Exchanging a Driving Licence Issued by Non-EU/EEA Country

Find out if your licence allows you to drive in Portugal, and for how long, and whether you may exchange it for a Portuguese licence...

Holders of a non-EU driving licence aged 18 years and over may drive in Portugal on a valid foreign licence for a fixed period from the date marked on their Residency Permit (Cartão de Residência). It then becomes obligatory to obtain a Portuguese driver's licence.

However, reciprocal agreements exist with certain countries and states (Australia, South Africa, the United States and Canada), whereby an exchange may be made providing that it is done within the first year of legal residency in Portugal. Enquire at the local Consulate or Embassy to find out about qualifying for an exchange as for EU citizens (see above).

The Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT) has more details on the countries which have reciprocal and bilateral agreements with Portugal.

If the licence may not be exchanged, it will be necessary to take a full Portuguese theory and practical driving exam.

Australian, Canadian, South African, US citizens

Agreements exist between Portugal and Australia, Canada and South Africa. Citizens aged 18 years or over may drive in Portugal on a valid Australian, Canadian, South African and US driver's licence for up to six months (185 days) of entry into Portugal. Should a holder wish to drive beyond the six month period, they are required to exchange their licence for a Portuguese licence from the time they receive their residency permit. Failure to do so could subject the holder to a fine.

A Portuguese translation or International Driver's Permit should be kept with the Australian, Canadian, South African or US driver's licence. This should be made by an Embassy authorised translator or issued before leaving by the appropriate local authority. A translated licence should be confirmed at a local Notary Office.

Students note: The US licence is valid for the full duration of studies.

According to the IMT (the Portuguese Road Transport Authority) an American driver’s licence can be exchanged for a Portuguese one, by presenting an “Abstract of Driving Record from one’s last US State of residence”, to prove that the licence is authentic and valid. It must have the Apostille, seal given by the Secretary of State of the same State the document was issued. A physician's certificate (obtained through IMT) stating that the driver is fit to drive must be presented, along with the USA driver's licence and proof of legal residency in Portugal.

Additional requirements for Australian driver's licence holders

Holders of Australian driving licences may drive in Portugal for a period of up to six months. Should a holder wish to drive beyond the six month period, they are required to exchange it for a Portuguese licence. As Australian licences do not have a "valid from" date noted on the licence, it may be necessary to provide a document from the Australian authorities stating when the licence was issued.

Australian citizens must contact the relevant Road Traffic Authority in their particular state or territory and request a certificate confirming that the person is the holder of a valid driver's licence, as well as confirming the type and class of licence, when it was first issued and when it expires. The certificate must be signed by the authorising officer of the relevant state or territory of motor transport. Once the certificate has been received from Australia, it is then authenticated by the Embassy.

The original driver's licence will need to be presented, along with the certificate from the relevant road traffic authority (copies or facsimiles are not accepted), and a copy of their Australian passport or Portuguese ID card (Bilhete de Identidade) (BI).

Further Information