Medical Services in Portugal

How to go about making sure you have the medical services you need in Portugal…

Emergency care

In the event of an emergency, call 112 to reach emergency services such as medical, fire and police. Anyone with a health emergency should go to their closest hospital.

Doctors and health centres

Under the Portuguese healthcare system, patients are assigned a general practitioner/family doctor (medico de familia) at their local health centre. Patients pay a small contribution at each visit.

Either the medical card or the Numéro Utente should be taken when registering at a health centre (Centro de Saude). One of these should also be presented if visiting a doctor other than the assigned physician.

A referral from a GP is required in order to see a specialist/consultant. In certain cases, the physician requests an appointment with a specialist and the appointment information is then mailed to the patient via the National Health System. For X-rays, analysis and certain other tests, the doctor writes a prescription which the patient takes with them to the appropriate facility. Under the Portuguese healthcare system, the patient pays a percentage of the test costs.

There are English-speaking general practitioners, dentists and opticians in most large cities.


A list of pharmacies with information about their opening hours can be found on the Association of National Pharmacies (Associação Nacional Farmácias) website.

  • To find a local pharmacy open the pharmacy locator on the National Pharmacy Association website. Select a date (data), region (distrito), town (concelho) and municipality (freguesia)

If a pharmacy is closed, details of the closest open pharmacy and pharmacies open 24 hours will be posted on its door. The majority of pharmacies are managed by qualified chemists meaning many medicines can be obtained with the pharmacist’s advice and without a prescription.

Under the Social Security scheme, a small percentage of the cost of medicines is paid by the patient. Most pharmacies temporarily absorb the cost if the person is unable to afford the medicine. This is called venda suspensa (suspended sale).