If you’re considering booking your first holiday to Portugal, or you’re planning to return to this beautiful country, then its wonderful climate and abundance of natural beauty will no doubt be part of the attraction.
Portugal is also one of the most affordable holiday destinations in Europe. Though like many other countries, the bills can stack up if you fall ill or get injured while vacationing there! Not all medical costs are covered by your travel insurance either, making a Portugal UK Global Health Insurance Card vital.
A Portugal Health Insurance Card – or GHIC – will ensure that you get free medical help at some doctors and hospitals during your visit.
The guide explains the background to GHICs, how to apply for a Portugal GHIC and the wider uses of this card.
How the Portugal GHIC Card replaced the‘EHIC’
Before the UK left the EU, travellers could apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This could be used to access free or reduced-price health services across the Continent.
Post-Brexit, you can now apply for a Global Health Insurance Card like a Greece GHIC card. It works on a similar principle, which is a reciprocal agreement between public health providers. The big difference is that your Portugal UK Global Health Insurance Card is only valid in that country and the other 26 EU member states. Though as the GHIC scheme evolves, more European and commonwealth destinations may join the agreement.
There are two vital things to note about this initiative. One is that your Portugal GHIC card only covers state-funded healthcare providers, not private doctors or hospitals. More on how to use your Portugal GHIC later.
Also, it does not replace travel insurance! Your GHIC provides you with free medical help but your insurance covers a diverse range of other issues.
Why a Portugal GHIC Application matters
It would be easy to think that travelling to a well-loved tourist destination, with so many excellent hotels and resorts to choose from, makes a Portugal GHIC unnecessary.
You could be heading for the glorious beaches of The Algarve to relax, swim and maybe surf in places such as Praia do Amado, on the Costa Vicentina. However, you may be surprised to know how many British people end up heading to the hospital with sunburn or a water sports injury!
Maybe hiking, climbing or mountain bike riding in the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela is of more interest to you? Or, you may be planning a road trip to see the wonderful castles and palaces in Portugal, and to soak up this country’s fascinating history. You also have the option of either immersing yourself in timeless local villages or wandering around Lisbon, Portugal’s hilltop capital. Porto and Faro are also popular tourist cities thanks to their colourful nightlife.
With such a long list of things to do in Portugal, there is an increased possibility of an illness or injury that requires medical attention. However, at the very least, your Portugal UK Global Health Insurance Card or Hungary GHIC card gives you peace of mind during your stay.
Portugal GHIC Application process
So, how do you apply for a GHIC to use in Portugal or Ireland GHIC card?
It really is straightforward, as long as you can provide evidence of your identity and UK citizenship. This is something a specialist GHIC agency can help you with.
Each person in your family needs their own Portugal GHIC Card, including any children. However, it is possible for you to apply on their behalf by simply providing evidence of their nationality and identity.
Practicalities of a Portugal UK GHIC Card
The next question could well be, what does your Portugal Health Insurance Card entitle you to?
Firstly, it is important that you seek medical assistance from doctors and hospitals covered by a GHIC. These will be public health centres (or Centros de Saúde).
When you show your Portugal GHIC card, most diagnosis and treatment from state-funded doctors will be free, though there may a standard charge for some. The same applies to hospitals and 24-hour healthcare providers (Serviços de Atendimento Permanente). You may benefit from lower-cost prescriptions if you show your Portugal GHIC and ambulance transport should be free of charge.
A Portugal GHIC card lost, stolen or left at home
One of the benefits of making a Portugal GHIC Application before your trip is that it can still give you access to free health services even if you can’t present your card for some reason.
You would need to obtain a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) which is like a temporary Portugal UK GHIC Card. The way to do this is to ring NHS Overseas Healthcare Services on +44 (0)191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 6 pm. They use your national insurance number to check that you did make a successful application for a GHIC. Then, they email or fax your PRC to the healthcare provider.
Frequently asked questions
Does my Portugal UK GHIC Card just cover one trip or one country?
Though the timeframe for GHIC expiry is not yet established, the chances are it will be similar to an EHIC. Once you have your Portugal GHIC card, it will last for a few years and is valid in all 27 nations within the EU, though the benefits and potential costs vary from country to country.
Can I visit a clinic for treatment free of charge with my Portugal GHIC?
Going abroad for specialist treatments is increasingly popular. However, your Portugal Health Insurance Card or GHIC only covers emergency or unavoidable medical help. If you choose to go to Portugal for treatment (elective healthcare) or to give birth, you will have to pay the full costs yourself.
Does my Portugal GHIC cover help with pre-existing conditions?
The good news is that if you have a Portugal GHIC Card, it may provide you with free access for necessary treatments while you are visiting the country for work or holidays. For example, if you are staying in Portugal and need oxygen therapy or dialysis during that time.
Speak to your GP about specialist care abroad and the documentation you need. Also, you must arrange this treatment before you depart, and you must have your Portugal GHIC card or PRC to present.