Ask Afpop – Portuguese State Healthcare

As a resident in Portugal, you are automatically entitled to state healthcare, however the procedure to apply for the state healthcare number (Número de Utente) varies according to your age and work situation. If you are employed in Portugal or are self-employed, you are obliged to register with the Social Security (Segurança Social) and start to make contributions as well. For people who have retired to Portugal, the procedure is different according to whether you receive a State pension from the UK or not.

State pensioners
Among the EU countries and also the UK, there is an agreement for people who are retired and receiving a state pension, that they will be covered under the state healthcare system in any EU country where they may be resident.

Pensioners with retirement, invalidity or another type of state pension from the UK are obliged to obtain a document called an S1, which confirms that they are in receipt of a state pension. The S1 form is very simply obtained by applying to the UK pension service.

When you have received your S1, you must register it at your local Social Security office in Portugal and apply for a Social Security number. Make sure to take your passport, fiscal number and Residency Card as well. The Social Security number will be sent to you by post.

UK citizens who are residents in Portugal but who are not receiving a state pension and not working or self-employed in Portugal are also entitled to have state healthcare cover. An inscription in the Portuguese Social Security is not required.

State Healthcare Number (Nº de Utente)
The application for the state healthcare number is done in your local health centre (Centro de Saúde). The Portuguese Health Service will issue an A4 paper certificate, which gives you the right to treatment by the Portuguese National Health and, in most circumstances, to discounts on medicines. You will need to present the following documents:
▪ Your Passport and Residence Card
▪ Social Security Number (if applicable)
▪ Portuguese fiscal number

You will automatically be allocated a family doctor (when one is available) and will be able to book appointments to see him/her. If you are on a waiting list for a family doctor, you will be able to book appointments meanwhile with any doctor that is available on certain days.

In Portugal, the state healthcare is not completely free as there are small user fees (taxa moderadora) for almost everything. A consultation with a GP, for instance, has a cost of €5 and a visit to the emergency room around €15. There are also user fees for blood tests, scans, x-rays and small surgeries. Also, medicines are not free, but they do have specific discounts.

Certain medical conditions may give you exemption of user fee payments but that has to be applied for specifically.

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