If you plan to spend some time in Portugal, you should brush up on your knowledge of healthcare in Portugal.

Portugal’s Public Healthcare System

Portugal has universal health coverage through its publically financed public healthcare system called the Serviço Nacional de Saúde or SNS. Basic national health coverage is administered through local and regional health centers and hospitals in the public healthcare system. National health coverage is comprehensive, including all medical care apart from dental care costs. This service is available to all citizens and legal residents of Portugal.

Healthcare in Portugal’s national health system is free for children under 18 and people over 65. For everyone else, state healthcare provides subsidized medical costs and is available through the SNS at a low rate. Medication administered during a hospital procedure by the hospital is free, and urgent care is usually free too.


How good is the Portuguese healthcare system?

The public healthcare system in Portugal and the private system in the country are very good, and if you are a Portuguese resident, medical fees are minimal.

Portugal ranks 25th in the 2023 Health Care Index by Numbeo, meaning that it has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Healthcare in Portugal is under a hybrid system with excellent public and private services.

The World Index of Healthcare Innovation 2022 has listed Portugal 22nd in their rankings, taking into account quality, choice, science & technology, and fiscal sustainability. The emergency services in Portugal are also noted for their rapid response times.


Emergency Situations: Where to Go if You Need Urgent Healthcare in Portugal

You can visit your nearest health center for medical assistance if you need healthcare in Portugal. You should go to the emergency room at your nearest hospital for emergencies. If you require assistance, phone the European Emergency Number: 112. This number is directed to the ambulance, police, and fire services.

You can also call the SNS (public health services) information hotline: 808242424, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is available in English and is free of charge.


Portugal Visa Applicants and Health Insurance Requirements

Golden Visa Portugal healthcare: Health insurance in Portugal requirements

Applicants of the Portugal Golden Visa scheme who travel to Portugal before obtaining the Golden Visa will need travel insurance from their country of origin. Travel insurance documents should state that coverage is valid and renewable in Portugal.

Once applicants receive their Golden Visa, they are eligible for the Portugal National Health Service (SNS). However, they must first register with the SNS to benefit from its services. Note that dental costs are not covered.

Portugal Golden Visa recipients can also opt for private health insurance. This offers access to private practitioners and clinics, which traditionally provide faster treatment than public health insurance. Allianz and Cigna Global are two of Portugal’s most recognized private insurance companies.

If you are interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, the program is coming to a close, and you should begin your application now. You can read more about this in our article: Portugal Golden Visa Ending: Everything We Know So Far.

D7 Portugal healthcare: Health insurance requirements

The D7 Visa requires applicants to purchase travel insurance in their home country, which provides health coverage for one year. Proof of this coverage will be requested along with other required documents when applying for the D7 Visa. The same is also needed for the Entrepreneurship Visa.

If the initial application is approved in your country of origin, a four-month visa for Portugal will be issued to applicants. Applicants will then have to present themselves to the Portuguese immigration authorities (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras; SEF) within this time period. Their travel insurance will cover applicants until the D7 residence permit is formally issued. Following a successful appointment with SEF, the applicant will be granted a D7 residence permit (lasting two years).

Once the applicant receives the D7 Residence Permit, they can access public healthcare. Remember that you must register with SNS to benefit from its services. D7 Visa holders can also purchase private health insurance.


Portugal’s Private Healthcare Options

Private doctors and healthcare facilities are widely available through private insurance. Improvements to the healthcare system were made by introducing public-private partnerships for new hospitals, changing hospital management structures, pharmaceutical reforms, reorganizing primary care, and creating long-term care networks.

Virtually all doctors in the public healthcare system and private healthcare system speak English. Private insurance does give you an edge when it comes to getting an appointment more quickly than if you access public healthcare.


Are you entitled to Portuguese healthcare?

The Portuguese state healthcare system is very similar to other countries like the UK, providing hospitals and local health centers.

Note that to access public healthcare, everyone must pay a small fee for consultations and tests. Emergency care is free, but all other services incur a change, sometimes due immediately. Everyone can receive hospital care, but you will be charged if the Portuguese national health services, a reciprocal agreement, or private health insurance do not cover you.


Healthcare for Short-term Residents and Visitors to Portugal

Short-stay visitors with a Schengen visa must have a minimum health insurance coverage of at least €30,000 to enter Portugal.

You can access travel insurance through companies such as:

You can access Schengen Zone insurance at:

Applicants for temporary visas are required by law to have health insurance, which can be obtained in their current country of residence.

International health insurance for expats is available through:

Non-EU/EEA students must also have full health insurance coverage to obtain their visas and enroll in schools in Portugal.


Healthcare in Portugal for Short-term Working Residents

If you’re a working resident of Portugal, you are paying contributions to Portugal’s Social Security system. You can obtain a Numero de Utente and will be assigned a GP.

Suppose you are not a permanent resident but have been in Portugal for at least 90 days. In that case, you can obtain a document stating this from the local Junta de Freguesia and use this document, a photo ID, IRS number, and proof of address to obtain a Numero de Utente, allowing access to the Portuguese national health services at a discount.

Government-funded subsystems cover public employees. There are also private subsystems similar to employer-provided health insurance for employees of companies such as banks and larger corporations. However, this type of coverage is uncommon, and most pay for private health insurance themselves.


Healthcare in Portugal for Non-Habitual Tax Residents

Many people are signed up for Portugal’s non-habitual resident (NHR) tax regime. The scheme was launched to encourage investors and professionals of high cultural and economic worth to move to Portugal. First implemented in 2009, there are now over 10,000 NHR residents in Portugal.

Non-habitual residents who are contributing to Portugal’s social security system are eligible to use the public Portuguese health service, whereas those who are not will have to invest in private healthcare.


Healthcare in Portugal for Foreigners: EU Citizens

Visiting EU citizens are covered by Portugal’s SNS through reciprocal agreements. When traveling to Portugal, they should bring their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) and present it to any hospital or doctor to guarantee government-funded care.

There are also many private health clinics all over Portugal, which are relatively inexpensive. You can expect to pay around €40 for an appointment with a general practitioner.


Healthcare in Portugal for Foreigners: Long-term Residents

Those living and working in Portugal who are not covered by reciprocal agreements with their home countries have two options. Legal residents can either pay into the social security system, which is incremental in relation to income, or opt for one of the many private health insurance plans.


Pharmacies and Medication in Portugal

Pharmacies and medication in Portugal

Pharmacies, known in Portuguese as farmácias, are widely distributed throughout Portugal. Many medicines, including over-the-counter medication, are subsidized if obtained with a prescription, which makes them very cost-effective.


Is there a language barrier regarding healthcare in Portugal for foreigners?

Portugal has a history of dealing positively with immigrants in terms of healthcare, and many medical professionals are sensitive to language barriers. Additionally, virtually all doctors in the public health care system and private system speak English.


Mental Health Services in Portugal

Mental healthcare services in Portugal are provided through mental health teams that work in hospitals and health centers. Studies have shown that around one in five Portuguese people have experienced mental health problems.

While mental health is an issue in Portugal, the mental healthcare system and the provision of mental healthcare are not as developed as in many other countries. There are only 12.4 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants, less than the EU average.

Your GP should be your first point of contact to access mental healthcare services through the SNS. Depending on your situation and the service availability where you are living, your GP can:

  • Prescribe medication
  • Refer you to counseling or a specialist
  • Refer you to an emergency or psychiatric unit in more serious circumstances
  • Refer you to a community-based program

The SNS only provides some basic mental health assistance. To access a wider range of services, it is best to have private health insurance.


Portuguese Healthcare Services for Women

Hospitals, health centers, and clinics all deliver Portuguese healthcare services for women. The national health system covers maternity and childcare services, and expectant mothers generally receive care at a public hospital close to home. Private healthcare is also an option if the expectant mother has health insurance.

Prenatal care takes place at the hospital. During the initial appointment, the mother-to-be receives a Pregnancy Booklet, where her doctor will record the ongoing medical information as the pregnancy progresses. Maternity wards offer prenatal classes, although they are not generally subsidized through public health insurance. Midwives are on hand to help with the birth.

You can access gynecologists through your GP. Gynecologists work at health centers and clinics, provide health advice, and perform routine examinations.


Healthcare Service for Children in Portugal

Children can access public healthcare in Portugal for free. Children have regular health checks from birth and can access healthcare services such as screenings, examinations, vaccinations, and nutritional healthcare. They will also have a record that charts their progress.

Portgual has a national vaccination system through the SNS, vaccinating for diseases like Hepatitis B, Diptheria, Covid-19, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.

Frequently Asked Questions about Portugal Healthcare for Foreigners

How good is Portuguese healthcare?

The Portuguese healthcare system is ranked amongst the highest in the world and has only improved over the past decade. 

The system ranks higher than the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Italy regarding patient rights, accessibility, information, waiting times, and overall health outcomes. Note that in some cases, as with many healthcare systems, the public system may have longer waiting lists than private healthcare.

Is healthcare free in Portugal?

When it comes to Portugal’s healthcare costs, the national healthcare service in Portugal, the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), is entirely free for children under 18 and over 65s. SNS provides reduced medical fees. Expats can access the SNS by making social security contributions. Private healthcare will cost you, although, compared with other Western European countries, is quite affordable.

Are you entitled to Portuguese healthcare?

Expats who reside in Portugal and make the necessary social security contributions are entitled to access the Portuguese healthcare system.

Do healthcare professionals in Portugal speak English?

When it comes to Portuguese healthcare for expats, the vast majority of healthcare professionals speak English in Portugal.

Following my Golden Visa or D7 Visa application, when can I start using the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS)?

As soon as your Golden Visa or D7 Visa is approved, expats can use public healthcare services. However, you must first register with the SNS to benefit from the national healthcare system.

Do I need private insurance if I move to Portugal under the Golden Visa or the D7 Visa?

As an expat living in Portugal under the Golden or the D7 Visa, you can benefit from Portugal’s public healthcare system once registered. The national healthcare system is very good. However, expats are welcome to purchase a private insurance policy if they require or wish to have extra coverage. Private healthcare is widespread across Portugal.

Is healthcare in Lisbon, Portugal, affordable?

If you are a resident of Portugal, then you will have access to the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and will only have to pay a small fee. Compared to many other countries in Western Europe, the Portuguese healthcare system is considered very affordable and of a high standard. Private medical insurance is also an option, where you will have access to private hospitals. 

You will also find that private healthcare is quite affordable when compared with other Western European countries and healthcare in the USA. Also, doctors and practitioners in private healthcare services and private hospitals will have a very good level of English. With this said, as a resident that can access public healthcare, you should also be in safe hands, and English is also widely spoken in public healthcare services.

What is healthcare like in Madeira, Portugal?

Madeira has three major public hospitals. Public healthcare in Portugal is both affordable and very good. If you are a Portuguese resident, you will have access to the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) in return for a small fee. You will also find excellent private services if you want to go down this route.

Where does Portugal rank in healthcare?

Portugal ranks 25th in the 2023 Health Care Index by Numbeo, meaning that it has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Healthcare in Portugal is under a hybrid system with excellent public and private services. Private healthcare is relatively affordable compared with other Western European countries.

The World Index of Healthcare Innovation 2022 has listed Portugal 22nd in their rankings, taking into account quality, choice, science & technology, and fiscal sustainability. The emergency services in Portugal are also noted for their rapid response times.

Both the public healthcare system and private healthcare are very good in Portugal. If you are a resident of Portugal, medical costs are minimal.

Which EU country has the best healthcare?

Switzerland, Luxemburg, and Germany are often considered to have excellent healthcare. Portugal’s healthcare system is also very good. You can find out more about Portugal’s healthcare on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) here.  

Is there Portugal healthcare for tourists?

The Portugal healthcare system does not offer free medical treatment for tourists and visitors and requires non-EU citizens to have medical insurance covering emergency medical treatment. UK citizens can use their UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) following the UK’s departure from the EU.