Last updated July 15th 2021
Read on for information about the situation in Portugal regarding Covid-19 and international travel. I update this article when I hear of significant changes and change the date above accordingly, which allows you to see how current the information is.
The situation in Portugal is not so great at the moment – daily case numbers have been rising for some time now and I heard that the peak is expected in August. In some very high risk areas, such as Lisbon and Porto, extra measures are in place to try to limit the spread but the dominant strain is the Delta variant, which is harder to contain. Shops, restaurants, cultural spaces and sights are open, with restrictions on the number of people allowed in at any time. See below for more specific requirements for accommodations and restaurants in certain areas.
The vaccination programme is well underway, and much of the active population in Portugal has already had at least one vaccination, although the youinger adults have yet to receive theirs so it’s not surprising that this is the age group with the highest incidence of new cases.
It’s still obligatory to wear a face mask in public, and to keep your distance, but as long as you respect the rules, you can go to shops, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural venues.
Borders, flights and quarantine
The EU Digital Covid Certificate is now operational in Portugal. If you are legally resident in an EU country and have been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid or tested negative, you can request this “digital passport” to enable you to travel more freely between member states without the need for tests and quarantine etc., unless the country has to introduce special measures.
Order yours online from the SNS website. You will need to enter your date of birth and Utente number so if you’re not currently registered in the national heath service, you can’t get a digital certificate online.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The EU Digital Covid Certificate does not mean you are exempt from following the health regulations in place in the respective country, e.g. wearing face masks and maintaining your distance.
Travellers from the EU/EEA Schengen area are allowed to visit Portugal for non-essential reasons, as are people from an increasing list of other countries, including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. Please see the IATA website for the up to date list.
Rules could change at any time so it’s best to consult this website to see the current status for flying into individual EU countries as a tourist.
Consult the World Health Organisation advice and that of your own governments in terms of whether you should actually be travelling and what the implications of that, e.g. quarantine upon return, might be.
Even if you have an insurance policy that covers you for Covid, it will likely be void if you travel against government policy.
Do you need a test for Portugal travel?
Testing protocols for travel to Portugal have been relaxed to allow for negative rapid antigen tests taken up to 48 hours before a flight, or a negative NAAT or RT-PCR Covid 19 test that would need to be done within 72 hours of your (final) departure flight.
You need one or the other, not both tests. A negative test is currently required on mainland Portugal for arrivals from all countries for passengers of 12 years of age.
Portuguese nationals and residents who are travelling for essential reasons can be tested upon arrival but will have to cover the cost of the test, i.e. around €100. Airlines are being held responsible, i.e. fined, for allowing non-Portuguese passengers to board without a test.
You will need to complete a Passenger Locator Card online before boarding your flight.
Madeira and the Azores require all visitors to produce a negative (RT-PCR) Covid-19 test completed within 72 hours of departure or to be tested on arrival, free of charge. If you wait until you get there to be tested, you will have to isolate until you’ve got the desired negative result so it’s best to test before you arrive if you don’t want to eat into your holiday time. As mentioned above, Madeira will also accept valid certification of vaccination instead of the test.
Fill in your passenger registration form for Madeira here.
You also have to fill in a passenger registration form for the Azores – see this site.
Where to get a PCR test done in Portugal for your return flight
There are private labs all over the country that will do a PCR test for you. You can usually book online. Do a Google search for “teste covid 19” and add the name of the town to see what comes up. Mike has used Unilabs, which was pretty efficient and they have clinics in many towns and cities.
What to expect at the airport
Portuguese airports conduct walk through temperature checks upon arrival. Contactless systems have been implemented where possible and social distancing is in place.
You’ll need to wear a mask inside the airport and on board the plane. Hand sanitiser stations are distributed throughout airports.
More information from the Portuguese airport website here.
Clean & Safe Portugal
The Clean & Safe certification, which identifies establishments that are following the Health Authority guidelines for protective measures, was launched in April 2020 with great success. It has been revamped and relaunched this year so that the country is ready to receive tourists.
You can check in advance which restaurants, golf clubs, hotels etc. have the certificate on the Clean & Safe website.
See this article about checking the safety of your accommodation in Portugal and anywhere else.
Stayaway Covid app
If you have a smartphone, you can download the free Stayaway Covid app from Google Play or the App Store. It’s anonymous and will let you know if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has been identified as high risk so that you can get tested and take additional precautions to stop the virus spreading any further.
Safety measures in place in Portugal
Portugal is currently in a period of phased deconfinement following two months of full lockdown easlier in the year and in most municipalities you can now:
Visit museums, art galleries and monuments.
Shop at shops of all sizes, while respecting the capacity and hygiene measures. Be prepared to queue at busy times.
All cafés and restaurants can open with indoor dining for a maximum of 4-6 people per group and outdoor groups max 6-10, depending on the level of risk in the area. Please wear your mask, even at outdoor eateries, when you’re not actually eating or drinking.
In high and very high risk areas, there is an 11 pm curfew every day and between Friday 7 pm and all day Saturday, Sunday or public holidays you will need to produce the EU Digital Certificate, a negative test result or be prepared to be tested on the door if you want to eat indoors. Outdoor dining doesn’t require these extra measures.
Tourist accommodations throughout mainland Portugal now require the EU Digital certificate or a negative test for access.
Please see the information on Visit Portugal for full details as they are too complex to try to cover here.
Just note that the dates are all dependent upon the prevailing data so if numbers of cases rise significantly, the plans may change.
This site (in Portuguese) is helpful for those in Portugal who want to check the current restrictions for their municipality.
What you need to know
The whole of Portugal is subject to minimum safety measures and the government has produced detailed guidelines for various sectors in order to protect workers and the public.
Face masks are obligatory in taxis, public transport and indoor establishments including restaurants (except for when you’re actually eating or drinking) and hotels, although you won’t need to wear one in your own room, just in public spaces.
Whenever you enter an indoor establishment, e.g. museum, shop, tourist information centre, you’ll be expected to sanitise your hands. If you can pay by card, or even better, ‘contactless’, do so.
You have to wear a face mask outdoors, unless it’s possible to maintain the 2-metre distance from other people.
Places that attract lots of people, including beaches, have a one way system for pedestrians and, in some cases, a traffic light system in a bid to help everyone maintain social distancing.
This table tells you what you need to know about going to the beach in Portugal in 2021.
Using Uber and taxis etc.
Capacity is reduced to 2/3 of the vehicle’s standard seating and you can’t sit up front with the driver.
Wash or sanitise your hands before and after the journey and try to avoid touching things that aren’t necessary by keeping your hands on your lap during the journey.
The driver will clean the vehicle at least daily and disinfect door handles, seats and other points of common contact between clients.
As a client, you should put your own luggage in the boot (trunk) if you are able. You can only sit in the back seat and need to wear a face mask, as does the driver. Keep the windows open so that air can circulate freely.
How to get up to date information about the situation in Portugal
With new developments happening so frequently, I can’t commit to being the most up to date source of information for you.
The Safe Communities Portugal major incident page and their Facebook page are excellent sources of reliable information in English about the current situation in Portugal so please check their sites for the most recent and detailed information.
Visit Portugal also have additional information.
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