1 de Junho, 2022
When one talks about obtaining Portuguese citizenship, this is the most recurrent doubt. “How do I know whether or not I meet the fundamental requirements for access to citizenship?”
The Portuguese passport allows the bearer not only to move, study, work or legally reside in Portugal, but also in any of the European Union countries. It provides a variety of new opportunities for the holder’s life and that of his family members.
According to official data, applications for Portuguese nationality by Brazilians increased 141% from 2010 to 2020. A percentage well above that expected by the authorities.
Based on the laws in force in 2022, we have gathered here the most common scenarios for accessing Portuguese citizenship and shown how it is possible to meet the main requirements to also become a Portuguese citizen.
According to the Nationality Law of Portugal, there are several hypotheses for the attribution and acquisition of Portuguese nationality, which range from the adoption of a foreign citizen by a Portuguese citizen to specific situations applicable to descendents of a Portuguese Sephardic Jew. Let us look at the most common ones.
Child of a Portuguese citizen born in Portugal or abroad.
Attention: this hypothesis is applicable to underage or adult children of a Portuguese citizen from Portugal, whose nationality was granted but not acquired.
Therefore, the following hypothesis applies to the child of a Portuguese father/mother who acquired nationality (for example, by being a Portuguese spouse, by Sephardic descent or by the time of legal residence).
Minor child of a Portuguese national who acquired Portuguese citizenship (derivative citizenship), provided that he/she declares/demonstrates having effective ties to the Portuguese national community (or that he/she fits one of the legal hypothesis of presumed ties).
Different from the hypothesis foreseen in the previous topic, here the citizenship request must be made while the Portuguese citizen’s child is still a minor.
Grandchild of a Portuguese minor or adult, provided that they demonstrate effective ties to the Portuguese national community.
Currently, the requirement of effective ties to the national community is verified by sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, which makes this requirement automatically fulfilled by Brazilian citizens, for example.
For grandchildren of Portuguese nationals who are not nationals of Portuguese-speaking countries, knowledge of the Portuguese language must be proved by means of an examination before institutions accredited by the Portuguese government.
Portuguese law does not foresee a specific hypothesis for Portuguese great-grandchildren. What may occur, however, is that if one of the parents or grandparents of the great-grandchild obtains Portuguese nationality, he/she becomes the grandchild/grandchild of a Portuguese national and may then apply for nationality on that condition.
Any spouse married for more than 3 years to a Portuguese national who has his/her marriage transcribed in Portugal and who proves to have an effective link with the Portuguese national community.
However, the law currently provides for some hypotheses of presumption of links with Portugal which are quite interesting for spouses, and which make it easier for them to overcome the legal requirement:
Finally, it is also worth mentioning that the legislation also foresees some limitations to the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship by spouses, such as not being possible to acquire nationality for a spouse that has already exercised public functions without a predominantly technical nature or that has rendered non-compulsory military service to his/her country.
Companion living for more than 3 years in a stable union with a Portuguese national, having the stable union recognised by a Portuguese civil court, and who declares/demonstrates having ties with the Portuguese national community.
In this scope, the same observations made regarding the presumption of links for the spouse also apply to the partners, as well as the limitations also pointed out above.
Foreigner, of legal age, who has been living legally for more than five years in Portugal and has sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, can also acquire nationality by residence, through a process called naturalisation.
Foreigner, of legal age, descendant of a Portuguese Sephardic Jew, provided there is proof of a tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent.
From 1 September 2022 onwards, an additional requirement will come into force to prove an effective and lasting connection of the applicant with Portugal, proven through:
The complete documentation to request Portuguese citizenship and other specific requirements vary according to each of these situations. We reiterate that our intention with this article is only to introduce the main hypotheses (but not all!) for acquisition and attribution of Portuguese nationality, as well as to highlight its main requirements (and not all!).
Depending on the nature of the process, the application can be made at the Civil Registry Offices or at the Central Registry Office of Portugal. Portuguese Consulates.
In the latter case, however, the process takes significantly longer to complete, not only because the Consulates have a small number of staff, but also because they have to forward the process to the relevant Registry Offices for examination.
The time it takes to process nationality cases varies greatly, not only according to the place where the case is initiated (Consulates and Land Registry Offices), but also according to the hypothesis of nationality (grandchild, child, spouse, etc.), as well as the correct instruction of the process by the applicant (the lack of any document can delay the process for months).
From our experience in the Portuguese Consulates, we can say that procedures for attributing nationality to the children of Portuguese nationals take on average 6 months.
However, if the application is made by the grandchild of a Portuguese national, as well as by the spouse or partner of a Portuguese national, the waiting time increases considerably, from 12 to 24 months.
Naturalization processes for foreign citizens residing in Portugal for at least 5 years take around 1 year.
We reiterate that these times are much longer when the processes are done via the Portuguese Consulates and, furthermore, that they tend to grow in view of the strong increase in demand for Portuguese nationality.
Regarding procedural costs, for applications for the attribution of nationality by adults (children and grandchildren of Portuguese nationals of Portuguese origin) the amount charged by the Registry Office is EUR 175. Applications for the attribution of nationality to minors are free of charge.
As for applications for the acquisition of nationality (spouses, companions, time of residence, etc.), in general, the procedural costs are set at 250 euros.
Despite not being necessary and involving an additional cost, in many cases of Portuguese Nationality the hiring of a specialized legal advisor is usually an added value to the applicant for several reasons, whether to ensure more security and increase the probability of success of the application, or to speed up the process, or for the desire to have a more comfortable and tranquil experience during the procedure.
Therefore, if you fit into any of the hypotheses above, do not waste any more time and go in search of more details to try to obtain your Portuguese citizenship!
And even if you cannot apply for citizenship, but wish to live in Portugal, talk to Atlantic Bridge consultants. They will be able to suggest alternatives to move to the country in a legal and planned way, through an adequate visa to your profile.