Life Abroad,  Tips & Reviews

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

New updates on 2 June, 2020. 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 this year. 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 live 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.

This article will continue to update since I only passed the theoretical exam at the end of September, yet to finish the last 16 hours learning and practical exam. However, 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!

The above is just my personal experience with this specific school. I will update again after I pass the practical exam.

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

Good luck!

By Richole

7 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

  • 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

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