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Portuguese nationality

Portuguese Nationality


We carry out due diligence, analyzing and organizing documentation to obtain Portuguese nationality, either by assignment or by acquisition. We help hundreds of clients with our legal, practical, and theoretical knowledge, always providing personal and direct services to our clients.


There are several possibilities for those interested in becoming Portuguese citizens. Children, grandchildren, spouses and partners, descendants of Sephardic Jews (Jews native to Portugal), long-term residents, resident ascendant, or others are all beneficiaries. 


We also provide document search services in Portugal and abroad within this area of activity (with the Civil Registry Office, District Archives, and others).

            What is Portuguese nationality?

An individual is considered a Portuguese national, meaning a Portuguese citizen, when their birth certificate is inserted in the Portuguese civil registration system as such. Both the attribution of Portuguese nationality and its acquisition essentially depend on registering an individual’s birth in the Portuguese civil registry system.


Under article 4 of the Portuguese Constitution, “Portuguese citizens are all of those considered as such by law or international convention.”


Pursuant to the law, individuals who meet the legal requirements are considered Portuguese, with the following being considered the most relevant legislative sources on the subject:


- Civil Code of 1967, until Law No. 2,098 of July 29, 1959, entered into force.


- Law No. 2,098, of July 1969


- Law No. 37 of October 18, 1981


- Decree-Law No. 308-A, of July 24, 1975, which regulates the maintenance and loss of Portuguese nationality in the context of decolonization.

Poderão requerer a nacionalidade portuguesa:

  • Filhos de cidadão português;

  • Netos de cidadão português;

  • Cônjuge/Companheiro de cidadão português;

  • Residentes legais por tempo de residência;

  • Menores filhos de estrangeiros residentes;

  • Ascendentes residentes;

  • Descendentes de judeus sefarditas;

  • Outros.

The following persons may apply for the Portuguese nationality:


  • Children of a Portuguese citizen. 

  • Grandchildren of a Portuguese citizen.

  • Spouse/Partner of a Portuguese citizen.

  • Legal residents, by time of residence.

  • Minor children of resident foreigners.

  • Resident ascendants.

  • Descendants of Sephardic Jews.

  • Others.


1. Children


1.1 Children of a Portuguese citizen born in Portugal or abroad (Art. 1, No. 1, c of the Nationality Law):


Children of a citizen with Portuguese nationality, whether a minor or not, if the parent’s nationality is native, meaning by assignment and not acquisition, are also native nationals, if they so request.


A nationality through assignment is considered as the following.


1.2 Minor children of a citizen who acquired Portuguese nationality:


To the child of a Portuguese parent who acquired nationality (for being the spouse of a Portuguese citizen or for having legally resided in Portugal for more than 5 years, or for being the grandchild of a Portuguese citizen before Decree-Law No. 71/2017 entered into force...) can acquire Portuguese nationality, given that:


- they are under 18 years old or legally incompetent.

- is effectively connected to the Portuguese community.

- declares the intention of being a Portuguese citizen.


2. Grandchildren of a Portuguese citizen:


Currently, the grandchildren of native Portuguese citizens born abroad must prove that they have effective ties to the Portuguese community when filing their application.


The existence of an effective connection with the Portuguese community is verified by a sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language. If the grandchild is not able to prove knowledge of the Portuguese language, they must then provide proof of the effective connection.


According to article 10 of the Portuguese Nationality Act, such effective ties can be proven, namely, in the following way:


a) By legally residing in Portuguese territory for 3 years immediately prior to the request and: By being registered with the tax administration (definitive NIF) and the National Health Service (Health Center), or with regional health services. By proving school attendance at an educational establishment in the national territory; By demonstrating knowledge of the Portuguese language.


b) By legally residing in the Portuguese territory for the 5 years immediately prior to the application, by being registered with the tax administration (definitive NIF) and the National Health Service (Health Centers), or regional health services.


It is important to emphasize that a new amendment to the Nationality Act was recently approved, providing for the exclusion of this obligation for those that simultaneously prove sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and have not received a prison sentence of 3 years or more. However, such legislation is yet to be regulated.


Nationality can be passed on to descendants. However, only to grandchildren who prove effective ties. 


If the children of a Portuguese citizen are alive, the nationality can be assigned first to the living child, and later to the grandchildren, without the need for any proof of ties.



3. Foreigners who are married or living in a de facto union (legally recognized) with a Portuguese citizen for more than 3 years:


The interested party, foreign spouse, or partner should declare their desire to be Portuguese during the marriage or union.


For married interested parties, the marriage should be previously transcribed and registered in Portugal. 


It is mandatory to prove effective ties to the Portuguese national community, under penalty of opposition to the acquisition of nationality.


Legislation establishes that some cases shall be subject to a presumption of effective connection to the Portuguese community, with no additional proof being needed. In this case,  if the interested party fulfills ONE of the cases indicated in the legislation, there shall be no opposition to the application filed by the foreign spouse/partner:


- When the applicant is a native of a Portuguese-speaking country and married or living in a de facto union for at least 5 years with a native Portuguese:


- When the applicant is born in a Portuguese-speaking country and there are children who are Portuguese in origin, from a marriage or a de facto union on which the declaration is based.


- When the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, if they are married or in a de facto union with a person who is a native Portuguese, for at least 5 years.


- When the applicant has legal residence in the Portuguese territory for the 3 years immediately prior to the application, is registered in the tax administration and the National Health Service, or regional health services, and provides proof of school attendance at an educational establishment within the Portuguese territory, or demonstrates knowledge of the Portuguese language.


- When the applicant legally resides in the Portuguese territory for the 5 years immediately prior to the application, is registered with the tax administration and the National Health Service, or the regional health services.


4. Legal residents in Portugal:


For foreigners who have been legal residents for over 5 years (holders of a valid residence permit), who are of legal age, or emancipated under Portuguese law, and given they have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, fulfill the legal requirements regarding criminal records, shall be granted Portuguese nationality by naturalization.


The period of legal residence of 5 years, be it continuous or not, is counted in a maximum interval of 15 years, and is based on the idea of current legal residency, counted from the date of the application.


5. Minors born in Portugal:


The first hypothesis is that of attribution of nationality (native nationality), for minors born in Portugal, given that one of the foreign parents has resided in Portugal for at least 1 year prior to the application (regardless of the title).


The second hypothesis for minors who are born in Portugal to foreigners is the acquisition of nationality. As such, the minors can become naturalized given that ONE of the conditions below is fulfilled at the time of the application:


a) One of the parents is a legal resident in national territory.


b) One of the parents has residency, regardless of the title, for at least 5 years immediately prior to the application.


c) The minor has concluded pre-school, elementary or high-school education in Portugal.


d) The minor has no criminal records under the terms of the legislation, if applicable.


6. Descendants of Sephardic Jews:


Descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews can apply for Portuguese nationality through nationalization. They are exempt from proving that they reside legally in European territory or that they know the Portuguese language.


However, it is necessary to prove they belong to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin based on the objective requirements for proving ties to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent.


Those interested should be of legal age or emancipated under Portuguese law and must have never been sentenced, res judicata, of a crime punishable under Portuguese Law, with imprisonment for a maximum equal to 3 years or more.


Proof of descent must include a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community.


7. Legal residents for at least 5 years in Portugal:


Foreigners, of legal age, who live legally for more than five years in Portugal can also acquire nationality by duration of legal residence, through a process known as naturalization.



8. Children of foreigners who acquired Portuguese nationality:


The minor children of a foreign citizen that has acquired the Portuguese nationality may acquire Portuguese nationality by will.



Source: Portuguese Nationality Act/updated version/11th version

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