Emergency Call System in Portugal

Hopefully most of us will never encounter a situation whereby we will need the assistance of the emergency services. However in case we do, it is important to know how it operates and what you will be asked in making a call.

What is 112?

This is the national emergency call number in Portugal. Callers seek help in all types of emergency situations such as firefighting, medical or maritime distress, as a victim or witness to crime incidents, and many others. Fast and efficient responses to those calls literally save lives. It is crucial to make sure callers can use the system anywhere and anytime. A service disruption at any time could be disastrous.

Calling 112 in an Emergency

It is important to remember the system should only be used for real Emergencies.
Non-emergency use can detract operators from dealing with real emergencies. Do not call 112 for traffic, weather, general information and queries. Unnecessary calls can overload the system and endanger the lives of those who really need emergency help. False calls can also affect the response to real emergencies.
A properly trained operator will answer your call. Most operators speak English, but is important to try and speak clearly and slowly which can be difficult in stressful situations. Depending on the type of emergency the operator may handle your request or transfer to a more appropriate emergency service, for example to a doctor in case of illness or trauma.

In emergencies

  • Stay calm – When calling 112 it is important to stay calm. You need to provide the emergency service with relevant information.
  • If possible, make the call yourself – No one can explain the situation better than you.
  • Wait until the operator answers your call – It may take a little time, but every repeated call is considered a new one and is put at the end of the queue, therefore the time of getting through might be prolonged.
  • Providing details – When the operator answers your call, say your name, try to explain what happened and who is involved. Also, try to indicate your location the best way possible. It makes it easier for emergency services to reach you.
  • Follow the operator’s advice – Answer the questions and follow the operator’s advice. Do not hang up until the operator says so. Try to keep your phone line free until the emergency services reach you. The dispatcher may need to contact you for further information.
  • If something changes, inform 112 again – For better or for worse, call 112 again and report it.


Safe Communities visited the Lisbon 112 Call Centre in April 2022 and a briefing was received on how the call centre operates reinforcing the above points. Details outlining the practical issues to take into account in calling 112 can be downloaded here.

What happens if you cannot get an answer?

This can happen when there is a massive unexpected demand on the service. In this case it is important not to hang up and make repeated calls, as this exacerbates the overload.

Other Emergency and Help Lines

There are several in Portugal dealing with poisoning, health line, and getting helping concerning alcoholism, drug abuse, victim of crime support domestic violence and emotional distress etc. These can all be found on our Emergency Contacts page here https://www.safecommunitiesportugal.com/emergency-contacts/