When Brexit occurs, driving licences issued by the United Kingdom (UK) will be considered third country licences and, as such, the applicable legislation will be the one related to the recognition of third country licences.
This being said, after Brexit occurs, the holders of UK licences are only authorised to drive motor vehicles in Portugal for the first 185 days following their entry into the country without having to carry an International Driving Permit, considering they are not residents and do not intend to be residents in Portugal.
Recently, there was published the Law No. 27-A/2019, that is applicable to all United Kingdom Nationals and family members residing in Portugal (UKN) if Brexit takes place without an agreement – “Hard Brexit”.
This law entered into force on 29 March 2019 by means of the "principle of equivalent treatment ". This means that the application of this law requires that the British authorities provide the same treatment to Portuguese citizens residents in the United Kingdom, under the penalty of total or partial suspension of this law.
This law regulates several matters such as residence, student status, social security rights, health services and driving licenses.
With regard to driving licences, and assuming Brexit takes place without an agreement, and therefore the Law No. 27-A/2019 is applicable, UKN residents in Portugal before Brexit occurs, must exchange their licences until 31 December 2020, under the procedures applicable to third countries at “Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes” (IMT). This extended period replaces the 90-day period foreseen for the third countries nationals that need to exchange their driving licences within 90 days after obtaining the Portuguese residence permit.
Regarding to the future residents that come to Portugal after Brexit occurs and that hold UK-issued driving licences, they will have 90 days from the date they become residents to exchange their licence without having to take a driving test.
In this case, one of the following situations will be applicable:
- If the application for exchange is handed in to an IMT Office during the 90 day period referred to above, the process will be concluded without the need to take a test;
- If the application for exchange is handed in after the 90 day period, UK nationals will need to take a practical driving test.
To exchange the licence, the following documents will be necessary:
- Identification document;
- Proof of residence or student status in Portugal;
- Fiscal identification number;
- Medical report;
- Original driving licence;
- Declaration of authenticity issued by the driving licence issuing authority (IMT will provide information on how to obtain this declaration in due course).
The costs involved are as follows:
- If the application is made within the 90 day period, the fee is EUR 30.00 for the issue of the driving licence;
- If the application is made after the 90 day period, the fee is EUR 75.00 (EUR 15.00 for the issue of a learner’s permit, EUR 30.00 for the practical test and EUR 30.00 for the issue of the driving licence).
In conclusion, in case Brexit occurs without an agreement, the UKN will have to exchange their driving licences until 31 December 2020 at IMT, in order to continue to be able to drive in Portugal, assuming the Law No. 27-A/2019 is applicable by means of the "principle of equivalent treatment ".
After Brexit occurs, the UKN will be third county nationals and therefore, can only drive in Portugal for a period of 185 days without having to hold an International Driving Permit.
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