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Azores travel guide

About Azores

For more than 500 years, the Azores, an archipelago of nine widely dispersed islands floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, have remained almost completely unspoiled and largely unvisited, mainly on account of their remoteness.

Volcanic in origin, these dramatic islands are pitted with deep craters, filled with shimmering lakes and covered with lush vegetation. Geysers and health-giving sulphur springs abound. For outdoorsy types, they are a joy to discover.

In contrast to the Azores Islands’ natural beauty are the large tracts of arable farmland, which are peppered with tiny settlements of whitewashed houses. Here you will see gently sloping hillsides planted with vineyards and fruit trees that are tended to by the archipelago’s hardy inhabitants.

Coastlines in the Azores tend to be rugged and somewhat forbidding – this is not exactly a beach destination – but there are plenty of bays and rocky inlets for swimming and sunbathing. Watersports are widely available, with a particular emphasis on scuba-diving, whale watching and yachting.

The Azores Islands are, sadly, a secret no more. Improved air links with Portugal, which claims sovereignty over the archipelago, and the rest of Europe are bringing more adventure-seeking tourists to the islands. Not that an increase in visitor numbers will diminish the charms of this destination, whose natural wonders tempt many back for a return trip.

Key facts

Area:

2,333 sq km (900 sq miles).

Population:

245,766 (INE value 2015).

Population density:

105.3 per sq km.

Capital:

São Miguel: Ponta Delgada; Faial: Horta; Terceira: Angra do Heroísmo.

Government:

A Portguese autonomous region since 1976.

Head of state:

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa since 2016.

Head of government:

President Vasco Cordeiro since 2012.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for mainland Portugal, Madeira and the Azores on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you enter Portugal.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. Check when you book that the testing service can provide the appropriate COVID-19 test. You will not need a prescription, but you will have to show your passport and confirmed travel bookings.

In Portugal, tests have to be booked in advance and paid for in full. It can take up to 24 hours for the results to be returned.

You can schedule a test at any private clinic in Portugal. Find one near you from this list of approved facilities.

If you are staying in the Algarve, look out for information on testing facilities at the airport on arrival, or find a clinic near you on the Algarve tourist authority’s website. Your hotel may also be able to help you arrange a test in time for your departure.

If you are travelling to Madeira or Porto Santo, you can book your return COVID-19 test after you have uploaded your RT-PCR test for arrival on the Madeira Traveller Registration platform. This test is free of charge and carried out at the hospital in Funchal and health centre in Porto Santo. Alternatively, schedule your own COVID-19 test at one of the clinics listed on the Madeira Tourist Authority website.

If you are travelling to the Azores, book your return COVID-19 test at a clinic on the island where you are staying. Ask your hotel or local tourist office for help in finding a clinic closest to you.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will have to self-isolate for 10 days. If you continue to test positive, you may not be able to get a fitness-to-fly certificate. You may also need to seek treatment.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Portugal

You should follow the advice of the Portuguese authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus. Social distancing measures and other safety precautions are still in force and should be observed at all times:

  • Keep a social distance of 1.5 metres
  • Use a face mask in enclosed public spaces and outdoors where social distancing of 1.5 m cannot be maintained
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and use a hand sanitizer where soap and water are not available
  • follow any safety measures put in place by hotels, restaurants, bars and shops to reduce the risk of infection

Travel between Madeira and Porto Santo

Check the requirements on the Madeira Islands official website .

Inter-island travel in the Azores

Check the requirements on the Visit Azores official website.

Public spaces and services

Mainland Portugal

Portugal is currently in a state of alert. Some restrictions remain in force, including the requirement:

  • to show an EU digital COVID certificate to attend large cultural, sporting and corporative events and on entry to bars and nightclubs
  • to wear a face mask indoors, particularly in shopping centres and large stores and supermarkets, in hospitals and retirement homes, on public transport, including in taxis, and at the cinema, theatre, concerts and other events
  • to wear a face mask outdoors where social distancing cannot be maintained These requirements do not apply to children under the age of 12 (i.e. up to and including 11)

Use of EU digital COVID certificates and negative test results

If you do not have an EU digital COVID certificate, you may show a negative COVID test result, obtained by one of the following means:

  • Certified PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours
  • Certified antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours
  • Rapid antigen self-test done within the previous 24 hours and certified by a health or pharmaceutical professional

You can be fined if you breach these regulations.

Face coverings

You must wear a face mask in all enclosed spaces. You should wear your face covering when you enter the building and keep it on until you leave. In cafes and restaurants, keep your mask on until you are seated.

You are also advised to wear a face mask outdoors where it is not possible to maintain a 1.5 m social distance from other members of the public.

These measures apply to everyone over the age of 10 on mainland Portugal and in the Azores, and from the age of 6 in Madeira and Porto Santo.

You can be fined if you breach the regulations.

Exemptions from wearing a face covering differ in Portugal compared to the UK. You may be exempt from using a face mask both indoors and out on medical grounds. You will have to show a declaration from your doctor as evidence that you have a health condition that prevents you from wearing a face covering. You should observe strict social distancing and limit the time you spend in common areas in enclosed spaces. For further information (in Portuguese) on exemptions, see decree-law 62-A/2020 (Article 3(2).

Accommodation

Check any accommodation you book meets the required hygiene and cleaning standards and look out for the Portuguese Tourist Board’s “clean and safe” certification.

Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores

You should follow the advice of the regional authorities on how best to protect yourself and others. While the state of emergency has ended, some restrictions remain in force. These are different to the mainland.

Madeira and Porto Santo

Keep up-to-date with the restrictions in force in Madeira and Porto Santo on the Madeira Islands official website (check under “other information”)

The Azores

The restrictions in place in the Azores vary from island to island depending on the level of risk. Check the restrictions in place on each island on the regional government’s website.

Healthcare in Portugal

If you need emergency medical assistance, call 112 and ask for an ambulance.

If you are feeling unwell, but it’s not an emergency, call:

  • Mainland Portugal: (+351) 808 24 24 24, press 9 for English
  • Madeira and Porto Santo: (+351) 800 24 24 20
  • Azores:(+351) 808 24 60 24

COVID-19 testing is carried out free-of-charge if you are referred by a Portuguese national health service doctor.

If you need a COVID-19 test in order to travel, you should arrange to take a private test. See ‘Returning to the UK’.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Portugal.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Portugal

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Portuguese government announces any new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

Portugal has three vaccination plans. One for the mainland , one for Madeira and Porto Santo and one for the Azores (only available in Portuguese).

The Portuguese national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccines. British nationals resident in Portugal who have a permanent or temporary healthcare user’s number are eligible for vaccination.

If you live in mainland Portugal, and you have a healthcare user’s number, you can schedule an appointment to be vaccinated or ask for an electronic ticket to attend a vaccination centre that is operating an “open house” system. Find out more from the health authority’s website (use Google Chrome to access the page in English).

If you live in mainland Portugal, and you do not have a healthcare user’s number, complete this form to get a temporary number and to schedule an appointment. You will need a Portuguese mobile number for this purpose.

If you live in Madeira, check the regional health authority’s website for information on how to register for the vaccine.

If you live in the Azores, use this form to register for the vaccine.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Portugal, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Portugal you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the health authorities. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

While you are in Portugal, your safety and security is the responsibility of the Portuguese authorities. You should follow their advice and comply with the measures they have put in place.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

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.

If you are planning to drive in Portugal, see information on Driving Abroad.

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 a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK on or after 28 September 2021.

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.

Road safety

Local travel

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 close to the water’s edge along unsupervised stretches of beaches. Waves can be unpredictable and have a strong undertow.

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.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Portugal set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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.

If you are travelling to Portugal for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Entry to Portugal, including the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores

You can travel to Portugal for any purpose from the EU/EEA or from the UK and some other non-EU/EEA countries.

If you are travelling from any other non-EU/EEA country, you can only enter for essential purposes, such as to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.

Check the Portuguese Immigration Service website for further details of the entry requirements.

Entering mainland Portugal

Before you travel to mainland Portugal

If you have an NHS COVID Pass or an EU digital COVID vaccination certificate showing you have been fully vaccinated with an EU approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before you travel, or an EU COVID recovery certificate showing you have recovered from COVID-19 no less than 11 days and no more than 180 days of when you are due to travel:

  • you do not need to have a COVID-19 test to enter Portugal, however some airlines have not yet updated their requirements. Check with your airline before you travel
  • be prepared to show a digital or paper copy of your COVID vaccination or recovery certificate when you check-in for your flight, and
  • complete an online passenger locator card

If you do not have an NHS COVID Pass or an EU digital COVID certificate, you must:

  • take a COVID-19 pre-departure test before you travel (children up to the age of 11 are exempt)
    • this can be an antigen test taken within 48 hours of departure, or a RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. If you have an antigen test, make sure it meets the standards set out in the EU common list of Rapid Antigen Tests
    • 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
    • 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
  • complete an online passenger locator card

Portugal may accept other countries’ COVID vaccination certificates for the purpose of entry. Check with your airline or the Portuguese Consulate in your country of origin for more information before you travel.

On arrival in mainland Portugal

You will be subject to health screening on arrival. If your temperature is 38ºC or over or you show signs of being unwell, you may be required to take a COVID-19 test and remain at the airport until you receive your test result.

If you are travelling from the UK or another non-EU/EEA country, you may be asked to show your COVID-19 vaccination certificate or negative COVID-19 test at border control.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status for entry to mainland Portugal

The authorities in mainland Portugal will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Quarantining on arrival in mainland Portugal

If you have travelled from India, Nepal or South Africa to mainland Portugal and you do not have an NHS COVID Pass or EU digital COVID vaccination or recovery certificate as described above, you must quarantine for 14 days at your own accommodation or at a place indicated by the Portuguese health authority.

The rules on quarantining apply to passengers arriving by air, as well as by road, rail or sea.

If the quarantining rules apply to you, complete this form.

Airside transit in mainland Portugal

If you are transiting Portugal by air on your way to another country, unless you have an NHS COVID Pass or an EU digital COVID vaccination or recovery certificate as described above, you need to show a negativeCOVID-19 pre-departure test certificate, even if you do not intend to leave the airport. You should also check the COVID-19 entry requirements for your destination country.

Travelling through Spain and France to Portugal

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

Check the requirements for crossing the land border into Portugal from Spain.

Entering Madeira and Porto Santo

Before you travel to Madeira and Porto Santo

With the exception of children up to, and including, the age of 11, travellers to Madeira and Porto Santo must:

Your airline may deny boarding if you cannot show one of these documents when you check-in for your flight. Check with your airline before you travel.

On arrival in Madeira and Porto Santo

You will be subject to health screening on arrival. You will be asked to show:

  • your COVID-19 vaccination or recovery certificate; or
  • your RT-PCR COVID-19 negative test certificate if you have not uploaded it to your passenger questionnaire

If you are unable to show one of these certificates, you will have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and remain at your accommodation until the results are known. This will take about 12 hours.

If your test is positive or inconclusive, you will have to repeat the test until the result is negative and remain in isolation at your accommodation.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status for entry to Madeira and Porto Santo

If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 180 days, or have had both doses of the vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel, you will be exempt from showing a RT-PCR test on entry to Madeira and Porto Santo.

The authorities in Madeira and Porto Santo will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Check the Madeira Tourist Board’s information for visitors for full details of entry requirements

Entering the Azores

Before you travel to the Azores

All travellers, including children, must complete and submit a passenger questionnaire.

On arrival in the Azores

With the exception of children under the age of 12 (up to and including 11), all travellers must:

Check the regional government’s website for full details of entry requirements.

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 residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not 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.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Portugal, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

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 minimum 3 months needed.

Travelling with children

Portuguese Border Control (SEF) advise that a child under the age of 18 who are 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

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

Terrorist attacks in Portugal can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

If you are caught taking or in possession of drugs for personal use, you may be subject to a fine or another sanction (including the seizure of personal belongings). Selling or trafficking drugs is a criminal offence and subject to severe penalties.

You must show some form of identification if asked by the police or judicial authorities.  In most cases, it should be sufficient to carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport, but you may be asked to produce the original document.

Gambling is only legal in establishments properly licensed by the government, like official casinos. Games of chance, including bingo, are illegal if they’re held on unlicensed premises. The police may act on reports of illegal gambling in unauthorised premises without warning. Organisers, participants and anyone on the premises may be arrested, charged with a criminal offence and fined or imprisoned. If in doubt, you should ask whether the establishment you’re entering is legally licensed.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for mainland Portugal, Madeira and the Azores on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Portugal.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

If you feel unwell, seek medical attention or check the Portuguese health service website for information on how you can get advice in English. Consider carrying an Emergency ID Card to help the health services assist you in an emergency.

UK prescriptions are not recognised in Portugal. Make sure you carry enough medication to last the duration of your visit.

If you need a repeat prescription, go to the nearest health centre or hospital A&E. You may have to pay for your medication. If you have an EHIC or a GHIC, you may be able to claim the cost back if your prescription is issued by a Portuguese state doctor.

You will need to go to a pharmacy to get most medicines, though some non-prescription medication is sold at health stores in supermarkets and shopping centres. Pharmacies are widely available and are identified with a green cross. Find a pharmacy near you on the Pharmacy Association website.

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Portuguese nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Portugal, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Portugal guide.

Portugal is in an earthquake zone. Know what to do in the event of a tremor. For information on seismic activity, including in Madeira and the Azores, visit the Portuguese Met Office website.

Forest fires

There’s an increased risk of forest fires during summer months and when the weather is hot and dry. Forest fires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. If you’re travelling at these times, check the weather conditions with the Portuguese Met Office and areas where fires may be active with the local Civil Protection authorities. If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.

Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, do not light barbecues and do not leave empty bottles behind. Causing a forest fire is treated as a criminal offence in Portugal even if unintentional.

For information on the risk of forest fires (interactive map in Portuguese), visit the pages on the Portuguese Met Office website for continental Portugal and Madeira. For severe weather warnings, visit the European Meteorological Services website

The currency of Portugal is the Euro.

Credit cards may not be accepted in smaller towns and rural areas.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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