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Do I need a “National Health Card Number” even if I am privately insured in Portugal?

Do I need a “National Health Card Number” even if I am privately insured in Portugal

In Portugal, if you are privately insured, you are not required to have a “National Health Number = Cartão de Utente”. However, we strongly advise that you get one anyway. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it will make it easier for you to get access to government-funded health services, such as vaccinations. Additionally, having a national health number will make it easier for, in case of road accident or a serious illness to have access to the organ transplant program.


European Organ Transplant Program

In most developed countries, organ donation / transplant is governed by strict laws and regulations. This is necessary to prevent unscrupulous individuals from profiting from the sale of organs or engaging in illegal activities such as human trafficking. As a result, organ donation  / transplant programs are typically overseen by government agencies. In Europe, for example, the database of potential donors is maintained by the European Union, Eurotransplant and monitored by Interpol. The legal framework defining the standards for organ transplantation is set out in Directive 2010/53/EU (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Asp0008  ) also referred to as the European Organs Directive.

If you require an organ transplant due to an accident or illness, your medical insurance will cover the cost of surgery and hospitalization. However, in order to obtain an organ, you must have a portuguese national health number. This ensures that only those who truly need a transplant will be able to receive one. Ultimately, these measures help to protect both potential donors and recipients of transplants from unscrupulous individuals who might exploit the system for personal gain and that the organ donation process is legal and ethical.



Covid Vaccinations National Program

Portugal has a long history of providing free and universal access to health care. This commitment to health care for all is reflected in the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While some European countries have outsourced their vaccination programs to private health care providers, Portugal has chosen to maintain a public monopoly on vaccines. So, if you wish to be vaccinated you will need to present your “Cartão de Utente”.



How to get a “Cartão de Utente”:

In Portugal, all residents are entitled to free healthcare through the national health system (Serviço Nacional de Saúde SNS). The SNS is under immense pressure. Due to years of underfunding, the SNS is struggling to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, this means that patients are facing long waiting periods for treatment, shortages of specialists, and a lack of hospital beds. The situation is only getting worse as the population continues to grow and age. But some treatments and health services can only be done through the SNS, like covid vaccinations or access to a human organ.

However, in order to access this service, you must first obtain a “Cartão de Utente”, which is basically the  national health card. The process of obtaining a card is fairly simple and can be done at your local “Junta de Freguesia”, which is essentially the equivalent of a town hall. You will need to bring along a few documents, including proof of residency, your Portuguese fiscal number (Número de Contribuinte), and your passport or ID card. It is important to note that you will need to bring originals and copies of all these documents. Once you have all the required documents, simply submit them at the “Junta de Freguesia” and they will issue you a “Cartão de Utente”.

In some areas of Portugal, this process can be done directly at the local health centre (Centro de Saúde). Once you have your “Cartão de Utente”, you can then proceed to use all the services offered by the Portuguese national health system, like the Covid vaccination or the Organ Donation program.

In Portugal, there are a few different ways to obtain a proof of residency. One option is to provide a rental contract, house deed, or utility bill with your name and address listed. Another option is to obtain a certificate from the local “Junta de Freguesia” in case you were previous listed there. This document states your name and address, and it can be obtained from your local town hall. With either of these options, you should have no trouble obtaining the proof of residency that you need.


For more information about Private Health Insurance in Portugal contact today with C1 Broker, the leading specialist of Health Insurance for Expats and Foreign Residents in Portugal, with more than 26 of experience.


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Do I need a “National Health Card Number” even if I am privately insured in Portugal

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