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One of the important things to do when you move to Portugal is get your Utente number which is the number that entitles you to access the Portuguese NHS, or Servico Nacional de Saude, SNS. If you have residency, that is the main criteria for accessing this and getting a ‘Utente Number’ which is the equivalent of the UK NHS number. Depending on your situation, you might need to supply an S1, so it is best to check with your Foreign Office or embassy to make sure that you have everything you need.
How to get your Utente Number
Go to the closest ‘Saude’ to your residential address in Portugal to register. Make sure that it is the correct one where you should register because it works on geographical area, if you turn up to the wrong one they will probably send you away. Take along the following…
- Residency Certificate
- NIF number
- SS Number (if you have it)
- S1 (if you need it)
- Portuguese phone number
- Portuguese Dictionary or smartphone with Google Translate!
As an EU resident I went along with just my passport, NIF and residency certificate along with Portuguese phone number and proof of address to Saude Sete Rios in Lisbon. She asked me a few questions in Portuguese and I could figure out some of them but used Google translate for the rest. After checking all my documents she printed a piece of paper and stamped and signed it, which had my Utente number on.
I was encouraged to make an appointment straight away for an initial health check up, but there were a few language problems, so I decided to return and do this when I am more settled and speak better Portuguese. Apparently they like to check the basics (height, weight, blood pressure) when you register.
Is Portuguese Health Care Free?
Portuguese health care is not completely free – you may be asked to contribute to GP appointments, medication and treatment. But the costs won’t be as high as if you were going private. It may be a small contribution of say €5 for a doctors appointment.
Can I still get Private Healthcare?
Of course if you wish, you can still get private healthcare. This may be worth it particularly if you have pre-existing conditions and do not speak any Portuguese. It will reduce waiting times and give access to English speaking healthcare professionals (although some healthcare professionals in the Portuguese NHS do speak English).
I hope that this was helpful. The Portuguese healthcare system is among the best in the world and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.
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