Health Insurance for Expatriates in Portugal

Health Insurance for Expatriates in Portugal

Welcome to our country guide page providing economic, healthcare and health insurance information to expatriates living in Portugal. Portugal is the southern most European country on the Iberian Peninsula and borders Spain and the Atlantic Sea.



Much of Portugal's history and culture, including national dishes of sardines and cod, comes from the country's association with the sea. Architecture dating back to the 1500s can be found in Portugal and the country has several areas popular with tourists and expatriates alike, including The Algarve region in the south. More country information on Portugal can be found here.

Portugal in numbers

Area 92,212 km sq. 
Population (total) 10.46 million*
Expat population 192,400**
Life expectancy 80.37 years *

* The World Bank
**Finaccord Market Report 2013 – Global Expatriates

Healthcare Provision
In 2000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Portugal as 12th in the world for quality of healthcare (see full list here) indicating a very high standard of healthcare overall. According to the WHO, total expenditure on health per capita in 2013 was US$2,508, equating to 9.7% of GDP. More detailed statistics on healthcare in Portugal can be found here.

Private Health Insurance for Expatriates in Portugal

Expatriates looking to live or spend extended time in Portugal can find the country's healthcare system challenging, although many doctors and other health sector staff speak at least two languages – more often than not Portuguese and English. Both public and private healthcare – via private health insurance - options are available for expatriates in Portugal. Accessing private healthcare has become increasingly popular as expatriates look to navigate away from the frustrations and limitations of the public system.

All the major global health insurers as well as many local companies are active in Portugal. Expatriates looking to take out private cover should check their policy provides access to the higher tier of private hospital in the country. And those who are likely to be travelling extensively or may move to a different country in the future should consider international private medical insurance rather than a local plan.

As in many parts of the world, expatriates with private medical cover in place will tend to experience shorter waiting times, better facilities and more attentive medical care.

Public healthcare facilities in Portugal

Treatment for medical emergencies in Portugal are free to all legal residents, but for certain conditions and treatments care will be limited and there may be a cost. EU nationals are entitled to consultations with GPs and basic vaccinations free of charge. Non EU nationals may have to pay unless there is a reciprocal agreement in place between their home country and Portugal. For European country reciprocal agreements for UK nationals check this out - other countries will have similar agreements in place.

Hospital and other Medical Facilities in Portugal

Many expatriates buy international health insurance plans when living in Portugal to provide additional flexibility of care and to attend some of the best facilities in the region. Private facilities are becoming more numerous in Portugal. The following five hospitals are good examples of what's available for expatriates with private health cover:

• AMI Hospital Privado de Guimarães -
• British Hospital Lisbon XXI -
• Hospital da Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa -
• Casa de Saúde de Amares, Lda -
• HPP Hospital de Santa Maria de Faro -

For more comprehensive information on the medical facilities in Portugal, click here.

Important health information before you go to Portugal

Medical provision in Portugal is of the high standard expected of a European country. Overall, Portugal does not have any major health risks but it is important to know the situation before you travel there. Every country has its own health issues, endemic diseases and unique problems, so pre-travel checks with your doctor is advised at least 4- 6 weeks before travel in case any vaccinations or preventive measures are needed.

For the latest information on travelling to Portugal including vaccinations look here.

Blood supply is considered safe in Portugal and many health centres have screening facilities. Despite this expats should take out a healthcare plan including, for UK expats, membership of the Blood Care Foundation. Other countries have similar organisations for their expats and travellers.

Prescription drugs

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are readily available in other countries may be considered to be controlled substances in Portugal. Many also have different names to those used in an expatriate's country of origin. This website is an excellent research source for the names of international drugs in Portugal. Alternatively, if you hold a valid international health insurance plan, your insurer should be able to offer advice before you go.

Health checks and Special Healthcare Needs

Before leaving home, a thorough health check is advisable to detect any potential problems that may need to be treated while you are in Portugal. If you or a family member has an existing or special health condition, you will need to determine whether this can be adequately treated in Portugal. Your embassy may be able to advise you (for a comprehensive list of consulates and embassies in Portugal please click here) or you can check with your international health insurance company.

Useful Links

For those looking for more detail on health insurance and healthcare for expatriates in Portugal, a number of additional reading sites are available:
WHO statistical information
Important contact numbers
Angloinfo – global expat network
Expatica Portugal

If you are an expatriate looking for health insurance in Portugal, click here to create your own tailored international health insurance cover.