Healthcare in Portugal

healthcare in Portugal

Healthcare in Portugal

Healthcare in Portugal


Pursuant to European provisions, English expatriates residing in Portugal shall be exclusively assigned to the Portuguese social security system and will, therefore, lose status as insured under the English system.

Two healthcare systems co-exist in Portugal: the public healthcare system Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), for the employed, pensioners and non-employed, and the private healthcare system.

No one is sure to be free of a raging toothache, a sprain or a young child’s high fever… so it’s time for a little information on the procedures all new residents must complete before a real need arises and to help you better understand the Portuguese public healthcare system!


Before anything else: register!

To benefit from SNS services, you must register with the health centre (centro de saúde) that corresponds to your place of residence to get a health card (cartão de utente do SNS). To do so, you must go the reception desk with some form of official identification, your English health insurance card and proof of residency in Portugal. These health centres are the equivalent of community health centres and it’s where you will be assigned a family or primary care physician.

How do you get an appointment with your family doctor?

Consultations are at the health centre and you may schedule appointments with your doctor by phone (the number found on your health card). If you are too ill to go to work and your primary care physician is not available, you must go to your health centre to see the on-call doctor.

If you need to see a specialist, how do you do it?

For any consultation with a public sector specialist, you first need to see your primary care physician at your health centre who will determine whether or not you need to see a specialist. If your primary care physician decides, you will be referred to a public sector specialist and given a document indicating the appointment day and time and the specialist’s contact details.

Important to know! Waiting lists

Waiting times to see general medicine doctors and specialists are often long in the public system and can even take several months in the case of specialists or complex tests and treatments. Private insurance allows you to save time and get an appointment very quickly. They offer direct access to all specialists and in-depth examinations without going through a general medicine doctor first.

There are many types of policies and different insurance companies which can make the decision difficult. We advise you to call a broker who will compare the different options from the various insurance companies for you. Brokers can even secure conditions that you would not otherwise have direct access to and will search for the insurance that best meets your needs.

Read our guide to healthcare for more details: INOV Expat Portugal Guide to Healthcare


> More information on protection: Healthcare System in Portugal: How It Works

Ask your free quote -> right here

About us INOV Expat

INOV Expat is an insurance brokerage firm aimed at French and English-speaking expatriates in Spain, and now in Portugal, which has signed partnership agreements with the leading insurance companies on the market. We know just how much moving to another country can bring about a lot of surprises and procedures which are sometimes quite complex. So, ever since its foundation in 2004, INOV Expat has not only aimed to assist its expatriate clients search for “custom insurance” but also defend their rights in the event of a claim.

Ask for your free quote online: automobile, health, home, business, travel, or other insurance. Check our website: or contact us by email at [email protected]

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