Registration of patients with the NHS simplified in Portugal

The measure came into force on February 3rd, 2023, featuring new rules regarding the National Register of Patients, the citizens' registration with the National Health Service and their enrolment in primary health care.
Articles 13/02/2023

Order No. 1668/2023 came into force on February 3rd, 2023, and intends to simplify the organisational rules and management mechanisms regarding the National Register of Patients (NRP), as well as the rules for citizens’ registration with the National Health Service (NHS) and their enrolment in primary health care.

In this context, it should be noted that the Portuguese Basic Law on Health guarantees access to the NHS, in its Base 21, to “all Portuguese citizens”, as well as “citizens, with permanent residence or in a situation of temporary stay or residence in Portugal, who are nationals of the Member States of the European Union or equivalent, third-country nationals or stateless persons, applicants for international protection and migrants with or without their situation legalised”.

The NRP is a database that includes and identifies everyone with access to the NHS, assigning them the respective national patient number.

With the new organisational rules, the register will now be one of three types:

  1. Active registration: applicable to citizens who fill in their identification form with all the necessary data;
  2. Transitional registration: applicable to citizens who fill in their identification form, however, without providing all the necessary data to fulfil the conditions of the active registration;
  3. Inactive registration: applicable to individuals who do not meet the conditions for the registrations mentioned above, including citizens with a death certificate.

The transitional registration status has a maximum duration of 90 days, counting from the date of registration in the NRP. After this period, either the registration automatically becomes active, with the citizen fulfilling the requirements for this to occur, or the registration becomes inactive.

That said, two key differences regarding the registration type in question exist.

Firstly, the NHS assumes financial responsibility for the costs generated by active registration. In the remaining typologies, it will be up to the citizen to cover such costs, with the possibility of being replaced by a third party.

Secondly, even in those instances where the citizen is registered in the NRP, he/she will not necessarily be enrolled in primary health care, particularly when he/she has a transitional or inactive registration. In other words, enrolment in primary health care implies the existence of an active registration.

This is particularly important since only patients registered in primary health care are entitled to a family health team. Even if they are not allocated to a doctor and a nurse, they can request this service anytime.

The content of this information does not constitute any specific legal advice; the latter can only be given when faced with a specific case. Please contact us for any further clarification or information deemed necessary in what concerns the application of the law.

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