Migrants: Healthcare in Portugal

Whether they are living or travelling in Portugal, any foreigner who feels ill or needs any kind of healthcare has the right to be assisted in a health centre or hospital.

In Portugal, healthcare in the public system is provided by the National Health Service (SNS). If you are resident in the country and registered with the SNS and the Social Security system, you are also entitled to a European Health Insurance Card, which you can use during a temporary stay in any Member State of the European Union.

On this page you will find information on:

Learn about patient rights and obligations on the SNS24 portal, including the right to accompaniment in the health services.

User number of the National Health Service (SNS)

Any foreigner who is legally resident in Portugal can obtain a National Health Service (SNS) user number, which entitles them to medical assistance at public SNS units.

The number is issued the first time you visit a public health unit, such as a health center or hospital. 

Coverage of health expenses by the SNS

Having a health user number alone does not guarantee that your healthcare costs will be covered by the SNS. In order for the SNS to cover the costs, the following data must also be associated with the registration of your health user number:

  • identification document
  • Portuguese Tax Identification Number (NIF)
  • full address in Portugal
  • valid residence permit

In some cases provided for by law, the SNS may cover health expenses without you having to provide the above information.

European Health Insurance Card

If you are legally resident in Portugal and are registered with the National Health Service and the Social Security system, you can request an European Health Insurance Card (CESD). This card can be used during a temporary stay in any other member state of the European Union.

So, if you live in another Member State and are temporarily in Portugal (for holidays, studying or working for some time) and fall ill or have a medical emergency, the presentation of the CESD can facilitate access to the SNS.

If you do not have this card (because you have lost it, forgotten it or it was not issued in time, for example), you can request a Provisional Replacement Certificate (CPS) from Social Security. The CPS is a document that replaces and guarantees the same rights as the CESD. Social Security can send the certificate directly to the healthcare provider in the country where you are.

Primary healthcare (health centres)

Primary healthcare is provided in Family Health Units (USF), called health centres. In health centres you can consult a family doctor, the professional who looks after individuals and their families.

Besides the family doctor, there is a team of professionals in the USF who provide nursing care and outreach services such as nutrition, psychology, oral health and social care.

You can register at the health centre in your area of residence using your user number.

If you are planning a pregnancy or need information about sexually transmitted diseases, you can also book a family planning appointment.

Temporary registration at another health center

If you are living in another county for school, work or other reasons, and you need health care, you can temporarily register in another health center for up to 12 months. Enrollment in the original health center is temporarily suspended and automatically resumed after this period.

For more information, please contact directly the health center where you want to do temporary enrollment.

Hospital care

If you are in an emergency situation, you can call the emergency contacts (112 or 808 24 24 24) before going to the emergency unit of the public hospital where you live.

Public hospitals also offer nursing appointments (prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes or hypertension, for example), as well as specialised appointments (with a pass issued by the family doctor or hospital). You can book online a medical appointment in a hospital with your user number.

Preventive healthcare in Portugal

Preventive healthcare has the function of preventing the onset or identifying diseases at an early stage. In Portugal, two of the main preventive health initiatives are the National Vaccination Programme and the screening programmes.

Residential homes in Portugal for elderly and disabled people

Residential homes are intended to provide temporary or permanent accommodation for the elderly and people with disabilities because they can no longer receive the necessary support and nursing care in their own homes.

Check the conditions for using a residential home or family care home in Portugal for the elderly and/or people with disabilities.

Emergency contacts in Portugal

In case of emergency, contact:

  • Medical emergency - 112

Available 24 hours a day, every day.

112 is the single European emergency telephone number, available throughout the European Union. Calls are free of charge.

  • Saúde 24 (Health 24) Line - 808 24 24 24 24

For clinical contact, available 24 hours a day, every day. For administrative contact (not clinical), from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day.

The Saúde 24 Line provides triage, counselling and referral in situations of illness. The cost of the call is that of a call to the landline network.

To know when to call the Saúde 24 Line or the INEM, consult the SNS24 portal.

Consult other contacts on the useful lines page of the ePortugal portal.