British expats warned of urgent driving licence changes which could force them off roads

British expats warned of urgent driving licence changes which could force them off roads

The Government has pledged to support British drivers

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 18/12/2023

- 10:31

Major driving law changes are expected to take place within weeks

British expats are warned of massive driving licence changes set to take effect at the end of the month which could see some motorists taken off the road.

Drivers in Portugal are currently able to use their UK driving licences until December 31, 2023, under European Union laws.

Until this date, it is possible to drive in Portugal with a UK licence issued by the DVLA in England, Scotland and Wales or the DVA for those in Northern Ireland.

If a resident wants to continue driving as a resident, they must register their driving licence with the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT).

Driving licence

British expats will need to act soon to stay on the road


Expats must do this within 60 days of the issue date on their residence certificate, or immediately if they have been in Portugal for more than 60 days.

Alternatively, motorists can exchange their UK driving licence for a Portuguese licence at any time.

However, new rules will be introduced from January 1, 2024, following new rules from the Portuguese government to deal with driving licences issued by countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

From January 1, 2024, motorists who are able to meet certain conditions can continue to use their UK licence if they are a resident.

The requirements include if they are under 60, their driving licence photocard has not expired, their licence was issued or renewed within the last 15 years, they are only using their licence to drive vehicle categories A and B and they are not disqualified from driving.

If someone does not meet these requirements, they will need to start the process to exchange their licence by the end of March 2024 to stay on the road.

According to GOV.UK, the British and Portuguese authorities are continuing to negotiate a joint agreement, separate from this legislation.

If someone is a resident in Portugal and needs to drive, the UK Government advises that they exchange their valid UK licence as soon as possible.

The Government states that drivers should not wait for negotiations to conclude and should act now.

If someone holds a licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Ise of Man, they should exchange their licence within 90 days of registering for their residence.

Road users cannot renew or replace their UK driving licence if they are a resident of Portugal and must instead exchange their licence for a Portuguese one.

Drivers cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of exchanging their licence.

Expats in Spain are also being warned of law changes which could see them hit with fines and leave them without a licence.

From September 15, British licences will no longer be considered valid for driving in Spain while a person waits for the driving licence exchange to be completed.


An International Driving Permit

An International Driving Permit is not valid in Portugal


This followed months of negotiations between British and Spanish authorities to find a deal to keep British drivers in Spain on the road following Brexit.

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