Portuguese Nationality for Parents of Portuguese

11 de March, 2024

Portuguese Nationality for Parents of Portuguese

Learn more about obtaining Portuguese nationality for parents of Portuguese citizens (through their child): when it is possible and what are the requirements.
Comboio em Portugal
Reading: 5 min

Is it possible to apply for Portuguese nationality for parents of a Portuguese citizen? In other words, can someone with a Portuguese child apply for citizenship?

It may seem like an uncommon and even improbable question, but it’s more frequent than one might think. After all, how can a child be Portuguese and the parents not? There are some cases. And in many of them, the law offers some ease for parents to obtain Portuguese citizenship or legally reside in Portugal.

In this article, we will detail the provisions of current legislation for such situations.

Ancestry or Descent?

First, a brief explanation is in order about the difference between these words, which are often confused when talking about citizenship.

Ancestry: Refers to origin and is related to family background: parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. For example, if someone was born in Portugal and has Portuguese parents or grandparents, that person has Portuguese ancestry.

Descent: Is linked to the descendants (comes after) of a person, that is, children and grandchildren.

If your father is Portuguese:

  1. You are a descendant of a Portuguese person.
  2. Your father is your Portuguese ancestor.
Mãe com bebê, busca na internet nacionalidade portuguesa para pais de portugues, através do filho

Portuguese Nationality Through a Portuguese Child?

Is it possible to obtain Portuguese nationality through a Portuguese child? In other words, can one acquire nationality by being an ascendant of a Portuguese citizen?

First and foremost, it’s important to know:

  1. How did your child obtain Portuguese nationality?
  2. Why don’t you, as a parent, have Portuguese nationality?

Portuguese Nationality for Parents of Children Born in Portugal

The most common case is that of a foreign immigrant living in the country whose child was born on Portuguese soil, thus acquiring Portuguese citizenship by birth.

According to the current law (Article 1(f) of Law 37/81, of October 3, with the amendments brought by Decree-Law no. 26/2022), for the child to have this right, one of the parents must:

  • Reside in Portugal without a residence permit for at least one year.
  • Be legally in the country, regardless of the period of stay.

In these cases, citizenship by birth is possible for the child. We explain more details in our article on citizenship for those born in Portugal.

These same changes in the law, which occurred in 2022, allowed parents to apply for Portuguese nationality by naturalization after residing in the country for at least 5 years, regardless of a residence permit.

But wait, can’t those who have lived in the country for five years apply for residency? What’s the advantage here?

This opportunity is advantageous for those families who have lived for long periods in Portugal without a valid residence permit. It’s worth noting that obtaining citizenship by residence requires the applicant to reside in Portugal for at least 5 years*. And even with the current changes, it is still necessary to be legalized in the country to make the request.

*It should be noted that there are other requirements: being over 18 years old, having knowledge of the Portuguese language, and not having been involved in terrorist activities or convicted of crimes with a sentence exceeding 3 years (having a clean criminal record).

Do you want to live in Europe?

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Proving 5 Years of Residence Without a Title in Portugal

To prove 5 years of residence in Portugal without a Residence Permit (RP) or Expression of Interest (EI), there are several options:

  • Obtain a certificate from the Parish Council. This certificate serves as proof of residence.
  • Proof of Compliance with Social Security or Tax obligations. This may include income tax statements, proof of social security contributions, or other related documents.
  • Proof of School Attendance, if you have school-age children or if you are studying yourself. These can be school statements or other education-related documents.

Having a child with a Portuguese citizen but not being married

In these cases, the law does not provide for automatic citizenship. If you are not married to a Portuguese citizen, nor in a stable union, the alternative to obtaining Portuguese citizenship would be to live in Portugal.

Having a Portuguese-born child entitles you to live in the country legally. You will be authorized to reside, study, work, and access all social services, like a Portuguese citizen. After 5 years of residence in the country, you can apply for citizenship based on residency if you meet the other requirements. And it doesn’t even need to be legal residence. In other words, even if you do not have a residence permit or have made an expression of interest, you can still apply for citizenship by naturalization:

Article 6, paragraph 8 – The Government may grant nationality, by naturalization, waiving the requirement set out in subparagraph b) of paragraph 1, to individuals who are ascendants of Portuguese citizens by birth, who have resided here, regardless of title, for at least five years immediately prior to the application, and provided that the ascendency was established at the time of the birth of the Portuguese citizen.

Child obtained Portuguese citizenship through marriage

Similarly, the law does not provide for automatic citizenship for parents of foreigners who have acquired Portuguese nationality through marriage (derived citizenship). In this case, there may be facilitation of access to a residence permit if the aforementioned child decides to live in Portugal and includes the ascendant as a dependent. There are other requirements to meet, according to the Law regulating the rights of European Union citizens and their families (Law 37/2006 of August 9), for parents of citizens who have obtained derived Portuguese citizenship. If the parents are under 65 years old, they need to prove (for example, through bank transfers to the country of origin, a declaration from the home country stating that they do not receive any pension or financial support) that they are financially dependent on the child. This requirement is waived when the ascendant is over 65 years old.

Having a Portuguese child facilitates residency in Portugal

Having a Portuguese child can simplify the residency process in Portugal. If you do not fit into cases that allow direct access to Portuguese citizenship, it is still possible to seek residency in Portugal as an intermediary step to naturalization, as it is possible to obtain a residence permit, without a visa, for those who have minor children with Portuguese nationality over whom they exercise parental responsibilities and to whom they provide support and education (Article 122, k, of the Foreigners Law – Law 23/2007, of July 4).

Don’t fit into any of these examples? Send your question to our team of experts. Fill out our form and provide details on how your child acquired Portuguese citizenship and your plans to obtain your own. Our team will help you find the best path.

Silvia Resende


Silvia Resende

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