How to get state healthcare if you live, work or study in Portugal.
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This guidance will be updated if anything changes to how you get state healthcare in Portugal.
This information is about living in Portugal. There’s different guidance about visiting Portugal.
You need to be registered as a resident in Portugal to access state healthcare.
State healthcare in Portugal is not completely free. Healthcare costs are covered by the state, and patients pay standard user fees, known as ‘taxas moderadoras’.
UK nationals usually access the Portuguese healthcare system in one of these ways:
- registering to use the Portuguese national health service as a resident
- using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for temporary stays when studying, or as a ‘posted’ (detached) worker
- registering a UK-issued S1 form (see ‘UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Portugal’ below)
Healthcare if you live and work in Portugal
If you are planning on moving to Portugal, see the guidance on Living in Portugal for more information about visa and residency requirements.
You must show proof of healthcare cover:
- before you can register as a resident
- when you apply for a visa
For details about the healthcare cover required for residency applications, contact local authorities in Portugal or the appropriate Portugal embassy or consulate in the UK.
Everyone who’s registered as a resident can also register to access the Portuguese national health service (SNS) on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen.
This is the same if you’re employed, self-employed or not working.
You may be entitled to a Portuguese EHIC for travel, including visits to the UK.
You may also have the right to apply for a UK S1 if you start drawing a UK State Pension (see ‘UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Portugal’ below).
How to register for healthcare
Before registering for healthcare you need to register as a resident.
If you’re employed, you’ll also need your social security number (NISS). Get this from your employer, or request it from the tax office if you’re self-employed.
To register for healthcare, go to your local health centre (centro de saúde). You’ll need your:
- residence certificate
- tax identification number (NIF) from your local tax office (finanças)
- social security number (NISS) if you’re employed or self-employed
Once you’ve registered you’ll get a health number (número de utente de saúde). Show this when you visit a doctor in the state healthcare system.
How to access healthcare services
Find your nearest hospital or clinic on the Portuguese Nation Health Service website (in Portuguese).
How much you’ll pay
You pay standard user fees (taxas moderadoras) for state healthcare services in Portugal.
This means that you’ll pay a fixed amount depending on the service. Your GP in Portugal will be able to tell you what you’ll pay for any treatment.
How much you pay will depend on what you’re being treated for and how you’ve accessed the healthcare system. The Portuguese ministry of health publishes details on user fees (in Portuguese).
Examples of what you’ll pay are:
- 5 euros for a GP appointment
- 15 euros to go to A&E
You’ll need to pay something towards the cost of any prescribed medicine.
You may be exempt from paying fees for some services, prescriptions and treatments, for example if you’re:
- a child under 12
Find out more about paying user fees on the SNS website (in Portuguese) or speak to your GP in Portugal.
Dental care is not usually covered by the Portuguese national health service.
If your UK employer has sent you to Portugal temporarily (‘posted workers’)
A posted worker, also known as a ‘detached worker’, is someone who is employed or self-employed in the UK, but temporarily sent to a European Economic Area (EEA) country.
UK posted workers can access healthcare in Portugal using an EHIC, GHIC or S1 form.
HMRC has a helpline for National Insurance enquiries from non-UK residents. They can answer questions about posted worker status and explain which documents you will need to get healthcare while posted.
UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Portugal
There’s different guidance if you have an S1 as a ‘posted worker’ (see ‘If your UK employer has sent you to Portugal temporarily (‘posted workers’)’ above).
You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you’re a resident in Portugal and receive a UK State Pension or an exportable benefit. See Planning your healthcare abroad on the NHS website for more information about eligibility.
You may also be entitled to an S1 form if you’re a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another). You must contact HMRC National Insurance enquiries to find out if you’re eligible.
Once you have an S1 form, you must register it on the Portuguese social security system.
This means you and your dependants will be entitled to state healthcare in Portugal on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen.
You’ll also get:
Dependants and family members may be classified differently in Portugal than the UK.
Check with the local authorities when you register your S1 form.
If you’re entitled to an S1 form as a dependant of a State Pensioner, your health cover will be cancelled once you begin claiming your UK state pension.
You will be sent a new S1 form to your registered address from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. You must register this form to ensure continuation of healthcare cover.
You are responsible for informing NHS Overseas Healthcare Services if you change your address or your circumstances change.
NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 3pm
How to get an S1 form
If you have a UK State Pension or another qualifying exportable benefit, you must request an application form by phone from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (see contact details above).
How to use an S1 form in Portugal
Register your S1 form at any social security office (segurança social). Find your nearest office (website in Portuguese).
You also need to register your S1 form at your local health centre (centro de saúde).
You’ll need your:
- S1 form
- residence certificate
You may also need your tax identification number (NIF). You can get this from your local tax office. Once you’ve registered at a health centre, you’ll be issued with a health number (número de utente de saúde). This shows that you’re entitled to state healthcare on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen.
If you are experiencing delays registering your S1 with local authorities and require emergency or urgent treatment, contact the Overseas Healthcare Services on 0044 191 218 1999.
Studying in Portugal
You should apply for a Student GHIC to get medically necessary, state-provided healthcare for the duration of your study period in Portugal, whether this is for part or all of your course. This means that you’ll get necessary healthcare services on the same basis as an Portuguese citizen either for free or at a reduced cost.
If you already hold a valid Student EHIC you can use this until the card expires.
Getting treatment in the UK
Because the NHS is a residency-based system, under NHS rules UK nationals who move abroad on a permanent basis may lose their entitlement to free NHS healthcare.
If you are a UK national and move to the EU, you should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK unless you have an EHIC, PRC or S2 to show your healthcare costs are funded by the EU country in which you now live, or another exemption applies.
Some former UK residents do not have to pay for NHS treatment when visiting England. This includes:
- UK war pensioners
- UK government employees
- UK nationals living in the EU on or before 31 December 2020, once they have a registered, UK-issued S1
Read more about using the NHS when you no longer live in the UK (see ‘UK nationals who no longer live in the UK’ in Healthcare for visitors to the UK from the EU).
If you return to live in the UK you’ll be able to use the NHS like any other UK resident.
Read more about using the NHS when you return to live in the UK.