Healthcare in Portugal

If you will be moving to Portugal or are planning to spend significant amounts of time there, it is helpful to understand what your entitlements to healthcare in Portugal will be.

We have provided some information below to assist with this.

If I become ill when I am living in Portugal, will I have to pay for healthcare in Portugal?

The Portuguese public Health Service is called the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) which provides state funded hospital and local health centre services.

EU Citizens

Under EU legislation, citizens of EU countries who are legally resident in Portugal are entitled to state funded medical treatment on the same terms as Portuguese nationals. Non-resident EU citizens who are visiting Portugal are entitled to emergency medical treatment at state facilities on production of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you are an EU citizen and living in Portugal, you will therefore be able to access most healthcare services for free, although you may find that you do have to pay for some services.

The country responsible for paying for your healthcare in Portugal will depend on your specific circumstances, for example:

  • Whether you are currently working or have ever worked in Portugal and have paid national contributions.
  • Whether you are a family member of someone who has worked in Portugal and paid national contributions.
  • Whether are in receipt of a UK state pension.

Non EU Citizens

If you are a non-EU citizen, you may have to pay some fees for public healthcare in Portugal, but the amount will depend on whether there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Portugal and your home country.

Non-EU citizens with residency in Portugal can obtain a National Health Service “user card” in order to take advantage of the free public healthcare system in Portugal. This can be done at a local health centre with a passport and residency card and a social security card.

If you will not be a resident in Portugal, you should ensure you should ensure you have health cover under a travel insurance or private healthcare insurance policy.

In what circumstances would Portugal cover my healthcare?

Portugal will provide you with healthcare cover if:

  • You work and pay social security contributions in Portugal. In this case, you should register at your local health centre in Portugal with your social security number.
  • If you are in receipt of a Portuguese state pension or benefit, the social security office in Portugal (INSS) will issue you with a document to confirm this. You will need to present this document at your local health centre in Spain.
  • If you registered as a resident in Portugal you may be eligible for healthcare as a resident. If this is the case you would need to apply for your Health Service User Card. This can usually be obtained at your local health Centre in Portugal with your Residency Card and Passport.

In these circumstances you will be entitled to Portuguese state run healthcare on the same basis as a Portuguese national.

Do you need to pay for medical prescriptions in Portugal?

Portugal does not have a set prescription charge and you will be required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the medicine. Prescription medicines in Portugal are however subsidised from between 15% to 90%, depending what and who they are for.

Having a prescription from a medical practitioner significantly reduces the costs of medication in Portugal, even the most common medicines such as anti-inflammatories or medicines for cold and flu. If a doctor offers a prescription for a medication, even if it is possible to purchase it over the counter, it is wise to accept it!

I don’t have an entitlement to state run Healthcare in Portugal. What should I do?

If you are not entitled to state funded healthcare cover in Portugal, you should take out private health insurance, otherwise you will have to pay every time you go to the doctor or receive medical treatment in Portugal.

How do you contact Emergency Services in Portugal?

You can contact the Emergency services in Portugal by calling 112.