What I will say though, having sadly seen some tourists come here and think the rules don’t apply to them is this: travel is not normal right now, and whether you agree or not with the rules being imposed in Portugal, if you are a guest from abroad then it is your duty to either accept and comply with them or don’t come. Yes, we are a country with a big tourism and hospitality market, and all safe travel massively helps support that, but we also need to do everything we can to keep our (very delicate) health service from collapse.
Right now airport testing isn’t set-up for out going flights and the National Health tests in Portugal should not and can not be used for this purpose. These testing facilities at airports and drive throughs need a referral – as such you’ll need to book your test with a private company, and these in Portugal in general cost around €60-€100 if you are having a PCR test. Every test I’ve had in Portugal has come back within 24-hours, however to be safe I’d advise booking it as close to the 72-hour time limit as you can.
I follow the 24/7 news updates here in Portuguese to try and keep this information as accurate and up to date as possible, updating it every week or two. It can sometimes take a while for the news, to become law, or even to be updated in English on official portals. Like wise, a lot of the travel articles published in papers online are outdated in days – so, I’ll try my best to keep this up to date.
Spain – Portugal border restrictions
On New Years Eve, there is a curfew at 11pm – and on the 1st/2nd/3rd, a curfew across the whole country from 1pm until the next morning.
Portugal – UK flights suspended
Some of the most popular beaches, like Carvoeiro, were quieter than normal and have monitoring
Portugal Mainland Lockdown from 15th January 2021
In the first wave of COVID-19, Portugal did extremely well, and that meant from May I’ve been able to travel domestically around the country, to all regions including the Azores and Madeira, where I currently am. So, I’m able to offer first-hand experiences of travelling, and the different rules in each region where the autonomous governments have different coronavirus restrictions. This means you’ll find that the Azores Islands and Madeira Islands have different entry rules, and rules while there, and on the mainland we have two levels of rules, depending on the municipality and their rate of infection.
I will keep this live, and updated, and the old updates remain below but for now I’ll focus on info with the basis of people who are already here and stuck, or those trying to travel for essential travel/get home. As I’m British (living in Portugal), these updates will focus heavily on links between the UK and Portugal and effecting British people.
Please not if you don’t have the test certificate before travel, the airline is likely to refuse you transport as they will be fined. For the best advice on this please contact your airline, but also the UK Government who manage these rules.
Islands curfews and restrictions
I first posted this article in May 2020, to share how my home country was re-opening, and how the Portugal coronavirus travel restrictions were being updated. There have been constant updates to it since, but now, sadly, it seems the updates are more towards what is closing again, rather than what is opening – especially with curfews and closures being announced in November as we moved into another State of Emergency.
Testing to enter the UK
Madeira and The Azores are autonomous, and currently have various restrictions, curfews and rules – whether they will also impose a full lock down I’m not sure (I’ll update here as soon as I know), but from a tourism point of view it’s a risk to consider if travelling in the coming days. Please do check local updates for the islands.
The UK government are will require COVID-19 tests for travellers returning to the UK from the 18th January. This is only for those allowed to enter the UK from Portugal (see above) mainly being UK and Irish citizens and nationals (but please check they haven’t changed their mind on this as they keep doing).
The official advice for this can be found on UK GOV here. You’ll see on that website that a few different types of test are being accepted, so please double check what type of test you can take before travelling.
Today, it has been announced by RTP that from the 23rd January Portugal will be suspending all flights between the UK and Portugal. The only flights allowed to operate are repatriation flights to bring citizens home. Whether these will be commercial flights allowed to operate one way, or need to be government organised commercial flights (not a huge problem in Portugal as TAP is part owned by the Gov as a state airline, from the UK they would arrange with various airlines) we do not know. I assume that flights will be allowed to travel one-way perhaps, but please contact your airline urgently if you are flying soon, as you may want to get on a flight ASAP. It is unconfirmed how long this measure will be in place.
This will not apply to UK/Irish travellers anyway, but this may mean that flights from Portugal are reduced as Portuguese citizens wouldn’t be able to travel, so please keep this in mind.
So, you will need to ensure when booking with a lab in Portugal they provide the certificate in English – something you’ll need to discuss with them when booking.
Here you’ll find this broken down into a few different tabs, to try and assist you in finding the information you want as quickly as possible.
Can’t find anything on the official government website as of yet, as the UK seems to just like to announce things on twitter first – here is the tweet from the Transport Secretary.
Latest Update: November – a LOT has changed in the past couple of weeks…
Travel Portugal – UK restricted by Portugal GovUK Gov
Last week, the UK Government announced today that they will be banning travel from Brazil and various South American countries from the 15th January, and they have included Portugal in this for some reason (They say due to the links with Brazil, but makes no sense as more flights route through Madrid and Germany than Portugal but anyhow, the UK Gov like to do things ‘their own way’). But, this rule is now no problem, as Portugal is suspending all flights to the UK.
Christmas and New Year – some rules are relaxed on Christmas Eve and Day to allow for meals and evenings, followed by a tightening of rules. These can be found in English at the bottom of this page – https://covid19estamoson.gov.pt/new-state-of-emergency-measures/ .
STRANGELY – the website currently states (and hopefully this gets updated soon):
Anything below this point has not been updated since early December and as such may be out of date. I will do a full update of everything in early January, but for now please seek official resources for the most recent information.
At the end of January. new restrictions will come into place at the Portugal/Spain road border, and only essential reasons to travel will be allowed. Exit from Portugal will not be possible for Portugal Nationals, expect for exceptional reasons, and likewise for people to enter the country. What Spain impose on their side is another consideration, as the autónomos regions of Spain may have different rules in place. This is something to consider if you are a UK national that was considering trying to get home via Spain, with the flights suspended here.
Madeira Trip Report
As a tourist/visitor stuck here these rules will also apply, the only main reasons to leave home are for a walk/exercise (carry proof of where you are staying, and stay nearby that place) or getting groceries/health care etc. More details here. If you are currently here and not in self-catering then take-away/delivery of food will also stay available so you can use this but only until 8pm on weekdays, and 5pm on weekends (these are the same hours as for the supermarkets). If you arrive into Portugal in the coming weeks, during the last lockdown you were allowed to drive from the airport to your accommodation but do have the confirmation paperwork to show any police check points.
“Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate.”
*Please note, this is a fast-moving situation and the information provided below is done so in good faith at the time of writing. There are various sources linked out to throughout the article, and particularly at the bottom, however, DanFlyingSolo takes no responsibility for the information provided here and urges you to check all official sources for updates.
In terms of which labs you can get tested at, the company I used when I travelled to The Azores have various labs across the country, even some small towns. Joaquim Chaves is the name of the company, and for most locations you can book a time online, or by email – you can find a list of labs and book directly on the link here. You’ll see that it is very busy, as they also serve the National Health Service, however you will not have the referral as a visitor so will be charged.
Other companies like LUMILABO and AVE offer paid testing – this list of mainland approved testing centres as supplied by the Madeira Government is handy (ignore the fact its free for enterign Madeira, and just use it as a tool/list of labs) as you can see a list of labs with contact details so you can contact them directly to book/pay for your test if required to travel back to your home country.
Latest updates below – Spanish Border – New Lockdown – Testing to enter from UK – Testing to return to the UK – Portugal travel ban to the UK
My trip report from Madeira, when I visited in November and December, can now be found here.
The lockdown was taken very seriously last time here, much so than in other countries, with the PSP (police) and GNR (national guard) doing checks, on roads, and enforcing it. As such, if you have a tourism trip to mainland Portugal in the next month I would suggest re-scheduling/taking a refund – and don’t think because you are a tourist that rules don’t apply or will be ignored for you. The message is clear and concise this time, unlike any other restrictions we have had in recent months – Stay at Home.
As of late November 2020 there are four tiers to these rules, slightly varying on the below – check with website for the most recent restrictions by area: https://covid19estamoson.gov.pt/ – this applies to mainland Portugal. I suggest using Google Chrome with Translate set to English. Then, on the dropdown box you can select the municipality you will be visiting and see the actual rules for that particular destination – especially in reference to the stricter weekend curfews.
This article has been live since May 2020, and I updated it weekly. Right now is not the time to visit Portugal for tourism, we are on lockdown – which although officially is only until mid-February, I fully expect to last until at least March. Cases are out of control here right now, nationals and residents aren’t allowed to travel anywhere in or outside the country, and it’s near impossible to get in and out from many places. While the islands of Madeira and The Azores are autonomous, and aren’t in as strict lockdowns, there are also many restrictions in place.