COVID-19 FAQ’s for Fall 21

Last update: March 1st

SIPN’s highest priority is the health and safety of our students and we are carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Portugal.

We hope you will find these responses to frequently asked questions useful – otherwise, please contact us at or +351 213 935 800 or +917 675 3442.


How is Portugal handling the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Currently, Portugal is in a state of emergency, declared until March 11, with several restrictions on circulation within the territory where you can only circulate in specific and authorized situations. Due to Portugal’s epidemiological positive evolution, Portugal ranks one of the lowest rates of cases per day. We expect within the next month a re-open of most of the society. 


What do we expect life in Lisbon will look like next Fall?

Restaurant, Nightlife, and Events

In Lisbon, businesses, including restaurants and shops, will be open, but with somewhat reduced capacities, modified hours, additional cleaning protocols, and some new regulations.  Certain events, gatherings, or activities may be on hold during your semester, but we think you’ll find life in Lisbon looking much like a typical semester. You can count on more details, resources, and recommendations for connecting with local community groups, teams, and clubs, after your arrival.


In Portugal, mask-wearing has become commonplace; masks are required almost everywhere (e.g., on public transportation, grocery stores, and bars/restaurants). As in the U.S., some locals wear a mask at all times in public, while others wear them only when required.


Can U.S. students enter Portugal?

Yes! SIPN students (Portuguese student VISA carriers) can enter the country. While current border closures remain in place limiting tourism in the E.U., many European countries, including Portugal, have an exemption for students and other professionals. We will continue to closely monitor border policies, update guidance here as needed, and provide detailed instructions and documentation to enrolled students ahead of your departure for Portugal.

Will I need to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Portugal?

Currently, so as long you present a negative test taken some time in the previous 72 hours of your entrance in Portugal, you will be allowed in the country without the need of self-quarantine.

Since COVID-19 is more prevalent in the U.S. than in Europe, please plan to be extra cautious in the 14 days leading up to your flight to Portugal — avoid socializing, working outside your home, and any personal travel during this period.


What if I need a new or renewed passport?

Apply now! All students will need a passport valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your SIPN semester. Passport processing can take several months in some locations due to COVID-19, though the Department of State anticipates returning to normal processing time this fall. U.S. citizens needing a new or renewed passport should visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn about the phased reopening of passport centers due to COVID-19 and start your application.


What can a SiPN student expect if studying abroad during COVID-19?

  • Academic Experience: SiPN’s partner universities have implemented a hybrid online/ in-person formats. There may be changes to the academic format in each university, and additional rules or restrictions may be put in place to govern the number of students and student spacing within the physical classroom. All our partner universities have the means to carry a fully online/distance format if necessary, as a result of local public health guidance, exposure requiring self-isolation, or COVID-19 illness.


  • Program Excursions and Activities: SiPN Field Trips may be altered or canceled to adjust to current health and government recommendations and support student health and well-being. SIPN will design a series of academic, social, and cultural components that respect health and safety guidelines. Since SiPN’s Social and Cultural agenda will be less busy, SiPN is applying a direct $750 direct discount to the program’s total fee.


  • Student Housing: SIPN housing has been de-densified based on local social distancing requirements. We are working with our housing providers to secure single rooms for all Spring 2021 students. We cannot guarantee it yet, but that’s our preferred scenario, and we are working towards it. Students can request a single room ahead of time. Requests will be considered based on several factors with a priority for students with health conditions that make them at increased risk for COVID-19, as well as disability accommodations and home university policy. There will be no additional costs for students who are assigned to single rooms.


  • Independent Travel (Outside Lisbon and Portugal): SIPN Office has decided that travel outside of Portugal is not allowed, as travel is known to contribute to spreading the virus and increasing exposure risk for you, other students, and your host community. Individual countries throughout Europe have border policies frequently changing. This policy will prevent you from getting stuck elsewhere in Europe, where SIPN would be unable to support you and avoid the need to quarantine during class weeks due to European travel.
    Use your time abroad to connect with your local community and immerse yourself in your new home city/country. Travels within Portuguese borders are allowed, the public transportation system is working without major restrictions, and we will have a pack of suggested trips (incl: transportation; hotel; restaurants) to offer you upon your arrival.


When will SIPN decide about whether Fall Semester 2021 edition is going to run or not?

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for health, safety, and travel. We at SiPN will continue to monitor the situation before making any determinations about Fall 21 Edition. We remain optimistic about the ability to offer a study abroad program next fall and encourage students to proceed with their applications. If study abroad for Fall 2021 is restricted, we will convey a decision by no later than April 25th.

After this date, we will only cancel SiPN Fall 2021 edition if local conditions change so dramatically in Portugal that we and/or our Portuguese partner universities cannot welcome students.

We will update this page and notify enrolled students of any changes we need to make as we continue adjusting to the changing conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will do all we can to hold a spring semester that looks like ‘normal’ as possible. Please bookmark this page to check back here anytime or contact us with any questions

 When should I buy my airfare?

Do not purchase airfare until you have been notified by SiPN Office that you were formally accepted by the program.

When you purchase an airline ticket, we strongly suggest that you consider fully refundable airline tickets and/or robust trip cancellation insurance (“cancel for any reason” coverage) and verify that the policy will cover cancellation due to pandemic.

We also recommend you purchase your flight directly through your airline of choice because it will allow you to work directly with the airline in case of any necessary changes.


What are the payments and refunds policy under these circumstances? What are my financial obligations should the program be canceled or if I decide not to go?


Given the current situation, SiPN does not require its students to submit a program deposit ($350).


SiPN’s Reimbursement plan in case of withdrawal of the program

  • If you withdraw 31 days or more before the arrival day specified for your term of attendance, we will refund 100 % of the total paid amount, except for the non-refundable deposit of US$ 350—no need to provide any form of documentation besides informing SiPN.
  • If you withdraw 30 days or less prior to the arrival day as specified for your term of attendance, we will refund 50 % of the total paid amount, except the non-refundable deposit of US$ 350.
  • If you withdraw on or after the arrival day, no refund will be issued.


  • If SiPN and/or your home university cancels study abroad related initiatives or recalls students back home, on or after the program starting date, SiPN will proportionally refund students regarding “SiPN´s Comprehensive Housing and Student Affairs fee.”
  • The “Comprehensive SiPN Tuition Fee” will not be reimbursed if SiPN´s partner universities in Portugal provide SiPN students with all the means to carry on with their academic portion of the program via online platforms and assessment.


Should I talk to my doctor about traveling during COVID-19?

Yes. If you have underlying health conditions that might put you at higher risk for infection or serious complications of COVID-19, talk with your doctor to decide if travel is advisable at this time and, if it is, how to manage your health abroad. Consult your healthcare providers to ensure you can bring any medication you’ll need, and to address any health concerns. Be sure you are up to date on all routine vaccines, including the seasonal flu shot.

If you have any questions about health support or accommodations available at SIPN, please reach out to us!


What will be required of me to be successful abroad during COVID-19?

Flexibility: As in the U.S., conditions, and recommendations are constantly changing as the public health community and leaders learn more about COVID-19. Just like on your home campus, SIPN will need to respond by adjusting recommended protocols, class schedules, field study or study tour destinations, etc., sometimes with very little notice. Please prepare to be flexible. At some point in the semester, you may need to stay home for a period of time as a result of illness, exposure, or a community lockdown; SIPN is prepared to support you through any of these scenarios.

Respect: You will find Portuguese approaches to COVID-19 different from those in the U.S. Take the opportunity to learn and ask questions while remembering to approach your local community with grace and respect.

Compliance: Any measures implemented to protect you and the community from COVID-19 are only effective if they are followed by everyone. Laws and guidelines regarding social distancing and other practices may be updated at any time – and whether or not you assess them to be effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, SIPN will require all students to comply with all local guidance. This may include monitoring temperatures, hand washing, wearing masks, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and cooperation with recommended COVID-19 testing and contract tracing processes. Failure to comply with these rules and precautions is a violation of the SIPN Code of Student Responsibility – but more importantly, we ask students to comply for the benefit of the community, even when no one is watching.


What if I, or someone else at SIPN, tests positive for COVID-19?

SIPN will support students in receiving the necessary testing and medical care, which is reimbursed through SIPN insurance, as well as academic support.

Any student who has been potentially exposed to a sick individual will be supported through the necessary testing and self-quarantine protocols, including the continuation of coursework from a SiPNtance. Sick or self-quarantined individuals will be isolated away from other students, and facilities will be sanitized per local public health standards.


What kind of health insurance does SIPN have, and if what is the coverage in case of testing positive for COVID-19?

ALL SiPN students are covered by AON Travel and Health Insurance that is tailor-made for students studying abroad. It provides coverage for everything from a stolen laptop, to lost luggage, to dental, emergency, and routine medical coverage.

With this insurance, the student will also be covered for medical expenses related to COVID-19 and, in case of medical repatriation (if the student cannot receive appropriate treatment in the host country – this is determined by a medical advisor); For travel and stay expenses for your parents in case your situation becomes life-threatening.