How will brexit affect healthcare in Portugal?

How will Brexit affect healthcare in Portugal? / Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
How will Brexit affect healthcare in Portugal? / Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
5 March 2020, Emma Donaldson

Will I still be able to access healthcare in Portugal after Brexit? This is a question asked by many British citizens in the wake of the Brexit deadline, both by tourists and expat residents in Portugal. In the uncertainty of the Brexit deal, the Portuguese government have made it clear they are ready to support British citizens in Portugal and protect their rights. The Portuguese Interior Minister, Eduardo Cabrita has stated, “The British are welcome in Portugal as residents, as tourists, as investors, as students. We hope they will continue to come and stay in Portugal.” Therefore, there’s certainly no need to panic; let’s have a look at all you need to know about continuing to receive healthcare in Portugal as a British citizen.

Healthcare for British tourists in Portugal

For the moment, if you are a British tourist visiting Portugal temporarily or on a short visit, then you will still be able to access public healthcare in Portugal with your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will be the case until the end of December 2020. What happens in 2021 and beyond, however, will be decided in the Brexit negotiations that will take place throughout this year. The UK government said it is "seeking agreements with countries on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals". Ihe Portuguese government has also stated, reported in a recent publication in the Guardian, that the country is considering offering British tourists subsidised post-Brexit healthcare in an effort to retain their custom in the Algarve, Lisbon and beyond.

Healthcare for British expats living in Portugal

The National Health Service of Portugal (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) is available to British citizens but in order to avoid problems and full take advantage, it is advisable to become an official resident in Portugal if you haven’t yet done so. As an expat, you must arrange for a Portuguese número de contribuinte, the equivalent of a Social Security Number, at your local Finanças office. One you receive your residence permit, then all you need to do is go to your nearest Health Center to apply for a User’s Card with a Número Utente. This will then give you unquestioned access to the state medical system.

For more information, consult the British government’s guide on healthcare in Portugal. One of the main things to remember despite Brexit is that Portugal is well and truly open to Brits: it may not get the attention that Spain does as a destination for expats, but there are said to be up to 40,000 UK citizens registered as permanent residents in Portugal and on the other hand, about 300,000 Portuguese living in the UK. There is still an element of uncertainty but keep in mind that until the end of December 2020, nothing will change. You can keep up to date with all the Brexit news and latest developments affecting expats on idealista.

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