Portugal has become a desirable location for healthcare professionals looking to continue their careers and lead fulfilling lives. But how to work as a nurse in Portugal? This blog will go over the steps to immigrate to Portugal as a nurse and the requirements, employment opportunities, and advantages and disadvantages. Portugal may be your ideal destination if you’re eager to embark on a new journey.

Does Portugal Need Nurses?

Yes, Portugal needs nurses, especially since the population is getting older and the healthcare sector is expanding. Particularly in regions with shortages of healthcare professionals, the country often seeks qualified foreign nurses to supplement its workforce.

How to Work and Immigrate to Portugal as a Nurse in 2023

Requirements to Immigrate to Portugal as a Nurse

  • A nursing diploma or degree is required. You can get a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BScN) from an accredited school. The essential nursing competencies and clinical practice should be covered in nursing programs.
  • It’s usually best for nurses to have 1-2 years of experience for entry-level jobs in Portugal. A specialized role may require 2-5 years of experience, whereas an advanced position might require 5 or more. These are just guidelines, and employers and healthcare settings may have different requirements.
  • Portuguese authorities have to recognize your nursing degree. Your education credentials will be evaluated to ensure they’re up to par.

Can Foreign Nurses Work in Portugal?

Yes, you can work as a foreign nurse in Portugal. Nursing qualifications have to be recognized by Portuguese authorities and registered with ‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros’ (Portuguese Nursing Council). Most nursing jobs also require proficiency in Portuguese.

How to Immigrate to Portugal as a Nurse?

Immigrating to Portugal as a nurse involves several steps. Here’s an outline of the process:

  1. Having Language Proficiency
  2. Recognizing Your Nursing Degree
  3. Professional Registration
  4. Securing a Job Offer
  5. Getting a Portuguese Work Visa
  6. Setting in Portugal

Step 1. Having Language Proficiency

Proficiency in Portuguese is usually required for nursing jobs in Portugal. The required level is typically B2, according to the CEFR. Approved tests to show language proficiency are:

  • CAPLE Exams
  • CIPLE Exam (Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira)
  • DEPLE (Diploma Elementar de Português Língua Estrangeira)

Step 2. Recognizing Your Nursing Degree

To immigrate to Portugal as a nurse, you must get your nursing degree recognized in Portugal. How? You must apply through the Directorate-General of Higher Education (DGES), ‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros’ (Portuguese Nursing Council), or other relevant Portuguese bodies. You can check their website or contact them directly for specific instructions and forms.

Here’s how to get your nursing degree recognized in Portugal:

  1. Ensure you have all the necessary documents, including your nursing degree certificate, transcripts, and relevant information.
  2. A certified translator must translate everything into Portuguese.
  3. Legalize your documents. You can get an Apostille stamp if your country is a signatory to the Hague Convention or through the Portuguese consular services.
  4. Fill out the application form. You must submit the translated and legalized documents along with your application.
  5. You will be assessed based on your application and documents. Your nursing program may be evaluated in terms of its curriculum, duration, and content during this assessment. It generally takes several months for the processing to be completed.
  6. For your qualification to be considered equivalent to Portuguese standards, you may need to undertake additional courses and training or pass an examination.
  7. You will receive a formal notification once your degree is recognized.

Step 3. Professional Registration

Now, let’s answer the question: “How do I register as a nurse in Portugal?” You might need to register with the ‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros.’ It is a key step for working as a nurse in Portugal. Here’s a detailed guide on how to become a registered nurse in Portugal:

  1. Ensure Portuguese authorities already recognize your nursing degree before starting the registration process.
  2. Gather your documents:
    1. Proof of degree recognition in Portugal
    2. Identification documents (passport, ID card)
    3. Curriculum Vitae (CV), preferably in Portuguese
    4. Criminal record certificate from your country and Portugal
    5. Proof of professional experience, if applicable
    6. Passport-size photographs
  3. Translate and legalize all non-Portuguese documents.
  4. Fill out the registration form from the Ordem dos Enfermeiros (Portugal Nursing Council). You can usually download this form from their website.
  5. Send your application and all the required documents to the Ordem dos Enfermeiros. You can usually do this by mail or in person.
  6. You’ve got to pay the registration fee.
  7. You’ll have to wait for your application to be reviewed after you submit it. The processing time ranges from a few weeks to several months.
  8. Sometimes, you’ll have to go to an interview or orientation.
  9. Your professional license number will be sent once your registration is approved.
  10. You can immigrate to Portugal as a nurse an practice nursing with this registration.

Step 4. Securing a Job Offer

To immigrate to Portugal as a nurse, you must find a Portuguese nurse vacancy. You can use the following:

Job Searching Websites

  • Saúde Emprego
  • Net-Empregos
  • Indeed Portugal
  • Emprego Saúde
  • Sapo Emprego
  • Alerta Emprego
  • LinkedIn

Portuguese Recruitment Agencies

  • Egor
  • Michael Page Portugal
  • Adecco Portugal
  • Kelly Services Portugal
  • Randstad Portugal

Step 5. Getting a Portuguese Work Visa

You must apply for a work visa or residence permit to legally practice nursing in Portugal. Moving to Portugal as a nurse and applying for a work visa involves a detailed process:

  1. Find out which visa is suitable. Nurses typically will need a Type D visa for long-term stays.
  2. Gather the required documents:
    1. A job contract from a Portuguese employer in the healthcare sector.
    2. A valid passport. It must be valid for at least three months beyond your stay.
    3. Two recent passport photos
    4. Proof of accommodation in Portugal (Popular housing websites are OLX.pt, Imovirtual, Idealista, Sapo.pt Imobiliário, Casa Sapo)
    5. A clean criminal record certificate
    6. Proof of financial means like bank statements or a letter from the employer clarifying that they will cover your expenses. Typically ranges from €7,200 to €14,400 per year.
    7. Proof of health insurance (Famous health insurance providers in Portugal are Médis, Multicare, AdvanceCare, Allianz Portugal, and Fidelidade)
    8. A fully completed and signed application form.
  3. Make an appointment at the Portuguese embassy or consulate nearest you. You can do this online or over the phone.
  4. Attend the appointment and submit all the documents. You might be interviewed depending on your intentions, qualifications, and job in Portugal.
  5. You must pay the visa application fee at the embassy or consulate. The fee ranges from €60 to €100.
  6. Submit biometric information, such as fingerprints, if required.
  7. The embassy or consulate will process your application after you submit it. Verifying documents and checking backgrounds is part of it. Generally, it ranges from 2 weeks to 2 months.
  8. Once your visa is approved, you’ll get a notification. In some cases, the visa is sent via mail. The visa typically corresponds to the duration of your job contract.

Step 6. Setting in Portugal

After you immigrate to Portugal as a nurse, you need to complete several registrations and take steps to settle in. Here’s a guide:

Necessary Registrations

  • Social Security Registration. Get your social security contributions and benefits by registering with the Portuguese Social Security (Segurança Social). Your passport, work contract, and Portuguese tax identification number (NIF) are typically needed.
  • Tax Identification Number (NIF). You’ll need a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) from the local tax office (Finanças). Many transactions require it, like opening a bank account and signing a lease.
  • Residence Permit. Convert your work visa into a residence permit at the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras). Make an appointment with SEF when you get there and submit the paperwork.
  • Healthcare System Registration.
  • To get healthcare, you must register with the Portuguese national health system (Serviço Nacional de Saúde). You’ll need your residence permit and Social Security number.
  • Local City Council Registration. Get your address registered with the local city council (Junta de Freguesia).

Settling in Portugal

  • Banking. Open a bank account to receive your salary and do your daily transactions. Famous banks in Portugal are Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Banco Santander Totta, Millennium BCP, Banco BPI, and Novo Banco.
  • Continuing Education and Compliance. Stay on top of any continuing education requirements the Ordem dos Enfermeiros set. Follow the changes in Portuguese healthcare laws and practices.
  • Integration and Adaptation. The key to social and professional integration is improving your language skills. Participate in social and cultural activities, understand local customs, and engage with the community. Get support and guidance from other healthcare professionals and expat communities.
  • Transportation. Learn about public transportation or get a license.
  • Cost of Living. A single person’s monthly cost of living in Portugal can range from €1,000 to €2,500. The monthly cost for a family of four can be around €2,000 to €4,000.
    • Housing: €400 – €1,200, varying by location and size.
    • Utilities: Around €100 – €200.
    • Internet and Mobile: Approximately €30 – €60.
    • Groceries: €200 – €400.
    • Transportation: €30 – €60 for public transport.
    • Health Insurance: €20 – €100.
    • Entertainment and Dining Out: €150 – €300.

Nursing Jobs in Portugal for Foreigners

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Home Health Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Surgical Nurse
  • Oncology Nurse

Nursing Jobs in Portugal for English Speakers

  • Nurse Educator (in international or private health institutions)
  • Research Nurse
  • Healthcare Coordinator (in international clinics)
  • Nursing Manager (in private hospitals)
  • Nurse Consultant (for expatriate communities)
  • Telehealth Nurse
  • Occupational Health Nurses (in multinational companies)
  • English-speaking Nurses in Private Clinics
  • Medical Writer (Nursing background)
  • Nursing Informatics Specialist

Infographic How to Work and Immigrate to Portugal as a Nurse in 2023

How Much is the Salary of Nurses in Portugal?

The nursing salary in Portugal varies based on factors like experience, specialization, location, and type of employer. Here’s a detailed look:

  • Entry-Level Nurses. Newly-graduated nurses with less than two years of experience typically earn between €1,200 and €1,500 per month or approximately €14,400 and €18,000 annually.
  • Mid-Level Experience Nurses. Nurses with 2 to 5 years of experience can expect to earn between €1,500 and €2,000 per month or about €18,000 to €24,000 annually.
  • Experienced Nurses. Nurses with 5-10 years of experience may earn €2,000 to €2,500 per month or €24,000 to €30,000 annually.
  • Highly Experienced and Specialized Nurses. Nurses with over 10 years of experience or nurses with specializations (surgical nursing, ICU, or oncology) earn up to €2,500 per month or up to €35,000 or more annually.

How to Become a Nurse in Portugal?

Now let’s shift our focus to the question “How to be a nurse in Portugal?” Becoming a nurse in Portugal as a foreigner includes a series of steps:

  1. Finding a Nursing University in Portugal
  2. Getting Admission
  3. Getting a Portuguese Student Visa
  4. Studying Nursing in Portugal
  5. Internship

Step 1. Finding a Nursing University in Portugal

Look for universities in Portugal that offer nursing programs. You can learn more about nursing programs by visiting each university’s website or contacting them directly. Here are some of the best nursing schools:

  • University of Lisbon
  • University of Porto
  • Catholic University of Portugal
  • Coimbra Health School
  • Polytechnic Institute of Leiria

Step 2. Getting Admission

You must meet the entry requirements. The minimum requirement is a high school diploma. You might have to take certain subjects or get a certain grade at some universities. In addition, depending on the program, you may have to prove your Portuguese skills. Foreign students typically need to demonstrate a B2 level of proficiency that aligns with the CEFR.

Submit your application with required documents, like transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement, available on the university’s website. You might have to pay an application fee. If you’ve submitted, you’ll have to wait for the university to decide whether you’re accepted.

Step 3. Getting a Portuguese Student Visa

Here is a short process of getting a Portuguese student visa to study in the country:

  1. For long-term stays for education, you’ll need a Type D visa.
  2. Gather the documents you need:
    1. Your acceptance letter from the university
    2. Your valid passport
    3. Proof of accommodation in Portugal
    4. Proof of financial means to support your stay. The required proof of financial means typically equates to around €7,200 annually.
    5. Health insurance coverage
    6. Criminal record certificate
  3. Make an appointment with the Portuguese embassy or consulate nearest you.
  4. You’ve got to go to the visa interview and submit your documents.
  5. Pay the visa fee of €60 to €100.
  6. Wait for the processing time between 2 weeks and 2 months.
  7. Get your visa upon approval.

Step 4. Studying Nursing in Portugal

A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing usually takes four years in Portugal. Besides anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and nursing ethics, the curriculum covers a lot of nursing theory and practice. Practical training is a big part of these nursing programs. Students get hands-on experience in clinical settings, which is key to their education. A nursing career requires a lot of practical experience and an understanding of real-world situations. In addition, the tuition fees for these programs can vary between €3,000 and €7,000 for international students, depending on the university and the program.

Step 5. Internship

Portugal has a lot of nursing programs that include mandatory internships or clinical practicums. This crucial phase can range from a few months to an entire academic year. Nursing students work in hospitals or healthcare facilities under supervision during this time. By getting hands-on experience, they can apply theoretical knowledge to real-life healthcare scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Internships are helpful for students to gain first-hand patient care experience and understand how professional healthcare works.

Can I Study Nursing in Portugal in English?

Yes, some universities in Portugal offer nursing programs in English. Here is a list of those universities:

  • University of Porto
  • Catholic University of Portugal
  • ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon
  • University of Lisbon
  • Nova University of Lisbon

Why is Portugal an Attractive Destination for Foreign Nurses?

An aging population, rising healthcare needs, and a focus on quality healthcare contribute to a high demand for healthcare professionals in Portugal. For foreign nurses looking to immigrate, this is a great opportunity. Nurses in Portugal get competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits, like paid time off and social security protection. With its high standard of living, good work-life balance, and modern healthcare facilities, it’s an attractive place to live and work.

Immigrate to Portugal as a Nurse: Let’s Recap

A rewarding and fulfilling experience can result from moving to Portugal if you’re a nurse looking for new opportunities. Portugal presents a desirable environment for nurses to flourish with a high demand for healthcare professionals, competitive salaries, and a good work-life balance. You can begin a prosperous nursing career in Portugal by comprehending the requirements, navigating the application process, and embracing the cultural aspects.

If you have any experience regarding immigrating to Portugal as a nurse, please share them in the comment section. You can also ask any questions you have in the comment section as well. You can also use our free consultation services. The link is at the top of the page.


Can American (US) Nurses Work in Portugal?

Yes, US nurses can work in Portugal. A nurse must have their qualifications recognized, register with the ‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros,’ get a job offer, meet language requirements, and get the right work visa.

Is it Hard to Get a Job in Portugal as a Foreigner?

It depends on your qualifications, language skills, and the job market. Specialized roles like nursing often require Portuguese proficiency and recognition of foreign qualifications.

How to Apply for NHS Portugal?

If you’re looking for a nurse job in Portugal’s National Health Service, make sure your nursing credentials are recognized there and that you’re registered with the Portuguese Nursing Council (‘Ordem dos Enfermeiros’). Apply for job positions that match your qualifications and experience on SNS’s official website or relevant job portals. Typically, applicants must submit documents and may have to attend interviews or complete other steps depending on the job posting.

How to Immigrate to Portugal as a Foreign Nurse from India?

You first need to get your Indian nursing degree recognized by Portuguese authorities before you can immigrate to Portugal as a nurse. After that, join the Order dos Enfermeiros (Portuguese Nursing Council). Afterward, get a job offer from a healthcare employer in Portugal and apply for a work visa or residency permit. As a last step, ensure you’re Portuguese-proficient, proving you can communicate effectively in a healthcare setting.

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