NHS 111 Wales - Travel Health (2023)

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Each country's health system is different and your care in Portugal might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

The healthcare system in Portugal is similar to the NHS in the UK. The Portuguese Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) is the equivalent of the UK's National Health Service, providing hospital and local health centre services.You should be treated in the same way a Portuguese citizen would. However, not all visits to doctors or hospitals will be free of charge.

Healthcare for UK visitors to Portugal

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return.

It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Help in emergencies

During your stay in Portugal,dial 112 in an emergency. This is the EU-wide emergency number, which you should call in a medical emergency.

It is free to call andyou can call from a mobile without a SIM card. The person taking your call should be able to speak to you in English.

You might want to save 112 in your phone before you travel.

If you need general medical advice in Portugal, you can call Saúde 24 (Health Line 24) on 808 24 24 24.

Health services and costs

State-provided healthcare in Portugal is generally free of charge, although there is a patient contribution, which varies depending on how you access the health service– for example, GP consultations cost less than a consultation at the accident and emergency (A&E) department of a hospital. X-rays, scans and other tests also require co-payment.

(Video) Becoming a NHS 111 health advisor

In some parts of the country, particularly in rural areas and the islands, you may have to travel some distance to find a state healthcare provider.

Doctors do not routinely make house calls. If you need a doctor in an emergency, call 112 or go to the nearest state health centre (centro de saúde) or the A&E department of the nearest state hospital.

Make sure you have a valid EHIC and ask for state-funded healthcare.

Some hospitals and health centres (centro de saúde) offer both private and state-provided healthcare, and it is up to you to inform them which service you require. They often may alsohave separate surgery times for private patients and those treated under the state system.

Generally, if you are asked to pay upfront, you are not being treated under the Portuguese health service and your EHIC will not be accepted.

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. They might reassure visitors that they can claim back whatever is paid out, but they are referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC.

Always get adequate travel health insurance before you travel, and make sure you can access funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Repatriation for medical treatment can be very expensive and is not covered by the EHIC.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises "If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment, you should contact your insurance medical assistance company immediately."

Dentists (médicos dentistas)

State healthcare is provided without charge, although state-funded dental care may not be available.

Hospitals (hospitais)

Just like in the UK, in Portugal you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Make sure you are referred to a public hospital as only these provide treatment free of charge. Again, even in a public hospital ensure you have a valid EHIC and double-check you are not treated as a private patient.

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You have the right to insist your EHIC is acceptedin public healthcare facilities. You do not have to provide travel insurance details unless you choose to do so.

Prescriptions (prescrições médicas)

Pharmacies (farmácia), identifiable by their green cross, are available throughout Portugal. They are usually open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm, and 3pm to 7pm. On weekends they are open from 9am to 1pm.

A list of pharmacies providing a 24-hour service is available from any regular pharmacy.

There is not one set prescription charge in Portugal–prescription medicines are subsidised from 15% to 90%, depending on their use and need. As a visitor, you will have to show your EHIC to benefit from these subsidies.

Bringing your medicines to Portugal

If you have a condition that requires you to bring your own medicines to Portugal, you should bring them in clearly labelled containers and have a letter from your GP stating what the medicines are and why you need them. If possible, have the letter translated into Portuguese, as this will also be useful in case you need to see a health professional during your stay.

If any of your medicines fall into the controlled drugs category, you need to comply with regulations on drugs exports in the UK. You should also contact your nearest Portuguese consulate.

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

The most common treatments or conditions that require advanced arrangements are listed below. For all other conditions or treatments, you should consult your doctor. Remember, you must present your EHICfor all treatments abroad.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases, you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You will also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also be additional costs thatthe EHIC will not cover.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK, but most suppliers can advise you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquide: call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for the north west
  • 0808 143 9993 for the East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for the south west

Baywater Healthcare: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, the West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580. For more information, visit the Baywater Healthcare website.

BOC: covers the east and north east of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.


Dolby Vivisol: covers the south of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Their website offers general advice about how to make travel arrangements, including advice on:

Make sure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.


You need to speak to the co-ordinator in your UK Dialysis Unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Portugal nearest to where you will be staying. The provision of dialysis will be subject to availability in Portugal.

The Renal Association lists all the renal units in the UK.

Ensure you make your arrangements according to your UK schedule. Also, there may be different guidance depending on what type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel.

The National Kidney Federation offers general advice about travelling with a kidney disease, as well as specific guidance for haemodialysis patients, peritoneal dialysis patients and guidelines for transplant patients.

Other specialist treatment

If you need to receive any other specialist treatment, such as chemotherapy or other prescriptions, you should make arrangements for this in advance of your trip.

Living in Portugal

If you move to Portugal long-term or plan to work in the country, you'll have to make sure to register with the Portuguese authorities. Once you are registered to work in Portugal and make National Insurance contributions, you'll be entitled to state-run healthcare on the same basis as a Portuguese national.

If you are a worker seconded to Portugal or the family member of someone making UK National Insurance contributions, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1–this will show thatNational Insurance contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1– this will give you and your family the same medical cover as Portuguese residents

Note: Ensure when you submit the forms that you mention relevant family members and dependants.

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

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  • Telephone: 0300 200 3506
  • Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
  • Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday - closed weekends and bank holidays

Once issued, register the S1 form with your local INSS (Portuguese Social Security) office before you register with your local GP practice.

For more information, visit Moving abroad.

Studying in Portugal

If you aremoving to Portugalto study or are currently studying in Portugal as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government.

Also read our advice on studying abroad.

Pensioners moving to Portugal

If you are living in Portugal and you receive a UK State Pension orany other benefit that can be paid to you when you move abroad (exportable benefit), you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You'll need to apply for form S1 (a certificate of entitlement) from the International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777.

Once issued, register the S1 form with your local Segurança Social (Social Security) office before you register with your local centro de saúde (health centre) and obtain a health system user's number (número de utente).

Once you have registered your S1 in Portugal, you will be entitled to apply for and use a UK-issued EHIC to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries outside Portugal, including when you return to the UK.

Early retirees in Portugal

As access to healthcare in Portugal is residence based, you are entitled to apply for a health user's ID number provided you are registered as a resident with your local town hall and have a residence certificate.

The rules on the use of residual S1 forms changed on July 12014. If you have been accessing healthcare using a residual S1, the changes will not affect you as your certificate will continue to be valid until its expiry date.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information on which UK and Portuguese benefits are available to Britons who live in Portugal.

Prescriptions for residents

Portugal uses a co-payment system where patients are required to pay a percentage of the cost of their prescription medication.

Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00

(Video) Wales' health minister on NHS backlog: 'Staff are on their knees' | ITV News


Is 111 online available in wales? ›

The service, which is run by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and can be accessed online at 111.wales.nhs.uk or by telephone by calling 111, will give people up-to-date health advice and guidance on which NHS service is right for them.

Does NHS 111 cover wales? ›

NHS 111 Wales is free to call from landlines and mobiles and combines the services previously offered by NHS Direct Wales and the GP Out of Hours service. The number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers guidance and care for non-emergency urgent medical problems.

How long is the wait for 111 wales? ›

Following assessment, those who need treatment should start to receive it within 56 days. The right to be seen within maximum waiting times does not apply: If you choose to wait longer.

How do I contact NHS Wales? ›

If you are feeling unwell but the problem is not a medical emergency, visit our online symptom checkers or call 111. For patients' safety, all calls are recorded. Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobiles.

Can you call 111 from abroad? ›

In England the system detects where you are and routes your call to the correct NHS service covering your area. In Scotland the service is run by a single organisation, NHS24. The 111 number works only when dialled from the UK. If you are calling from abroad on any type of phone, this number cannot be used.

How do you access NHS services in Wales if you are visiting from abroad? ›

Getting healthcare in Wales after 1 January 2021

provided you have registered and obtained settled or pre-settled status to be able to continue to live in the UK and access NHS services free of charge. If you do not register, you may be considered an overseas visitor and may be charged for NHS services.

Can you get a NHS health check in Wales? ›

Add to Your Life is a free NHS Wales health check. Answer questions about your lifestyle, health, future hopes and well-being, and you will receive suggestions on how to stay fit and make positive changes to your life. Man MOT is a free, confidential online health information service designed by and for men.

Can I go to an English hospital if I live in Wales? ›

English residents who are registered with a Welsh GP can choose whether to be treated in Wales or to receive the treatment at an English Hospital of their choice.

Is NHS free in Wales? ›

Most NHS services are free to everyone, but there may be charges for dental treatment or glasses and contact lenses. This factsheet focuses on the situation for people aged 60 and over.

How can I speed up my NHS waiting list? ›

You can do this by using the NHS e-Referral Service (the information comes up in a drop down menu called 'Services Near You') or by checking hospital websites – many update their waiting times at least weekly and it can be a good way to see which hospital has the capacity to see you sooner.

Can NHS 111 send an ambulance? ›

If needed, NHS 111 can book patients in to be seen at their local A&E / emergency department or an urgent treatment centre, emergency dental services, pharmacy or another more appropriate local service – as well as send an ambulance should the patient's condition be serious or life-threatening.

What is the maximum waiting time for NHS? ›

In such cases you are deemed to have chosen to wait longer than 18-weeks. By choosing to wait longer than 18-weeks you give up your right to treatment by an alternative provider.

Can you speak to the NHS online? ›

Use NHS 111 online (111.nhs.uk) or call 111 if you think you need medical help right now. We can direct you to the best place to get help if you cannot contact your GP during the day, or when your GP is closed (out-of-hours).

What is wales NHS direct number? ›

111 is a FREE to call number and instead of having to ring different numbers to contact NHS Direct Wales or GP out-of-hours, dialling 111 will give access to both services.

Does the NHS have customer service? ›

Patient engagement support

In addition to our customer care services, we also deliver a range of bespoke engagement support for members. Delivering a powerful patient listening forum to embed the patients' voices in service development.

How do I call NHS from outside UK? ›

How to access NHS services in England if you are visiting from abroad
  1. Call NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. ...
  2. Call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Can I call UK emergency services from abroad? ›

Calling from abroad +44 20 7230 1212.

Can you call UK emergency services from another country? ›

999 and 112

Only phone if it is an 'emergency' though. The other emergency number is 112, and the most important thing about this number is that it can be dialled from a mobile phone anywhere in the world.

Can an American use the NHS? ›

IMPORTANT: Anyone in the UK can receive treatment at an NHS facility, no matter their residency status. However, tourist visitors to the UK do not typically qualify for free NHS treatment. Any care beyond emergency treatment and certain other services will likely incur a fee.

Can foreigners use NHS in UK? ›

They are entitled to free NHS services, including NHS hospital care, except for services for which a UK ordinary resident must also pay, such as dentistry and prescriptions in England, and assisted conception services.

Can I access NHS from abroad? ›

If you're moving abroad on a permanent basis, you'll no longer automatically be entitled to medical treatment under normal NHS rules. This is because the NHS is a residence-based healthcare system. You'll have to notify your GP practice so you and your family can be removed from the NHS register.

Is it possible to use a NHS test for travel? ›

COVID-19 testing for the purposes of international travel is not available on the NHS. Testing for this reason is only available through private providers who must have self-declared that they meet the UK Government's minimum standards for the type of commercial COVID-19 testing service they offer.

Where can I get a full medical check in Wales? ›

View our clinics in Wales
  • Beaufort Park Hotel, Flintshire. Beaufort Park Hotel, Alltami Road, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 6RQ. ...
  • Holiday Inn – Cardiff City Centre. ...
  • Holiday Inn Express, Newport. ...
  • Mercure Swansea Hotel. ...
  • Ramada Plaza, Wrexham. ...
  • The Angel Hotel – Abergavenny. ...
  • The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno. ...
  • The Kinmel Hotel.

How much does a full health check cost UK? ›

The cost of a private health screening consultation without health insurance typically costs £200-£300 at a private hospital or clinic in the UK.

How long can you live abroad and still use the NHS? ›

6 months of the year in the UK and the rest of the time in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. 9 months of the year in the UK and the rest of the time in another country.

How is the NHS in Wales different to England? ›

Wales. As a devolved administration, Wales receives a grant from the UK central government which is then distributed between the different departments, including NHS Wales. The main difference for patients in Wales is that prescriptions for medicines are free for everyone.

Is Wales NHS same as England? ›

Responsibility for the NHS in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Government. This means that it is separate from the NHS in England.

Can I access my medical records online in Wales? ›

If you wish to access your own health record, a record on behalf of someone else or a person who is deceased, you will need to contact the Medical Records Department. The email address for this department is CTT_Medrecordrequest@wales.nhs.uk.

Is 111 available in England? ›

Use NHS 111 online (111.nhs.uk) or call 111 if you think you need medical help right now. We can direct you to the best place to get help if you cannot contact your GP during the day, or when your GP is closed (out-of-hours). Depending on what you need, you might be advised to: call 999 or go to A&E in an emergency.

How do I get an emergency prescription in Wales? ›

If you run out of your prescribed repeat medication and it is outside of your GP surgery's usual working hours (e.g. Monday to Friday 6.30pm to 8.00am, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays), then you can visit some pharmacies in Wales for an Emergency Medicines Supply Service, free of charge.

How much does it cost to get your medical records Wales? ›

No. Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) accessing your medical records is free.

How do I log into my NHS records? ›

How to log in to your NHS account
  1. Select My account.
  2. Enter your NHS login email and password.
  3. Enter the security code sent to your mobile phone.

Can I get my NHS number online in Wales? ›

You can find your NHS number online by using the Find your NHS number service. You can also find it by logging in to: the NHS App (you'll need to register if you have not used it before) some GP online services.


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