Portuguese citizenship by descent

Article Breakdown

Portuguese citizenship by descent

Individuals with Portuguese parents or grandparents can apply for Portuguese citizenship through proved ancestry. An important need is that the individual in the Portuguese citizenship succession line has not lost his or her citizenship.

Foreign nationals can apply for Portuguese citizenship for reasons other than Portuguese ancestry. This article contains solely information about Portuguese citizenship by descent.

The Portuguese government offers naturalization to anyone born abroad who have at least one ancestor on the second degree of the Portuguese succession line who has not lost such citizenship.

Who is eligible for Portuguese citizenship by descent?

Portugal Passport CoverPortuguese nationality can be obtained through original assignment, which is recognized at the time of birth, or through acquisition, which has consequences from the date of registration.

According to the Portuguese Nationality Law (Organic Law No. 2/2018, of July 5), nationality can be obtained through blood right, or jus sanguinis (derived from Portuguese ancestors) or territorial (since the infant was born in Portuguese territory). In both cases they are considered to be of Portuguese origin.

Individuals whose parents were Portuguese nationals or residents living in the country or abroad when the applicant was born may apply for Portuguese citizenship through descent. Several scenarios are feasible, and we have listed a few of them below:

  1. The children of a Portuguese mother or father born in Portuguese territory;
  2. The children of a Portuguese mother or father born abroad if the Portuguese parent is in the service of the Portuguese State;
  3. The children of a Portuguese mother or father born abroad if they are registered in the Portuguese civil registry or declare that they wish to be Portuguese citizens;
  4. Individuals born abroad with at least one ascendant of Portuguese nationality of the second degree in the straight line who did not lose that nationality, if they declare that they want to be Portuguese, have ties of effective connection to the national community, and enter the birth in the Portuguese civil registry, if such requirements are met;

As previously stated, there are possibilities for applying for Portuguese citizenship based merely on ancestry (if a parent or grandmother was a Portuguese citizen) or if the Portuguese parents were legal residents in the nation, even before they had to spend the required number of years in Portugal.

For the purposes set out in paragraph d) in this Portuguese law, it is necessary to verify the existence of bonds of effective connection with the national community, which implies the Government’s recognition of the significance of such ties, namely due to sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and the existence of regular contacts with the Portuguese territory, and is dependent on non-conviction, with finality of the sentence, for the commission of a crime punishable by a maximum sentence.

With the eighth amendment to Law No. 37/81, of October 3, which authorizes the Nationality Law, Organic Law No. 2/2018, on July 5, provides access to native nationality and naturalization to persons born in Portuguese territory.

Where do you apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent?

Portugal Coat of ArmsA foreign national who has a Portuguese parent or Portuguese grandparent can request Portuguese nationality at the Institute of Registries and Notaries of the National Center for Migrant Integration (CNAIM). This can be done in both Lisbon and Porto.

One can also apply for this status at the Civil Registry or the Portuguese Consulate in their region of residence.

With the support of our team, you can obtain assistance while dealing with any of these Portuguese authorities. We will not only assist you in applying, but will also lead you every step of the way and provide you with information regarding the stage of processing in which your application is at any given time.

What documents are required?

Rounded Portugal Flag IconThose seeking Portuguese citizenship by descent must first and foremost be able to offer the authorities with sufficient and appropriate proof of their family ties to a Portuguese citizen who has not lost Portuguese citizenship.

In general, the documents offered are as follows:

  • Official application form, duly completed by the individual, containing all relevant identification information;
  • Copy of the applicant’s birth certificate issued in his or her country of residence; the certificate will include the names of the parents;
  • Copy of the Portuguese parent(s) or grandparent(s);
  • Certified copy of the grandparent’s marriage certificate;
  • Copy of the applicant’s valid passport; (regular visits, property ownership, etc.).

When applying for Portuguese citizenship by descent, the authorities charge a number of costs. Our team can provide you with further information on current rates and assist you in preparing the necessary documentation.

What are the constraints for Portuguese Citizenship by descent?

The following foreign nationals are ineligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship by ancestry or nationality by any other means:

  • Those convicted of a felony punishable by a jail term of three years or more in Portugal;
  • Those involved in terrorist activities;
  • Those married to a Portuguese citizen if the applicant served non-mandatory military duty in another nation.

Other restrictions may apply. Those interested in applying for citizenship should contact an immigration lawyer in Portugal for additional information.

Portugal Country Landscape Photo

Portuguese citizenship for individuals with Sephardic jewish ancestry

Another route to claim Portuguese citizenship is if you can prove sephardi ancestry. Portugal passed the new Decree-Law 30-A/2015 in 2015.

This law grants Sephardic Jews Portuguese citizenship. The statute grants Sephardic Jews Portuguese citizenship. Descendants of Sephardic Jews are able to apply if they are supported by a Sephardic community.

Applicants must meet two requirements:

  1. First, they must be at least 18 years old or legally emancipated in Portugal.
  2. Second, they must not have any severe criminal offenses on their record. Ineligible are those convicted of offenses punishable by three years in jail under Portuguese law.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate connections to a Portuguese Sephardic community. They must submit a birth certificate, a copy of their passport, and a criminal record with their application. Every country of nationality and residence requires the submission of a criminal record.

Applicants must additionally provide documentation demonstrating their Portuguese Sephardic background and tradition. Documents should be validated and translated in order to apply to become a Portuguese citizen.

The strength of the Portuguese passport

The Portuguese passport is one of the stronger passports of the European Union, with visa free access to 191 destinations.

If you acquire Portuguese citizenship, you will also be able to live and work in any of the other EU countries.

Furthermore, you will be able to have dual citizenship as a Portuguese citizen, so you will not have to give up your current nationality.

Yes. Portugal supports dual citizenship, which means that if your native country also allows dual citizenship, you can keep your original citizenship when you acquire your Portuguese passport.

Yes. When one member of a family successfully applies for citizenship in Portugal, their spouse and children are usually entitled to apply as well.

No, not always. Some applicants for citizenship by descent may be required to demonstrate their linguistic skills, but not all.

Yes, if you do not qualify for Portuguese citizenship through descent, you can apply through other channels, one of which is if you filed for the golden visa program and have been a resident for five years.

No. While there are residency requirements to become a permanent resident or a citizen, once you are a citizen, you are not need to live in Portugal in order to preserve your citizenship.

That is determined by how effectively your family history has been documented. If you don't have simple access to documents like birth certificates and marriage certificates, you may have difficulty acquiring all of the information you require.

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