What are the current international flight restrictions imposed by Portugal?

According to Council of Ministers Resolution No. 101-A/2021, of 30 June 2021 (as amended) and Order No. 774-B6/2021, of 6 August 2021, the following flights to and from mainland Portugal are authorised: (i) to and from countries within the European Union and Schengen Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), as well as to and from the United Kingdom; (ii) for essential trips (those undertaken for professional, study, family reunion, health or humanitarian reasons); (iii) to and from Albania, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, South Korea, USA, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, People's Republic of China, Serbia, Singapore, Ukraine, and Taiwan and the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, subject to reciprocal confirmation; and (iv) destined to allow the return to the respective countries of foreign citizens that are in mainland Portugal, provided that such flights are promoted by the competent authorities of such countries, subject to previous request and agreement, and in respect to the principle of reciprocity.

Airline companies shall only allow passengers on flights to or from mainland Portugal to board the flight upon presentation, at the time of departure, of laboratory confirmation of having carried out a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or a rapid antigen test (RAT) - included in the common list of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 disease within the European Union, agreed upon by the European Union's Health Security Committee - for screening for SARS-CoV-2 infection with a negative result, performed within 72 or 48 hours before boarding, respectively. Although airlines are responsible for verifying the existence of this test on departure, on arrival in mainland Portugal, random checks may be made by the Public Security Police or the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF). Children under the age of 12 years are not required to present proof of a test for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Passengers on flights from South Africa, Brazil, India, Nepal, and the United Kingdom have to comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days it their domicile or other location to be indicated by authorities, except when these passengers are holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate (cfr. question below). However, passengers flying from the United Kingdom, who present proof of vaccination carried out in that country attesting that the holder has completed the vaccination schedule, for at least 14 days, with a COVID-19 vaccine with marketing authorisation pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 726/2004, are not subject to that isolation obligation.

The obligation to comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days also applies to passengers on flights, regardless of origin, who present passports registered as having left South Africa, Brazil, India, Nepal, South Africa in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Portugal.

The following passengers are also exempt from this obligation and must limit their journeys to what is essential for the purpose for which they arrived in Portugal: (a) if travelling on essential trips and whose period of stay in national territory, attested by a return ticket, does not exceed 48 hours; (b) if travelling exclusively for the practice of sports activities integrated in international professional competitions referred to below, provided that compliance with a set of appropriate measures is guaranteed to reduce the maximum risk of contagion, namely avoiding non-sporting contacts, and observance of the rules and guidelines defined by the DGS. The professional competitions are the ones expressly stated in Order No. 7746-B/2021/2021, of 6 August 2021.

These restrictions shall not apply to State and Armed Forces aircrafts, aircrafts which are or will be part of the Special Rural Fire Fighting System, flights for the exclusive carriage of cargo and mail, emergency medical services and technical stopovers for purposes unrelated to commercial operations or to their crew members.

These rules are valid until 11:59 pm of 31 August 2021.

What are the rules for the use of the EU COVID Digital Certificate in air travel?

Decree-Law No. 54-A/2021, of 25 June 2021 (which implements Regulation (EU) 2021/953, of 14 June 2021 and Regulation (EU), both concerning the legal regime of the EU COVID Digital Certificate) states that all travelers with an EU COVID Digital Certificate are allowed to travel to Portugal for any reason.

The following EU COVID Digital Certificates are admitted:

a) Vaccination certificate attesting that its holder has been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days with a COVID-19 vaccine with marketing authorization in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004;

b) Test certificate stating that the holder has been subjected to: (i) a nucleic acid amplification molecular test (NAAT) within the last 72 hours with a negative result; or (ii) a rapid antigen test included on the list drawn up by the European Commission based on the Council Recommendation of 21 January 2021 on a common framework for the use and validation of rapid antigen detection tests for COVID-19 and the mutual recognition of test results in the EU within the last 48 hours with a negative result;

c) Certificate of recovery, certifying that the holder has recovered from a SARS-CoV-2 infection following a positive TAAN test result obtained more than 11 days and less than 180 days ago.

Presentation of an EU Digital COVID Certificate exempts travel related testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition, presentation of an EU COVID Digital Certificate for vaccination or recovery exempts holders of the certificate and accompanying minors from quarantine or isolation for travel purposes.

Verification of ownership of a valid EU COVID Digital Certificate is carried out by airlines at the time of departure as a condition of boarding to Portugal for the respective holders, without prejudice to random verification, upon arrival in national territory, by the Public Security Police or the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).

For more information on the EU COVID Digital Certificate, please click (here).

Can my body temperature be controlled on arrival at international airports of mainland Portugal?

Yes. All passengers arriving at an international airport in mainland Portugal may be subject to body temperature screening through infrared.

If a body temperature of 38°C or higher is detected, passengers should be directed immediately to a space suitable for repeating the body temperature measurement. In addition, they may also be subjected to a rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 infection, if deemed necessary. This procedure must be carried out by duly qualified health professionals, being ANA, S.A. the responsible entity for it.

Was Covid-19 deemed as an “extraordinary circumstance” for the purposes of Regulation 261/2004 on air passenger rights?

The European Commission has release on 19 March, the “Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19” under which air passengers rights following flight cancelations were analysed.

Typically, in case of flight cancelations, and depending on the circumstances, passengers may be entitled to (i) reimbursement (refund); (ii) re-routing; (iii) right to care and (vi) a compensation.

However, the operating air carrier will not be obliged to pay the abovementioned compensation if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”. 

In this respect, the Commission considered that this condition should be deemed as fulfilled:

  • “where public authorities either outright prohibit certain flights or ban the movement of persons in a manner that excludes, de facto, the flight in question to be operated” or
  • “where the airline decides to cancel a flight and shows that this decision was justified on grounds of protecting the health of the crew”.

The Commission also considered that the abovementioned condition could also be deemed as fulfilled, depending on the circumstances, “where the flight cancellation occurs in circumstances where the corresponding movement of persons is not entirely prohibited, but limited to persons benefitting from derogations (for example nationals or residents of the state concerned).”

This means that in the first two cases mentioned above, compensations to passengers in case of flight cancelation will not be owed and, in the last case, it may not be owed, depending on the circumstances.

It is also worth highlighting that the abovementioned “extraordinary circumstances” cannon be deemed as exhaustive.

What measures were approved regarding trips organized by travel and tourism agencies?

In this regard, please refer to the exceptional measures analysed in the tab "Tourism".