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We moved to Portland, Oregon 7 years ago and I had to trade in my German drivers license in order to get my Oregon ID Card, after passing the test. We are now moving back to Europe (Portugal) this summer and I am not sure who to contact in order to receive my German drivers license back? Will I have to do another test once back in Europe or pay a fee?

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    Whom did you have to trade it in to? It seems very strange for a US state to care about confiscating your German driver's license in order to grant you an ID card. What if you didn't have a German driver's license? – Kyralessa Jan 24 at 10:13
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    @Kyralessa No, it is not strange at all. Most laws require an exchange of a drivers licence after a long term residence change. – Mark Johnson Jan 24 at 13:04
  • I assume your Oregon card actually states 'Driver License' (Red) and not just 'Identification Card' (Blue). – Mark Johnson Jan 24 at 13:33
  • If you had not turned you license to Oregon, would it have expired due to the passage of time? If not, maybe Germany will issue you a replacement. – Gerard Ashton Jan 24 at 18:48
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When you return to Europe you must exchange your Oregon Driver's Licence to a Portuguese Licence.

European Driver's Licences contain in Field 12 a coded reference to the original licence (70 = Exchange of Licence)

  • 70.original_licence_number.Country_Code (D)

enter image description here

This is a South African (ZA) exchanged for a Portuguese Licence.

So look and see if something similar can be seen on your Oregon licence. (Possibly on the back, within the machine code or also in Field 12 of the older cards)

I could not find a summary on how this is done in the US States.

There are claims that some states retain the original licence, so that it can be returned when leaving or that it is returned to the original issuers.

Going to the Oregon DMV to inform them that you are going back and would like to know about the whereabouts of the original licence would be the best thing to do.

When the licence is being exchanged, it is based on the original licence that was issued, plus mayby any further extension (new drivers class).

So, in one form or another, the original information about the German licence should be made available to the Portuguese authorities - thus avoiding any further tests.

Assume that some sort of fee will be asked for.

A feedback from you would be interesting for future reference.


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  • Mark, thank you so much for your detailed answer. Much appreciated. I will follow up once i have news.. – Mareike Blume-Weaver Jan 24 at 14:50
  • "I could not find a summary on how this is done in the US States": I would be very surprised indeed if it were done in any US state. "There are claims that some states retain the original licence, so that it can be returned when leaving or that it is returned to the original issuers": New York says they'll do this if you request it when you make the exchange. Otherwise they destroy the original after a couple of months. – phoog Jan 25 at 5:12

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