What is an International Driving Permit or Licence?
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving Licence (IDL)?
An IDP is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is a translation of your driving license. For each IDP, the legally recognized translations are done in over ten languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. An IDP can be valid for either 1 or 3 years. An international driver’s permit cannot be used in the country it is issued.
An international driver’s license is an unofficial translation of your driver’s license. Companies that issue IDLs do not adhere to international standards, so the number of languages the translation has varied.
How does an IDP work in Portugal?
International Driving Permits are valid for 1 to 3 years in Portugal, and the length depends on which international convention the issuing country’s IDP adheres to. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling. If your driver’s license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be used as a translation of your license.
How do you apply for an IDP in Portugal?
You can apply for an IDP on our website.
In Portugal, how long will it take to get an IDP?
A digital IDP takes up to 2 hours to arrive in your inbox. If you choose to have an Express Order, your order will be processed in 20 minutes.
A printed IDP can arrive at your home in 2-30 days, depending on your selected delivery method.
Details on International Driving Licences
International driver’s licenses can be applied online, and multiple companies can issue translations of your license. Suppose you are in a hurry to get a good translation of your domestic driver’s license, and the destination country accepts IDLs instead of IDPs. In that case, you can apply for one online.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Portugal
Functionality as an ID
You may use your international driving permit instead of your national ID to identify yourself to foreign officials. This is useful in countries where it is wise to keep your original documents, such as your NIC and passport, under lock and key. It is also useful when your national ID is in a language that is not a recognized language, such as English.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Countries that promote tourism may allow you to use your foreign license for a period without an international driver’s permit. However, the traffic authority personnel of that country may not have the skills or resources necessary to process your driver’s license quickly. This happens when your license is in a language not used in that country. Traffic police officers can quickly note down your personal details and send you on your way if you have an IDP.
Car rental companies
Some car rental companies will hesitate to hire out vehicles to foreigners without an international driver’s permit. The United Nations only recognizes IDPs as official translations of your driver’s license. You will be able to save precious vacation time by carrying an IDP when trying to rent a car in a foreign country.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Portugal
Short-term visitors vs. residents
You are not required to convert your status to a resident if you are from the EU or EEA. You can use your license indefinitely without converting it to a Portuguese driver’s license. You can convert your status to resident after 185 days of living in Portugal and your driving license to a Portuguese one. Suppose you have extensive business in Portugal and want interactions with government offices to be smoother. In that case, you should consider becoming a Portuguese resident. Suppose your river’s license is written in a language other than Portuguese or English. In that case, traffic stops and other regulatory checks will be shorter after a conversion.
How long can I drive with a foreign license?
If foreign drivers carry international driving permits, they can drive for up to 3 years in Portugal with valid driving licenses. Your country should be contracted to an international motor traffic convention, and you should have an IDP while driving. If the foreign country that issued your IDP were contracted to the Geneva or Paris conventions and not the Vienna convention, you would only be able to use your foreign driver’s license for one year unless you renew your IDP.
When should I get a Portuguese Driver’s Licence?
You can convert your home driver’s license to Portuguese after 185 days of living in Portugal. If your license is in English, you may continue to use your foreign driving license in Portugal with an IDP without much hassle. If Portugal is not your primary residence, you may want to hold onto your original driving license as you can keep renewing your international driver’s permit. The recognition period for your foreign license is reset every time you enter Portugal. It would be best if you keep renewing your original driving license as the IDP is not a standalone document.
How to get a Portuguese driver’s license
You can get a Portuguese driver’s license if you are a Portuguese citizen or if you have a temporary or permanent residency permit, temporary or permanent residency card, residency visa, student visa, or work visa. You can also do so if you have a Portuguese Citizen Card granted to Brazilian citizens. It would be best if you were 18, have lived in Portugal for 185 days, not be prohibited from driving by any judicial authority, and not have a license of the same category issued by a country in the EU or EEA.
You should also have an electronic medical certificate sent directly to the Mobility and Transport Institute (SEF) by an authorized physician. A psychological assessment report should also be submitted as assessed by a psychologist on whether you are mentally able to handle the pressure of driving. Suppose you are from a country contracted to any of the international motor traffic conventions or from Brazil, Switzerland, Morocco, Andorra, Mozambique, Sao Tome, Principe, United Arab Emirates, or Angola. In that case, you will not have to take the practical driving test. If you are from any other country, you will be asked to take a practical driving exam, but you are not required to enroll in a driving school. Suppose you do not hold a driving license. You may be asked to complete the standard procedure for getting a driver’s license in Portugal.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s Licence While in Portugal
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP on our website.
Renewing your International Driver’s Licence
You may only require an email or a short application form submission to the company that initially issued your IDL. The company will generally send you a softcopy of your renewed international driver’s license for you to print out within a short time.
Renewing your original driver’s license
You should always have a valid driver’s license when using an IDP. If your driving license expires while you are abroad, you must renew it. The procedure to renew a license varies from country to country, and you may be required to get vision and medical tests. If this is the case, you must return to your country of origin. However, most countries have an online service that allows expatriates to renew their driving licenses.
Car Rental in Portugal
Requirements for car rental
Usually, a car rental company requires you to be 25 to rent a vehicle. If you find a company willing to rent to you under 25, there will be a surcharge. You need a full valid driving license from a state in the EU or EEA, a full valid license, and an international driver’s permit from any other country. You should have your driving license for a minimum of 1 year. Most companies will only rent if they can charge a credit card in the driver’s name.
Deposit and costs for car rental
The car rental agency will usually block off your deposit amount on your credit card for the rental duration. Remember, when planning expenses, you will pay using your credit card. The standard deposit will be around €1,000 for a standard-sized sedan, and the daily charge for the same type of car will be between €30 and €55. The average week’s rental will cost €300. More luxurious vehicles will require high deposits and dailies. These costs do not include charges for insurance, GPS, or fuel.
Every rental car in Portugal comes with the minimum required 3rd party insurance. Third-party insurance covers damage to persons, animals, or property other than yourself and your/rental vehicle. You can get additional insurance cover for theft and the reduction of excess charges in the event of an accident. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) reduces the excess payment required in case the damage caused by accident exceeds the insurance coverage. Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) covers all liability due to an accident.
The crime rate in Portugal is relatively low, even for a developed country. We will recommend you get travel insurance when you travel there. The following are some points to remember when getting travel insurance:
- Your hospital stays while traveling should have unlimited insurance coverage.
- Any fees incurred during cancellations or lost deposits during multiple stops should be covered.
- Coverage of baggage should it be stolen or lost.
- Any excess payments incurred in an accident and not covered by your car insurance should be covered.
- Costs of emergency dental procedures should be covered.
- Funeral costs should be covered in an extreme eventuality.
Driving and Safety in Portugal
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You can go through the road regulations on Portugal’s official government website (https://eportugal.gov.pt/en/cidadaos-europeus-viajar-viver-e-fazer-negocios-em-portugal/veiculos-e-conduzir-em-portugal/regras-de-transito-e-mobilidade-em-portugal). You may also refer to an older version of the EU driving handbook available at https://euagenda.eu/upload/publications/untitled-96809-ea.pdf. However, suppose you are looking for a comprehensive driving handbook or highway code. In that case, you will have to get one from the Mobility and Transport Institute (SEF). You will be able to purchase an English version of the handbook from a book store in Lisbon.
Overtaking on Portuguese roads
You are advised to only overtake from the left-hand side as long as there have been no signs signifying otherwise. You must check your mirrors, judge the speed correctly and make sure that the lane ahead is sufficiently clear for you to enter back into its traffic. You cannot cut in on the vehicle that you are overtaking. Overtaking during nighttime or with poor visibility should be undertaken with extra vigilance.
Turning and right of way on Portuguese roads
Drivers of the main road have priority over a lane coming into the main road. On equal roads, vehicles going straight or turning left have the right of way, meaning drivers turning left have to wait until there’s a gap in traffic to do so.
It would be best if you slowed down before junctions that don’t have signs or traffic lights. In Portugal, you must go slow enough to stop at a junction if you have to give way to a motorist coming on the other road.
If you are entering a roundabout, you have to give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. It would be best if you also heeded the speed at which the traffic is moving and the signal lights used by the vehicles in the roundabout when entering one.
Speed limits on Portuguese roads
The speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph) in Portuguese towns and cities if you are not towing a carriage behind you. You can go on roads outside built-up or urban areas at 90 km/h (56 mph). The limit speed is 100 km/h (63 mph) on expressways and 120 km/h (75 mph) on motorways. The fines for going above 21 km/h (13 mph) above the speed limit can result in fines up to €600, having your license revoked, and imprisonment of up to a year.
Tips for driving in Portugal
- People drive on the right side of the road in Portugal.
- You should be 16 to ride a motorcycle or moped below 50cc and above 18 to operate light vehicles, including cars.
- All occupants of the vehicle should wear seat belts.
- Riders and passengers of mopeds and motorcycles need helmets.
- You are not allowed to use mobile phones unless you use a hands-free device.
- Petrol stations are generally open on regular roads from 7 am to 10 pm. At the same time, they are available 24 hours per day on highways.
- You should call the number 112 during any motoring emergency in Portugal.
- The fine Portuguese system goes from €30 to €2,500.
- Some motoring offenses are considered criminal
- A car can be confiscated if the driver tests positive for alcohol or drugs, if registration documents are not present, the car has forged number plates or if the driver has refused to pay a fine.
- Parking cannot be done within 5 meters of intersections and bends with limited visibility.
Drinking and driving
You can only have a blood alcohol level of 0.05% in Portugal. You can be charged up to €1,200 if caught driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05% to 0.08%. You may also have your license confiscated for up to a year. If you are caught with a blood-alcohol level between 0.08% to 0.12%, you can be charged up to €2,500 and have your license revoked for up to 2 years. Driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12% or more is considered a criminal offense, and you can be imprisoned. Driving under the influence may also get your vehicle can be confiscated, depending on what the local authorities decide.
Top 3 Destinations to Visit in Portugal
The largest metropolis in Portugal is its capital city, Lisbon. You can absorb the historic nature of this city, which was the center of an empire that spanned several continents. The centuries-old houses that litter this splendid city are a testament to Lisbon being Europe’s 2nd oldest continuous capital city. You can explore the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and enjoy early 16th-century art pieces while walking through Gothic architecture. You can also shop in Lisbon’s largest shopping center, the Colombo Mall.
Porto is a medieval city with city walls dating back to the 14th century. The Douro River splits the city into two, each side with its flavor of historic delights to entertain your senses. The river’s tranquil waters harbor boats that float lazily down. This view is best enjoyed by sipping some wine at Miradouro Ignez. The city also has a bustling commercial area where sharply contrasting new architecture intertwines with ancient Gothic architecture. You can also visit Palacio Da Bolsa, which has unique neoclassical architecture.
After investigating all of the historical sites Portugal has to offer, you can end your vacation by sunbathing on the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean sea. Praia da Marinha is a pristine stretch of sand with a view of some exciting rocky cliffs. This tourist hot spot has multiple leisure activities to keep you busy and active for weeks. The clear water is beautiful for snorkeling, and the beach is home to diverse marine life. There are exciting nooks and crannies to explore on the overhanging cliffs. Before leaving this scenic resort town, you should visit the Benagil Cave and the Seven Hanging Valleys Coastal.
Am I required to have an International Driving Permit in foreign countries?
Many countries will require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
How long will my international driving permit be valid in Portugal?
Since Portugal was contracted to the Vienna, Geneva, and Paris Motor Traffic Conventions, an international driving permit will be valid for 1 or 3 years, depending on its type.
How long will transferring my license to a Portuguese license take?
Suppose there are no complications and you have a valid foreign license. In that case, the process should take no longer than one week as long as the necessary medical certificates and documents are submitted.
On which side do you drive in Portugal?
Motorists drive on the right side of the road in Portugal.