It was October 2021, and having successfully navigated the IMT driver’s license exchange process, I was doing the same thing for Denise. So why is it that I got my license 4.5 months later, and Denise just got hers last week? And why did it take a miracle to finally make it happen?
Don’t Make a Mistake
I previously wrote a post about how to exchange your driver’s license in Portugal. While it took a few months, the online process worked. I didn’t have to hire and pay a lawyer, I simply followed the steps. And had I not moved in the middle of the process, I would likely have gotten my license 10-20 days sooner.
When completing the online process for Denise I missed something in Step 5 (specifically, scanning the back of her Residency Card). So while I received feedback to my completed online application within 4 weeks, she did not. Weeks went by…then months…nada. Then an email came (I think it was in March)explaining that I had missed the back of her Residency Card and to click the attached link to attach. When I clicked the link…Error 404: Page Not Available. I then tried to begin the process again…but the IMT system said “Denise’s NIF was invalid.” It was not … I suspect it was being rejected as it was a duplicate submission. We sent emails to the general IMT email box without a response.
In June 2022we got a person’s name at IMT and sent an email to her. She responded the next day. I nearly fainted. She asked that I respond and attach every scanned document. I did…immediately. Then miraculously on 22 June 2022 an email explaining that everything was received and accepted and that Denise should wait for an appointment. So we waited…and waited…and waited…
We sent emails…nothing.
We tried to call…that was a joke.
We enlisted our property manager who speaks Portuguese to call…that was even worse. One IMT representative hung up on him, one made jokes and then hung up on him, and one referred the issue to the manager but would not provide the manager’s name or number. Needless to say no progress.
Things You Hear
While waiting for her appointment we were told by friends, “Just drive to Faro IMT and refuse to leave”. We were told by other friends who had tried exactly that, “Don’t bother they won’t take you without an appointment.” We listened to vague rumors like, “Did you know the requirements changed?” or “Your medical exam is too old now, you will have to get another.” We considered driving to Beja IMT, a smaller city about 90 minutes north of us. We were told that if you were among the first in line and willing to wait, you might get to talk to someone.
We also spoke to our friend Ana. Ana is a local. She was born in VRSA. She knows everyone, and everyone knows and loves her. She suggested that a friend at the driving school in town could help. Denise took all her documents there in Decemberand was told they couldn’t help.
A Miracle Named Ana
Then a miracle happened. On Tuesday 17, January 2023Ana called Denise.
“You have an appointment tomorrow at 14:00 in IMT Faro.” — Ana, the Miracle Worker
We learned Ana felt bad that her friend at the driving school could not help. She called another friend, who worked in the Beja IMT to see if she could help. That friend called someone in Faro that gave her the appointment. As luck would have it, I was going to the hospital in Faro on Wednesday for a 10:30 appointmentso after my appointment, we would get a bite to eat then go to IMT.
While Denise’s appointment was at 14:00, she entered the office at 13:15. She had received an appointment confirmation email the night before with a code. Upon entering, a person she thought was the guard asked why she was there. She explained and told him she had a code. He asked for it and told her to take a seat. (So was he a guard or the code-guy? Who knows.) Regardless, by 13:30 she was back in the car with the temporary license in hand.
So What Have We Learned
There are perhaps many lessons to be learned. Some would suggest the lesson is you don’t need to hire a lawyer to exchange your driver’s license. True. I would hasten to add when completing the online process, do NOT make a mistake! Others would posit that it just takes time…everything in Portugal takes time. Also true. But Denise believes, like everywhere else in the world, it is not what you know…but who you know. I agree.
And we are so pleased we know Ana.
Muito obrigada, Ana…Até à próxima semana, caros leitores
That would be month 5 or 6.
Approximately month 9.
Up to month 14 at this point.
The best things happen in month 15.
Yep, I had yet another surgery on my foot on 12 January. That’s 3 total on the same foot: 1 in the US and 2 in Portugal. You can read all about the first one in Portugal here. It seems one of the bones in my foot, re-broke. (I am certain there is a better word for that.) I was walking down the fairway about 8 weeks ago and yikes! The repeat surgery was to determine why it fractured again and to reset it. After 2 days of discomfort, I am feeling fine. But I have a wire sticking out of the bottom of my foot and thus cannot be in one of those post-surgery shoes. Since I will be like this for a total of six weeks, I rented a knee scooter. If you happen to be in VRSA….WATCH OUT!
We ate at a family-owned restaurant just 2 blocks from IMT called Monte dos Bentos. The food was fabulous and the service was warm and welcoming!
I hope she gets the actual license soon! I applies in Feb 2022, got appointment on Aug 2022 and got the temp license and I have yet to receive the card! it is almost a joke!
Great article. I’m so glad I was able to get my license, but it was unnerving to turn in my US one.