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US Driver License Exchange

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Aranthama
6/20/2019 03:36 EST

Although I applied for it on March 19, my Residence Permit card has not arrived yet at SEF Tavira. But I have to travel next week to the US and stay there until beginning of September: Questions: 1) Can I exchange my DL at IMT simply by using my SEF "Recibo Comprovativo" showing that I've applied for Residence Permit? 2) If I cannot complete the DL exchange within 90 days of the date my Residence Permit is finally issued, what is the penalty - fine? Or will I have to take a driver's exam in Portuguese? 3) If the lines are too long at IMT in Faro, where is the next closest IMT that I can go to that would have shorter lines. Thank you.

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craigandmicki
6/20/2019 05:25 EST

To "Aranthama's' question:
Have you gone to your local post office to determine if they have your Residence Permit on 'hold'? Happens in the Algarve more than you'd think. This is much too long to be waiting for the card, so also go to Tavira SEF and ask about it. The 'issue' date is likely March 19 or close to that date if there is a Card sitting around someplace so you've already expired your chance to exchange your US license. (1) No, you need the Card to exchange; (2) After the 90 days, you are required to take classes, a written exam in Portuguese and a driving test with a Portuguese tester. (3) You can go to any IMT office; I googled the IMT contacts page and they only list a Faro office, tho.

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Aranthama
6/20/2019 05:36 EST

Thanks for the clarification. I requested that my Residence card be sent to the SEF office in Tavira for pick up. I've been there four times and every time they say come back next week. When I sent yesterday, the SEF person simply shrugged as if to say "what can I do"?
Well, sooner or later...

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tomonoak
6/20/2019 05:39 EST

You can call SEF and ask them about the status of your permit. It's a chore, as it involves being on hold for a very long time and then asking a succession of people if they speak English (unless your Portuguese is good, of course), but it may be worth it.

My experience - which may not be typical - was that I had my interview in March and my card didn't arrive until August, dated in August.

About that 90 days - officially it's 90 working days (dias úteis) rather than 90 calendar days, so that may give you some breathing room. On the other hand, I don't know if it's easy or difficult to convince the clerk at IMT of this. (I have a reference for the working days thing somewhere, but I'm too lazy at the moment to go searching for it.)

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tomonoak
6/20/2019 07:57 EST

About the 90 day period to exchange a foreign license - I want to correct a mistake I may have made here and in another thread.

This website: https://maracujaroxo.com/2017/05/10/como-trocar-a-minha-cnh-brasileira-em-portugal/ shows an IMT document that says that the 90 days is 90 working days (document is 1/3 of the way down the page and is headed "documentacao necessaria para troca de titulo de conducao estrangeiro". The document references Decreto-Lei no. 40/2016 de 29 de Julho. This law can be found at: http://www.pgdlisboa.pt/leis/lei_mostra_articulado.php?nid=2586&tabela=leis, and talks only about "no prazo de 90 dias", not 90 dias úteis.

So it looks like that 90 days is calendar days after all. Sorry.

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Wallvestor
6/20/2019 10:22 EST

We too applied for our Residence Permit with the SEF in Tavira. We had our appt. mid May and were told our card would arrive in 2 to 3 months. It's been 2 months now. We elected to have them sent to our address and not the SEF office. To contact them and get an update, I recommend emailing them. They hardly ever pick up the phone. In fact when I was there another day, I called their number.....I didn't hear any phone ringing....anywhere. And, the office is small.

I will however undertake a visit to the post office to see as craigandmicki suggest....if they could be there!

I would concur with craigandmiki, there's only one IMT in all of the Algarve...in Faro. But, it's easy and the lady up front will screen your paperwork, prior to letting you pull a ticket. AND, between you and I and the fence post....she was seemingly going to allow the paper receipt from SEF and not the beloved card. Unfortunately, I was not able to proceed as my wife had forgot her SEF receipt. So we bailed and will return again soon.

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Aranthama
6/20/2019 10:30 EST

Thanks, I will keep this "receipt" idea in my back pocket, should worse come to worse. But, please explain what you mean when you say the IMT person screened your paperwork before you took a ticket. Don't you need the ticket to get called by that person.

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Wallvestor
6/20/2019 12:53 EST

As I recall, she reviewed our papers and ascertained our intention - (to exchange licenses), going over each required document to make sure it was all correct. I've read where they will only process some 86 license transfers daily. Anything over that and you are SOL. Thus, they are so busy, they will review your papers in order to not be wasting time. with unprepared applicants.

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Aranthama
6/20/2019 13:06 EST

Got it, we will go early. But what does "SOL" mean?

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whatsnext
6/20/2019 13:34 EST

SOL = "shoot" out of luck

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Wallvestor
6/22/2019 09:10 EST

We returned to IMT in Faro yesterday arriving at 3:20 as they close at 4:00pm, I figured everyone would be at the beach...since it's Friday. I was right, there were only 3 people there. This time a security guard was there to help with pulling tickets. He did not pre screen our paperwork as a lady had done weeks earlier. Instead he selected the correct choice on the ticket machine and handed it to us. We were next up. Four minutes later we were seated and providing the clerk with the associated paperwork to transfer a US License. Providing the Florida Portuguese Consulate's certification of our driving records was the route we took, vs. acquiring our record ourselves from the State. She looked over everything then asked for proof of residency. We provided the paper receipt from our SEF appointment (not the beloved card), and were told it will be 6 to 8 months.After paying 30 euro each, we walked back to the lobby and were told to wait till our number was called again - they would then take our pictures. All in all, a 20 minute total event that went smoothly. Bottom line is that our paper receipt from SEF was acceptable.

I would not go to IMT without getting your medical certificate first. It was the first thing we were asked for. If you do not have your beloved card yet, try what we did using the paper receipt from SEF.

Go the Centro de Saude de Tavira. Just South of town. Enter the main doors and navigate yourself off to the right, walking as far as you can in that wing of the building. All the way back and on the left desk is a nice lady that gave us our Numero de Utente. You must have this number in order to get your medical certificate. She processed our request without the beloved card and just the SEF paper. However, the real clincher with her was the little paid receipt I had that showed our payment to SEF. She copied it and the SEF paper and other documents then told us to return in 2 days to pick up our number. We did so, and got our number as she so stated.

Armed with our shiny new Numero de Utente we called our doctor to have him perform the exam needed for IMT. We followed the recipe described on this website and secured private health insurance with AFPOP/Medal/Allianz. One of the doctors in the system is Dr. Julio Trivino at Taviclinica in Tavira. He did our exam which amounted to a few jokes and some pleasantries. After that he submitted our stuff online and voila'. Our exam results were transmitted to IMT electronically.
Cost for the exam - 12.5 euro.

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Aranthama
6/26/2019 05:43 EST

When to Faro IMT yesterday, arrived 8:30 am, so the line was not too long. IMT agent only looked at my wife's SEF card (her's did arrive), Medical form, and Passport. The agent did not even ask for the Consular Certification of her US Driver License, which we worked so hard to obtain. In and out in 45 minutes. Then over to Automobile Club of Portugal for an International Driver Permit (IDP), so Julie can drive in US and other countries, now that IMT has her US DL. The only mistake we made was not getting Julie's IMT licenses stamped for 12 months instead of 6 months, so the IDP could only be issued for 6 months.

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realspear
6/26/2019 05:50 EST

An IDP and a piece of paper are not sufficient for driving in the US. You need a valid driver's license from Portugal in order to drive. It's possible that police, and possibly rental agencies, will overlook that, but it's not proper documentation for legal driving in the US.

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