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As a long term student in Portugal, you will typically be eligible to access subsidized state healthcare. The Portuguese healthcare system incorporates both public and private healthcare services and the standard of healthcare in Portugal is high.

Eligibility for the Portuguese healthcare system is based on being a legal resident. This means that healthcare in Portugal for expats is available for those who are legal residents of Portugal.

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For a short stay, before arrival, you should arrange some kind of medical coverage. European Union students can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that allows you to go to the hospital in Lisbon. 

For longer stays, you can register in the Portuguese Healthcare system. To do so, you first need to register with Portuguese Social Security (Seguranca Social) to get your NIF number. 

Once your social security arrangements are in place, you can register at your local Portuguese health center (centros de saude). You will need to take along a few items, such as:

  • your social security card

  • your passport or national ID card

  • Portuguese residence permit

Once you have registered for public healthcare in Portugal you will receive your cartao do utente (healthcare card), which should be used to show your eligibility every time you access Portuguese healthcare services.


People that register at a local health center can access hospital services at a discount, and sometimes even free. You should bring your healthcare card with you.


You will be always accepted in a public hospital in the event of an emergency regardless of your insurance status. However, for non-urgent consultations, the waiting lines are usually long, so it might be faster to go to a private consultation instead. 

Located within the new Nova SBE campus in Carcavelos, the CUF clinic serves the Nova SBE community and people living or working near the campus. CUF Nova SBE Clinic's services include consultations in different specialities with a particular focus on general and family medicine, sports medicine, dentistry, psychology and nutrition, in addition to laboratory tests and nursing treatments.


There are numerous health centers (centros de saude) all over Portugal, where you typically start any process for seeking treatment. Health centers are where most doctors in Portugal are based; in fact, this is where you have to first register for public healthcare in Portugal. Most health centers in Portugal are open from 8am to 8pm and various health professionals run these. As well as doctor/GP services, you can find maternity and childcare services, basic non-life threatening emergency care, and sometimes dental services.


You can find pharmacies (farmacia) in Portugal in town centers and shopping malls. General opening hours for pharmacies in Portugal are from 9am to 7pm on weekdays (with a lunch break between 1pm and 3pm) and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

There are duty pharmacies (farmacio de servico) which stay open out-of-hours for emergency situations. In any pharmacy, you can find a list of pharmacies providing 24/7 services. However, you can also find a list on the SNS website, along with details of community pharmacies.

Public health insurance in Portugal generally covers some of the costs towards prescription drugs, however, you usually need to contribute a payment.

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