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Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship

Benefits of Portuguese Citizenship

Becoming a Portuguese national is a way many people reconnect with their ancestry and recover family traditions or facilitate business prospects that can open different career options. Portuguese citizenship has several additional benefits, another of which is the ability to travel and work freely within the European Union. All citizens can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival trips to 184 countries. The Portuguese passport is, after all, one of the most widely accepted in the world, an obvious incentive to any who can claim citizenship. For example, since the Brexit referendum, the number of people applying to obtain Portuguese citizenship surged. Before Brexit, many British citizens would not have considered changing their status. Now, however, wishing to maintain their right to free travel in the EU, British citizens are seeking dual citizenship.

Navigating Portuguese Immigration Law

The considerable increase in people interested in obtaining Portuguese citizenship can affect how long the process takes. An inaccurately prepared application filed with the Portuguese authorities can lead to unnecessary additional delays. Amongst those individuals who, in theory, have the most substantial claim to Portuguese citizenship are the children, grandchildren, spouse, common-law partner, descendants of Sephardic Jewish communities, and Portuguese residents. In practice, other determining factors also play a significant role, such as the possession and condition of relevant documents, establishment of parenthood, related civil registration processes, evidence of a link to the Portuguese community, and additional such information. Hence, after a preliminary analysis to determine the precise process compliant with Portuguese citizenship law, all details and documents must be carefully vetted by an experienced professional. If multiple family members similarly seek Portuguese citizenship, you must devise a strategy for them all, and all the forms must be well submitted from the beginning. Applications can be delayed or denied — even should a legal right exist — since inexperienced people often make minor mistakes due to their lack of legal expertise. Though botched cases can be taken-over and re-started, the odds of a favorable result are diminished.

Dual Citizenship

As mentioned above, Portugal allows dual citizenship. Portuguese citizens holding or acquiring foreign citizenship do not lose their Portuguese citizenship. Likewise, those acquiring Portuguese citizenship can keep their nationality of origin.

Our Law Firm

If this possibility interests you, there are several situations under which you might be able to acquire Portuguese nationality. If you're looking for the basic rules to follow, or even professional guidance, to hasten your application process, you are in the right place. This website outlines some of the possible routes toward citizenship and lists the essential paperwork needed to mount a successful case. You can use this website as a guide to your eligibility and the preparation of a robust application under Portuguese nationality law. To facilitate our analysis, kindly scan and email the documents you have that might entitle you to Portuguese citizenship. As mentioned above, the law defines several paths to Portuguese citizenship. We will guide you on how you can obtain it faster, using the most secure approach, ensuring your documents are ready for a successful case. We provide comprehensive legal services as a law firm fully dedicated to Portuguese nationality law, conducting our client relationships with first-class communication and proprietary tools to make the citizenship process hassle-free and straightforward. Your application will be trackable, using an online system.Our Portuguese naturalization lawyer has extensive experience in this field and works closely with Portuguese Registries Office – Conservatoria dos Registos Centrais, Conservatoria dos Registos Civis – and other peripheral locations where civil registrations are performed. We exclusively represent clients seeking Portuguese citizenship: the descendants of immigrants as well as settlers from former colonies, territories, and other communities with a historic Portuguese relationship. Our immigration law firm also offers consultation, analysis, and certification of all documentation. If necessary, our firm can exercise Power of Attorney to represent clients, receiving and submitting files in their stead with the Portuguese authorities. Our office can help too should you wish to travel to Portugal to prepare your application, instead of at an embassy. In theory, this should expedite the process. If you work with us, we can take you from start to finish. Or help you complete a single step. Or anything in between.

Status Tracking Services

Pending submission of your application, you will receive a dated claim receipt, which you can use to track the status of your case — resulting, hopefully, in a Portuguese passport and citizen card.

Routes to Portuguese Citizenship: Right-of-Origin and Naturalization

I. Portuguese Citizenship by Right-of-Origin

A. Children of a Portuguese parent born in Portuguese territory;

B. Children of Portuguese parents born in a foreign land, if at least one parent serves the Portuguese nation;

C. Children of at least one Portuguese parent born abroad, if their

1. Birth is recorded with a Portuguese civil registry, or else

2. Declare a desire for citizenship;

3. Children born after the naturalization of a Portuguese immigrant;

D. Persons born in Portuguese territory to foreign nationals, if at least one parent was born in Portugal, regardless of their standing at birth;

E. Persons born within Portuguese territories to foreign-born parents, upon 

1. Declaration of their desire to be Portuguese,

 2. Do not serve their respective state, and

 3. One parent legally resided in Portugal for two years minimum;

F. Persons born in Portuguese territories who maintain no other citizenship provided that they

1. Declare their intention to become Portuguese and

2. Prove the existence of active ties to the national community, by demonstrating:

a) Sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language,

b) Regular contact with Portuguese territory,

c) Absence of any judicial conviction for the practice of a crime punishable under Portuguese law, with imprisonment for three years or more

d) Birth registration in the Portuguese Civil Registry;

G. Foreign-born persons with at least one Portuguese grandparent (ascendant of the 2nd-degree) who retained citizenship, provided that they

1. Declare their intention to become Portuguese and

2. Prove the existence of active ties to the national community, by demonstrating:

3. Sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language,

4. Regular contact with Portuguese territory,

5. Absence of any judicial conviction for the practice of a crime punishable under Portuguese law, with imprisonment for three years or more

6. Birth registration in the Portuguese Civil Registry.

7. Before 29 July 2015, these individuals were obliged to apply for naturalization, exempted only from the residency provision.

II. Portuguese Citizenship via Naturalization

A. Persons over the age of 18, after five years of legal residence, also

Demonstrating sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and

Possessing active connections to the national community; and

Having no judicial conviction for the practice of a crime punishable under Portuguese law, with imprisonment for three years or more.

B. Children under 18 years of age, by declaration, upon the naturalization of at least one parent; however, since

Portuguese immigration law only recognizes a naturalized citizen after the process has reached completion; thus,

Portuguese citizenship obtained by naturalization cannot be transmitted to descendants already over the age of 18 at the time of their parent's naturalization.

C. Persons with at least one Portuguese grandparent (2nd-degree ascendant) no longer apply for naturalization, as of 29 July 2015, but instead

Receive full citizenship upon request (see above: Portuguese by Right-of-Origin); moreover,

This legislative reform retroactively includes individuals born before its enactment.

III. Portuguese Citizenship via Adoption

A. Children adopted by Portuguese citizens acquire citizenship automatically, provided that they are not more than 18 years of age.

IV. Portuguese Citizenship via Marriage

A. Persons married to a Portuguese citizen for at least five years can obtain Portuguese citizenship upon request, and need not meet the residency requirement, provided that they:

1. Demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the language and

2. Hold active ties to the Portuguese national community.

V. Jewish Law of Return

A. An amendment to Portugal's Nationality Law, enacted on 12 April 2013, allows descendants of 16th-century Sephardic Jewish communities expelled during the Portuguese Inquisition, to become citizens by right-of-return.

B. Under the Jewish Law of Return, applicants need not reside in Portugal, but must prove:

1. Sephardic surnames in their family tree;

2. Demonstrate an ongoing connection with their ancient Portuguese Jewish roots, something commonly established by a letter from an orthodox rabbi.

VI. Citizenship of the European Union

A. Portugal being a member state within the European Union, Portuguese citizens are also citizens of the European Union and, thus, under European Union judicature possess the right to:

1. Move freely throughout the EU;

2. Vote in the EU's Parliamentary elections;

3. Obtain asylum at the embassy of any country with EU membership; moreover, they can

4. Live and work in any EU country.

VII. Protectorates and Territories

A. The FormerPortuguese State of India

Portuguese subjects and their descendants born in the dominions (Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli) of the former Portuguese State of India are automatically Portuguese citizens.

B. Portuguese Naturalization: The Former Territories of East Timor and Macau, and the African Colonies

Portuguese subjects born in the former Portuguese territories of East Timor and Macau before their independence have a right to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Portuguese subjects born in former African colonies before independence can request Portuguese naturalization; however,

a) Subjects who lost citizenship might not be entitled to reinstatement, so

b) Each case will be examined individually.