expiration date, individuals must promptly register with Portuguese officials to continue using their current photocard. Failure to do so within 60 days of receiving a residence certificate or immediately after spending more than 60 days in Portugal may lead to complications.
According to guidance from GOV.UK, a new bilateral agreement between the UK and Portugal on the mutual recognition and exchange of driving licences took effect on December 31, 2023. Residents in Portugal holding a valid UK or Gibraltar driving licence can drive using their current licence until it expires, provided they register it with IMT (Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport).
The process involves exchanging the licence for a Portuguese one without the need for a driving test. Motorists seeking a Portuguese licence must complete various online forms, usually requiring an identification document and their current driving licence. Additional requirements may include proof of residence, particularly for those lacking a Portuguese identity card, and a psychological assessment certificate for individuals applying to drive heavy goods vehicles.
A mutual recognition agreement was signed in October by the British Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty, and the Portuguese Ambassador to the UK, Nuno Brito. The agreement aims to streamline driving requirements for individuals travelling, working, and residing between the two nations.
Expressing his satisfaction with the new legislation, Ambassador Sainty emphasised its potential to simplify the process for UK licence holders in Portugal. He highlighted that residents can continue using their UK licences until expiration, with the option to exchange them for Portuguese licences without undergoing additional driving tests. This agreement ensures equal treatment for all UK and Gibraltar licence holders, allowing them to drive lawfully and guaranteeing recognition and exchange rights between the two countries.
Edited by: Victoria Muzio
Photo credit: Peter Fazekas
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