Portugal: a profile of the profession

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The data has been provided by Portuguese Association of Physiotherapists and to the extent possible are a true reflection of the situation in the country, however not all figures are authoritative and should be interpreted accordingly. For questions or feedback please contact countryprofile@wcpt.org

Reference year: 2015

 View the 2015 global country profile maps

Professional title
English title:
Physiotherapist  (Protected by law)
National language titles:
  • Fisioterapeuta  (Protected by law)
Number of physical therapist members:
1,100          (as at 31 December 2017)
Female : Male ratio:
4.26 : 1
Entry level student organisation:
Yes, represented by the WCPT member organisation
Practising physical therapists
Number of practising physical therapists:
6,912        (Authoritative*)
Note: *this data has come from a registration authority, a government source or statistical agency.
CPD Events:
Special interest groups recognised by Portugal
Recognised special interest groups:
  • Aquatics
  • Cardiorespiratory physical therapy
  • Educators in physical therapy
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics/manual therapy
  • Older people
  • Paediatrics
  • Private practitioners
  • Sports physical therapy
  • Womens health
Collaborative arrangements (twinning)
Physical therapist professional entry level education
Number of programmes:
Starting education level (minimum):
Upper secondary
Finishing education level (minimum):
Graduate diploma
Equivalent fulltime years:
Other entry level programmes
Note: qualification levels are consistent with ISCED 1997 levels
Post professional degree programmes
Post professional degree programmes:
Masters degree,  Research doctorate
Physical therapist specialisation recognised by Portugal
Recognised specialisation:
Scope of practice defined by:
Ministry of Health or another government department
Standards of practice:
Code of conduct:
Scope of practice defined by:
Ministry of Health or another government department
Education for autonomous practice:
Yes - There are some limitations concerned with the context of clinical practice for instance in rehabilitation units there is no direct acess since patient are allocated to PTs through a medical screening. In private practice PT have direct acess unless the insurance companies require a medical referral for reimbursement purposes.
Legislation to prevent private practice:
Physical Therapists are permitted to:
  • Act as first contact/autonomous practitioners
  • Assess patients/clients
  • Make a diagnosis
  • Treat (interventions, advice and evaluation of outcome)
  • Refer to other specialists/services
  • Offer preventative advice/services
Direct access* permitted:
Can people self refer to physical therapists in private practice:
Will this be reimbursed:
Can people self refer to physical therapists in the public system:
* Direct access - a person can refer themselves to a physical therapist without referral from another health professional
Registration required to practice:
CPD* required for re-registration:
CPD* required for membership:
The system of regulation in the country:
The professional title of Physiotherapist is protected by law: Decreto-Lei nº320/99, de 1 de Agosto A Department of the Ministry of Health (ACSS), issues an identity card with the Title of Physiotherapist, to holders of a BSc from a recognized Higher Education program (national or international). The Ministry Department responsible for this service maintains a list of all citizens that can use the title of Physiotherapist. This list is available to the public through the web page of the Ministry of Health. http://www.acss.min-saude.pt/%C3%81reaseUnidades/RegProfeRegimesTrabalho/TDTListagem/tabid/235/language/pt-PT/Default.aspx
* CPD - Continuing Professional Development

Other available reference years: 2013