Portugal Travel Information

Last modified: July 25, 2023
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Entry to mainland Portugal

Travel to Portugal, including Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores, is limited to:

  • EU/EEA nationals and their family members;
  • UK and other non-EU/EEA nationals who are officially resident in Portugal or another EU member state;
  • UK and other third country nationals who are travelling for essential purposes, such as to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.

If you are travelling to Portugal as a resident, be prepared to show evidence of your residence status, such as your residence card or certificate, to your airline and to the immigration officer on arrival.

If you are travelling to Portugal for essential purposes, be prepared to show evidence to support your reason for travel, to your airline and to the immigration officer on arrival.

For further information, see the Portuguese Immigration Service website.

In addition, travel to Portugal from Australia, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand is permitted for any purpose providing you are also a resident in one of these countries. Travel from Hong Kong and Macao is subject to reciprocity. Contact your airline and the Portuguese Embassy before you travel.

Where there are no direct flights from the above countries to Portugal, you may still be allowed entry provided you have remained airside while in transit through other countries.

You need to complete an online passenger locator card before you arrive in Portugal.

Screening on arrival

All passengers, excluding children up to the age of 2, travelling to Portugal must show a negative RT-PCR test result for SARS/COVID-19 at the time of boarding. The test must have been taken within 72 hours of departure. Your airline is likely to deny boarding if you cannot provide this at check-in. Check with your airline before you travel.

If you are travelling from an EU member state, including in transit, where the COVID-19 incidence rate exceeds 500 per 100,000 inhabitants, or your journey originated in the UK or Brazil and you travelled by air, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. Check with your airline before you book if this applies to you.

If you are in direct airside transit through Portugal, you do not need a COVID-19 test for Portugal. Check the entry requirements for your final destination.

If you are resident in Portugal and your airline has allowed you to travel without proof of a COVID-19 test, you will need to take the test on arrival at the airport. You will need to pay for the test and remain at the airport until you receive your test result.

All passengers travelling to Portugal will be subject to health screening on arrival. Your temperature will be checked and if it is 38ºc or over or you show signs of being unwell, you will be referred to the health authorities at the airport. You may be required to take a further RT-PCR COVID-19 test and remain at the airport until you receive your test result.

For further information, see the Portuguese Immigration Service website.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test. Make sure you have a RT-PCR COVID-19 nasal swab test. Check your test result identifies the type of test taken and gives your name, date of birth, the date and time the sample was collected and the date of the result.

Transiting Spain

Transit through Spanish airports from the UK to Portugal is not permitted. See FCDO travel advice for Spain.

You can transit Spanish airports to return to the UK. Be prepared to show evidence of your connecting flight. If you have to go through border control into Spanish territory, you may be required to present a negative PCR, TNA or LAMP test. Contact the airline or your travel operator for more information before you travel.

Road, rail and ferry travel to/from Spain

There are border controls at the land border with Spain. Border crossings are suspended until further notice, except for cross border workers, goods traffic and people entering or leaving Portugal to return to their normal place of residence.

Checkpoints and operating times can be found on the Portuguese Immigration Service website.

Rail and ferry connections between Spain and Portugal have been suspended.

Check the requirements for entering and transiting France and Spain on FCDO Travel Advice, before you travel.

Entry to Madeira and Porto Santo

Before you arrive in Madeira and Porto Santo:

  • complete and submit a traveller questionnaire 12 to 48 hours before departure.
  • take a RT-PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours before you travel and upload your test result. If you are travelling from the UK, you should arrange to take a test privately and ensure it is a RT-PCR COVID-19 nasal swab test
  • In the unlikely event that your airline has allowed you to travel without a RT-PCR COVID-19 test, you will have to take a test on arrival at the airport and remain in government provided accommodation until the results are known. This will take about 12 hours.
  • On arrival, you will be subject to health screening. If you have not uploaded your RT-PCR COVID-19 test result, you will be asked to show it at the airport.

If at any stage you test positive or inconclusive, you will have to repeat the test until the result is negative.

For further information, see the Madeira Tourist Board’s information for visitors.

The regional government has announced that anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 in the previous 90 days, or has had both doses of the vaccine will be exempt from showing a RT-PCR COVID-19 test on arrival in Madeira or Porto Santo. For more information, see the Madeira Tourist Board’s information for visitors and contact your tour operator or airline.

Entry to the Azores

Before you arrive in the Azores:

  • take a RT-PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours before you travel and print or keep a digital copy of the negative result to show to the airline when you board. If you are travelling from the UK, you should arrange to take the test privately and ensure it is a RT-PCR COVID-19 nasal swab test.
  • complete a passenger questionnaire

On arrival, you will be subject to health screening. You can be prosecuted if you travel without having taken a RT-PCR COVID-19 test, and you will be obliged to take a test locally.

If you have not completed the passenger questionnaire online, you will be asked to fill in a form manually at the airport.

If you are staying for more than 7 days, you will have to repeat the test locally 6 days after the first test. If you are staying for more than 13 days, you will have to repeat the test locally 12 days after the first test.

For further information, see the Regional Government’s website. Use the green button on the bottom left-hand side of the page to translate into English.

Inter-island travel

You should only travel between islands if your journey is essential. If you have to travel and you are travelling from an island classified as medium or high risk, you will need to

  • have a RT-PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before you travel and show the negative result when you board, and
  • complete a passenger questionnaire before you depart

If you are staying for more than 7 days, you will have to repeat the test 6 days after the first test. If you are staying for more than 13 days, you will have to repeat the test 12 days after the first test.

If your flight is cancelled or delayed and your PCR COVID-19 test exceeds the 72 hour timeframe, you will have to take a test on arrival and self-isolate until you receive confirmation of a negative result.

This does not apply to children aged 12 and under.

Ports and vessels

Cruise ships can only berth at ports on mainland Portugal for the purpose of repairs and layover. Crew and any passengers will not be allowed to disembark. Cruise ships are allowed to dock in Madeira and Porto Santo, but passengers and crew can only embark or disembark with the consent of the health authorities. Other vessels can dock and crew and passengers can disembark subject to health screening and:

  • completion of a Traveller Registration form
  • proof of a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test, carried out, at most, 72 hours prior to departure from the last port of call

If you do not have proof of having taken a test, you will need to take a test on arrival and await the results on board the vessel.

If you have been at sea for more than 14 days, you will be exempt from a COVID-19 test unless you have a temperature or you are showing signs of being unwell.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

Should you meet the criteria of the current COVID-19 restrictions, you should be aware that the rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
  • if you are travelling to Portugal and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
  • to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Portuguese government’s entry requirements. Check the Portuguese Immigration Service (scroll to the bottom of the page) and check with the Portuguese Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need.
  • if you stay in Portugal with a visa or permit, this does count towards your 90-day visa-free limit

Any time spent in Portugal or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At Portuguese border control, you will need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Portugal. If you are resident in Portugal, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Portugal guide.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

Travelling with children

Portuguese Border Control (SEF) advise that a child under the age of 18 who is travelling to Portugal alone or without a parent or legal guardian should either:

  • be met at the airport or point of entry by their parent or guardian, or
  • carry a letter of authorisation to travel from their parent or guardian. The letter should name the adult in Portugal who will be responsible for them during their stay. There is no legal requirement for the letter to be notarised. However, the onus is on the parent or legal guardian to provide reasonable evidence, including contact details, to confirm that adequate care arrangements are in place.

Resident minors leaving Portugal

A child under the age of 18 who is resident in Portugal must carry a notarised letter of authority from their parent or guardian if they’re travelling out of the country alone or without a parent or legal guardian. The letter of authority can be issued by:

  1. one of the child’s parents (if the parents are married)
  2. the parent the child lives with (if the parents are separated or divorced)
  3. one of the adoptive parents (if the child is adopted) or
  4. the child’s legal guardian

Further information in English, together with a standard form of words (in Portuguese), are available on the Portuguese immigration service website

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs)

UK ETDs are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Portugal.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime rates are low but pickpocketing, handbag snatching and theft from cars and holiday properties are common in major tourist areas and can be accompanied by violence. Be alert, keep sight of your belongings at all times and beware of thieves using distraction techniques. Be especially vigilant on public transport (particularly the popular numbers 15 and 28 trams in Lisbon) and at busy railway and underground stations and crowded bus and tram stops.

Do not carry all your valuables together in handbags or pockets. Leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. Avoid leaving items in an unattended car, even for a short period; if you have no alternative, hide them in the boot before you reach your destination. Remember that foreign-registered and hire cars are often targeted by thieves.

Report the loss or theft of your passport immediately to the local police and obtain a police report. You will need the report for insurance purposes.

Make sure your holiday accommodation has adequate security. Lock all doors and windows at night and when you go out. If you’re worried about security at your accommodation, speak to your tour operator or the owner. Familiarise yourself with the contact details of the local PSP (city police) or GNR (rural and small town police).

Sexual assaults are rare, but you should be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs, including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they aren’t spiked.  If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly and know your limit and remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often much stronger than those in the UK. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don’t go off with people you don’t know.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 621 road deaths in Portugal (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 6.0 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Portugal on your UK driving licence.

If you’re living in Portugal, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving regulations

Driving is on the right. If you hire a car, make sure the vehicle insurance is fully comprehensive and check how you will pay for any toll charges.

See the European Commission,AA and RAC guides on driving in Portugal.

Bringing a vehicle to Portugal

As a tourist, you can bring your own vehicle to Portugal for a maximum of 183 days in any 12-month period. You must not use your vehicle for any other purpose than tourism or loan it to anyone else during that time. If you intend to stay longer, you must apply to the Portuguese Customs authority to have the car legally imported. You will be fined if you leave the country without your car.

Madeira

Walking the levadas (ancient irrigation channels) can be challenging. Choose only the ones that are suited to your own standard of fitness and experience. Be prepared for narrow, uneven paths and heights. Wear suitable clothing and walking boots. Leave details of where you are going with your hotel reception and take your mobile telephone with you. Better still, join a group of walkers and go with a guide. Take extra care if it has rained as the ground may be slippery and unstable. Check with your tour guide or local organiser that it is safe to visit before setting off.

Further information about walkway closures and access restrictions can be found on the Visit Madeira official website.

Beaches and swimming

Deaths by drowning occur every year on Portuguese beaches and in swimming pools. The Maritime Police have the authority to fine bathers who disobey the lifeguard’s warning flags.

Take warning flags on beaches seriously. The red flag indicates danger: never enter the water when the red flag is flying. If there is a yellow flag, you may paddle at the water’s edge, but not swim. The green flag indicates that it is safe to swim, and the chequered flag means that the beach is temporarily unmanned. Follow local advice if jellyfish are present.

Take care when walking along unmanned beaches close to the water’s edge as some waves can be of an unpredictable size and come in further than expected on to the beach with strong undertows.

Don’t swim at beaches that link to/from rivers, or those without lifeguards. Don’t dive into unknown water as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death.

Look out for signs warning of cliff erosion. Falling rocks are a hazard, particularly in the Algarve, and the authorities can fine those who ignore warning signs.

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