Safe travel in summer 2020. Pink face mask, gloves, antiseptic and disinfectant, passport, sunglasses,straw hat on white background. Copy space. Coronavirus vacation protection measures

Last updated 13th November 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 has started to get worse over the past month; the Rt rate is now over 1.0. However, despite the increased number of new cases, the number of mortalities is much lower than in other countries, most likely due to Portugal having the highest vaccination rate in Europe. 88.89% of the entire 10.3 million population have had at least one shot and more than 86% are fully vaccinated. 

Everything is currently open and most restrictions regarding capacity and face masks have been lifted as of 1st October, although most people are still wearing them, even outdoors, so always have one with you. Social distancing and sanitary measures are still in place. 

It’s still obligatory to wear a face mask in certain situations, namely:

  • Public transport
  • Taxis and similar
  • Hospitals and health care centres
  • Care homes
  • Educational establishments
  • Events spaces
  • Indoor spaces greater than 400m2

You need to present a digital Covid certificate or negative test to enter bars and nightclubs.

Travel insurance is still vital

I strongly recommend you take out travel insurance to cover you in case any of your party tests positive before or during your trip. Globelink covers UK and EU residents while Aardy is a good place to get quotes for North America. You could also take a look at World Nomads for other countries.

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 Portuguese 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.

British travellers will be relieved to learn that the NHS Covid Pass is now accepted to enter mainland Portugal and Madeira. If you can prove that you are fully vaccinated, you do not need a Covid test for entry, unless you are travelling to the Azores.

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 of permitted countries and acceptable vaccines and tests.

If your country is not on the list, leisure travel is not currently permitted, so unless you are a Portuguese or EU citizen, the parent, spouse or child of one, or legally resident in Portugal, you may not be allowed in. Check with your airline if travelling for professional or other essential reasons to see under what conditions you might be allowed in.

Rules could change at any time so it’s best to consult the IATA 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 Covid test for Portugal travel?

If you don’t have a recognised vaccine certificate, you will need a negative Covid test to enter Portugal by air. 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 unless you have the EU Digital Certificate. 

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.

Get more info about travel to Madeira re Covid-19.

Fill in your passenger registration form for Madeira here.

Get more information about the Azores requirements.

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 and pharmacies 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. Expect to pay around €100 per person.

If you don’t need a PCR test, we used a local pharmacy to get rapid antigen tests before we flew to the UK in September and that was much cheaper (€25).

What to expect at the airport

Contactless systems have been implemented where possible and social distancing is in place, where possible.

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 look for the symbol below. 

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.

How to get up to date information about the situation in Portugal

With new developments still happening 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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  1. Thank you so much for doing this for us, Brlliant Information all in one place, Julie

  2. Is there any sign of Portugal accepting the UK’s NHS App issued to persons who have been double vaccinated ?

    If one has THAT app, whether on ‘phone or the paper version, is that accepted on arrival at airports and / or in restaurants etc. ? And if not, what then ? UK visitors cannot obtain the EU app. / Certificate.

  3. We live in California and just got our second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I was suppose to be on the Camino last April, and am waiting patiently to be able to enter Portugal. I wonder if countries will start taking into consideration those of us who have been fully vaccinated? It could be a good start to opening up world economies.

    1. Author

      Hi Laura, I know that Portugal is keen to be part of the EU’s plans to introduce a vaccine passort to make things easier for people who have been vaccinated. I didn’t include it in the article because it’s still in pilot. Once I know more, I’ll share on this page and in my newsletter. Fingers crossed that you get to do the Camino soon.

  4. JDF: Good info … Portugal certainly has their “patos” in line … as opposed to DJT & cronies. Had to cancel 2 months in Porto … “SIGH”!

    1. Author

      Hi Anthony, Sorry to hear that. I really hope that the situation improves asap where you are, and of course that you will be able to reschedule the Porto trip for another time. Stay safe!

  5. Thanks, Julie, it is encouraging to learn how well Portugal is handling this crisis. I’m am concerned and ashamed about how badly the U.S. is doing. People are reacting irrationally, even sometimes violently, to social distancing and face masks, which are being requested to keep us safe! I live in the state of Ohio, whose population is just a bit higher than Portugal’s, so it is valid to compare the two. Our current number of deaths from Covid-19 is 3,189, compared to Portugal’s 1,697. I wish I was in Portugal, and not here!

    Stay safe,
    Anne Kirby

    1. Author

      Hi Anne, I really do feel for you and your country. It’s shocking to see how badly things are going there and I really hope that things change for the better asap. Hugs and best wishes, Julie

  6. Julie that is great information, thank you. I am from the US and my husband and I were planning to move there this spring and then the pandemic happened. We even bough a car. Now, we cannot travel at all and not sure for how long. We would like to sell our car now and don’t have any any idea how to go about it! Help! Do you have any ideas?
    I would appreciate it!

  7. Many thanks Julie for all the informative information.

    My Husband & I have been holidaying in Portugal for the last 7 years & absolutely love the country, the people, the food & wine, the culture & basically everything that is Portuguese. We are still hoping our holiday later this year will go ahead so welcome any information you can give us.

    Many thanks again.

    Paul & Angela Bown

    1. Author

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you Angela 🙂

  8. Always very informative, up to date and helpful. I enjoy your blogs. Many thanks

    1. Author

      Thank you Jane, I do my best 🙂

  9. Many thanks Julie. Cheryl and I have been visiting the Algarve for just over 5 years. We rent a Villa in Ghia and stay for around a month twice a year. Your blog has helped us enjoy many areas of this wonderful country…with so many welcoming people. Keep up the good work…it’s very much appreciated.
    John Scullard and Cheryl Randall…xxx

    1. Author

      Thank you John and Cheryl, that means a lot to me.

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