The deadline for UK nationals resident in Portugal to drive with their valid UK licence has been extended until the end of 2022.
UK nationals need to start the process of exchanging their licence for a Portuguese licence before 31 December 2022 if they wish to continue driving after 1st January 2023. You would be wise to start the process ASAP as it can take quite a time to gather all the required documents.
If your UK licence expires before the end of 2022 don’t be tempted to renew it in the UK. As a Portuguese resident it’s the law that a UK licence that expires must be exchanged for a Portuguese licence, regardless of Brexit and the process is exactly the same as described here. A British woman in Spain did this and received back a UK licence without the EU logo. This is a third country licence and in Spain it cannot be exchanged under the terms of EU exchange, only that for 3rd countries, which in Spain means that she must sit the Spanish driving test. Portugal isn’t that draconian but better to be safe than sorry.
To exchange your licence you must register online at the IMT website.
Getting the various documents together takes time so start the process as soon as possible. One possible required document is the Certificate of Authentication which in DVLA speak is a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’. Depending on when you received your first driving licence in the UK you might have been given categories of vehicle for which you didn’t actually take a test. The Certificate proves the classes for which you were formally tested.
Check your categories here: https://www.gov.uk/driving-licence-categories
You will NOT need this if you simply want to drive a normal car but if you wish to retain classes for which you are licensed, but not tested you will need to address this.
One of the changes for British citizens who are residents in Portugal after the end of the year will be the requirement to exchange their UK driving licence for a Portuguese one. This must be done within 90 days, so the end of March 2021, but can be done at any time before then (obviously this can’t be done under the current conditions).
The reason that some categories may not get transferred to the Portuguese licence is that IMT requires proof that a test has been passed or that the licence holder has permission to drive those classes of vehicles. You would think that the fact that they are included on your UK licence should be enough, but there is good news for those who are exchanging their licence and wish to have all the categories they are entitled to included in their Portuguese licence.
It is possible to obtain from DVLA a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’, which details all the classes for which a test has been passed. A code can be obtained from the DVLA site, which you can then give to IMT to verify the categories to which you have entitlement. When entering the DVLA site, you will need to have your driver number and national insurance number. Then follow these simple instructions on how to apply for the code.
▪ Go to the link: www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
▪ Click “Start Now”
▪ Insert your driving licence number, national insurance number, and the postcode that is on your driving licence, then click “View Now”
▪ This will take you to your driver’s page where you should click the fourth box headed “get your check code” and then on the green box “Get a Code”
▪ You will then get to a page that shows your eight-digit code, and a list of the categories and expiry dates. This code is valid for 21 days. You should print off the document and take it with you to your appointment. The staff at IMT will then use the code to confirm with DVLA, so make sure you don’t wait until the end of the 21-day period and risk the code expiring.
For those people who don’t have other categories, such as trailers, motorcycles or HGV on their licence, or who don’t want them to be included on their Portuguese licence, you have no need to do any of this.
We have a fact sheet available to afpop members, which includes all the information that people will need to decide if this applies to them and then how to proceed.
You will need a medical test but unless you are driving commercially or want an HGV licence or your basic medical test calls for it you won’t need a psychological assessment. A psychological assessment certificate is required if you are applying to retain vehicle categories C, D and/or E. Be aware that the medical test is only valid for 6 months so make it one of the last things you do otherwise you might have to renew the document.
To get your medical certificate you will need to visit your GP and have a Portuguese SNS health number (número de utente) as the results of the test are held in your SNS file and is accessible by IMT. If you have paper documents they can be scanned and attached to the online form but generally speaking this is unnecessary as the records are retrieved electronically.
You will need an eye test. Some Brits have been asked to do this at an optician and require a vignette whereas others have been tested by their GP. This is probably an individual issue depending on your GP and your own eye health.
Once you have everything you can fill in the online form and upload it all. Convert all documents to PDF as that’s the only acceptable format. Be sure to retain the proof provided by IMT that your application was successful.
If you post anything to IMT be sure to use the ‘Aviso Recepção’ service from the post office. A card accompanies the package/letter which IMT will sign and you will get back in your post box. Keep it safe as this is proof they received your correspondence.
According to the IMT website, after sending the documentation, you will receive an email requesting payment of the fee of 30 euros and, where appropriate, giving you further information on the collection of your biometric data.
The British Embassy is aware that there are people waiting a long time for their new licences to arrive. Unfortunately, this is an issue with the system that affects everyone, Portuguese and foreigners alike.
You may find the following video by the British Embassy Lisbon useful: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=428528075038496
If anyone wishes to add any information to this please email it to email@example.com, as we can all learn from each other’s experience!