Living in Portugal

Official information British people moving to and living in Portugal need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

EU Exit: what you need to know

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Portugal while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU, you should:

Before you go

See our travel advice for Portugal and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Portugal in our travel advice.

If you plan to stay in Portugal more than 3 months, you must register at your local Câmara Municipal (town hall) – see information on registering in Portugal. You must register your residency to access services such as healthcare, schools and social security.

After 5 years of legal residence in Portugal, you may apply for permanent residence with Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (immigration authorities).


See our travel advice for Portugal.

Once you are registered as resident in Portugal (see Visas and residency), you are entitled to state healthcare. Enrol at your local health centre and get a user’s ID number by showing your residence certificate. You won’t get a NISS (social security number) unless you’re working or are the dependant of someone who’s working.

The NHS has information about healthcare for British people living in and visiting Portugal.

You are entitled to a Portuguese-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), unless you receive a UK state pension in which case the NHS will issue your EHIC.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Portugal. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Portugal.

S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Portugal and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You need to apply for a S1 form – contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pensions Centre.

Working and studying in Portugal

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a:

See: Subject Access Request (PDF, 192KB, 1 page)

British qualifications

If you are studying, you may need to have your British qualifications recognised in Portugal – contact:

The UK Legalisation Office can certify your diploma or school report.

A local notary can authenticate the translation of your diploma or school report.

See: Certifying UK Educational Documents (PDF, 336KB, 3 pages)


See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Portugal to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

If you are liable to pay tax in Portugal, you should apply for a tax number (número fiscal de contribuinte, NIF). You will also need an NIF to do things like buy or sell property, open a bank account or sign long-term rental agreements.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Portugal – see list of English-speaking lawyers and financial advisors and fiscal consultants.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.


See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

If you haven’t worked in Portugal, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you live in and last worked in Portugal, you should claim your UK state pension, together with any Portuguese pension you are entitled to, from Instituto de Segurança Social.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.


See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You may be eligible to claim some Portuguese social security benefits.

Driving in Portugal


See how to import your vehicle into Portugal and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

If you are resident in Portugal and drive on a UK licence, you must register your licence with the Instituto da Mobilidade e de Transportes (IMT) within 60 days of arrival, or face a fine.

If you are resident in Portugal, you will not be able to renew a lost, stolen or expired licence with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It may be easier to convert your UK licence to a Portuguese one.

You can exchange an expired UK licence for up to 2 years after the expiration date. After 2 years, you will have to pass a Portuguese driving test.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

We advise you to consult a lawyer who is experienced in land law and property transactions. Make sure they are registered with the law society, Ordem dos Advogados.

Some notaries offer an independent property purchasing service known as Casa Simples, Casa Segura. Notaries in Portugal are trained lawyers.

If you are thinking of buying a coastal, river or lakeside property, ensure it’s not affected by the 2005 water resources law.

If you buy rural property, make sure you comply with the law on preventing forest fires.


British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

If you’re resident in Portugal, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary Elections.


See register a birth abroad.


See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).


See travelling with pets.


The emergency number in Portugal is 112.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.



Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Portuguese authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 22 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added important specific information on certifying UK educational documents and on Subject Access Request.
  2. Updated May 2018
  3. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  4. Attached updated Driving Licences leaflet and added updated Car Importation Leaflet.
  5. Updated December 2017
  6. Update July 2017
  7. Updated May 2017
  8. Information updated 9 March 2017
  9. We are currently updating our information on driving licences in Portugal. Revised information will be available shortly.
  10. General information amended and property advice added
  11. Information added on changes to rules for EHIC and early retirees from July 1 2014.
  12. Instructions for signing life certificates for UK state pensions updated
  13. First published.