The UK benefits available to Britons living in Portugal and information on driving regulations in Portugal.
If you are a British citizen or British subject with right of abode in the UK, you do not require a visa to enter Portugal. Other British nationals should confirm the current entry requirements with their nearest Portuguese Embassy.
A valid British passport must be held for entry to and exit from Portugal. There is no minimum passport validity requirement but you should ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your visit.
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Portugal, including British and Portuguese pension and benefits entitlements, and vehicle and driving licence laws.
Register with Portuguese Immigration Service
(Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF)) or local Town Hall (Câmara Municipal) Registration Certificate (Certificado de Registo)
EU citizens may remain in Portugal for a maximum of 3 months without registering. If you intend to remain in Portugal for more than 3 months, you must apply for a registration certificate from the Portuguese Immigration Service - the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) - or Town Hall (Câmara Municipal) in your area of residence. This has to be done within 4 months of arrival in Portugal. This certificate will be valid for 5 years from the date of issue, or for the period of intended residence. For entitlement to local services - ie schools, healthcare, and social security - people living in Portugal should register with the Portuguese authorities. More information (English and Portuguese).
How to claim UK state pensions in Portugal
The UK basic state pension is payable in Portugal.
The UK state pension changed in April 2010. More people now qualify for a full basic state pension. Find out about the most important changes and what they mean to you.
To find out when you reach State Pension age, use the State Pension calculator.
If you live but have not worked in Portugal, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre in the UK on telephone: +44 (0)191 218 7777.
If you live in, and have worked at some point in Portugal you should normally apply to the Centro Distrital de Segurança Social (CDSS) for both your UK and Portuguese pensions. If you have only ever worked in the UK, you should see our information on applying for a UK state pension.
Moving to Portugal once in receipt of a UK state pension
If you are moving to Portugal from the UK you should inform the International Pension Centre (IPC) of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments. UK pension credit is not payable in Portugal. If you decide to move to Portugal permanently you must inform the office that pays your benefits before you leave.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped. You’ll need to get it signed by a ‘witness’ and send it back, as instructed on the form.
Check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can ‘countersign’ a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport.
UK benefits you can claim if you live in Portugal
For some benefits, you will have to have been in receipt of them before you left the UK for Portugal
- Contribution-based JSA
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Winter Fuel Payment
UK benefits you can apply for even if you are already living in Portugal:
- Contribution-based Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- (Care Component)/Carer’s Allowance
- Bereavement Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- UK Child Benefit
- Guardian’s Allowance
Other benefits, particularly those that are means-tested, are not payable abroad. These include:
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance (mobility component)
The Portuguese Social Security Department
The Portuguese Social Security Department is called the DGSS (Direcçao Geral de Segurança Social) and their website contains extensive information in English, as well as the addresses of local offices. Alternatively, contact the DGSS by telephone: 808 266 266.
The Portuguese state health system
The Portuguese health system is universal and based on being resident in Portugal. For this reason, British people are entitled to receive state healthcare in Portugal by registering as a resident and then with their local health centre.
However, EU regulations state that if you are in receipt of a State Pension from one EEA member state but resident in another, your healthcare should be covered by the state that pays your pension. For example, if you are resident in Portugal but in receipt of a UK State Pension, the UK should cover your healthcare by issuing you with an S1 (previously E121).
Therefore if you reach State pension age while living in Portugal, it will be necessary to request the form S1 from the DWP and hand it to your nearest social security office (Posto de Atendimento da Segurança Social) so that they can change the way you are covered.
Please remember that if you do register with the state health system in Portugal, it is important to de-register with your GP in the UK. Likewise, if you decide to return to the UK, then you must de-register with the Portuguese authorities.
UK driving licences in Portugal
If you are transferring your residence to Portugal, you don’t have to exchange your UK-issued driving licence. These licences may be used in Portugal until they expire. If you have a photocard driving licence, please remember that you’ll need to renew the photo before the licence expires.
Register your driving licence in Portugal
If you choose to continue to use your UK driving licence in Portugal, you must inform IMT – Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes, I.P. (equivalent to DVLA) – at the very latest within 30 days of obtaining your residence certificate. You can be fined if you are resident here (even if you don’t have a residence certificate), are driving a Portuguese registered vehicle and have not registered your UK licence with the authorities.
If you intend to make Portugal your main or permanent home, there are a number of very good reasons for exchanging your licence for a Portuguese-issued one.
If lost, stolen or damaged, the licence can only be renewed or replaced by the original issuing authority. Some licensing authorities, such as the DVLA, will not renew or replace a licence to an overseas address.
When the licence eventually expires, the Portuguese authority can’t renew it as it was not issued by them. This means that you’ll have to take (and pass) a driving test in Portugal before the Portuguese authorities can issue you with a licence.
Exchange your driving licence
If you decide to exchange your licence, you should apply to the nearest office of the IMT. You’ll need to complete a form (in duplicate) and hand it in, together with:
- your original licence
- a photocopy of your passport (you’ll also be asked to show your original passport)
- 2 colour photos on a plain background
- a medical report (please see the IMT website for information on permissible issuing authority)
- the fee
You can drive in the UK on a Portuguese-issued licence provided the full entitlement for the vehicle you are driving is shown on the licence.
Police and autopsy reports
If you have been the victim of theft in Portugal and you need a copy of the report which you gave to the police at the time of the incident, you can obtain this by writing to the police force which took note of the occurrence.
Find the relevant contact:
If you have been the victim of another type of crime which is being investigated by the Public Prosecutor (Serviço do Ministério Público), the police report may not be available until the inquiry has been concluded.
Post-mortem reports are also held by the Public Prosecutor and may similarly be withheld until the inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the death has been concluded.
However, you can still register your interest in obtaining copies of these reports as soon as they can be released, by writing to the relevant Prosecutor.
Education in Portugal
Education is obligatory for all children aged 6-16 if the parents are legally resident in Portugal and is free from pre-school to high school. However, as pre-school is not obligatory, not all children can gain a place. The availability of places depends on demand and varies across different areas of Portugal. More information can be found at the Portuguese Ministry for Education.
For further information on Portuguese Government services please see the Loja do Cidadão (Citizens One-Stop Shop; website in Portuguese).
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Portuguese authorities.