In terms of the Portuguese Constitution, every resident who has lived in the country for more than 90 days has the right to medical assistance and treatment from the state. That includes non-citizens (foreigners).

You can only exercise this right if you are in possession of a DOCUMENTO DE IDENTIFICAÇÃO DO UTENTE, which certifies that you have been allocated a health number. Your health number entitles you to treatment at health centres and state hospitals and to purchase medicine (against prescriptions), at subsidised rates. You also need a health number when you exchange or renew your driver’s licence.

Contrary to the info on the Portuguese Citizen’s Portal website, Lojas do Cidadão (Citizens’ Bureaus/Shops) do not generally issue health numbers, as is the case in Cascais, although I do believe the one in Lisbon does. So, a Centro de Saúde (health centre) it is. In Cascais, the Centro de Saúde is next to the municipal market (8, Rua Padre Moisés da Silva)

When Hans (my husband) and I got his number at the health centre in Cascais recently, the process was smooth and efficient – the bureaucrat, a female of the species, even smiled. It took all of 15 minutes.

When you get there, take the obligatory queue number (senha) from the dispenser on your right as you enter the main atrium on the ground floor. When your number gets flagged (the screen was not functional when we were there), move to the service counter at the bottom left hand corner of the open space area.

Here is what you need:

  • Passport
  • NIF (fiscal) Number
  • Permanent residence card/proof of residence issued by the Junta de Freguesia (Town Council).

The health number comes at no cost. The days of a plastic card are over. All you get is a piece of paper that you need to look after for dear life.

Make sure you get your health number before renewing your driver’s license.

Good luck

Tags: Centro de saúde | Citizen shop | health number | Junta de Freguesia | Número de utente

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