i. Hospitals and consultations in Lisbon

ii. Health Insurances

iii. Pharmacies

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i. Hospitals and consultations in Lisbon

Chances are you will not need to step into a hospital during your stay here. However, if you do, there are few things to keep in mind. The Portuguese health system is not complicated, but you may have some difficulty finding all the information bits you need in English, so this is what you need to know. 
The Portuguese health system works with a combination of public and private health services. You don't need health insurance to be accepted in the emergency room, but you will need it for consultations in the public hospitals.
Regarding health insurance, you can either sign up for the Portuguese Health System, or have some arrangement prior to your arrival (hire a private insurance, ask for an European Health Card, for example).  Check the section 'Health Insurance' for more info about this.

a. Emergencies

  • In the event of an emergency, you will always be accepted in a public hospital, regardless of you having any kind of health card.
  • Upon arrival, you will be given a bracelet of a different color (blue, green, yellow, orange, red) depending on the gravity of the issue.
  • Both emergency attendance and the complementary diagnosis exams  (i.e. X-rays, ecographies, blood tests) are paid.

b. Consultations

Even for people registered in the Social Security system or EHC holders, medical consultations (and medical tests) are paid for. Prices range from 5€ on a public consultation, to 80€ or more for private specialized practice like dentists

Price, however, is often counter-balanced by the fact that non-urgent consultations in the National health service,  have long waiting lists (1+ month sometimes), particularly for specialists (i.e. dentist, oculist, etc).

To sum it up: to use the public hospitals is cheaper, but it takes longer.

Because of this, people turn to private centers for consultations.

Many private hospitals & medical clinics have their prices online, and it is also possible to book an appointment online or have an estimate of the waiting list. The same is also possible if you have a SNS number through mySNS.


Private Hospitals in Lisbon:

Public hospitals

  • Hospital S. José (Martim Moniz, open 24h)
  • Hospital Dona Estefânia (Anjos, open 24h)
  • Hospital Curry Cabral (Campo Pequeno)

ii. Health insurances

If you are coming to Portugal for a stay longer than a few days, you should have some kind of personal medical coverage, be it public or private. Some exchange programs may already provide you with a medical insurance. European Union citizens are entitled to ask for a European Health Card. Students from other countries should check with their university and Health autorities to figure out the best options regarding healthcare.


a. Medical coverage & insurance

  • European Union citizens or permanent residents: The easiest option if you are on your country's national healthcare system is to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. Applying for this card is normally free, and it should cover the time of your non-permanent stay. If you are from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can also request an EHIC. Remember that this card is only valid for public hospitals and health centers. More information here.


    • If you are not from a European Union country: check your Goverment's Healthcare site or ask in the nearest health center for info on any agreements for medical coverage in Portugal.
    • There are also many private health insurance options available in the market. Check if your sending university offers some insurance package for students (normally they have reduced fares.) If you are currently insured, check if your company offers overseas medical coverage. Some study abroad programs will include insurance with medical costs included in Portuguese consultations they have an agreement with.

    Whatever your situation is, make sure you know about your insurance status is before coming to Portugal!

    b. Portuguese Health System

    The public health system in Portugal is universal but it is paid for. However, you can get discounts on the medical and examination fees if you have a European Health Card, you have been living in Lisbon for over 90 days or you join the Portuguese Social Security system.

    • European Card Holders: you have the right to receive the same medical treatments as a national. Because medical fees in Portugal are paid for, it may be possible for you to ask your country for a reimbursement after (check your country's policy on this).


    • Foreigners without EHC: If you have been living in Portugal for over 90 days, you can ask at your closest Junta de Freguesia (local council) for a document certifying your residence status. You will need to get two Portuguese people living also in the Freguesia to sign the paper with you, as proof of this (you can ask your landlord or some Portuguese flatmates). After, you will be able to sign up in the closest health center in your area and will be given a Número de Utente (User number), so you will also have discounted medical fees.


    • Foreigners that start working in Portugal will automatically be signed up in the social security system, meaning you will qualify for medical coverage in public hospitals as well. You company may also have arrangements with private clinics. In any case they should inform you about it.

    You can find more information

    Important: Scheduled medical appointments in the public Portuguese system take a long time because of the large waiting lists (+1 month or more). This means, in practice, that if you have a non-urgent medical issue or you have to see a specialist, the fastest solution is often to go to a private consultation (sorry!). However, it is still good to get a European Health Card if you can, because you will pay less if you go to the public emergency room and for medicines.



    iii. Pharmacies

    Pharmacies are spread all around the city. Some of them are open 24h, and some of them have an extended schedule, so they are open until 9PM. The rest may have variable schedules, but the non-24h take turns to open at night also. Things to know:

    • All medicines in Portugal are paid for, even for social security and European Health Card holders.
    • However, if you are an European Health Card holder and you have a prescription, you will only pay part of the price in some medicines.
    • Pharmacies in Portugal won’t sell antibiotics or some types of sleeping pills without a recent prescription.
    • Pharmacies may charge a night service fee.

    Check what Pharmacies are currently open in Lisbon (city) in this list: