Written by Christopher Nye, Senior Content Editor, Property Guides
Last Modified: 8th April 2021

After previously being on the UK’s ‘red list’, Portugal has since been removed and people arriving in the UK from Portugal no longer have to stay in a quarantine hotel. However, at present, flights between the UK and mainland Portugal (including Madeira and Azores) are suspended. This is expected to last until at least 16 April.

In more positive news, Portugal has announced that it aims to welcome British tourists from 17 May. Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism said: “I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative.”

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Madeira is already allowing visitors who can prove they have been vaccinated.

As foreign travel is currently banned in the UK until 30 June, when we can visit Portugal for a holiday depends on the UK’s rules.

Health and infection rate in Portugal

After suffering a third wave of infections just after Christmas, largely driven by a new and highly infectious variant, the current rate of new Covid infections in Portugal has fallen significantly to 27 new cases in the past week per 100,000. This is slightly lower than the UK (on 36.8) and Spain (86), but substantially lower than other European countries who are seeing another surge in infections (France on 415.3 and Italy on 222.4) Cases in the Algarve have remained relatively low.

Portugal’s vaccination rollout has not been as fast as the UK’s, however, they are making steady progress with nearly 20% of the population vaccinated.

Portugal hopes to welcome British tourists from 17 May. Keep an eye out for when flights restart!

Domestic restrictions

In all areas of Portugal, social distancing must be maintained and face masks worn in all enclosed spaces.

Mainland Portugal

Mainland Portugal is in a ‘state of emergency’, but the Portuguese government has announced a plan for the gradual easing of lockdown – much like the UK’s roadmap. From 15 March and subject to changes in infection rate, shops, services, events and sports will gradually be allowed to open and resume.

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Public gatherings are still illegal, however, from 5 April shops with a maximum area of 200 square metres and with direct street access have been allowed to open, with restricted trading hours.

Groups of up to four can dine outside at restaurants and cafes – again with restricted trading hours.

Madeira and Porto Santo

There is a stay at home order on weekdays from 7pm to 5am and on weekends and public holidays from 6pm to 5am. Shops must close at 6pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends and public holidays. Restaurants can offer takeaway and delivery until 10pm.

Empty street in Faro, Algarve

The Azores

The Azores has 5 risk levels, each with their own restrictions.

On arrival in Portugal

At the moment, only EU/EEA nationals and their families, UK and other non-EU/EEA nationals who are officially resident in Portugal or another EU country, or third-country nationals travelling for essential purposes are allowed into Portugal.

However, as mentioned, Portugal hopes to welcome British tourists from 17 May. Assuming entry requirements are similar to those currently in place, on arrival in Portugal including Madeira, Porto Santo and the Azores, it is likely Brits will have to show proof of vaccination OR proof of previous SARS/Covid-19 infection OR a negative test result for SARS/Covid-19 taken in the previous 72 hours.

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Airlines are likely to deny boarding if you cannot provide this at check-in. You should check with your airline in advance of travelling.

You will also have to have a health screening when you arrive in Portugal, including a temperature check.

If you are a Portuguese resident and travel without a test certificate, you will be tested by the Portuguese National Health Service at the airport. You will need to pay for this test yourself and will be required to isolate until the test results are confirmed.

On the plane, you need to fill in a passenger locator form in case other people on the flights are taken ill, in which case you will be contacted.

Property buying in Portugal

As we cannot fly to or from Portugal at the moment, it is not possible to physically view a property in Portugal.

While it is difficult to start planning viewing homes just yet physically, you can view online and even make an offer, subject to confirmation via a physical viewing when flights restart. The legal processes are continuing much as usual too, with the use of online legal processes where necessary.

In recent days, the UK has announced that those travelling abroad to buy property are exempt from the current overseas travel ban. Moreover, there is also the “reasonable excuse” of preparing an overseas property you already own for rental.

Therefore, once flights between the UK and Portugal resume, and subject to Portugal’s entry requirements, it should be possible to travel to Portugal to purchase a home.

Travelling overseas to purchase property is allowed under the UK’s travel exemptions

Keep an eye on Portugal Property Guides for the latest information on buying in Portugal.

Download our Emigration Guide, with all the information you need in one place about moving overseas.

Prior to the lockdown, prices in Portugal were rising fast, fuelled by low-interest rates. Official data shows them rising by around 10% last year. In the year to the end of June, prices rose by 8% but that includes a small contraction in the early days of the lockdown.

Since then there has been little reliable or up-to-date information on the property market. With the economy shrinking by around 10% in the past year, however, and the near-ruination of the summer tourist season, some sellers will undoubtedly be willing to take an offer in expat hotspots like the Algarve.


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