There has been tons of press this week about how you can now visit Portugal quarantine free. Whilst it is true that Portuguese authorities have relaxed their entry requirements for people arriving from England and Scotland, overseas travel will be far from plain sailing this year. Here are 6 things you need to know before you book a trip to Portugal this summer. WARNING: Also check the latest rules regularly to avoid disappointment on your planned trip to Portugal as the rules change regularly.
1 – Entry requirements for a trip to Portugal this summer
Portugal has recently relaxed its entry requirements which means that there are no restrictions on travelling to Portugal from England and Scotland. You can now enter the country without quarantine on arrival.
Screening on arrival
Instead, all passengers, including children aged over 2, must be able to show proof of a negative test for Covid at the time of boarding. The test must be conducted within 72 hours of departure.
Travellers from EU member states
If you arrive from a EU member states where the Covid incidence rate exceeds 500 per 100,000 inhabitants, you must self isolate on arrival for 14 days. The same applies if you have travelled from or via India, South Africa or Brazil in the last 14 days.
I stress, always check the latest rules as these can change at any time.
2 – UK entry requirements on your return from Portugal
Portugal is one of the few countries on the green list announced by the UK government. This means it is deemed one of the safest countries to visit. Note, this does not however prevent you from contracting the virus in Portugal and you should take sensible precautions to avoid infection.
What does green status mean in practice however?
Green status requirements for a trip to Portugal
- Returning travellers must complete a Passenger Locator Form
- Passengers must obtain a negative Covid test within 72 hours of UK departure
- Obtain a negative Covid test within 72 hours of your return to the UK, or be liable for a £500 fine on arrival into the UK.
- You will need to find a testing centre overseas and book an available test costing between €50 and €150 per person.
- Finally, take a further negative test on or before day 2 of your return to the UK.
Whilst you can visit Portugal without quarantine in either direction (assuming all your tests are negative), you will need 3 tests per person to do so. Personally I am not convinced that a week’s holiday overseas merits the additional cost and inconvenience of all these tests.
The Foreign Office website states very clearly that if you test positive, you must not travel. You should adhere to local guidance for positive tests and this mean quarantine overseas at your cost.
How much might these costs be and do you have sufficient funds to pay for them should the worst come to pass? Would a positive test overseas impact on your employment and pay?
3 – Covid tests before departure
You cannot obtain a Covid test centre from an NHS centre. Instead, you must book and pay for a test from an approved supplier. You can find details of prices and approved suppliers on the Covid testing network. Assured Screening is one of the approved suppliers and charges £79 for an in person 48 hour pre departure test followed by £89 for a day 2 test.
Some airports also offer testing which may be more convenient but could lead to severe disappointment if the outcome is positive.
For instance, Manchester airport is offering departure and 2 day tests for £66 each. Not only is the cost competitive but it is also convenient as the testing facility is in the terminal.
Demonstrating your vaccine status for a trip to Portugal
One huge positive announcement is for those who have had both doses of vaccine. If you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, or both vaccine doses at least 15 days prior to travel, you will be exempt from showing a negative test result on entry. However, it is unclear whether airlines will still require a negative test so you should check with your airline before removing this item from your to do list.
This may result in one less test requirement on departure for your trip to Portugal, but you will still need to do a PCR test within 72 hours of your return.
4 – Insurance
Many companies have updated their policies with Covid friendly terms. However you should check the small print so you know exactly is what included. Will your policy include cover for:
- inability to travel due to a positive coronavirus test ✔
- treatment of Covid whilst overseas or repatriation to the UK ✔
- pre-paid excursions which you can not go on due to mandatory self isolation ✔
- mandatory quarantine on your return to the UK (if rules changes and the country changes status) or overseas if you test positive before your return ✔
Holiday Extras allows you to obtain quotes for travel insurance but check the details of cover to decide which policy is most suitable and affordable. You may have to compromise on cover if you wish to reduce insurance costs. You may regret this however if you contract the virus overseas.
5 – Covid rates in Portugal
Another consideration for travel is the incidence of the virus. Sites such as Worldometer can provide the latest stastistics for a country. Portugal is currently no worse than the UK and has been much better through most of the pandemic so these figures are unlikely to be an issue for you.
|Cases in the last 7 days||Cases in the preceding 7 days||Weekly Case % Change||Cases in the last 7 days/1M pop||Deaths in the last 7 days||Deaths in the preceding 7 days||Weekly Death % Change|
6 – Lockdown restrictions in Portugal
That said, if you have very specific requirements to allow you to enjoy your holidays, you will need to check the local lockdown restrictions to ensure they will not ruin your trip to Portugal. The infographic below highlights the current rules (as at 23rd May) but the restrictions in Portugal are not overly restrictive.
What do you think?
Whilst I am not sure that one or two weeks in Europe is worth the cost and hassle of 3 tests, what do you think? Will you worry about the results so much that it will ruin your trip to Portugal? Will you wait to see whether vaccine certificates remove the need for a test? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.