The Portuguese health system is the 12th  best performing in the world and the 9th  in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

All resident citizens have access to healthcare provided by the public National Health Service across the country, including the full range of services across the continuum of care, from prevention and primary care, to acute and emergency services and rehabilitation. National hospitals and local health centres cover the whole country as well as private institutions, with modern and well-equipped health units.

If you are working in Portugal, you should automatically be registered in the social security system in Portugal by your employer, after which you can get health insurance in Portugal. Self-employed people, however, will need to register with the Social Security Institute (Instituto da Solidariedade e da Segurança Social) themselves before applying for public health insurance in Portugal.

Once you are registered, you then need to visit your local health centre (centro de saúde), where you’ll be assigned to a doctor. When registering at the health centre, you’ll need to take your social security card and passport and residence permit. You’ll then be given a temporary registration certificate, before being sent a healthcare card (cartão do utente), which you should carry at all times and which allows you to receive discounted healthcare. It is as simple as that.

Here you will find more information about this topic and the whole process.


Even though the access to the Portuguese Public Health System is for free if you are living in Portugal and contributing to the national social security, you also have the option of acquiring a private health insurance, in case you prefer.

Private health insurance in Portugal is widely available from both well-known international private insurers and local private insurance companies. You should ask them for a proposal and then compare them to see which one  better suits your needs. Prices will mainly vary depending on the level of coverage of the insurance. Here you can find further tips on what to check before choosing a private insurance company.