Travel to Portugal

1/05/2013 -- Admin
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Fado singers, sandy beaches, sardines, swimming, The Algarve, golfing, seafood, time shares, Fatima, vinho verde, custard tart, pottery, Madeira, cork, festivals, port, Lisbon, scuba diving, Belem Tower, walking, hiking, canyoning, horse riding, churches, salted cod, The Azores …

Medical and Health Advice

Documents needed:  EHIC and passport.

Doctors and Dentists

Doctors:  If you’re taken unwell on holiday in Portugal, you can use your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for free or reduced cost treatment at one of the public health centres/clinics (Centro de Saúde). Open during working hours on weekdays.

There’s a small charge for a doctor’s consultation, ditto for prescriptions.  Waiting times can be long, especially in busy resorts in high season.

Dentists:  You can use your EHIC - formerly known as the E111 Form - for basic dental care and extractions carried out at health centres.  Hospitals have dentists attached to them for serious cases.

Most dentists work in the private sector so it’s likely that you'll have to pay for treatment.  Charges aren’t refundable with the EHIC.

Hospital Treatment and Ambulance Costs

Larger hospitals on the Portuguese mainland run 24-hour accident and emergency services – Permanent Attendance Service or Serviço Atendimento Permanente (SAP).  

Madeira has good medical facilities (many privately run), but health services are limited in The Azores.

The EU medical card doesn’t cover the cost of private hospital treatment – you’ll need to take out comprehensive travel insurance for that.

Even with the EHIC the Portuguese national health service now charge a basic consultation fee for emergency treatment and for extras such as lab tests and x-rays.

Ambulance:  There’s usually a charge, depending on distance.  Some transportation is run by the Fire Dept. so you can’t always rely on expert medical help on the spot.


For some prescribed medicines, you'll have to pay full cost at the pharmacy (farmacia), for others, 40-70% of the price with the EHIC.

The European Health Insurance Card isn’t the same as travel insurance.  See What Can Go Wrong if in doubt about whether you need travel insurance for Portugal.


NHS Choices Portugal Guide

Foreign Office Travel Advice