Since we’re planning on staying in Portugal, we figured it would be smart to switch our US driver’s license to a Portuguese License. It’s good we did so. In Portugal, you must make this change within 90 days of getting your residency (so 90 days after you go to your first SEF appointment). I suggest you make this a priority as soon as you get your residency. This way you don’t need to take a driver’s test or pay crazy amounts of money for classes and your license.
How to Change your US Driver’s License to a Portuguese Driver’s License
You need to go to your local IMT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes) oficina. There are two offices that I know of in Lisbon:
- de. das Forças Armadas 40 (Alvalade)
- de. Elias Garcia 103 (Avenidas Novas Neighborhood)
The offices open at 9 (although Google has the time as 9:30 am). Le sugiero que llegar temprano, the lines are long. I got there at 8:30 and it took me about an hour the first time I visited to get information. They close for lunch from 1-2 and close again at 5 pm. I’d suggest getting there 1 hour early so you can be first on the line. When you walk in, make sure to pull a ticket. This is key as without it you won’t be seen.
What You Need
- Have a current & valid US Driver’s License and a certificate of validity with an apostille from the secretary of state from the state where your license was issued
- Be of Portuguese driving age
- Be physically and mentally fit (Atestado Medico – requires a citizen’s health card)
- Proof of residence in Portugal
There are multiple costs attached to this.
- License abstract. This document serves as proof that your license is, de hecho, valid in the states. I downloaded mine directly from the NYDMV website. The cost was $7USD and I was able to download it as PDF.
- Apostille. The cost will be determined by your state. You will also need to pay for shipping the form to your state and for having it sent back to Portugal.
- Atestado do Medico Electronico. This is a document your doctor will fill out attesting that you are sane and of good health. It will include your vision status as well. This will vary by doctor and insurance. Mine cost a mere €15 since I have Medis as my Portuguese Health Insurance.
- The actual license. There is a cost of €30 to make the change.
What Happens When You’re Done
You will be given a temporary document and your new license will be sent to your Portuguese home address by mail.