Portugal travel rules: what are the latest testing requirements for half-term holidays?

From city breaks to Lisbon or Porto, to beach breaks along the Algarve or road trips along the coast, Portugal is a popular spot for a springtime break.

Like various other European destinations, the country has changed its rules in the period between Christmas (and the Europe-wide Omicron wave of Covid-19) and the February half-term holidays in the UK.

As of 4 February, the Portuguese government has dropped extra pre-travel tests for people who can prove they are fully vaccinated.

So what’s the situation now: is Portugal open for holidays, city breaks and family adventures?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Can UK travellers visit Portugal?

Yes. But only those who have had two doses or more of a vaccine can avoid having to take a pre-travel test.

As of 4 February, double jabbed travellers may enter Portugal with proof of vaccination alone, provided the second dose was administered more than 14 days before travel.

You must have had your second jab no more than 270 days before travel to be considered “fully vaccinated”. If your second dose was more than nine months ago, you must have received a booster jab (or provide a negative test result, see below).

Valid, in-date NHS Covid Passes will be accepted at the Portuguese border.

Unvaccinated travellers may also enter Portugal, but they have to present a negative result from a Covid test taken within the past 72 hours (PCR) or 24 hours (lateral flow/rapid antigen).

You can also enter Portugal using proof of recovery: “with a Covid-19 recovery certificate showing you recovered from Covid-19, no less than 11 days and no more than 180 days before you travel”.

The rules are different for the Azores islands: you must still present a negative test result (same timeframes) regardless of vaccination status. This is just for direct entry – if you travel there from mainland Portugal, you can get in with proof of full, valid vaccination.

Things are even more straightforward for the island of Madeira: you do not need to have a test result or proof of vaccination if you’re travelling there directly.

All travellers need to fill in the relevant health form: there are different ones for mainland Portugal and the autonomous island regions of Madeira and the Azores.

Do note that if you have passed through any of several countries within Africa – South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique – you still have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Portugal.

Do children visiting Portugal need tests or proof of vaccination?

Children aged 11 and under are exempt from the testing and proof of vaccination requirement for Portugal, Madeira and the Azores.

Children aged 12 and over must present proof of vaccination (if they have it), or take a test within the above-mentioned timeframes.

What are the Covid-related rules on the ground in Portugal?

Vaccine passports

Tourists need to show either proof of full vaccination (NHS Covid Pass accepted) or a recent Covid-19 test result (PCR test within the past 72 hours, rapid antigen within the past 24 hours) to access some venues.

These are:

  • Tourist establishments and local accommodation
  • Restaurants (except on open terraces)
  • Cultural shows
  • Events with reserved seats
  • Gyms

For bars and nightclubs, you need to have proof of a recent booster jab.

Mask-wearing in Portugal

Face masks are mandatory on all public transport and in taxis and in enclosed public spaces such as museums and restaurants (until you’re seated), but they are not required outdoors. Social distancing is still in place in some larger capacity or crowded places.

The Independent – Algarve