Portuguese Citizenship for Children Born in Portugal: How to apply

18 de December, 2023

Portuguese Citizenship for Children Born in Portugal: How to apply

Reading: 8 min

In recent years, the process of obtaining Portuguese citizenship for children born in Portugal (children of foreign parents) has undergone significant changes, considerably simplifying the path. In this article, we will present what these changes in the law were and the new requirements for citizenship application for those born on Portuguese soil, as well as the necessary documents and other pertinent details.

It’s worth noting that Portugal maintains leadership in citizenship policy in Europe, followed by Sweden and Luxembourg (MIPEX 2020 data). In this sense, the country adopts both jus sanguinis (kinship criterion) and jus soli (territorial criterion) to determine who can apply for and hold Portuguese nationality. Historically speaking, obtaining Portuguese citizenship has never been easier, and as of now, there have never been as many citizenships granted as currently!

If you want to talk to a Portuguese citizenship specialist now, click here.

Does a child of a foreigner born in Portugal acquire Portuguese citizenship?

Yes, in Portugal, a child of a foreigner born on Portuguese territory can acquire Portuguese citizenship. There are some conditions that must be met, but these have been significantly simplified with the latest changes in the Nationality Law, which occurred in 2020.

Note: The rules below only apply if foreigners are not in Portugal in service of their home country.

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Differences between Jus Soli and Jus Sanguinis Criteria

The jus sanguinis criterion (kinship criterion) grants an individual the right to nationality of a particular country based on their ancestry (from the nationality of their parents or grandparents, for example).

On the other hand, jus soli (territorial criterion) grants an individual the right to nationality of a particular country by birth in that place or prolonged stay there.

With the latest changes in the law, Portugal gives more weight to the jus soli criterion for granting nationality.

Who is entitled to Portuguese nationality by Jus Soli criterion?

Regarding the jus soli criterion, one must fit into one of the conditions below:

Children, daughters or sons of a Portuguese mother or father

Simpler and faster scenario: Portuguese origin citizenship can be granted to children born in Portugal whenever one of their parents, either the father or mother, is Portuguese, even if they hold derived Portuguese nationality. Find more details here about Portuguese citizenship for children of Portuguese.

Children, sons or daughters of a foreign mother or father who legally reside in Portugal

In this case, it is enough that one of the parents is residing legally in Portuguese territory at the time of the child’s birth, regardless of the duration of stay in the country. The attributed citizenship will also be original. But please note: it is necessary to already have a residence permit in hand for this scenario. If you have not yet converted your visa into a residence permit, you will have to apply through another avenue.

Children, sons or daughters of a foreign mother or father who reside without a residence permit in Portugal for one year

For the children of foreigners who do not yet have a Residence Permit, it is necessary that at least one of the parents has been living in Portugal for at least one year in the country. In this scenario, the child will also be considered an original Portuguese citizen.

The two previous options are mentioned in section f of article 1 of the Nationality Law:

“f) Individuals born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners who are not in the service of their respective State, who do not declare not wanting to be Portuguese, provided that, at the time of birth, one of the parents resides legally in Portuguese territory, or here resides, regardless of the title, for at least one year”

Children who do not have another nationality

A scenario intended for so-called “stateless” individuals, meaning those who do not hold any other nationality.

It can apply, for example, to children born in Portugal whose parents’ nationality does not grant citizenship to the children of their nationals born in foreign territory. It can also apply in the case of parents who do not register the child’s birth in the respective consulate of their nationality, so that the child can also be considered “stateless” for this purpose.

A detail: only one of the parents needs to meet the requirements; it is not necessary for both to live in Portugal.

Newborn baby feet lying in a basket: citizenship for children born in Portugal

Rules for children born in Portugal whose parents do not yet meet the requirements set by the law

Let’s suppose a child was born in Portugal, but their parents had been residing in the country for less than a year and without a residence permit. In this case, they will not have the right to immediately receive Portuguese nationality. They will have to wait until the requirements are met. The law valid in this case is the most recent, as the law retroacts. The citizenship in this case will be derived.

We have a very interesting case of a client who arrived in Portugal pregnant with a student visa. However, her baby was born 5 days before the issuance of the Residence Permit was ready. As a result, the baby was born at a time when the mother did not meet the requirements: she did not have a residence permit nor had she been in the country for a year. In this case, as soon as she received the Residence Permit, she made the request, but the daughter received derived citizenship, no longer original.

What’s the difference between original and derived citizenship?

After talking so much about these two modalities, the doubt is understandable. Citizenship by attribution (original) is one in which the citizen is born Portuguese, meaning the validity of citizenship goes back to their birth.

Derived nationality is one where the individual expresses their desire to become a citizen, and it becomes effective only after the approval of their naturalization request.

And why is original citizenship more valued than derived? Basically because original citizenship can be more easily transmitted to descendants, even in adulthood.

Citizenship for young people over 18 born in Portugal: be careful with the catch!

Article 6 of the Nationality Law provides another possibility of obtaining citizenship through acquisition (derived). The law states that:

“The Government grants nationality, by naturalization, to minors born on Portuguese territory, children of foreigners, and who, in the case of having reached the age of criminal liability, meet the requirements of paragraphs d) and e) of the previous number, provided that, at the time of the request, they meet one of the following conditions:

a) One of the parents has had residence here, regardless of title, for at least five years immediately prior to the request;
b) One of the parents has legal residence in national territory;
c) The minor has attended, at least, one year of preschool education or basic, secondary, or professional education here.”

This would be a route for those born in Portugal before the latest changes in the law, who have already turned 18, and have no criminal convictions. However, note that citizenship granted here would be derived, not original. Here’s a tip: when making the request, remember that the latest law retroacts, so it can be based on Article 1, guaranteeing original citizenship to your child! Note that, by current laws, the child would have the right to nationality at the time of their birth.

Facilitation of access to citizenship at birth: 2018 and 2020

The change in the law, which occurred in 2020, further facilitated access to Portuguese citizenship for those born in Portugal.

Previously, one of the parents had to reside legally for 2 years, or without a residence permit for at least 5 years for the child to have the right to nationality.

And before 2018, the required residency time for parents was even longer: 5 years legally and 10 for those without residence authorization.

Where to Apply for Citizenship for Children Born in Portugal?

These citizenship requests can be made at any Civil Registry Office in Portugal, as well as at Portuguese consular services or embassies.

What Documentation is Required for Citizenship Applications for those Born in Portugal?

Regarding the necessary documentation, this can vary depending on the type of citizenship scenario mentioned above. As a rule, the following is usually required:

  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • Proof that one of the foreign parents legally resided in Portugal on the date of birth;

  • Proof that one of the foreign parents resided in Portugal for at least one year from the date of birth, regardless of title.
  • Copy of identification document or passport
  • Power of attorney if making the request through a legal representative or advisory.

How Much Does Citizenship Cost for Foreign-born Children in Portugal?

In the vast majority of cases mentioned here, the application is free of charge.

How Long Does Citizenship Take for a Child of Foreign Origin Born in Portugal?

In the case of children born in Portugal, whose one parent has legally resided in the country, citizenship is automatically granted at the time of birth registration.

For those born before the change in the law, it will be necessary to annotate the birth registration in the registry office, and the process can take up to 6 months, depending on the chosen office.

This timeframe in the Registry Offices may be extended due to some factors, including:

  • Suspension of the process due to the presentation of incomplete or incorrect documents by the applicant
  • Delays in communications and opinions issued by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) or other competent entities, depending on the case.
  • Increased demand for Portuguese nationality requests, especially in the Consulates of Portugal, which may result in considerably longer waiting times than those in the Portuguese Registry Offices.

Does Having a Child in Portugal Grant Citizenship for the Parents?

Since 2022, with new changes in the Nationality Law, this has become possible. From now on, parents of children born in Portugal can apply for Portuguese nationality if they have resided in Portugal for at least 5 years, regardless of the type of residency. Citizenship is granted by naturalization in this case.

This scenario proves advantageous for families who have lived in Portugal for many years without residency status. This is because Citizenship by Residency Time requires legal residency with a Residence Permit (AR) for 5 years.

Advantages of Having Portuguese Citizenship

We’ve already discussed what it’s like to live with young children in Portugal. Obtaining Portuguese citizenship brings a series of advantages: more security, freedom, and opportunities for the child’s life, undoubtedly.

Therefore, if your child fits into any of the scenarios described above, don’t miss the chance to secure a better present and future for them! If you wish to speak with a specialist, click here.



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