What are the current international flight restrictions imposed by Portugal?

Order No. 11740-E/2021, of 26 November 2021, establishes that flights to and from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe are suspended from 29 November 2021 (12:00 AM) to 9 January 2022 (11:59 PM).

Council of Ministers Resolution No. 157/2021, of 27 November 2021, and Orders No. 11888-A/2021 and 11888-C/2021 , both of them adopted on 30 November 2021, lay down the general rules on entry by air into Portugal. The following essential and non-essential flights are authorised: (i) of passengers from countries within the European Union and Schengen Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), as well as from the United Kingdom, USA and Brazil; (ii) of passengers holding an authorised EU COVID Digital Certificate or holders of a digital certificate for a COVID-19 vaccine with marketing authorisation, which has been subject to an implementing decision of the European Commission (cf. question below); (iii) of passengers holding a vaccination certificate attesting the completion of the vaccination schedule as defined in the Portuguese law, at least 14 days before, with a COVID-19 vaccine with marketing authorisation, whose recognition has been determined by the joint order referred to in the law (cf. question below); (iv) of passengers from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, People's Republic of China, Ruanda, Uruguay, and Taiwan and the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions, subject to reciprocal confirmation, or passengers arriving from those countries even if they stop-over in countries on this list.

The following essential flights of passengers from non-listed countries are also authorised: (i) trips undertaken for professional, study, family reunion, health or humanitarian reasons); and (ii) flights 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.

Foreign citizens without legal residence in national territory who stop over at a national airport must wait for their connecting flight to their countries in a dedicated area inside the airport.

As regards international flights, all passengers (regardless of the vaccination status) must present before boarding; (i) EU Digital COVID Certificate in the form of test/recovery; (ii) a laboratory confirmation of having carried out the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT); or (iii) a laboratory confirmation of having carried out a rapid antigen test (RAT) - included in the common list of rapid antigen tests for COVID 19 within the European Union agreed by the European Union’s Health Security Committee for screening for SARS-CoV-2 infection -, with negative results, performed respectively within 72 or 48 hours before boarding.

Airline companies shall only allow passengers on flights to or with stopover at mainland Portugal to board the flight upon presentation, at the time of departure, of confirmation of having carried out the test. Upon arrival in mainland Portugal, ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, S.A. (ANA) shall ensure the test checking system of passengers by private security professionals. Such monitoring may also be carried out randomly by the Public Security Police or by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). Children under the age of 12 years are not required to present proof of a negative test for SARS-CoV-2 infection for travel purposes.

Third-country nationals non-resident in Portugal who board the aircraft without taking the test shall be denied entry in the country. 

Irrespective of fines, with regard to passengers flying from EU Member States/European Schengen Area or, regardless of the flight origin, passengers who are (i) national citizens; (ii) foreign citizens with legal residence in mainland Portugal and their families; (iii) members of the diplomatic staff stationed in Portugal; or (iv) coming from flights to support the return of national citizens or for humanitarian purposes; - and who, on an exceptional basis, do not hold proof of having tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection, must carry out the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or the rapid antigen test (TRAg) at their own expense upon arrival before entering mainland Portugal. Such passengers and those whose body temperature is equal to or higher than 38ºC and, therefore, undergo test arranged by ANA for screening of SARS-CoV-2 infection, will wait in a restricted area inside the airport until the result is notified.

The relevant Government members may determine, by order, that passengers on flights departing from countries considered to be at risk under the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19, must comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days when entering mainland Portugal, in their domicile or other location indicated by the health authorities. An airport stopover in any of these countries is not considered as the origin of the flight.

Order No. 11740-E/2021, of 26 November 2021, determines that all passengers from Mozambique, and those who, regardless of origin, present a passport with an exit record from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe (in the 14 days before their arrival in mainland Portugal) must comply, after entry, with prophylactic isolation period of 14 days, at home or at a place indicated by the health authorities.
Therefore, upon arrival to mainland Portugal, the above-mentioned passengers will be forwarded to a designated location inside the airport to perform a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or rapid antigen test (RAT) to screen for SARS-CoV-2 and subsequent genomic sequencing, as well as for determination of prophylactic isolation by the health authorities.
Decree-Law No. 105-A/2021, of 30 November, determines that, as of 16 December 2021, all passengers on flights to or from mainland Portugal are required to complete and present the “Passenger Location Form” (PLF) (for further information on PLF see question below). Airline companies are obliged to deny boarding to passengers who do not fill and present the PLF. In addition, the competent police authorities may randomly check the passenger’s PLF upon arrival in Portugal.

These limitations and 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 9 January 2022.

 

What are the rules for the Passenger Locator Form (PLF)?

Starting on 16 December 2021, and under Decree-Law No. 105-A-2021, of 30 November, passengers boarding on flights with destination or stopover in mainland Portugal must complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF). The PLF is available online in Portuguese and English and it must be completed after check-in and before boarding, via the “Clean & Safe” website at https://portugalcleanandsafe.pt/pt-pt/passenger-locator-card.
Airline companies shall ensure that all passengers boarding on flights with destination or stopover in mainland Portugal have proof of completion of the PLF, in digital format or on paper, and must deny boarding to those who do not present it. Such monitoring may also be carried out randomly by the competent police authorities.
Passengers who fail to comply with the above-mentioned rules may be subject to fines.

 

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 and Regulation (EU) 2021/953, of 14 June 2021, 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.

With regard to international flights, and until 9 January 2022, the presentation of EU Digital COVID Certificate proving that the person has been fully vaccinated does not exempt passengers to present proof of a negative result for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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).

 

What are the rules for the use of vaccination or recovery certificates issued by third countries in air travel?


The Council of Ministers Resolution No. 157/2021, of 27 November 2021, and Order No. 11888-A/2021, of 30 November 2021, determine that essential and non-essential travel is authorized for passengers holding a vaccination certificate issued by third countries and recognized as valid under the terms of such diplomas and Regulation (CE) No. 726/2004. However, considering the special testing rules, which are applicable until 9 January 2022, passengers are not exempt to present proof of a negative result test on flights with destination or stopover in mainland Portugal until that date. The validity of certificates for vaccination or recovery issued by third countries is recognized provided that all of the following requirements are met:

  • Reciprocity in the recognition by the relevant third countries of the validity of the EU COVID Digital Certificates for vaccination or recovery issued by Portugal;
  • The vaccination or recovery certificates include the data listed in Annex II to Order No. 11888-C/2021, of 30 November 2021;
  • Holders of the certificates are vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine with marketing authorization in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 726/2004, as per Annex III of the mentioned Order.

Non-reciprocity in the acceptance by third countries of the validity of the EU COVID Digital Certificate issued by Portugal, in the form of vaccination or recovery certificates, prevents the acceptance of the validity of certificates issued by those third countries.

 

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 released a Notice, on 18 March 2020, with 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".

 

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

All information contained herein and all opinions expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to substitute recourse to expert legal advice for the resolution of real cases.