How to Get Portuguese Citizenship?

22 de September, 2023

How to Get Portuguese Citizenship?

Discover how to get Portuguese citizenship. Learn about the requirements, necessary documents, and alternatives for living in Portugal. Read to learn more!
Reading: 14 min

Can you apply for Portuguese citizenship? We have prepared this article to help you answer this question. Based on the laws in force, we have gathered here the most common scenarios for accessing Portuguese citizenship. Learn how you can fulfill the main requirements to become a Portuguese citizen. Learn about the conditions, necessary documents, application processing time and costs. Finally, we point out alternatives for those who are not eligible for citizenship but wish to live in Portugal.

Who can apply to Portuguese nationality?

There are different ways to access Portuguese nationality. Below is a more complete list of possibilities.

See in the video below for more details on the main hypotheses for granting and acquiring Portuguese citizenship.

1. Portuguese citizenship by descent (children and grandchildren of Portuguese nationals)

Portugal provides for the attribution of Portuguese nationality up to the 3rd generation, which means that those who are children and grandchildren of Portuguese nationals may apply for citizenship, even if they were born on foreign soil.

This is usually the most straightforward route, requiring only relevant documents such as birth and marriage certificates. However, it is necessary to pay attention to the requirements to be met, which differ in each context. For example, the child of Portuguese origin, born in Portugal or abroad, may apply for citizenship without the need to prove ties with the Portuguese community, and without language requirements.

For the children of Portuguese nationals with acquired nationality, there are other requirements. In these cases, the citizenship request must be made while the child is still a minor. And if the child was already born when one of the parents acquired Portuguese nationality, he/she will have to prove effective ties to the Portuguese national community (or fit one of the legal hypotheses of presumed ties) in order to proceed with the application.

Proof of ties and language requirements are also required for Portuguese grandchildren.

Do you want to live in Europe?

Realizing your goal of living in Europe or obtaining European citizenship can be simpler than you think. We offer personalized support to make the immigration process more accessible and uncomplicated.

Portuguese Citizenship for Adopted Children

To be eligible for Portuguese citizenship, an adopted child must have been adopted by the age of 18. There has been a change in the law; previously, the limit was until 15 years old. The change occurred because the process of Recognizing Foreign Sentence (RSE) for adoption required the adoptee to be up to 15 years old at the time of the application, excluding cases of adoption with older adoptees. The Portuguese Civil Code was amended to allow the recognition of sentences in which the adoptee is under 18 years old at the time of the adoption application.

Documents required for child and grandchild citizenship

  • Declaration for application for Portuguese nationality
  • Identification document of the applicant (legalized/apostilled)
  • Legalized birth certificate of the applicants (legalized/apostilled)
  • Birth certificate of the Portuguese ancestor
  • Birth certificate of the parent who is the child of the Portuguese ancestor (for grandchildren)
  • Criminal record certificate (for grandchildren)

2. Is Portuguese citizenship possible for great-grandchildren of Portuguese citizens?

Having Portuguese great-grandparents can help, but in such cases the law does not provide for direct attribution.

* To obtain Portuguese citizenship as a great-grandchild, one of your parents or grandparents (child or grandchild of the Portuguese) must obtain it first. This will establish a direct line of descent for you to apply for your citizenship. However, it is important to note that the applicant for citizenship must be alive; it is not possible to apply for a deceased relative. This may limit the feasibility of obtaining citizenship for some great-grandchildren.

3. Portuguese citizenship by marriage or stable union

In 2021 , about 1/4 of Portuguese nationality applications were from spouses and partners of Portuguese nationals, according to SEF’s RIFA 2022 report.

If you have been married to a Portuguese citizen for three years or more, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship by marriage. And it is not even mandatory to reside in Portugal during this period. However, it is necessary to formalize the union in the country before starting the application process.

Marriage lasting less than 6 years:

If the marriage took place less than 6 years ago, you will need to prove your connection to the Portuguese community to obtain citizenship. Some ways to prove these links include having basic knowledge of the Portuguese language (A2 level or higher), owning property in Portugal, frequent travel to the country or even residing in the country. The more connections you can demonstrate, the better your chances of a successful application.

Union of more than 6 Years:

For those who have been in a relationship with a Portuguese citizen for more than 6 years, the process of obtaining citizenship is facilitated. In this case, it is not necessary to prove knowledge of the language or demonstrate additional links with Portugal. Citizenship can be granted even to those who are spouses of Portuguese with derived nationality.

Those who already have children with Portuguese citizenship also do not need to prove additional ties with Portugal to apply for their citizenship.

Marriage before 1981:

Until 03/10/1981 , a foreign woman who married a Portuguese citizen automatically received the right to Portuguese nationality, even if that nationality had not been registered in the Portuguese Civil Registry. It will therefore be necessary to open a procedure to carry out the missing registration that recognizes the nationality acquired by the foreign woman on the day of her marriage.

Opposition to nationality through marriage:

Nationality cannot be acquired by those who have already held public office that is not predominantly of a technical nature or by those who have performed non-compulsory military service in their country. In these situations, the application is considered unviable.

Documents required for spousal citizenship

  • Declaration for application for Portuguese nationality
  • Identification document of the applicant (legalized/apostilled);
  • Birth certificate of the applicant (legalized/apostilled);
  • Portuguese birth certificate of the spouse/partner of a Portuguese citizen;
  • Criminal record certificate (legalized/apostilled);
  • Marriage certificate already transcribed in Portugal (for married couples);
  • Certificate of judicial sentence of the Portuguese Court that recognizes the union, in addition to a declaration, less than 3 months old, in which the Portuguese citizen confirms that the stable union is maintained (for those who have a stable union / de facto union);
  • Documents proving connection to the Portuguese Community;

4. Portuguese citizenship by residence in Portugal

For those without Portuguese ancestry, a fairly common option for acquiring citizenship is naturalization by length of legal residence. This was the path found by more two-thirds of citizenship applications in 2021.

In Portugal, five years living in the country is required to become a Portuguese citizen. And they don’t even have to be consecutive. It is five years in a 15-year period. However, you must be legally in the country to be able to apply. The time is computed according to your residence permit or since the visa was issued. Whether as a digital nomad, highly qualified professional, entrepreneur, passive income holder (such as retirees), or student. The years of legal residence can be added together to make the application. In all cases, the applicant must have a clean criminal record and basic knowledge of the Portuguese language.

Read also: Portugal’s main residence visa options – and who they’re most suitable for

Documents required for resident citizenship

  • Declaration for application for Portuguese nationality
  • Valid passport and residence permit;
  • Birth certificate of the applicant (legalized/apostilled);
  • Criminal record (legalized/apostilled);
  • Document proving sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language (not required of persons born in a Portuguese-speaking country – case of Brazilians).

5. Portuguese nationality through Sephardic heritage: change in the law

Portuguese citizenship can be obtained by those who can prove Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Sephardic Jews were those expelled from Portugal and Spain during the Inquisition, between the 15th and 18th centuries. Proof is based on objective requirements such as surname, family language and direct or collateral descent. The certificate issued by the Israeli Community of Lisbon is essential for the citizenship application.

It is important to note that recently there have been changes in the law, making access to citizenship more restricted. Now, in addition to proving Sephardic ancestry, the applicant needs to demonstrate a link with Portugal, which can be done through:

  • regular trips throughout the applicant’s life to Portugal,
  • presentation of a Certificate or other document proving the ownership, transmitted mortis causa, of real rights over real estate located in Portugal, other personal rights of enjoyment or shares in commercial or cooperative companies based in Portugal.

Documents required for citizenship of Sephardic Jewish descent

  • Declaration for application for Portuguese nationality
  • Identification document of the applicant (legalized/apostilled);
  • Birth certificate of the applicant (legalized/apostilled);
  • Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community (or equivalent document);
  • Criminal Background Check, duly legalized/apostilled.

6. Portuguese citizenship by investment: Golden Visa

For those with financial resources, the easiest route to acquiring Portuguese citizenship may be the Golden Visa. Created in 2012, the Golden Visa is a residence permit program for those who make qualified investments in the country.

O Golden Visa program program has undergone several changes since 2012 , when it was launched in the country.

It currently offers fewer investment routes but retains its advantages:

  • possibility of obtaining citizenship after 5 years of investment (if you meet the requirements and have knowledge of the language),
  • free movement in the Schengen area,
  • a very short stay requirement in the country (you only need to spend 7 days a year in Portugal),
  • possibility of extending the residence permit to family members,

The investment modalities are varied, with amounts ranging from €500k.

Golden Visa options currently eligible

  • Investment in funds (€500k);
  • Capital transfer applied to scientific research activities (€500k);
  • Capital transfer applied to support national artistic or cultural production (€500k);
  • Creation of 10 jobs in Portugal;
  • Creation of a company or capital increase of a company already established in Portugal and creation of 5 jobs (€500k).

Find out all about the Golden Visa Portugal

7. Portuguese citizenship for children born in Portugal

Portugal provides for some chances of obtaining Portuguese citizenship for children born in the country, however it is necessary to fulfill some requirements. The main legal hypotheses for obtaining Portuguese citizenship for children born in Portugal are the following:

  • Individuals born in Portuguese territory and who do not have another nationality (stateless persons);
  • Individuals born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners, provided that at the time of their birth one of the parents is legally resident in Portuguese territory (regardless of the time);
  • Individuals born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners, provided that at the time of their birth one of the parents has been resident (even without a residence permit ) for at least one year in Portugal;

Documents required for those born in Portugal

  • Declaration for application for Portuguese nationality
  • Full photocopy of the applicant’s birth certificate.

How can I become a Portuguese citizen?

  1. Feasibility study on Portuguese citizenship:

    “Am I entitled to Portuguese citizenship?”. Answering this question is the first step of your journey. Find out if you fit the hypotheses provided by law. By finding the right path, you will know which documents are needed to prove your eligibility.

  2. Documentary collection for Portuguese citizenship application:

    This step will require intensive effort and research. The requirements and documents needed may vary from case to case. It is essential to provide the full name of the family members involved in the process, including parentage, as well as the place and date of birth of the Portuguese national in question. Without this information, moving forward in the process becomes extremely difficult. In certain cases, it may be simpler to enlist the help of specialized historians, as they can assist in locating certificates, parish registers and documents of relatives who have passed away or lived in cities far from the one in which the applicant currently resides.

  3. Apply for Portuguese citizenship:

    Once you have all the necessary documents, it is time to start the application process. The application can be made both in Portugal (at the Registry Offices) and in the applicant’s country (at the Portuguese Consulate of the region of residence). Then, just wait for the process to progress until its conclusion. It is important to keep in mind that, due to the great increase in the search for Portuguese nationality, the waiting time has increased a lot. Some hypotheses generate a much longer waiting time than others. For example, citizenship for a spouse (nationality through marriage) usually takes much longer than citizenship for the child of a Portuguese citizen.

How long does a Portuguese nationality process take?

It is not possible to predict precisely how long it will take to complete your citizenship application. The timeframe will vary according to the type of application and the conservatory responsible. Documentation needs to be correct to avoid delays. The government sets a time limit of up to 29 months for adult applications, but with the increase in applications, these time limits have progressively increased over the years.

Currently, based on our experience, the average processing times for different types of orders are:

  • Procedure for minor children: 4 to 12 months
  • Process for older children: 12 to 18 months
  • Processes by length of residence: 8 to 15 months.
  • Process for grandchildren: 20 to 30 months
  • Process for spouses: 20 to 30 months

How much does it cost to get Portuguese citizenship?

The amounts involved in the process of acquiring Portuguese citizenship will vary according to the type of nationality. In addition to the fees established in euros, it is important to consider additional expenses, such as the search and issuance of certificates, copies of documents and apostille of documents and possibly the hiring of legal advice. The price list can be consulted here.

The amounts charged in Portugal are currently these:

  • Children: overage – 175€ | underage – free
  • Grandchildren: overage – €175 | underage – free
  • Wedding Transcription: 120€
  • Recognition of Stable Union: €306
  • Spouses/partners: €250
  • Children of foreigners born in Portugal: Underage – free
  • Residence time: 250€
  • Descendant of a Sephardic Jew: €250* (Note: please consult the amount of the donation required by the Israeli Community)

Is it possible to make an urgent application for Portuguese citizenship?

Yes, it is possible to make an application for acceleration of the citizenship process for reasons of justified urgency. However, it is essential to provide a solid justification and to submit the documents that prove the damage that the delay in granting citizenship will cause to the applicant.

It is worth noting that the decision to expedite the process is discretionary and is at the discretion of each responsible conservator. Some reasons that may be claimed are: urgency for health treatment, advanced age of the applicant, opportunity for work or study with financial loss.

It should be made clear, however, that it has become increasingly difficult to speed up citizenship processes through these justifications.

How to follow up the application for Portuguese nationality?

After filing the citizenship application, the applicant can follow his process online at this link here. You must have the access password number at hand.

If you do not have this number with you, you can obtain it through the Portuguese Registration Line (+351) 211 950 500 , or at the registry offices that have a nationality desk. You must present an identification document (for holders of the application) or through a power of attorney.

What are the advantages of having Portuguese citizenship?

Undoubtedly, having dual citizenship and Portuguese citizenship can bring countless advantages. It presents itself as a great opportunity for those who wish to settle in Portugal or in other European Union countries and enjoy all the possibilities that these countries have to offer:

  1. Access to more job and education opportunities in different countries. Portuguese citizenship allows free movement and residence in all European Union countries.
  2. Easier to travel to several countries without having to apply for a visa, since Portuguese citizenship allows entry into several countries without the need for a prior visa. In fact, the Portuguese passport was recently considered one of the most powerful in the world.
  3. Access to health,
    education and social security services in Portugal and other EU countries.
  4. Authorization to vote in national and European elections both in Portugal and in European Union countries.
  5. Consular protection and access to emergency services in cases of need in Portugal and in countries where Portuguese citizenship is recognized.
  6. Chance to establish business in Portugal and in the European Union without requiring special authorization.
  7. Possibility to inherit property and assets in Portugal without legal restrictions, as well as the possibility to transmit these assets to heirs without high transaction fees.
  8. Access to subsidy programs and government benefits in Portugal and other European Union countries.
  9. Possibility of obtaining financing with lower interest rates to buy real estate or investments in Portugal.
  10. Permission to live in Portugal, a country with a rich culture and history, mild climate, world-renowned cuisine, excellent quality of life, and, above all, friendly and welcoming people.

Being a Portuguese citizen is simpler than it seems!

These are the main ways to obtain Portuguese citizenship. It is important to remember that the requirements and procedures for each one of the ways can vary. In all cases, it is necessary to fulfill a series of requirements, such as proving your good behavior. In some cases, knowledge of the Portuguese language is required. The help of an experienced professional can make all the difference when it comes time to start your process.

Atlantic Bridge is a specialist in this field, with a competent team of consultants and a high success rate in its processes.

If you want to have your Portuguese citizenship, talk to the Atlantic Bridge team and find out which path is right for your profile.

How to live in Portugal without Portuguese Citizenship?

If you are not of Portuguese or Sephardic Jewish descent, and you are not married to a Portuguese citizen, there are other alternatives to obtaining citizenship. One of them is through legal residence in Portugal. To do this, you must live in the country for at least 5 years to be able to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

For those who wish to reside in Portugal, it is necessary to obtain an entry visa that justifies their stay, whether to study, invest, work or enjoy retirement. There are several types of visas available for those who wish to stay in the country for more than three months. They are:

Why have an advisory service for the application for Portuguese Citizenship?

Hiring an advisor is a personal decision. Many people choose to carry out the process on their own. However, the support of experienced advisers is not just a convenience. It also means that your application is more likely to be successful. This is because an advisor will analyze your case in a personalized way and provide guidance on the required documents, ensuring that all requirements are properly met. This avoids rework, delays and unnecessary stress. Finally, an advisory keeps you updated on your process, giving you peace of mind.

Apply For Your Portuguese Citizenship! Talk to an expert!



Atlantic Bridge

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