Life Abroad,  Tips & Reviews

Getting a driver’s license in Portugal in English | Review of Escola de condução

New updates on 10 Aug, 2020. Good news to share. I finally passed my driving test after 3 tries. Oh Man! The journey was tough! Scroll down to the bottom to check.

Since our last blog post, it has been a long time to update about our life in Portugal. 

After I settled down basic things in life here in Lisbon, I decided to go to driving school taught in English here early in 2019. I think it is good to share some experience with someone who has an interest in this.

If you already have a driver’s license in another country, then you should figure out via IMT whether you can convert it into a Portuguese driver’s license directly. Otherwise it is required to obtain a new driver’s license in a driving school in Portugal. Try to search for “Escola de condução” near you.

Since I lived in Chiado area, I found a school in Martim Moniz quite popular to learn driving in English. It is called Escola de condução São Lázaro very close to the famous seafood restaurant “Ramiro”. In the beginning of searching for different driving schools in Google maps, most turn out to have very low google reviews, probably like less than 2 out of 5 stars. And this driving school has 3.6 stars. I am not writing to promote any driving school but want to share my own experience if you prepare to get your driving license in English here. If you have experience in other driving schools, welcome to share it in the comments.

I feel it is necessary to share half the journey of my learning in the driving school if any of you happen to consider taking this school.

Important Information before your admission:

Documents for admission in the driving school:

  • Portuguese ID Card (Citizen Card, Residence Card, or Certificate of European Citizen);
  • Medical Report (*You can get it done in the school. Please ask the reception girl about the time for the medical assessment. They only do it in specific time slots.)

All Fees: Total 830 Euro.

  • Medical Report: 20 Euro. (*Pay before / at admission if you want to get it done in school.)
  • 28 Theoretical Classes: 250 Euro. (*Pay at admission)
  • 32 Practical Classes: 250 Euro. (*Pay when you book your first practical class)
  • Theoretical Exam: 130 Euro. (*Pay when you book your theoretical exam)
  • Practical Exam: 150 Euro. (*Pay when you book your exam)
  • Driver’s License Emission: 30 Euro. (*Pay when you pass all exams)

(The above fees are for English classes, it is like half the price if you do in Portuguese. And they also offer in Chinese.)

Additional fees:

  • Every extra supplementary driving class: 25 Euro per hour.
  • If failing practical exam, you need 8 more classes before taking another exam: 298 Euro in total.

After Admission, you will get from the school as below:

  • 1 Road Code Book
  • 1 Learning License (Wait for the confirmation sms from the school, normally in 2 weeks after the medical assessment.)
  • 28 Theoretical Classes in English (No need appointment)
  • 32 Driving Classes in English (Need appointment)

** Things you need to know and they might not tell you in the first place:

  1. Medical Report normally takes 2 weeks to process, therefore you can ONLY pick up your learning license and a Code Book after you receive the sms from school. 
  2. The learning license ONLY lasts for 2 years. If your residence card happens to expire soon after your admission, then you will need to update your profile with new ID number which will cost a fee.
  3. You need to have the learning license to take classes, otherwise the teacher won’t mark your attendance. For the 1st class, you also need to bring your Portuguese ID Card.I didn’t know at the first place, so my first class wasn’t marked. The reception office closes at 8 p.m.
  4. They have theoretical classes in English: at 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as well as at 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays. Come to attend anytime you are available. You don’t need to come to every constant class however you might miss or re-learn some parts if you come to classes occasionally. 
  5. You are ONLY allowed to book your first practical class after you have attended 7 theoretical classes. And normally the available appointment is at least 1 month later from the moment you book. They only have one teacher teaching in English, thus it is very slow to book an appointment for practical classes.
  6. Be noted that even they have helped you book 16 practical classes, they might cancel anytime. But don’t worry, they will tell you every time after one practical class whether you need to reschedule your next appointments. When having a lot of classes cancelled and rescheduled, it is really annoying. According to the reasons given by the schools, it is because some students fail in the practical exam, so they have priorities to retake a few more classes. This means that they kinda occupy our appointments.
  7. From my experience, even though you are available for any time slots, you may need at least 3 months to complete these 16 practical classes since they will rescheduled all the time. 
  8. You are ONLY allowed to book your theoretical exam after you have completed 28 theoretical classes and 16 practical classes. You can ONLY book the theoretical exam of the same month, not later. In case you have no time for this month, then you have to come back to book next month. Please be aware that you cannot cancel/reschedule/fail the exam, otherwise you have to pay around 350 Euro to book another exam.
  9. After booking theoretical exam, you are NOT allowed to book more practical classes before you pass this exam. So if you are in a hurry to get a license, it is hard. They have so many stupid rules.
  10. Even though you understand what the teacher taught in class, you still need to practise a lot before the exam. You can use Bomcondutor web (https://www.bomcondutor.pt) and use google translate to practise before you go to the exam. 
  11. For theoretical exam, you will go to a specific examination institute, then be assigned with your own questions. The examiner will provide you the translated questions in paper, and you answer on the computer. You are NOT allowed to answer more than 3 errors to pass. Right after the exam, the examiner will announce whether you pass or not. If you pass, then he will sign and give a stamp on your learning license. However this result is ONLY VALID for 1 year. 
  12. After you pass the theoretical exam, you can go back to school to book your next 16 practical classes.
  13. After finishing all 32 practical classes, you can pay and book extra classes if needed, as well as booking the exam. Normally the next available exam will be around 2 -3 weeks later.
  14. If you fail in the practical exam, you need to take 8 more driving lessons before booking another exam. This costs 298 Euro.

If you want to get a driver’s license here in less than 6 months, it is very unlikely. I enrolled in March 2019, and only could take the theoretical exam in September 2019.  The teacher is pretty good but it is very understaffed for English teaching, and the process of getting a driver’s license from this school is very slow.

Updates on my progress in learning driving:

March 10, 2020: I finished 32 practical driving lessons on 14th Febuary, 2020. But I was only able to take the practical exam on 10th March. To be honest, this was a really big time gap in between. So I booked two extra lessons with the teacher to practise on the day before exam. This supplementary lesson costs 25 Euro per one, just FYI.

On the day of exam, my appointment was at 9:20 a.m. I arrived before 9:00 a.m. in the exam center “Associação Portuguesa de Escolas de Condução” near Chelas metro station. It is the same as where the theoretical exam took place. And we used the same car as which we practised with the teacher normally. The teacher drove the car to the exam center and joined me and another student waiting for our examiner. The examing route was chosen randomly and only known a few minutes before our exam. My driving route was in Olivais area where has a lot of tricky intersections. Another student and I could decide whom to drive first, then followed the instruction by the examiner. Basically, one student drove first 20-30 minutes to destination B from exam center, then another drove back. I was not wise to choose to drive first and totally underestimated my own nervousness. Unfortunately, I failed in the practical exam not long after I drove out from exam center. Because the examiner can only speak Portuguese, and I needed to look at his posture to follow instruction, which really made me a bit more nervous. So I ended up driving in the wrong lane when turning left. Therefore, I failed immediately. It was a really bad feeling though. Another student drove the whole way back to exam center after me, however, he also failed and made many mistakes. (Well, I thought he would pass, but he also made same mistake in the place where I failed.)

Guys, the practical exam was really strict and difficult. I think many students failed at the first time. And please make sure you are calm enough, prepare and react earlier, meanwhile, learn some basic Portuguese in case the examiner cannot speak any English. From this failure, I noticed that there were many mistakes to make it fail but we might not realize them when practising with teacher.

Right after failing the exam, the teacher took us back to driving school to book for 8 extra supplementary driving lessons. It costs 298 EURO to learn 8 more lessons plus booking of another exam if you fail the practical exam. It is expensive if you fail in either theoretical or practical exam. So guys, please make sure you are ready before going to exam.

Due to COVID-19, the school has just reopened after closing for almost 3 months. (Saddly this pandemic really makes a bad impact for everyone’s life.) I hope everyone stays well.

1 June, 2020: So I am back to learning driving again now! I will give a summary of common errors after I pass the exam this time. Good luck for me and whoever is going to exam soon!

22 June, 2020: It was my second driving test. Due to COVID-19, some rules changed for driving test. Instead of going to drive with another student in the same car, now they only allowed one student to drive in one car. This means that you need to drive from exam center and drive back. It can also mean that the driving test would be longer than before. And it was a very rough and unlucky day for me. After practising 8 more classes with my instructor again, I felt I was quite ready to go back on the road. However, I was too anxious because I really wanted myself to pass this time. Anxiety is the murder guys! Then on the exam day, I had big headache and sick stomach. Long story short, my reaction time was slow that day, and I failed for parallel parking stepping on a bit of the flat sidewalk. I was really frustrated on that day and it took me a few days to feel fine again.

After failing the second test, I went back to school to book another 8 classes and paid 298Euro again. Sad~~~

Since my theory exam’s result is going to expire this September, I really need to make the next exam before then. Normally the school only allows you to book the driving exam after you finsih driving another 8 classes. But from my previous experience, I know that would take a long while. So I cannot wait to book the exam until then. Thanks to the sweet secretary Sara in the school, I was able to book my next exam after my another 2 classes. Well due to COVID-19, the exam center was limiting the amount of students going to exam. Therefore, my exam was booked more than one month later. So I asked the school to reschedule my remaining classes to be the week before my exam day. This turned out to be smartest decision ever.

10 August, 2020: My exam was at 16 p.m. in the afternoon. Before my exam, I took a few deep breath and kept telling myself to calm down. As a nervous queen, I managed to calm down and tried not to care about whether I could pass the exam this time. And this time I drove very smoothly, reacted quickly and parked perfectly. And I passed after driving about 25-30 mins. It included one U-turn, one parking, 3-4 roundabouts, a few left or right turn in both controlled and uncontrolled intersections, gearbox changing (1-3), driving in the residental area and in a reserved lane (max. 50 km/h).

Being calm is the key! Because i have been practising for 50+ hours, I definitely knew how to drive. For me, taking the afternoon exam helped since I didn’t need to wake up early and still had time to take one more class on the day before my exam. To conclude, many students tried 2-3 times until they pass their driving test here. So don’t feel bad about yourself if you don’t pass at the first time. And get your money (30 Euro) ready for issuing your driver’s license right after you pass the exam.

The above is just my personal experience with this specific school.

Have you taken a drivers license in Portugal? If so I would like to hear your story as well.

Good luck for everyone and never give up!

By Richole

42 Comments

  • Rajinder

    Hi Good Morning!
    I want to know they teach in English for other Categories like C, E or D as well.

    Thanks and regards
    Rajinder

    • M&R

      Hi,

      Sorry, not as I know. They mostly do category B. You can call them or follow facebook page to ask more details since they have quite a few branches.

      Thanks.
      Richole

  • Andrew

    I’m hoping to learn to drive in Lisbon this summer and to be honest your experience sounds awfully off putting, not to mention expensive. I read that you were allowed to have a translator in the car with you, is that not the case?

    • M&R

      Hi,

      Yes, my experience was quite unpleasant and expensive. So I am frustrated when failing the driving test. As I far as I know, only examiner, you and instructor, plus one more student in the car only. But you can ask nicely whether the examiner can speak in English, most of them can speak some.

      Good luck!
      Richole

      • Tim Whitmore

        hello thanks for sharing your adventure. I have just moved to Setubal from London and at the age of 57 need to learn to drive but speak no portuguese at the moment.
        Am finding it very difficult to find and English speaking instructor ? Any advice ?
        Thanks so much Tim

        • M&R

          Hello Tim,

          Sorry for the late reply. It must be difficult to learn to drive in Portugal for you but wish you good luck. I know you can find English speaking instructor in Lisbon but not sure about Setubal. You might try to reach out in Setubal group.

          BRs,
          Richole

    • Tanim

      Hello dear,
      Very Important informations, thank you a lot for sharing. I am very curious to know about a very uncommon question. I am a new immigrant here in Portugal. I would like to work as Courier with moped but i don’t have a AM licences. How may i have a AM licences and the is procedure. I will be greatful to you.

      • M&R

        Hello,

        Sorry that I don’t know much about the AM licence procedure. Maybe you can reach out to some driving schools for more information.

        Thanks.
        Richole

        • Rubel

          Hello,
          I hope you are well. I just admitted to a driving school here in Braganca, here the theoritical and practical classes are in Portuguese even the book but I am allowed to have a certified translator in the exam.. Can you please tell me how can I get a copy of the English book since I dont understand Portugues. And English book can help me to learn better. If you can help me It will be really helpful for me…
          Thank you

          • M&R

            Hi Rubel,

            Sorry for the late reply. I don’t have an English road code book but I was using the bomcondutor website with google translate to learn after classes. They are quite updated.

            Hope that can help you.

            BRs,
            Richole

  • Iris

    Really interesting, thanks for sharing!
    One question: do you think it’s (realistically) possible to study for and pass the theoretical exam without taking classes? I used to have a license, but don’t really have any driving experience.

    • M&R

      Sorry, I have not heard that is possible for exam without going to classes. Maybe if you are just transferring your current driver license to Portuguese one. But if you found some ways out, please share with us!

      Thanks.
      Richole

  • Victor Soto

    Hi Richole,

    I’ll start taking classes tomorrow at http://escolaconducaograncoop.pt/ .

    They got a really good reviews and were very helpful in Portuguese – they mentioned that their teachers speak English and can answer questions. I’ll be keen to grab a coffee in two weeks when I’m done with my first 10 theory classes and get hear about the common mistakes in the practical test.

    Feel free to dm on my email if you’re keen to have a chat.

    BR
    Victor

    • M&R

      Hi Victor,

      Sorry for the late reply! I guess you may have finished quite a lot of practical classes already.
      How is the driving school you are taking now? Is the teacher good and is the class easy to schedule? It would be great if you can share some experience of your driving school with us as well.

      Richole

  • Arif

    Hi Richole, really appreciate for sharing your experience here . Hope that would help a lot of people to get prepared well .
    I have also started taking theory classes recently.
    I have a question for you . Every teacher and website here in Portugal suggest to practice on bomcondutor website and they said question will be same .
    So have practiced on bomcondutor? If yes have you got the same question from there to your IMT theory exam ?
    Thanks in advance and good luck for your 2nd practical exam .

    • M&R

      Hi Arif,

      Sorry for the late reply. Yes, the practice on bomcondutor was really helpful for me. The question in Portuguese is exactly the same in IMT theory exam, however I didn’t quite practise all questions online. What may be different is the translation of the questions and answers, this is what you need to pay attention to. There were a few questions that were confusing when translated into English, because the English words may be the same, but in Portuguese they are different. With more practices, you will realise some. Anyway, at this moment, you might have attended your theorectial exam, otherwise, a big good luck to you!

      Richole

  • TMS

    Hello!
    I also want to take licence classes in English but there aren’t too many options available. So, if you will suggest me this school where you are taking classes, or should I find some other school?

    Thank you
    Tariq

    • M&R

      Hello Tariq,

      It depends on your goal for this. The secretary in this school is very helpful and supportive. The only problem is the scheduling. Since they only have one English instructor, you might expect to get your driver’s license longer than one year. If you are living near the zone of this school, I would still recommend the school. You can take the theory classes in English which is very easy to schedule. However, for the practical classes, you don’t really have to go with the default instructor. He is too busy with a lot of students. As far as I know, beside the English instructor Hugo, another instructor called Paulo who teaches Portuguese and Chinese students can also speak English. When you go to book the practical classes, you can ask the secretary for the schedules and different instructors’ information. If you don’t feel really comfortable with your first instructor, you can always request to switch to another if possible. Then stick to the right one!

      Good luck!

      Richole

  • Amr

    Hi Richole, Thank you for sharing experience, do you have any idea about other cities if it’s easier or even faster like Porto or other, or going to be the same

    • M&R

      It depends on where you live. Somewhere with less population might be faster. Currently due to the COVID-19 situation, nowhere is faster. The appointments will take much longer to make now.

  • Jen

    Thanks for sharing your story! Did you have to provide your driving history from your previous countries of residence? I have heard that this is a requirement…

  • Ros Goncalves’s

    Hi my son is 17 can he do his theory exam and start doing some driving lessons once done
    Will he be able to do it in English
    Is there online theory exams
    Thanks

    • M&R

      Hi,

      As far as I know from my experience, you can start the remaining driving lessons once you have passed the theory exam which you know the result right away.

      BRs,
      Richole

  • Beth

    Hi!
    Thanks for sharing you experience!
    I wonder if you have an idea of the possibility to just buy an english book to study in advance by myself. I am still waiting for my residence card so I don’t think I will be admitted soon…

    Regards and congratulations that you finally passed!

    • M&R

      Hello Beth,

      Sorry I don’t know where to buy an English Road Code book. Even the one provided by school is a very simple version. But I do find the website recommended helpful enough!

      Good luck!

      Richole

  • Gabriella

    Holy! That sounds awful. I’m just starting to do my research as I need to get license also. I held a license in Canada but it wasn’t sufficient for Portugal. Now I’m feeling nervous. It seems very expensive. Do you have any other tips that you think would be helpful? I feel that I am a good driver, I just need to learn how to drive standard and the giant roundabouts scare me. Thanks!

    • M&R

      Hello Gabriella,

      Unfortunately from my experience, getting a driver’s license from scratch here is expensive and time consuming (1-2 years espectially now). You won’t enjoy much the process of learning and getting through exams.

      However if you already held a Canadian license, you can search on IMT website and might be able to convert it into a Portuguese one by sending them required documents online (http://www.imtonline.pt/index.php/troca-de-titulos-conducao-estrangeiros/9-uncategorised/186-trocas-titulos-estrangeiros-en). Much less hassles. So my suggestion is, getting your driver license exchanged first, then read some road codes here. Once you know the rules of driving in the roundabouts, you will feel safe! Otherwise maybe you can get some private tutor for 1-2 classes to learn the standards.

      Good luck!
      Richole

    • M&R

      Hmmm I failed to know where to get the book in English. If you found sth, please share with the others.

      Good luck with your driving!

      Richole

  • Camille

    Hi there, Boa noite!

    I stumbled across your blog as i am looking to apply for a driving license when i move to portugal next year. The biggest problem is, i dont speak fluently and know simple words– not Driving Theory efficient enough.

    I have a few questions, if you dont mind.
    Was the theory exam and theory clases in English?
    How about the driving lessons & the exam, were they in English also?

    gratefull enough if you could shed insight on this as living in Portugal especially in the countryside required driving even if you only need to go to the supermarket!

    Thank you, Obrigado.

  • Pr

    Dear All well wisher,
    Hi
    Please to hear all of your exccellent article.
    Hi Richole.
    Well , those who really need a book in English can do a small kinda home work. Why dont we all start typing Portugues and translate to english . Say a group of 7 students can divide a book codigo consists of 400 pages, 30 or 50pages each,that can finish within 10 days.And share with each other. What do you all say.
    Please reply soon,
    Atentamente,
    Prom

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