Note: The following information is for those who want to get a test on their own. If you have symptoms or have a prescription to get a test from the national health system, read here.
Updated Nov. 16.
Portugal has a system in place for those displaying COVID symptoms whereby you phone SNS24 on 808242424, press 9 for English, and are able to visit one of a number of centers for a free test. However, if you aren’t showing symptoms but need to get a test — in order to travel for work, for example, or even just for your own peace of mind — then you are going to have to go private.
Asking the SNS24 advisors for a recommendation will have you redirected to this page, from where you can access a seemingly endless list of laboratórios that you can, and I’m paraphrasing, “call around” to see if they are offering private tests. There are around 157 labs on that list in Lisbon alone.
With this in mind, there are really only two major options that are going to get you a test quickly, efficiently and as safely as can be expected.
New: Portuguese Red Cross
Price: 20€ to 65€
Turnaround: 15 mins to 48hr
Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa has several centers around Portugal doing COVID-19 tests, which you can see on this map. Rapid tests are 20€, with results in just 15 minutes, and molecular test are 60€ to 65€, with results in 12 to 48 hours. You need to make an appointment, which you can do online here or by calling 1415.
Turnaround: 24 – 48hr
If you have any experience with Portuguese healthcare outside the public system — and even in some cases as part of it — you will have probably come across the private CUF hospitals. They are big players on the healthcare scene here, and generally trusted.
CUF is offering private COIVD-19 tests for 100€, with a 24-hour turnaround and a number of locations around the city. You must make an appointment either online or on the phone for a specific location. You will need identification and potentially proof of travel (they will tell you this on the phone).
Upon arrival, you will have your temperature taken, hands sanitised, and (most likely) be given a new surgical mask before being let into the reception. In the reception, they use a digital ticket system, so select “Análises Clínicas” on the machine, take your ticket, and wait for your number to be called on the screen.
Getting to the reception desk (there will be several), you must present your ID, explain that you are there for a COVID test, and pay the fee (so take your bank card). They will then direct you where to go.
With CUF, you have to return 24 hours later to collect your results in person as opposed to being e-mailed or phoned. You will have to go through the same process (temperature, hands, mask) as before, then select the option to receive results (most likely the last one), wait to be called, and be given an envelope.
Germano de Sousa
Turnaround: (up to) 48hr
Germano de Sousa are actually the chain of labs where you go for a free COVID test with the national health service. However, they also offer private tests if you don’t have a prescription.
They come in at the same price of 100€ along with a similar wait time for results, although they do say “up to” 48 hours, so it could be slightly slower than CUF.
Germano de Sousa labs are offering private tests not by appointment, but on a “first-come, first-served basis”. These can be done at their laboratory in Telheiras between 7h30 and 20h on weekdays and 8h to 20h on Saturdays.
They will then send you the results rather than you having to collect them in person. And they offer the results in English which could be a significant benefit for some people, particularly if you need the results for travel.
General Notes on Getting the Test Done
If you are considering getting a test, you have no doubt heard the rumours that they drive a swab up your nose in a painful procedure. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.
The nurse who attended me was kind enough to a) ask me if it was my first time, and b) tell me it was more unpleasant than painful. And she was completely spot on. She swiftly sent a very long swap through my nose to what felt like the back of my throat. Nice sensation? Not by a long shot. But not painful in the slightest.
When my eyes started watering, the nurse once again tried to assuage my discomfort by saying that “watering eyes meant the test was carried out correctly”. I can only hope these kind words weren’t just because it was my first time.
Before going anywhere or taking any test, make sure you read up on the latest regulations and suggestions in Portugal. Additionally, this is for those seeking a test for personal reasons, without symptoms. If you have symptoms, stay inside and phone SNS24 on 808242424 (press 9 for English).