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Exchanging Aussie drivers licence for a Portuguese one

Hi everyone,
I am just wondering if there are any Australians that could tell me about their experience of exchanging an Aussie drivers licence for a Portuguese one. Was it an easy process and what was involved?
Grateful for all responses.
Thank you

Sorry, I'm not an Aussie, but I can tell you how it went for myself (American) when exchanging a Slovene driver's license, and for my wife exchanging her Brazilian license.

Before I dive into the saga, you need to understand that it is royal pain in the backside. Clear? Ok good, buckle up, here we go...

First, the requirements.

You must be resident in Portugal for at least six months before starting the process. Why? Good question. Next question. Oh, but you are also supposed to do this before completing one year of residency. So you've got a six month window. If you go past, I'm sure you won't be locked up, but that is the rule.

You must also have a medical exam. If you poke around online a bit, you should be able to find the form. Any physician can do it. As a pilot, I just asked my aeromedical examiner if he could fill it out based on the annual check that I had just completed a week or so prior. For my wife, she had her OBGYN do it at either a normal check up, or maybe she was just barely pregnant. I can't remember exact dates.

Now for the real fun...

You need to kill most of a day at IMT waiting in line, then fill out the paperwork, and turn in your license. Then you have to go downstairs and queue again for another who knows how long to have your photo taken. IMT will issue you an A4 piece of paper that allows you to drive in Portugal (yes, only Portugal, because certainly nobody would ever have a need or desire to drive ALL the way to Spain or something...) while you wait for the process to complete. Previously this stupid piece of paper was valid for six months, and if your new license hasn't been issued yet, then you have to go renew the temporary. I understand they are only valid for two months now. Hopefully that is an indication that IMT is now more agile with the process, but I doubt such is the case. It took me 10 months to receive my Portuguese license. More on that later. Because my wife and I also have Florida driver's licenses that we did not disclose or surrender, we simply didn't worry about the lengthy time, but obviously this can be a big issue for most.

My wife also had to get a document from the Brazilian consulate confirming the validity of her license, and turn that in as well. With everything turned in, they still had to send everything off to DETRAN (Dept. of Transportation) in Brazil for confirmation. So why in the hell did we have to get the document from the consulate? (Full eye roll). Well, apparently "because." It took about four months for her Portuguese license to arrive via post to our house.

Ok, ready for the story that'll make your head spin? I really thought that my license would come quickly, since I was trading in a license from another EU member state. Well, I waited, and waited, and waited. After about 9 months I sent an email to IMT and was informed that they were still waiting for confirmation from the proper agency in Slovenia. So, I asked if they could tell me where they had sent the request so that maybe I could help "shake the tree." Supposedly they sent the request to the Slovene Embassy in Lisboa. Ok, great, let me check on that. About 10 minutes of google sleuthing later I arrived at the conclusion that the Slovene Embassy closed about five years ago. So where in the hell was the request sent? Hmm, good question. Another 15 minutes of internet investigation, and I sent off a request to the department of something or another in Slovenia. My email was not sent to the right spot, but the next day I was in copy when the original receiver kindly forwarded my email to right place, with a request to help me out. Another couple of days, and they sent the confirmation documents directly to me. I then forwarded these documents to the Portuguese IMT with an explanation, and indicated that if, per chance, they needed to receive the documents directly from the proper authority in Slovenia instead of from me, to please contact them at the "above" email address.

Another month later - I was trying really hard to be patient - and after still hearing nothing from IMT, I called to check, and was informed that I needed to come in to "verify" information.
-Verify? Verify what? Isn't that what I did when I came in originally?
-Well, your name and stuff.
-Uh huh, I already did that when I started the process.
-Well, you need to come in again.
-Why?
-"Because."

Great, next day I decided to go kill another day. Surprisingly the lines at IMT were not bad. Obviously, I was just lucky. (Haha). Finally my number comes up and I go talk to the person at the desk.
-Why did you come in?
-I dunno, when I called I was told that I needed to come in and verify information.
-Like what?
-Hell if I know! That's what I was told.
-We already have all of your personal details that we need. Who told you that?
-Whomever I spoke with on the phone.
-Well, the phone attendants don't know anything.
-How am I supposed to know that?! She spoke to me like she knew what she was talking about. Ok, fine, so now that I am here, what is the hang up?
-We are still waiting for confirmation from Slovenia.
-You're joking right? I already did your job for you, received confirmation, and forwarded it here. Why do I have to your job for you? Whatever, it doesn't matter. I did it, so let's sort this out, please.
-I don't any information on that.
-Well, give me just a minute, and I can find the email exchange here on my iPhone. See, right here. Look, Fulano even responded to me.
-Well, he's out until next week. Would you like to speak with a supervisor?
-YES, please.

I tried to be reasonably polite, but wasn't about to walk away without pushing harder. After waiting for another 15 minutes or so I was able to speak with a supervisor that was actually very comprehensive and apologetic. She told me straight up that they had some issues with their processes, and that they were improving, but not fast enough. She also confirmed that an official request had been sent to Slovenia - get this - the day before. I asked if it would help at all if I sent an email to push from my side as well. She told me it probably wasn't necessary, since they had really sent the request the day before, but please feel free if you would like. Oh, and if you do, please include me in copy. After a few more minutes of friendly banter, and me telling her that IMT needed to learn from SEF (only two weeks to receive your titulo de residencia, as long as you have your ducks in a row and have turned in everything required), and I was on my way home again. That afternoon I sent another email request to Slovenia with the friendly IMT supervisor in copy. A couple of days later she notified me that they had indeed received the needed confirmation, and that I should have my license soon. A couple of weeks later, and it arrived via post.

Moral of the story? Have patience, and expect to be frustrated. It will take a few months at a minimum, and possibly much longer. If possible, I might recommend contacting your licensing department in Australia, fibbing to them that you lost your license, and asking if you might be able to get a duplicate BEFORE starting the process in Portugal. You have to turn in your license to IMT because, supposedly, you are not supposed to have two licenses. When I got my license in Slovenia several years ago I actually had to do a practical exam and therefore disagreed with that thought process, since my Slovene license was not issued on the basis of my American license (Hawaii at the time). I brought this up with a friend of mine that worked at the US Embassy in Ljubljana and he informed me that they also disagreed, but since the Slovene drivers licensing agency turned them into the US Embassy, the embassy staff would just turn around and give them back to the license holder. THAT is why I had two licenses and didn't worry too much about the stupid piece of paper temporary license from IMT.

I don't think I've missed anything. If you needed any more pointers, or just a steer in the right direction, please feel free to ask. No idea whether or not you speak Portuguese, but my wife and I both do, so that might help as well, if you are having trouble finding what you need because of language. My wife's English is also reasonably good. We're in Cascais, lemme know!

Cheers,
Shane

Hi Shane
Thank you for that. I was afraid  that may be the case. What an epic run around? Why are these departments like that?? And no I don't speak Portuguese...so that would only make matters worse.
I'm actually living in Spain, where you can't exchange licences and therefore thought to move to Portugal purely to get an EU licence, but I think I need to rethink that strategy.
Its so difficult. I just want to drive.
Thanks again
best wishes
Corina

I am Australian.
YES!  A right pain in the backside for sure.
There are mixed stories about how to go about obtaining the PT driving licence.
I was driving on my International Licence for the first few months I lived in PT.
I spent many hours (and 2 visits - a fair old drive and get up early so you can be there at opening time!) waiting around in the IMT office in Leiria - take a number and wait!
First time I thought I had all the necessary stuff with me.  Residency permit, passport , AU licence, etc.  NO.  I was told that I would need to go to the AU Embassy in Lisbon to get them to write that it was indeed a genuine AU licence.  A trip to Lisbon was not easy for me. 
At the AU embassy I was advised that although they would do what was asked for, they were a little doubtful that it would be sufficient.  They had previously learned from another AU person that the IMT required more proof than this.  They said some people had been told by IMT to go right back to the original driving licence issuers and get them to ratify that it was a true licence issued by them.
Fortunately for me the IMT accepted the proof document signed by the AU embassy in Lisbon, but that visit took me 4 hours wait.
Be prepared is all I can say.

yes, they only need the documents to be certified. but the procedure is very simple.

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