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Digital vaccine certificate

My family of 4 is traveling from Barcelona to Lisbon on Dec. 31st. We will get Covid tests before we leave but, I'm wondering about the digital vaccine certificate. We are all fully vaccinated and have CDC cards but I cannot seem to find out how to get a digital certificate so that we will be able to stay in our hotel and go to restaurants, museums, etc. From everything I've read, since the new restrictions beginning Dec. 1st were announced, we will be required to have the digital certificate to enter those establishments. I did do a search of the forums but most of the information is months old. I know these new restrictions don't come into effect for several days but, I thought I'd leave this here in hopes that someone traveling sooner may be able to help. Thank you in advance!

Posted by
1154 posts

To my knowledge, the only Americans who have been successful obtaining an EU Covid Certificate are those who have residency visas but had their shots in the States.

That said, many Americans visited when these restrictions were in place previously and were able to use testing to obtain admittance. For hotels this is pretty easy providing you don’t change hotels or apartments every day. Tests are readily available in Farmácia’s and supermarkets and are quite cheap. They are under €2 at Continente.

For restaurants it’s a bit trickier but I read of some restaurants actually having the antigen tests available. There isn’t a problem if you can eat outside. So, weather will be the key here. January has some lovely days warm enough to eat outside but also days with rain.

I also have read of visitors being able to present their vaccinations cards from the states in some establishments.

A couple of websites that have up to date information are Safe Communities Portugal and Portugal Connexions. The online news The Portugal News has brief stores with accurate info also.

Posted by
34 posts

Agree with Kathrynj, my understanding is (and its been very difficult to get a straight answer about this but) if you're an American citizen you need to be residing with a visa (D7, etc) to get the EU digital certificate. I thought I read that you had to get vaxxed EU as well but I'd defer to Kathrynj on that point.

For us, it doesn't really matter though: it sounds like we're in the same boat, no visa and vaxxed in the US. So, my "plan" is to get any required PCR or rapid tests done as needed before travel and also have my paper CDC card paper clipped into my passport and a printout of my WA state vaccine certificate available via Some states use this site and can generate a paper certificate. I found out about myirmobile by reading about it here:

It looks like you may be in CA so the article mentions the CA digital portal:
Maybe see what you can get from that site and have what it produces on hand as additional evidence.

It really embarrassing that we can't get our act together with a federal US Covid passport. And I know why, but I won't dive into that topic here. :(

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks so much to both of you! I'll be checking Safe Communities Portugal and this forum regularly between now and when we travel. We've really tried to do everything right-including getting our 11 year old vaccinated-and I agree it's frustrating that there isn't a US Covid Passport, yet. We're happy to test our way through the trip, if necessary but, it would be convenient to have. Thank you Kathrynj for the helpful info on testing. For now, we'll just bring our paper certificates and I've signed up for the digital vaccine record (thank you for the link, Mergs!) and test as many times as we need to. For now, just taking a deep breath and hoping for the best! Thank you again for all your help!!

Posted by
34 posts

You bet and please report back on your experience. I think this is an issue that impacts a lot of us. I know its high on my mind.

Sadly, due to the political climate here, I think a US vaccine passport is going to be a long shot. It makes total sense but someone will make political hay about it so we're stuck with the CDC card and a hodgepodge of state based documents which all require extra scrutiny for EU screeners.

Best of luck.

Posted by
1 posts

I wonder if the Digital Vaccine Database, such as available in California, will meet the reuirement for a digital vaccine certificate.

In California, all covid vaccinations are entered in a statewide Cal Department of Public Health database. We can access only our own personal vaccination record through our name and passcode.

I will be traveling in Portugal and Spain in May. I hope to rely on my CDC card and the California digital vaccine database to verify my vaccination status.

Posted by
34 posts


I will be traveling in Portugal and Spain in May. I hope to rely on my CDC card and the California digital vaccine database to verify my vaccination status.

I have a friend in southern Spain now and I asked him yesterday:

Your CDC cards are working there for proof of vax then?

Reply was:

Yup! Uploaded to a website ahead of time. We now have some sort of verified Spanish/EU visitors pass. Pretty easy.

He didn't send me a link to it and I don't know what it is (he was vague, as you can see) so I spent a hour last night trying to find an equivalent to that for PT with no luck. Maybe PT will have something similar but you might be able to get it for your Spain part of the trip.

Posted by
19 posts

This is encouraging news, Mergs. I’ve read that the CDC cards are working for restaurants in Spain. I’ve seen on this forum (I think) that there are lots of testing sites in Lisbon-even free walk through sites available to everyone including tourists. Trying to stay optimistic-we are all fully vaccinated and my husband and I got the booster so we feel we’re safe to make the trip. I will report back with our experiences. Thanks, again!

Posted by
1154 posts

I quick update, Megan.
It seems as though a lot of restaurants are accepting the US vaccination cards. And, my experience over the last few days is that some restaurants are very strict and others not so much.

The bad news right now is that the new rules have overwhelmed the testing sites and Farmacia’s and supermarkets are out of the self tests. However, since it’s a few weeks before your trip, hopefully, the testing will have smoothed out.
Bottom line, it’s a moving target right now and things could have changed again by the end of the month. Keep reading the Safe Communities site and you should be able to keep on top of it.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you for the update, Kathrynj! I’m glad to hear the CDC card is being accepted at many restaurants. I will keep checking Safe Communities as well. Maintaining flexibility is key to traveling in this environment. I appreciate your updates and would welcome more of them if it’s not too much trouble. Thanks, again!!

Posted by
51 posts

I do not see that you need a Covid test to go in a restaurant or hotel. Seems like there is a lot of false information here. This from visit Portugal. And if you are not vaccinated you should not be traveling overseas.

From December 1st
Mandatory mask in closed spaces
General recommendation for regular testing
Mandatory EU COVID Digital Certificate, or proof of vaccination attesting to the complete vaccination schedule or negative test when accessing:
- Restaurants (except on outdoors terraces)
- Tourist establishments and local accommodation
- Events with reserved seats
- Gyms
Mandatory negative test (even for vaccinated) when accessing:
- Bars and clubs;
- Visits to patients in health facilities;
- Large events without reserved seats or in improvised venues and sports venues (RT-PCR Test, Rapid Antigen Test or selftest perform

Posted by
255 posts

My understanding is that beside the EU COVID Digital Certificate, only vaccine certificates issued by third countries, under reciprocal conditions are recognized. The USA is not on the list, thus the need for testing to check into accommodations.

Also from US Embassy in Portugal:

Accommodation Requirements: Hotels, Guesthouses, and private vacation rentals (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). Accommodations
may have different testing requirements, so it is best to check with your hotel before booking/arriving.

One of the following is required upon check-in:

  • Mandatory submission of an EU Digital Vaccination Certificate or accepted vaccination certificate from another country (CDC cards are generally not considered acceptable – please check with your hotel for specifics requirements)


  • If a traveler is unable to prove their vaccinated status, a current negative COVID test result (PCR 72 hours; antigen 48 hours) may be submitted.
    • Guests may only remain at the lodging for the duration of the validity of the test. If tests expire before the end of the stay, guests must continue to present negative tests to remain.
      • For example, a guest staying at a hotel for a week would require at least 3 PCR tests throughout their stay in order to r remain at the hotel.