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Spain/Portugal Border - American Driving Across?

I'm trying to parse all of the various regulations that currently exist pertaining to Portugal and having a hard time. It's clear that Americans are not allowed to travel directly into Portugal without a mandatory 14-day quarantine, but with Spain open for vaccinated US tourists from June 7 and the Spain/Portugal border being wide-open, is there any actual limitation on a fully-vaccinated American flying into Spain and then driving or taking a train/bus to Portugal? My best research suggests that this would be entirely lawful under current controls (well, after June 7), and I'm hoping to find out that Portugal is opening for fully-vaccinated Americans to travel directly there soon (we have tickets for June 20 booked two years ago [well, booked a year ago as a rebooking from the previous year]), but exploring options right now if we have to get creative.

Posted by
7603 posts

the Spain/Portugal border being wide-open

You know this to be a fact, or is it a supposition based on Schengen policy, for 'normal times' ?

Posted by
3789 posts

Many countries that have restrictions have border checks. Some have closed borders and only flights allow people in. Ideally one of our European posters will comment, but if you are not allowed in without quarantine, you aren't allowed in. Sorry, I realize you are trying to salvage something, but it smacks of desperation and underhandedness.
If you have flights to Spain and can visit why cross borders? What are you doing with the car, as I believe you need to return the car in Spain.

Posted by
9 posts

Here's the info on the land border: https://www.thelocal.es/20210430/spain-portugal-border-to-finally-open-after-three-months/

Apparently border checks have been eliminated for people transiting from Spain. To the second reply: yes, very much trying to make sure we have a chance to take a trip that we have been looking forward to for two years, and trying to do it in accordance with the rules and regulations that exist, hence my post. The limitation on entry for Americans after June 7 appears to only apply to air and sea entry, and not entry via land from Spain, hence my entire post! If one is lawfully in Spain and Portugal imposes no limitations on people entering their territory from Spain via land, then doesn't it stand to reason that Americans are lawfully allowed to enter that way? If not, then their regulatory regime is confusing and easily broken.

Posted by
3789 posts

Confusing and easily broken.... pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?
Maybe send a PM to out 2 Spanish regulars if they don't chime in by the morning. Carlos and Nick

Posted by
2265 posts

I just read through the link you provided. It refers to cross-border transit by residents of Spain and Portugal. So, where do Americans fit into that? You might check with a consulate of Portugal.

Posted by
9 posts

Larry, it says that the Portuguese authorities have dropped controls at the land border. If you can get into Spain, you can just enter Portugal without limitation, right? So I'm asking a question functionally whether that's accurate, and if so, then doesn't it stand to reason that Portugal is aware of this situation and not doing anything to stop it?

Posted by
4870 posts

Americans aren’t allowed into Portugal at present. Therefore you may find that your car insurance is invalidated if you take it into Portugal (I had to pay more to cover both countries) and you are likely to encounter problems when you show your passport at a Portuguese hotel.

The Spanish/ Portuguese border has been physically closed for months, but I understand that it has now reopened recently.

Hopefully Portugal will be open to Americans by the time you travel, otherwise what you are suggesting is possibly illegal and certainly not moral. If Portugal wants Americans to travel there, the border will be legally open. They are one of the few countries to open up to Brits, so Americans are likely to follow.

Posted by
9 posts

Jennifer, check out the Portugal immigration rules website

See the "Can I cross the land border between Portugal and Spain?" section, which seems to indicate that the Portuguese authorities are entirely comfortable with Americans entering from Spain if they can legally get into Spain. I do not see why this is amoral, and nothing indicates that it is illegal. I'm trying to follow the rules, am fully vaccinated, and trying to figure out how to make a trip long-booked work. I'm looking for confirmation that parsing the rules works this way or that there is some additional information I'm missing.

And yes, my car rental would be a one-way (flying into Seville and leaving from Lisbon) so the insurance should be just fine.

Posted by
3301 posts

It seems you’re looking for others to say what you want to hear.. Note that on that same page is a link to a form you need to fill out prior to entering Portugal. There are separate forms if arriving by land, sea, or air. On the form you need to provide Your name, nationality, passport number, where you’re entering the country, a contact number, address in Portugal, reason for travel, and an email address. Spain has a similar form that needs to be filled out too. If Portugal isn’t open to Americans, once you submit the form seems like somebody would pick up on you being an American. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see the word American or U.S. citizens mentioned anywhere in that link. From everything I’ve read, travel for tourism is currently not permitted.

According to the U.S. State Department website, the land border between Spain and Portugal is open. The following are allowed to enter Portugal:
Only Portuguese nationals, holders of Portuguese and EU-member residency permits, and holders of other long-term visas issued by Portuguese authorities may enter the country.
US citizens who are lawful residents of EU member states may enter Portugal.
For more information contact the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate or the Portuguese immigration authorities at sef.pt here’s the URL https://pt.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
You can also contact the consulate in Lisbon at: conslisbon@state.gov

Posted by
7603 posts

The one way to get an official answer is to contact the Portuguese Embassy/Consulate, tell them your plan and find out what you have to do to be able to execute it.

Posted by
9 posts

I don't understand why the need to be accusatory and insulting, jaimeelsabio. Yes, I'm asking for someone to either confirm what I am understanding from reading the rules OR to provide solid information that disproves my initial thought. Thus far, still waiting for any kind of information that suggests Americans aren't authorized to enter Portugal as long as they come through a third-country for which travel is authorized. Even the part you quoted to me "Only Portuguese nationals, holders of Portuguese and EU-member residency permits, and holders of other long-term visas issued by Portuguese authorities may enter the country.
US citizens who are lawful residents of EU member states may enter Portugal." Is preceded by the specific information "No, U.S. citizens cannot travel directly from the United States to Portugal for non-essential travel (i.e. tourism)." (emphasis added). Note that this use of the term "directly" leads to my entire question: while direct travel appears to not be allowed, it seems that Portugal does not disallow Americans to enter via the land border with Spain (or, presumably, via a flight from the Schengen Zone or UK, for that matter). This entire section appears to pertain to air travel.

Reading over the actual specific law at hand (Resolution 64-A/2020: https://www.safecommunitiesportugal.com/resolution-of-council-of-ministers-64-a-2021/), it seems even more clear that as long as one legally enters Spain, that person can cross the land border without restriction and be lawfully in the continental territory of Portugal.

That said, contacting the consulate is a good idea. I will be doing that immediately, so thank you for that!

Posted by
3301 posts

Not accusatory but with guidance changing all the time, I doubt anybody can give you the answer you want.

This is from https://www.traveloffpath.com/portugal-covid-19-entry-requirements-all-travelers-need-to-know/

On May 17, 2021, Portugal reopened for leisure and non-essential travel from the EU, UK, and a small list of third-party countries

Countries Permitted To Visit Portugal:
Travelers from the following countries may enter Portugal:
All European Union countries
Schengen Associated Countries – Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.
Third Part Countries – Australia, China (including Hong Kong and Macao), South Korea, Rwanda, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and the UK.

From U.S. News & World Report from May 25, Portugal is not one of the countries Americans can visit for tourism.
https://travel.usnews.com/features/where-can-americans-travel-right-now

From Traveling Lifestyle from May 28: ... Consequently, visitors from the United States, Cyprus, Netherlands, Sweden and other nations are not allowed for tourism just yet.
https://www.travelinglifestyle.net/portugal-continues-reopening-to-tourism-with-stricter-measures/

Posted by
9 posts

Yeah, I saw all of those articles, but I don't think a news article is as good as actually going to the source of the law and reading it directly, which is what I've done and cited here, hence this entire post.

I also saw that one article regarding Spain. Nothing confirmed anywhere else, though, and following on from the situation re Portugal and UK travelers, I doubt very much that they (Spain) will actually backtrack now; too many people already booked when Spain announced June 7, and the Spanish tourist industry would be seriously harmed by having to pull back yet again after already having put resources into spinning up for June 7. Nothing hurts an economy quite so much as uncertainty.

Posted by
444 posts

I love how people come here for advice but when given want to argue about it. If you want to know "the law" then call, write, visit or email the respected countries and ask them. Things are changing by the day so no one here can give you an answer you want. This forum is mostly to ask about places to visit, things to see and do. It isn't meant to be for legal advice. We can only reply with what we have read or gone thought ourselves.

As someone else said, maybe you can drive across the border with no problems. But then you might get arrested when you check-in to your hotel or told you have to stay inside for 10 days. As is, no one knows how it works unless they have done it themselves in the last week or so. Hope you find the right answer and let us know. And have a great trip.

Posted by
928 posts

I don't think a news article is as good as actually going to the source of the law and reading it directly, which is what I've done and cited here

And yet you are asking strangers on a forum to give you advice upon which your holiday will be based. If you have read the law and believe your plan to be supported by the law, then why are you asking for additional input here?

We all have a different level of tolerance for risk and uncertainty. If you are willing to take the chance that your arrival in Portugal will be met with open arms by all you encounter, then you should absolutely go forward with your plan. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. I don't have much tolerance for uncertainty so I would probably choose to stay in Spain if they are, in fact, fully open to US tourists by then. There is plenty in Spain to see that would keep you entertained for weeks on end!

Posted by
3301 posts

A link to an official Spanish State Bulletin from May 29, extending the travel restrictions date to the end of June. Of course it is subject to change. I couldn’t find it in English.

https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2021/05/29/pdfs/BOE-A-2021-8972.pdf

Google Translate translation, but the lines that are most important to U.S. citizens are:
“The effectiveness of Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, is hereby extended until June 30.
This order will take effect from 24:00 hours on July 22, 2020 until 24:00 hours on June 30, 2021, without prejudice to its eventual modification to respond to a change in circumstances or new recommendations in the field of the European Union. “

8972
Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912, of June 30, on the temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the European Union and the possible lifting of said restriction, established a list of third countries whose residents were exempt from the restrictions travel to the European Union, as well as a set of specific categories of people also exempt from these restrictions, regardless of their place of origin. This Recommendation has been modified on successive occasions in order to adapt the list of third countries to the epidemiological circumstances, or to modify the criteria for preparing said list.
The aforementioned Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912, of June 30, and its modifications are applied in Spain through Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, which modifies the criteria for the application of a temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and Schengen associated countries for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, with its extensions and modifications, whose effects end on 31 December May at 24:00.
The effectiveness of Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, is hereby extended until June 30.
By virtue of it, I order:
Unique article. Extension of Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, which modifies the criteria for the application of a temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and Schengen associated countries for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19.
The single final provision of Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, which modifies the criteria for the application of a temporary restriction of non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and Schengen associated countries for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, is worded as follows:
«This order will take effect from 24:00 hours on July 22, 2020 until 24:00 hours on June 30, 2021, without prejudice to its eventual modification to respond to a change in circumstances or new recommendations in the field of the European Union. »
Unique final provision. Effects.
This order will take effect the same day of its publication in the «Official Gazette of the
Condition ".
Madrid, May 27, 2021. - The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez.
Order INT / 519/2021, of May 27, which extends Order INT / 657/2020, of July 17, by which the criteria for the application of a temporary restriction of non-essential trips from third parties are modified countries to the European Union and Schengen associated countries for reasons of public order and public health due to the health crisis caused by COVID

Posted by
5362 posts

I think what is pertinent is not whether the border is "wide open" but what guidelines are given for anyone entering, regardless if it is through the land border, or by air, or sea. Just because they are not stopping everyone at the border, does not mean Quarantine or entry requirements are non-existent. If stopped by authorities (driving a car with Spanish plates might be a tip off), they will enforce any restrictions.

As an example, a well known poster, Nigel, related a story in this thread: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/getting-my-daughter-home-from-france of a friend that was looking to drive from the Czech Republic to the UK (for essential reasons) but were stopped by Police in Germany, and escorted back to the border. No border controls were in place, but Covid restrictions were.

Posted by
327 posts

David, I have just emailed the embassy in DC and the consulate in Miami asking about this. I am wondering also. My guess is that it is not legal, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If I should hear back, I will share that with you.