Retirement in Portugal

A guide for people retiring to, or in, Portugal explaining the facilities available to expatriate retirees living in Portugal...

All non-employed residents must provide proof that they have an adequate income or financial resources to live in Portugal without working.

Pensions in Portugal

Pensions and benefits in Portugal are handled by Portuguese Social Security (Segurança Social).

People who have been resident employed and made pension payments in an EU-member country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland retain entitlement to pension and healthcare rights on moving to Portugal to retire.

Registering to get a pension

Residents of Portugal must make an application for the old-age pension in Portugal once the legal retirement age is reached. Where applicable, the Segurança Social forwards the pension application to the European countries where pension rights have been accumulated.

To obtain a pension in Portugal the applicant must be age 65 or older and must have made contributions for 15 years or more. In special situations, where contributions have been made for 30 years or more, the applicant can request the pension after the age of 55. Early pension at age 55 includes a large reduction in benefits.

Requests for pensions may be made at the Central District Offices of Social Security (Centro Distrital de Segurança Social) or online.

Driving Age and Licence Renewal (Revalidação da Carta de Condução)

All drivers aged 50 and over are obliged to renew their driving licences on a regular basis. Drivers with a standard licence from category A or B must renew it at ages 50, 60, 65, 70, and every two years thereafter. Obligatory renewals start at a younger age for licence holders driving heavy-duty or commercial vehicles (categories C, D, and E).

The renewal must be made during the six months prior to reaching the new age bracket. Renewals are handled by the IMTT (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes Terrestres) and the application can be made online or at a Citizen's Shop. Documents required include a medical certificate.

Health Care

EU nationals benefit from a reciprocal agreement with Portugal which includes them within the Segurança Social (Social Security) for healthcare. A resident can apply for a National Health Service "user card" (cartão de utente) at the local health centre (centro de saúde) producing a passport and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as evidence of nationality.

Any person receiving a state pension from an EU country is entitled to subsidised health treatment in Portugal including free emergency treatment.

A retiree who is not in receipt of a state pension or is a non-EU national requires private health insurance.

How to qualify for state benefits and aid

If entitled to social security health benefits in another EU country or in a country with a reciprocal health agreement with Portugal, free or reduced cost medical treatment is available in Portugal.

Non-EU nationals moving to Portugal do not qualify for the Portuguese public health system unless employed and paying for social security through automatic deductions from monthly pay cheques. Private health insurance is an option for those who do not qualify.

EU residents visiting Portugal must display the EHIC to benefit from State healthcare.

Top up/additional health care

Private health care is available through various companies within Portugal and also outside the country. These companies provide a range of services for associated fees.

Retirement homes and end-of-life care

Most retirement homes are operated and run by local parishes of the Catholic Church. There are also IPSS houses (Iniciativas dos Particulares - Equiparação a IPSS - Casas do Povo e Cooperativas de Solidariedade Social). These are homes for retirement age individuals, with rates based on the person's pension.

There are no government run retirement homes or facilities for end of life care. However many retirement homes are subsidised by the government. An example of this would be the Santa Casa da Misericórdias (Saint House of Mercies). One of its target groups includes elderly people at risk of exclusion.

Discounts and Deductions

Public transport

There is a 50 percent discount on train travel for retired people (those over 65 years of age). For retired people under 65 years of age, a request may be made to receive this discount when they provide proof of age.

Entertainment and venues

Discounts are usually available for most entertainment venues although this is not guaranteed. Museums and movie theatres in various locations offer seniors' discounts. Before visiting, consult the venue for their policy.

A Senior Card "Card 65" (Cartão Senior) can be ordered in parish councils, municipal councils, and branches of various banks. Once obtained, the cardholder receives a user's guide, which contains details of the shops and organisations that give discounts; these can range from 5 percent to 50 percent.

Social Clubs and Support Groups

There are numerous social clubs, organisations, and groups for a variety of activities and interests throughout the country. Many of these groups and associations have an online presence easily found by searching the Internet. The forums and blogs within these online communities can provide an opportunity to meet with other expatriates.

English-speaking meetings and support groups for AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) following the 12 Steps programme, drugs aid, cancer support meetings, AIDS, and more are available.