Portugal is a thriving western European nation, situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Even though most know it for its culture, cuisine, and lively spirit, Portugal is also an economical force in Europe. Because of smart investments and natural resources, Portugal has significantly invested in areas such as engineering and medicine in recent years.

As a result, it has attracted many highly-trained professionals looking to relocate their careers and lives. With its continuously developing economy and picturesque landscape, it is an opportunity that not many turn down. To help those considering taking the leap, this article takes a closer look at all the steps to become a doctor in Portugal.

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Steps to Become a Medical Doctor in Portugal

1. The initial requirement concerns Portuguese language proficiency.

To work, study or even live in Portugal, knowing English will simply not be enough. Rather, you will have to be fluent in Portuguese, especially when it comes to the medical profession. Proficiency in the Portuguese language is, thus, an important step to bcome a medical doctor in Portugal. Before applying for a medical license, all foreign-trained doctors are required to complete a language skills exam administered by the Portuguese Medical Association, known as the Order of Physicians.

Luckily, Portuguese has never been characterized as a particularly difficult language to acquire. This is especially for those who already speak a Romance language, such as French or Spanish, as they have quite a few similarities with Portuguese. However, even if your native language comes from some other language family, dedication and persistence will have you fluently speaking Portuguese in just a few years.

One thing that may make a difference is studying medicine at a Portugal university. This way, you will be immersed in both the language and culture and acquire both conversational and highly technical Portuguese needed in the medical field.

2. As mentioned, a Portuguese medical degree is highly recommended.

Even though Portugal whole-heartedly welcomes foreign medical practitioners, obtaining a Portuguese medical degree is still encouraged. While studying medicine, you also have a chance to acquire a highly technical medical vocabulary, a task that has sometimes proved daunting for foreign medical graduates.

In addition to language benefits, Portuguese medical programs have shown appealing for other reasons as well. For one, medicine is among the oldest disciplines taught in Portugal and is therefore highly acclaimed. An abundance of both Portuguese and international students apply to the seven available medical programs in Portugal each year. Even though the curriculums among the programs differ, all of them last for a total of six years and focus on pathology, physiology, and physiopathology.

3. All medical graduates need to complete a mandatory residency before becoming licensed medical professionals.

Compared to many other nations, obtaining a medical license in Portugal is fairly simple. In short, you are required to complete a medical program and pass the language proficiency exam administered by the Portuguese Medical Association. Foreign-trained practitioners will also need a certificate guaranteeing their medical diploma is equivalent to one obtained in Portugal. Afterward, the next step to become a medical doctor in Portugal for both domestic and foreign graduates must complete a mandatory one-year medical internship in a Portuguese hospital.

Once your internship is complete, you will have a choice to make. On the one hand, you may start working as a general practitioner at any accredited Portuguese hospital. Conversely, you may opt for further specialization. This means applying for further medical training in your respective field. Of course, the length of specialization varies between medical fields and is something worth considering when choosing your career.

4. When your internship year is done, you will need to apply for a medical license.

In Portugal, the medical licensing body is known as the Order of Physicians. Once you complete your internship, you must apply for your medical license with them. The application process varies depending on whether you have obtained your diploma in the EU/EEA or outside of it. This is an essential step to become a medical doctor in Portugal.

On the one hand, EU medical graduates will need to submit their medical diploma, a certificate of good standing, proof that they do not have a criminal record, and a Portuguese tax ID number. On the other hand, non-EU medical doctors require a few more documents. For one, they need a Curriculum Vitae and proof that they have practiced medicine for three to five years before application. In addition to this, both EU and non-EU applicants must pay a registration fee to the Order of Physicians.

All interested parties should keep in mind that this process is not a fast one. Registering for your medical license usually takes between five and six months in Portugal. However, once you are licensed, there is no need for re-certification, as Portuguese medical licenses last forever.


I hope that you found this article on the steps to becoming a doctor in Portugal informative and helpful. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!