How to get a Portuguese driving license

Discover all you need to know about getting a Portuguese driving license, including how to renew, exchange, or replace one that is lost or stolen.

Portuguese driving license

By Luisa Facincani Camancho

Updated 2-4-2024

Fortunately for those moving to Portugal, the process of getting a Portuguese driving license is not too difficult. That said, it still requires some time and effort. For instance, you will need to take driving lessons and pass both theory and practical tests. Of course, if you simply wish to exchange or renew your existing license, this is less time-consuming. That said, you will still need to submit the relevant documents to the Institute of Mobility and Transportation (Instituto de Mobilidade e Transportes – IMT).

To help you understand what you need to do to get behind the wheel in Portugal, this article outlines the following information:


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Driving licenses in Portugal

The Portuguese driver’s license (Carta de condução) follows the EU standard, which means that it has the same characteristics as other EU driver’s licenses. It is printed on a piece of plastic that has the size and shape of a credit card and contains all the necessary information needed to identify the driver and the type of vehicle/s they can drive.

a red moped parked next to a car on a quiet street in Lisbon, Portugal
Photo: Louise Vildmark/Unsplash

There are different categories of driving licenses in Portugal which relate to the category of vehicle you can drive. There are also different age requirements that correspond with the category. For instance, those wanting to drive mopeds (in category AM) must be 16, while those wishing to get behind the wheel of a heavy-duty passenger vehicle with more than eight passengers (category D) must be 24.

To get a license to drive a car (category B), you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be over 18 years old
  • You must live in Portugal for at least 185 days
  • You must comply with the physical, mental, and psychological conditions required
  • You must not be prohibited from driving
  • You must not hold a driving license of the same category from an EU or an EEA country

Getting a driver’s license in Portugal

The first step for getting a Portuguese driver’s license is to enroll in a driving school and take preparation classes for the category of license you want to obtain. Notably, not all driving schools in Portugal allow you to take all categories of licenses, so it’s important to choose the one that is most convenient for you.

Required documents

You will need to have one of the following documents to enroll:

  • A temporary or permanent residence permit/card issued by the Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum (Agência para a Integração, Migrações e Asilo – AIMA)
  • Passport and visa issued by a legal body such as the AIMA or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – visas include work, study, temporary stay, or residence type
  • A digital medical certificate to ensure you have the physical conditions to drive; the doctor sends this certificate directly to the IMT
  • A psychological assessment certificate and report, issued by a psychologist, to prove that you are psychologically able to drive; you must submit this to the driving school

Notably, Brazilian citizens living in Portugal have the same rights as Portuguese citizens owing to the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Consultation between the two nations. Therefore, they must present a Portuguese Citizen Card or identity document when applying for a Portuguese driver’s license.

After taking the preparation classes, you must pass both the theory and practical tests to get your license. The driving school will enroll you in these tests. Once you pass the practical test, you will receive a driver’s license in the mail. This first provisional license is valid for up to three years.

Because you have to take preparation classes and two driving tests (both a theory and a practical), it could take up to three or four months for you to get your Portuguese driving license. This is something you might want to factor in if you want to be able to drive to work when you live in the country.

Language and prices

It is possible to have the preparation classes in English. However, you must quest this with the driving school before you begin them. As for the theory test, the driving school will ask you to book it with a translation and you will take it at the IMT or a private examination center. It is important to be aware that the translation is only available for AM, A1, A2, A, B1, and B categories.

a white Beetle driving along an old cobbled street in Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal (Photo: Sara Darcaj/Unsplash)

The price for a Portuguese driving license varies depending on the category of vehicle and the driving school you choose. For this reason, costs can range between €375 and 920. This also varies depending on the region of Portugal you live in. For instance, Greater Lisbon and Funchal are the cheapest, while Évora and Braga have the highest prices.

Driving tests in Portugal

The Institute of Mobility and Transport (Instituto de Mobilidade e Transportes – IMT) is responsible for administrating driving tests in Portugal. However, you can take the tests in public or private institutions.

You don’t have to pay in public institutions, however, you are subject to the availability of dates and professionals. And given the current shortage of IMT staff, you may be waiting a long time before you can take the exam. With this in mind, you might want to consider paying to take the test with a private institution, which is much faster.

The driving test consists of two parts – a theory and a practical exam – and these are not taken on the same day. After completing your preparation classes, you can take the theory test. And once you pass this, you can start taking your practical driving lessons. When you feel confident and ready, you can then book the practical exam.

The driving theory test

The theory test (Exame de código) consists of 30 multiple-choice questions that you answer on a computer. It lasts around 30 minutes and covers the syllabus that you have studied in your preparation classes. You must get 27 questions right in order to pass the test.

The questions are available on the IMT website and other sites which allow you to practice. Notably, if you need the test to be translated, you must request this when you make the booking. You can take the exam in either a public or private center. If you take it at the IMT, it costs €15, whereas the cost in private centers can range between €15 and €110.

The practical driving test

The practical test typically lasts around 40 minutes, and the driver can accumulate up to 10 light faults. At the start of the test, the candidate must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the car and the preparation needed to drive safely. This usually takes around five minutes. The remainder of the time is left for the driving itself with an examiner present in the car with you.

a young girl taking her driving test with an examiner

You can book your test in a public center for €30, or a private one, which can cost up to €120. Notably, if you fail the test, you can retake it, but you will need to pay again. Some driving schools also ask for extra practical lessons, too.

Driving lessons in Portugal

Driving lessons must be taken in government-licensed driving centers with a qualified instructor. You can find a list of certified centers on the IMT website. Naturally, the length of time it takes to complete the lessons depends on several factors, including the candidate’s availability as well as their ability to drive and progress throughout the learning period. That said, learners must still take 28 hours of theory lessons and 32 practical ones.

Driving with a foreign driver’s license in Portugal

EU and EFTA nationals

If you have a driver’s license from an EU/EFTA country, you are allowed to use it to drive in Portugal until it expires, after which point you must exchange it for a Portuguese one. You must also inform the regional or district office of the Institute of Mobility and Transportation (Instituto de Mobilidade e Transportes – IMT) within 60 days of establishing residence in the country.

If your license is from a country that has a bilateral agreement with Portugal, you will have up to two years to exchange it for a Portuguese one. However, if the license was issued by a country that is not a party to international conventions, you must exchange it immediately.

You can apply to exchange your license by filling in the online form or submitting it in person at an IMT office, along with the following documents:

  • Identification document
  • Proof of residence
  • Foreign driving license with a photocopy

OECD and CPLP nationals

Citizens from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) are allowed to drive in Portugal. They can use their original driver’s license without exchanging it for a Portuguese one, even if they have a residence in the country. However, you must still meet some requirements.

This rule applies to the following countries:

  • Angola
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Cabo Verde
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Mozambique
  • New Zealand
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Türkiye
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Driving in Portugal as a tourist

If you are a tourist, you can drive in Portugal for a period of 185 days after entering the country if your license was issued by a country with a bilateral agreement and you only intend to be a visitor and not a resident. However, if you intend to establish residence in Portugal, you can only drive using your home license for up to 90 days from the date that your residence permit was issued, and must begin the process of exchanging it within this period.

Exchanging a foreign driver’s license in Portugal

Exchanging a foreign driving license for a Portuguese one costs €30. To exchange your driver’s license, you must fill out and submit an online form and wait for an email from the IMT. The email will indicate how to pay the fee and collect your signature and photograph, if necessary.

a woman of colour using her laptop at home
Photo: Daniel Thomas/Unsplash

Regardless of political agreements, you must attach the following documents to the form:

  • An identification document
  • A Portuguese residence permit
  • A tax identification number
  • A copy of your valid foreign driving license
  • A psychological assessment certificate
  • A digital medical certificate

It is also necessary to attack the following documents if your license is from a country with a bilateral agreement with Portugal or which is not a party to international road conventions:

  • A certificate of authenticity of the driving license
  • A certified translation of your driver’s license when issued in any language other than Portuguese, Spanish, French, or English

If you need to get your foreign driver’s license translated into Portuguese, you might want to consider hiring the services of a translation company such as lingoking.

Notably, if your driving license is issued by a country that is not a party to international road traffic conventions, you will have to take a practical driving test which costs €30. You will need to register your test application and provide the IMT with your biometric data. If you want to enroll in a driving school for lessons before the test, a learner’s license costs €15.

If you don’t have to take a practical test, you will typically receive your license within 60 days. Until then, you can drive using a provisional license.

Renewing a driver’s license in Portugal

The Portuguese driver’s license is valid for 15 years and must be revalidated every 15 years until you turn 60. After this age, you will need to revalidate it every five years until you turn 70, then every two years.

You only need to submit a medical certificate after the age of 60. Before the age of 60, you are not required to retake the practical test at any age. You can read more about this on the Portuguese government website.

The process of revalidation must start six months prior to the expiration date of the driver’s license. You can do this online or at IMT service desks. When doing the latter, you will need to present the following:

  • Your citizen card
  • Taxpayer number
  • Identification document or residence permit
  • Your driving license

Prices vary depending on whether you renew your license online (where it costs €27 until the age of 70, and €13.5 thereafter) or at a service desk (where it costs €30 and €15, respectively).

Lost or stolen driver’s licenses

If your driver’s license is lost or stolen, the first thing you need to do is go to a police station to report the loss or theft. You can then ask for a duplicate either online or at an IMT desk.

However, it is important to note that you can only ask for a duplicate if you are:

  • The holder of the Portuguese driver’s license and residing in Portugal
  • A driver with Portuguese nationality
  • The holder of a license obtained in Portuguese territory
  • A resident in the territory of a State that is not a member of the EU or EEA

To submit the request in person, you will need an identification document – such as a citizen card, taxpayer number, passport, or residence permit – and a completed and signed Modelo 10 IMT form. However, to submit the request online, you will need to register on the IMT website using your taxpayer number and password.

For requests in person, the cost is €15 for people over 70 years old and €30 for all other drivers. Online requests, however, come with a discount, which means you will pay €13.5 or €27, respectively.

It usually takes between eight and 10 days to receive your driver’s license, and you will be given a permit to drive while you are waiting for the document to arrive.

Driver’s licenses for other vehicles in Portugal

There are different minimum ages depending on the category of vehicle you want to drive.

For instance, you can drive the following from the age of 16:

  • AM – Mopeds and motorbikes up to 50cm3
  • A1 – Mopeds up to 125cm3 and 11kw
  • B1 – Quadricycles

At 18, you can also drive:

  • A2 – Mopeds up to 35kw
  • B – Light-duty vehicles, tricycles, agricultural vehicles (categories I and II), and light-duty industrial machines
  • BE – Light-duty vehicles with a trailer or semi-trailer, and agricultural or forest tractors
  • C1 – Heavy-duty goods vehicles
  • C1E – Heavy-duty goods vehicles from the C1 or light-duty vehicles with a trailer or semi-trailer

At 21, you can drive all the categories above and:

  • C – Heavy-duty goods vehicles, agricultural or forest tractors with or without a trailer, and agricultural, forest, and industrial machines
  • CE – Agricultural vehicles (categories I, II, and III), heavy-duty industrial machines, and all vehicles from C, C1, and C1E categories
  • D1 – Heavy-duty passenger vehicles with a capacity for 17 sits (driver + passengers)
  • D1E – Passenger vehicles from the D1 category with a trailer or semi-trailer, BE vehicles with a trailer or semi-trailer, and towed industrial machines

From 24, the following categories are also included:

  • A – Any moped, tricycles, and vehicles from AM, A1, and A2 category
  • D – Heavy-duty passenger vehicles (more than eight passengers + driver)
  • DE – Heavy-duty passenger vehicles with a trailer or semi-trailer, light-duty vehicles, agricultural or forest tractors with a trailer or semi-trailer, towed industrial machines, and vehicles from the D1 category with trailer or semi-trailer

Useful resources

  • Instituto de Mobilidade e Transportes (IMT) – the official government website which provides information about transportation and licenses
  • ePortugal – the government website which provides information about getting, exchanging, and renewing a driver’s license in Portugal
  • European Commission – provides information about standard EU license requirements