COVID-19 FAQs and Cancellation Policy

Although these questions are answered reflecting what we expect to be the Fall 21 semester, most of these questions and the Cancellation Policy also apply to future SiPN terms during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Last update: April 20, 2021

SIPN 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 and contact us at if you would like to have further info. We will continue updating this page as conditions change and will also notify applying and admitted students of significant updates via email.

How is Portugal handling the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Currently, Portugal is in a state of emergency, declared until April 30, 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 ara also in the phase of re-oppening most of the society. Since April 19 most of the Universities have returned to normal, with all classes being held on campus, presidentially. Also, today is now possible to have a meal inside restaurants, go to theatres or movies; gyms or shopping malls. 

Here you can find the most updated info about COVID-19, from travel restrictions to the government geral measures and rules to prevent the spread of the virus in Portugal.

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.

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.

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 can a SiPN student expect if studying abroad during this global pandemic?

  • 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. Since April 19, 2021 most of the Universities have returned to normal, with all classes being held on campus, presidentially.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

Health and safety

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 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 distance. 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.

Flexible Cancellation Policy

Given the current situation, SiPN does not require its students to submit a program deposit ($350) until June 15. Students should only submit their deposits once requested by SiPN.

SiPN’s Cancellation & refund policy before traveling

  • If you withdraw 40 days or more prior to the arrival day specified for your term of attendance, we will refund 100 % of the total program cost, except the non-refundable deposit of US$ 350.
  • If you withdraw 40 days or less prior to the arrival day as specified for your term of attendance we will refund 50 % of the total program cost, except the non-refundable deposit of US$ 350.
  • If you withdraw on or after the arrival day no refund will be issued(*).


We are optimistic about the viability of future SiPN terms and encourage you to pursue your application at the same time, you can rest assured that SiPN will not hold you financially liable for your term until Arrival Day.


(*) SiPN’s cancellation and refund policy during the program

Suppose SiPN and/or your home university cancels study abroad-related initiatives or recalls students back home on or after the program starting date. In that case, 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 programming via online platforms and assessments.