The week started with my appointment at the IMT (Instituto Da Mobilidade E Transportes) to register my driving licence.
Just to recap, Portugal has introduced a new scheme for immigrants to register their driving licence as opposed to exchanging the licence. The criteria you need to meet is straightforward, and as with the D7 Visa, you either meet (or exceed) the criteria or not.
According to the IMT website, if you have a residence permit in Portugal, you do not need to exchange your licence for a Portuguese licence if:
- under 60 years old
- you have the mandatory minimum age in Portugal to drive the vehicle(s) of the category(s) listed in the foreign charter
- the foreign driving licence is valid
- no more than 15 years have passed since the issue or last renewal of the licence
- the country that issued the letter is part of the transit conventions (Geneva, 1949 and/or Vienna, 1968) or has a bilateral agreement with Portugal
- the foreign driving licence is not seized, suspended, expired or revoked in Portugal or in the country of origin.
As I meet all the criteria, I do not need to exchange my licence, although I need to register it with the IMT.
First stop, was the IMT website. There is a form that needs to be completed with various documents uploaded. While this form clearly states at the top it is for driving licence exchange, I was assured that this is the same form for registering.
Form submitted and I got a series of emails advising that I haven’t submitted a certified copy of my driving licence, the doctor’s certificate and my residency card needs to be validated. As far as I was aware, none of these are required.
Therefore, I sent a separate email to the general IMT enquiries seeking clarification on how do I register, as opposed to exchanging, my driving licence. The response was they arranged an appointment at the IMT in Castelo Branco so they could physically see my driving licence and residency card.
My appointment was on Monday. I arrived early. Went for a coffee in Continente and have some time to check I had all the paperwork I could possibly need. Being over-prepared, I’d printed the original form out along with a second form which only requested my contact, address and fiscal details.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also had copies of all the documents (including the IMT FAQs on registering your driving licence) and web pages on my laptop. In the original Portuguese and translated to English. Oh, I am so diligent. Or just paranoid that I’ve forgotten something?
On arriving at the IMT, the security guard checked my appointment details and I joined the queue. Fifteen minutes later, I was directed to the counter and I explained in my best Portuguese that I wanted to register my UK driving licence. I handed over my driving licence, residency card, the form I’d completed and my NIF certificate which has my address on it.
I struggle to comprehend Portuguese unless they talk slowly. And this lady spoke at, excuse the pun, 100 mph But, I managed to understand the lady was advising me that because of Brexit, I need to exchange my driving licence on IMT Online and complete the driving licence exchange form. With that, she passed my documents back.
I shook my head in disagreement and out came the laptop. I pointed to the section on the website and the FAQs (I’d highlighted them) about registering my driving licence. The lady looked puzzled.
She ushered me to return my documents to her and she disappeared. I genuinely thought she had disappeared and I was trying to find something else on the laptop, looked up and she’d vanished.
About ten minutes later, she returned. Handed my driving licence and residency card back and she said it was tudo bem [all good]. I pointed again to the highlighted section in the FAQs and she repeated “tudo bem”.
Between us, we had a mime conversation, a few words in Portuguese and the odd showing of Deepl translate. The mime started with me pretending to drive, thumbs up, pointing to my driving licence, thumbs up. She kept repeating tudo bem, tudo bem and thumbs up to me.
I guess it is all tudo bem then. I closed the laptop and put away all my paperwork. As I stood up, I once again went into mime mode and repeated my driving action and thumbs up. She gave me a double thumbs up.
Honestly, I am not entirely sure of the outcome of the appointment but believe she registered my driving licence when she went to the office area of the IMT. What is clear, is that the “front desk” were not aware of the change of process to register, as opposed to exchange, a UK driving licence.
For completeness I have saved the email for my appointment to register my driving licence, I have a copy of all the documents I handed over, the security guard “booked me in” on the appointment sheet and I took a photo (with date stamp) of me at the IMT office in Castelo Branco.
Let’s hope my driving licence has been registered!
Because I am trying so hard to integrate into Portugal, I made a second visit to Castelo Branco this week for a health check, kindly provided by my private health insurer.
In many ways, it was a similar appointment to the one at the IMT. I was “booked in” by a security guard. Between us, we confirmed through mime and my appointment email, that I needed a blood test and health check. I was given my ticket and took a seat. Gradually my number came up and I went to the reception desk. One day I am sure I am going to jump up and shout “bingo” when my number gets called.
No English spoken and with limited Portuguese understood, I was booked in for my blood test. But I had no idea where I needed to go. Fortunately, the nurse came and found me. And she spoke some English.
My bloods done, she said everything was finished and I could enjoy the rest of the day. I was puzzled as I was expecting a health check. But she assured me, everything was done for the day.
I went back to the receptionist and, with the support of a kind lady who spoke good English, my next stop was Room 5. I took a seat outside and within five minutes a doctor called my name.
The doctor explained he was going to do my blood pressure, check my heart rate and listen to my chest and back. But first some questions.
A year ago, I had an NHS health check so I thought I was ready for the questions, but the first one threw me off course. How much coffee do you drink in a day? Oh boy, you know you’re in Portugal when the doctor questions you on caffeine consumption rather than alcohol consumption, and then the follow-up question was, do I drink Portuguese wine every day? I think he was a little offended when I advised I only had one or two pequeno [small] glasses of wine a week.
My height and weight were recorded and BMI calculated (I’m well in range compared to a year ago when my BMI was too high). My blood pressure is “muito bem” [very good] and my resting heart rate was a very healthy 60.
The health check was finished.
The following day, I received an email with the results of my blood test. And with my limited knowledge, it appears everything is within the necessary range including my cholesterol and my blood sugar levels.
And the rest of the week….
Brake pads fitted (for less than the price of the brake pads would’ve cost me in the UK). They work so I guess they are ok.
I attended a vineyard workshop which I’ll include in a future blog as this one is rather long already.
And lots of work on the quinta, plus a dog walk with a friend and the usual (boring) stuff that has to be done during the week.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you will continue to join me as I continue my adventure in Portugal. It is certainly going to be a busy, fun, challenging and exciting time.
Thank you, your continued support is much appreciated, and I am grateful for your interest in my adventure!
Melhores cumprimentos. Até logo.