Covid-19

Information on measures we are taking at the British Council to help ensure the safety of all students due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.

The British Council’s priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of our teaching centre customers, employees, and the communities in which we operate.

We are also responding in line with guidance for both the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and the Direção-Geral de Saúde (DGS). 

For this reason, we will be making changes to all face-to-face activities in Portugal. This includes cancelling face-to-face classes and replacing them with Virtual Classrooms for young learners and myClass Virtual, and suspending and closing our offices until 18 April or later, if the authorities have not given the all-clear.

You can find answers to any questions you may have due to closures or cancellations below.

Exams update: 

  • After the Portuguese Government announcement extending the state of emergency and public confinement, we are also extending our suspension of all examination activity until 30 April 2020 (inclusive).
  • All Aptis, Cambridge English, IELTS and university/professional exams programmed by the British Council in Portugal are postponed and rescheduled until after that date.
  • Our suspension of exams activity will be reviewed, where necessary, in accordance with governmental guidelines and British Council corporate recommendations.

FAQs about Exams

1. For how long will delivery of exams be suspended at British Council?

To protect the health of all our test takers, we are strictly following national authority guidance in response to Covid-19. We have suspended exams delivery until 30 April, but the deadline may be extended according to guidelines from national authorities.  

Registrations are open for exams that are scheduled after the current suspension deadline.

2. My exam has been suspended. Can I transfer my registration to another date?

Yes, this is possible for most exams including IELTS and Cambridge English. Please check the registration page for details of available sessions.

If you registered for your exam directly with an awarding body, please follow their guidelines.

3. I registered for an exam through one of your partners. How can I transfer to another date?

Please contact the test centre you registered with to transfer your test date.

4. When and how will I receive my exam results?

Your exam results will be processed as normal for all exams that took place before the suspension.

You can preview your IELTS test results on the Test Taker Portal - 13 calendar days from the test date for paper-based tests and 5-7 calendar days for computer delivered tests.

IELTS results remain online for 28 days but should not be used as an official confirmation of your performance.

Cambridge English exam results are available four to six weeks from the exam date for paper-based exams and two weeks for computer-based exams.

We are not able to provide test results over the phone, by email or fax for security reasons.

5. Will test results be issued by deadlines?

The British Council and awarding bodies are doing everything possible to meet deadlines for delivery of results. However, the current situation is extremely challenging and with office closures and staff working under extraordinary circumstances there may be slight delays. If this does happen, we will inform you immediately.

6. Your office is closed to the public. How can I receive my test certificate?

Most of our exams teams are currently working from home because of office closures, so they are not able to despatch certificates in the usual way. Because of this, if your IELTS TRFs and Cambridge English certificates were not delivered to you by post/courier or face-to-face prior to our office closure, we will hold them in secure conditions until we are able to despatch them either to individual candidates or the school/institution through which you registered.

Receiving Organisations (ROs) that you listed when registering for IELTS will, in most cases, have access to your online results. We will notify ROs of any changes resulting from the Covid-19 restrictions.

It will not be possible to collect your TRF or certificate in person at the British Council exam centre while our offices are closed.

7. Will you be organising additional sessions for Cambridge English exams in the future?

We are working with Cambridge English to agree a calendar of sessions that will meet the needs of both our individual candidates and the schools/institutions that register candidates with us. This is a work in progress. Please keep checking our website for up to date information about the exam session calendar.

8. Can you send a message to my university confirming that my exam was cancelled?

If you were registered for an IELTS test, we will inform the Receiving Organisations that you listed on your registration form that tests have been suspended. If you were registered for a Cambridge English exam, we can inform your university if you were affected by the suspension of exam delivery. Please send an email to [email address] with details of your test and where you would like the information to be sent to.

9. How can I contact Customer Service?

While our offices are closed, our customer services teams will support you via phone and email. We are working hard to respond to every request, but the situation is extraordinary, and some delays may occur. Please accept our apologies in advance. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

FAQs about English courses

1. My class is suspended. When will courses resume?

To protect the health of all our students, we are strictly following guidance from national authorities in response to Covid-19 and our face-to-face English courses are temporarily suspended.

Until it is safe to resume face-to-face classes, we will continue teaching in virtual classrooms: either

This means your current course with us will continue online. All students and parents will receive individual emails with more information on when their virtual lessons will start and how to use the online platform.

It may not be possible to continue some courses online. If this is the case we will send you further information.

2. What are you offering students while face-to-face classes are suspended?

We are drawing on the expertise of our wide network of teaching centres across the world to offer a virtual classroom experience that has already proven to be effective. As far as possible, we will try to ensure that this is done with the same teacher, at the same time as the usual class and with the same group of students. 

myClass Virtual lessons for adults are like any other classroom lessons at the British Council. You will practise your speaking and writing with your teacher and classmates in real time, and do pair and group work. Of course, just like in any other lesson, you will also practise your listening and reading skills, and learn lots of new language. The difference is that it will be continued to be delivered via Zoom: user-friendly web-conferencing software.

Virtual lessons for young learners are designed to cover the same language skills and deliver the same progress as regular classes. Each class takes around 2 hours at the moment, and consists of 45 minutes of Pre-lesson activities, a Virtual class of 60 minutes, and Post-prep activities of around 20 minutes.

We are also planning to offer further supplementary activities in the near future.   

We are committed to ensuring that all children can study in a safe and supportive environment and our platform incorporates a number of features designed to keep children safe while they are online. We will send individual emails to students and parents with more details about our virtual classrooms and any ongoing developments. 

3. How I can contact Customer Service? 

While our offices are closed, our customer services teams will support you via our Contact Centre phones and email. We are working hard to respond to every request for information, but the situation is extraordinary, and some delays may occur. Please accept our apologies in advance. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

4. Can I re-register my child for young learners classes, and how can I pay? 

We are currently focused on ensuring current courses switch to virtual classrooms smoothly and that our students can continue to make progress with their English learning. Our teams are working hard to adapt our processes to a fully online operation; we are committed to minimising disruption for our customers and we will be in touch with you by email as soon as we are ready to start re-registration or have any further updates on our courses.

Your health and safety is our top priority.

More information on protecting yourself from Coronavirus (Covid-19) is available here: 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Thank you for your cooperation