I used to hate tests. Actually, I still do!

I have a question that I believe is simple but I have yet to get the same answer from a number of different sources. Next month we are on the Douro River trip starting in Lisbon. The question is...when do we get our Covid test? All say 72 hours before. Some sources say 72 hours before boarding your flight from your original airport--for us, Washington DC. Others say 72 hours before boarding your connecting flight to fly to Lisbon--for us Frankfort. Tauck, Lufthansa, and our travel agent (none of them new to us) have all given different information. Anyone who has traveled overseas recently provide any information based on experience? Many thanks.


  • Last year the cdc said 3 days but they changed that to 1 day prior ( I think it changed in Dec). They specifically don't use hours. So if your flight home is Sat, your test needs to be anytime Friday.

    This is from the cdc:

    What You Need to Know
    If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than 1 day before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.
    If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

  • Thetriguy,

    Refer to Tauck's website...select Travel Updates...select Travel Requirements...select your specific tour to review both the entry requirements to Iberia and the return requirements to the U. S. I did not provide detail here since I do not know your vaccination/booster status.

    This is a great trip!

  • edited May 2022

    Claudia was giving the returning-to-the-US testing requirement, which is w/in 1 day. Tauck will arrange that.

    As I understand it, your question is about entry into Portugal, correct? I can understand your quandry. I think you need to hear from a recent traveler.

    First, regardless of the guidance, check the wording and check it often, because some sources say "within 72 hours" which literally means no more than 72 hours prior and some say "72 hour before" which can mean no later than 72 hours before- a BIG difference. I pointed out to Tauck their guidance conflicted with that issued by Jordan for our recent J&E trip- Tauck corrected it. (in the end the requirement went away two weeks before our trip, but we had already paid a non-refundable test fee so got it anyway.) Remember, this is all moving target and is liable to change with little notice.

    As you know, regardless of vaccination status, Tauck says, "All travelers age 12 and over, including vaccinated travelers, must bring proof of a negative NAAT (including RT-PCR) Covid test taken within 72 hours of boarding your flight to Portugal, or a negative antigen Covid test taken within 24 hours of boarding your flight to Portugal. This must be shown when boarding the flight and also at border control upon arrival in Portugal." However,Tauck doesn't define "flight to Portugal" or address connections- technically, you are flying to Portugal from Frankfurt, so by that metric you have a shorter window to get tested.

    According to the information below found on Visit Portugal, a non-governmental website https://www.visitportugal.com/en/content/covid-19-measures-implemented-portugal you "may" not need a test at test at all

    Updated 6 May
    "Mandatory to present:

    • A valid vaccination EU Digital COVID Certificate (with a complete vaccination schedule or with a complete vaccination schedule and a vaccine booster)
    • Or, a valid test or recovery EU Digital COVID Certificate,
    • Or, a valid vaccination certificate (with a complete vaccination schedule or a vaccine booster) or recovery certificate issued by a third country, under reciprocal conditions
    • Or, a negative RT-PCR Test (or similar NAAT test) - 72h before boarding
    • Or, a negative Laboratorial Rapid Antigen Test- 24h before boarding (according to the European Commission list)

    However, the US State Dept/US CDC say, "No specific guidance exists indicating if US CDC vaccine cards are accepted for proof of vaccination. As such U.S. Embassy Lisbon strongly recommends all U.S. citizens travelling from the United States to Portugal follow option 2, present a negative COVID 19 test before boarding (see below)" which is get tested -

    "Negative COVD Test

    PCR / NAAT test 72 hours before boarding or
    Rapid Antigen / TRAg test 24 hours before boarding.

    Your airline could have a different set of requirements. Right or wrong, you must meet those if you hope to board a flight.

    When do you leave? If you can wait a little longer, the requirements may change, Greece just dropped their requirements. But I think to be safe, until you hear differently, follow Tauck's guidance and get tested.

  • Sorry triguy, I thought you meant the test to come home vs the one to enter Portugal. We're on this cruise this fall heading eastbound so I've been trying to figure this out and it seems to get murkier all the time. I can understand why you're confused. The Us Embassy up until a couple of weeks ago clearly said you had to present a negative test. Now it says:

    Testing / Vaccination requirements for entry: All passengers 12 years old older must present EITHER

    EU Digital Vaccination Certificate OR
    No specific guidance exists indicating if US CDC vaccine card are accepted for proof of vaccination. As such U.S. Embassy Lisbon strongly recommends all U.S. citizens travelling from the United States to Portugal follow option 2, present a negative COVID 19 test before boarding (see below)
    Negative COVD Test
    PCR / NAAT test 72 hours before boarding or
    Rapid Antigen / TRAg test 24 hours before boarding.

    And the visitportugal website isn't any clearer about which flight you're boarding.

    We're flying Delta with connecting flights from home to Atlanta to JFK then direct to Lisbon. Delta's Fly Ready app didn't even mention the need for testing. I've also been reading posts on the Rick Steves forum. Here's a link to a current and relevant post. Sadly, it won't clear this up but at least we're in good company.


    I'm going to keep watching and hope both the US and Portugal drop the requirement. I'd hope that the Tauck website would be the only source to check but if even the US embassy isn't sure on this one then Tauck would have a hard time keeping up.

  • @ Claudia Sails

    You (and I) may be getting our wish soon with regards to US pre-departure testing. Fingers crossed.


  • Thanks for the link dogdoctor...very encouraging article! This requirement creates the most angst among international travelers returning home to the states. We were so relieved when our Antigen tests were negative on the day before we came home from France last month!

  • Last week I did something I've never done in my life - sent a message to the White House asking for this to be dropped. As the letter mentioned in the article said, it makes no sense that this only applies to people flying into the US, not those entering the land borders in Canada and Mexico.

  • We are preparing to go on the Bridges Castles and Kings tour in July. The test prior to coming home is the one item I am most concerned with. I recognize we will have travel hiccups, staffing issues, delays, etc. The travel world is not back to pre-pandemic levels and I am ok with that, I am just thrilled to be able to travel again. But the test to come home is what makes me nervous. I’m very hopeful it is lifted before we have to return.

  • Alan, we must have been typing at the same time. Per your red comments on the visitportugal site, the confusing point is "under reciprocal conditions". The US isn't on the list which is just below that.

    Accepted vaccination certificates issued by third countries under reciprocal conditions: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malasya, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Seychelles, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay, The Vatican, Vietnam (https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans/eu-digital-covid-certificate_en),

    I'm not sure if it's actually the CDC card that is in doubt or the fact that we require tests and therefore the EU certificate isn't enough for visitors from Portugal to come here.

  • Tauck Treasures of Spain & Portugal September 2021 Air France (Delta partner) departing US airport required CDC vaccination card and a negative test administered within either 24 or 72 hours, depending on the type of test. I am also next month on the Douro Lisbon to Madrid cruise. At this time Portugal still requires US citizens to have proof (CDC card) of current vaccination AND a negative test. Flying Iberia this time into Lisbon

  • My CVS does not send the tests to the lab until 5pm. Even if you test at 10:00 AM. My negative lab result/report/proof however listed the time of day (appointment time) that I took the test. Air France/Delta requires the test timed prior to departure, but to be safe I timed my test from expected landing/entry into Lisbon. That can be tricky if there is a longer than expected or missed connection. Many on the travel forums are reporting different experiences depending on the airline. From what I read Portugal is allowing entry if entering on a reputable airline that has a trusted track record of doing the proper requirement checks at the time of boarding in the US.

  • Patrice, as stated above, the test requirement was very clearly required previously but recently it's gotten murky. I had been checking the US Embassy in Portugal's website and about 2 1/2 weeks ago they changed their wording to the vague one they currently have that maybe the CDC card is enough. You might want to read some of the posts I referenced on the Rick Steves forum. That forum can sometimes be more useful than this one because it's participants also include a lot of independent travelers and people living in Europe in addition to those taking RS tours.

    Will this be cleared up in time for your tour? No idea. If it isn't by the time of mine I'd certainly play it safe by getting a test.

  • Thank you Claudia. Yes- I’ve been following the forums. Unless the wording from Portugal clearly states that the US CDC card is the only requirement for US citizens, I am planning to test. And I hope the cost is still covered (free) in June. I would like to hear from travelers recently entering Lisbon from the US by air, on a direct flight or a connecting European flight. My Iberia connection will be in Madrid. Iberia’s web site is not helpful. Air France/Delta has much better online tools regarding Covid restrictions/requirements.

  • Rather than start a new thread, I thought it would be better to ask my related question here, if you don't mind.

    Does anyone have any statistics or anecdotal experience with the percentage of Tauck guests who test positive (if any) at the end of a river cruise when tested the one day before returning to the US? Thank you.

  • edited May 2022

    Claudia Sails
    Alan, we must have been typing at the same time. Per your red comments on the visitportugal site, the confusing point is "under reciprocal conditions". The US isn't on the list which is just below that.

    Two countries separated by a common language (sort of) :D

    There is another mid-sentence "or" in the red part. I interpreted that sentence to mean Portugal will accept a vax certificate from any country as long as it has the listed attributes, but they will only accept a "recovery certificate" from a "third party" from the listed countries with reciprocal agreements, e.g. if you don't have a US vax certificate, they would only accept a recovery certificate from one of the listed reciprocal countries.

    The reason I interpreted it that way is because some countries will not accept certain types of recovery certificates or at all, especially since they are rarely issued by governmental agencies. For our upcoming trip, Windstar will not accept recovery certificates at all. I'm not a grammar expert, so I don't know how the comma near the end of the sentence affects the meaning. :|

    If the US State Dept. doesn't understand it, what are mere mortal travelers supposed to do? That is why my bottom line for now is wait if you can and if you can't, get tested- 24/72 hours prior depending on type of test- or take your chances with just a CDC vax card.

  • All of you...Wonderful information! Thank you so very much for sharing it with us!

  • Thetriguy
    All of you...Wonderful information! Thank you so very much for sharing it with us!

    Before I forget- Great avatar! :DB)

  • I have a friend leaving for Portugal on an independent trip on Sunday. I’ll tell her to have a plan B.. Hope everything works out MCD,!

  • Alan, that placement of "or"s may be what's causing confusion and why different sources will say different things.

    There is an online news site for Portugal (I assume for english speaking expat's) that had an article yesterday entitled: OPINION: COVID-19: EUROPE RELAXES BUT AUTHORITIES IN PORTUGAL AGITATE. It was primarily about masks and mentioned that the European versions of the FFA and CDC are dropping mask requirements on planes and airports as of Monday the 16th. I don't get the feeling the writer has a very high opinion of Portuguese authorities decision making.

    Best of luck MCD. Hope you have a great tour.

  • MCD: I agree with you regarding Lufthansa. I will never, ever use that airline again. Lufthansa canceled my flight back in 2020 when Covid first started, even before Tauck canceled the tour. In addition, they never notified me of the cancellation. The only way I found out was to check on the Lufthansa Webpage after I had heard of the cancellation from Tauck. And don't even get me started about their non-existent customer service with obtaining a refund, I finally had to issue a charge back with my credit card company after 3 months of lies and non-communication from this terrible airline. They lost me as a customer permanently. No second chances.

  • Thanks, Alan. There are a few of these cuddly fellows at the NordKapp facility in Norway. We were there just before the Covid hit. They are almost life size--or should I say, Troll Size. My granddaughter said it sort of looked like me so I took it as my avatar. Of course, she's out of the will but being that she's in law school already, I don't think it bothers her.

  • edited May 2022

    Just back from a week in Portugal. Left on a Wednesday, and got our pcr test on that prior Monday. We could have gotten the antigen test on Tuesday, but wanted to get things done. Was negative. Tested positive for Covid on my 4th day of the tour. Had to quarantine, Most important thing is to get the official Covid test to document you have Covid. We just stayed at the hotel on the beach where we were and the group moved on and tried we had to figure out our game plan. Tauck was no help. Found out about the Certificate of Recovery, which meant we had 10 full days from the date of the Covid test. (11 days). You can get it from QuickMD. Our doctor from the US wrote our Certificate of Recovery. It was very challenging. Covid was fairly mild. The mask mandate was off in the airports and on the plane. I think that's where we got it. If I were to do it over, I would wear a mask. Hardly anyone is wearing them. 10 out of 24 on our tour got Covid :(

  • We just returned from the Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise with Tauck. The trip was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Tauck did a pretty good job explaining what would happen if we tested positive and could not return to the US. We had also looked into options on our own. But we had not anticipated how stressful it would be to wait for the test result and then either enjoy the final day of the trip, or be scrambling to change airline reservations, book hotels, etc. In our case,we tested negative and returned home as planned. We would, however, be hesitant to book another international trip unless the testing mandate to return to the US is removed.

    I don't know how many guests tested positive. Some were saying four did test positive, but I don't know that for a fact. .

  • Our Douro +Madrid/Lisbon trip ended May 22 with no one in the group that left that day testing positive, which was about half the group returning to the US as well as the two TDs who were heading to a new assignment and to home. Arrangements were made for those who extended to be tested at the hotel the following day, and I don’t know if any tested positive. No obvious illness on our trip, all participants at the final dinner.

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