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Health Emergencies for Expats in Portugal

Submitted: August 2014

In an emergency, dial 112 or go straight to a hospital. 112 is also the European emergency number, and calls to 112 are free. In general, calling 112 will not give you an ambulance unless there is a life-threatening emergency.

If you need to make a call but you can’t speak Portuguese, say it straightaway. In such situations, you might wish to be assisted by a Portuguese-speaker to handle the conversation. In any event, you must be able to describe the place where you are.

It is always advisable not to be alone at the hospital. Thus, you should call somebody to come with you to the hospital as soon as possible.


Calling 112

When calling 112, the 112 advisers may have to redirect your call to the Guidance Center of Emergency Patients (Centro de Orientação de Docentes Urgentes – CODU). Do not hang up unless you are told to do so.

The Portuguese authorities recommend that you be able to give the following information in a simple and clear manner:

The CODU helpline will then tell you the best course of action. If the emergency is not deemed serious enough, i.e. it is not life-threatening, the CODU may well advise you to get to your nearest hospital.


Saúde 24

For urgent but non-emergency matters, you might wish to call Saúde 24 at 808 242 424. Saúde 24 is Portugal’s 24-hour helpline, and it is run by the Ministry of Health. Calls to 808 242 424 are subject to the same costs as local calls.

Saúde 24 can be used for general health advice as well as for urgent health matters.


Cost of emergency treatment

Emergency care is not free in Portugal. Even if you are eligible for SNS healthcare benefits, going to the hospital emergency room can eventually cost you a co-payment of €9.

Ambulance costs may covered by the SNS, but only if a doctor can confirm there is a medical emergency.


24-hour pharmacies

There are pharmacies open during night time in Portugal. Information on such pharmacies should normally be available on the shop front of each pharmacy.


Travel advice

Many countries provide updated travel information to their citizens, and this often includes health advice. You should regularly check the Foreign Office website of your home country to see if there are any specific steps you need to make. Alternatively, you can go to your local embassy in Portugal.



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