According to the Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report for the year 2019 and published by the Immigration and Borders Service in June 2020, the United Kingdom moved up two positions in the indicator regarding the foreign resident population in Portugal, being, in the year of reference, the third nationality with greater representation in Portugal. The fact that this indicator refers to a global context and not just a European context, reflects its relevance. And no less relevant is the verification of the conjectural framework of these numbers: in 2019, the most contemporary event in the history of the European Union was already echoing in Portuguese immigration: BREXIT!

BREXIT brought with it new rules and new challenges for British citizens residing in Portugal, namely for those who drive, since they are no longer covered by the Community Directive on driving license exchanges.

In effect as of 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom is treated in accordance with the legislation applicable to countries adhering to the International Road Traffic Conventions – Driving License Holders issued by foreign countries, which means that, after obtaining their residence in Portugal, British citizens have 90 days to exchange their driving licenses, with no need for practical proof, with the competent authority in Portugal.

After the 90 days and up to 2 years, it is still possible to request an exchange, but it’s no longer possible to drive with the British driving license.

After 2 years have passed, the exchange of driving licenses is already conditioned to the realization of a practical driving test.

For the exchange, it is important to pay attention to all the necessary documentation, namely, the attribution of a tax identification number to the Portuguese tax authority, medical recognition of the ability to drive, as well as the validity and authenticity of the UK’s driving license.

In this exchange request, maximum attention must also be paid to the minimum legal age required by Portuguese law for the different categories that are noted in the original document, since divergences may occur.

Regarding British residents who have already communicated their address and registered their driving license with the Mobility and Transport Institute before 1 January 2021, they must also exchange it, since, as they are not recognized as citizens belonging to the country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, the above regime applies to them.

One last note for British citizens who do not take up residence in Portugal: they can drive for 185 days from their entry into Portugal with their UK driving license, without the need to exchange it.

Start typing and press Enter to search