Portugal Citizenship

A foreign national, who is born in Portugal, is of Portuguese descent, marries a Portuguese person, or resides legally in Portugal for five years, can apply for citizenship in Portugal. Portuguese citizenship can also be obtained through adoption by a Portuguese citizen or through the investment route.

For more details about various ways to acquire Portuguese citizenship, whether you are eligible, how you can apply, and to receive bespoke advice from a team of immigration lawyers, reach out to one of our legal advisers today on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

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    Overview of Portugal Citizenship

    Portuguese citizenship may be valid from birth, where an individual is considered to have always been of Portuguese nationality (i.e. attribution of nationality), or from the date on which an individual obtains Portuguese nationality (i.e. acquisition of nationality).

    There are various ways through which a foreign national may acquire Portuguese citizenship, such as:

    • Being born in Portugal of foreign national parents
    • Being born abroad but of Portuguese descent
    • Being married to or in a civil partnership with a Portuguese citizen
    • Being adopted by a Portuguese citizen
    • Being a long-term resident in the country on a visa or permit
    • Residency by investment in the country, which leads to EU citizenship after five years

    For example, children born of Nepali parents, who were born in Portugal and lived in the country habitually for the last 10 years, can apply for Portuguese nationality if they meet all other eligibility requirements as applicable.

    Similarly, a Nepali national who has been married to or living in a civil partnership with a Portuguese citizen for more than three years, can apply for Portuguese nationality provided all other eligibility requirements are met.

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      Benefits of Portuguese Citizenship

      A foreign national who has acquired Portuguese citizenship enjoys all rights and benefits that come along with being a citizen of Portugal by birth, including the right to enter and exit Portugal freely, the right to live, work and study in the country, the right to vote, and access to Portugal’s healthcare and education facilities.

      Moreover, Portuguese citizenship grants a person the freedom of movement across the European Union along with the right to live, work and study in any of the EU countries.

      Once you have become a Portuguese citizen, you can apply for a Portuguese passport. The Portuguese passport ranks 14th in terms of global mobility, as per the 2022 Passport Index. A Portuguese passport allows you to travel either visa-free or on a visa-on-arrival basis to 188 countries.

      Am I Eligible to Apply for Portugal Citizenship?

      The eligibility criteria for Portuguese citizenship vary from case to case, depending on your chosen route to acquire the same. We are going to discuss the eligibility criteria for each route in this section.

      Portuguese Citizenship by Birth or Descent

      If you were born in Portugal but your parents/grandparents are not/were not Portuguese nationals at the time of your birth, you are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship if you meet the following criteria:

      • You are over 18 years old
      • You have habitually resided in Portugal for 10 years
      • You know the Portuguese language sufficiently (i.e. A2 level or higher)
      • You have not been convicted of a crime punishable in Portugal with a prison sentence of three years or more
      • You have not been involved in activities related to terrorism

      Alternatively, you can be considered Portuguese from birth if you meet the following criteria:

      • You were born in Portugal on 8 October 1981 or later
      • Both of your parents are foreign nationals
      • One of your parents legally resided in Portugal for at least five years before your birth and was not in the service of their home country

      Portuguese Citizenship by Naturalisation/Residence

      Most foreign nationals choose the naturalisation/residence route to obtain Portuguese citizenship. You are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship via this route if you meet the following criteria:

      • You are over 18 years old
      • You have resided in Portugal lawfully for at least five years
      • You know the Portuguese language sufficiently (i.e. A2 level or higher)
      • You have not been convicted of a crime punishable in Portugal with a prison sentence of three years or more
      • You have not been involved in activities related to terrorism

      Please note that while usually the five years that count are the most recent five years, it is also possible to apply if you have lived in Portugal for at least five years in the past 15 years.

      Portuguese Citizenship by Marriage

      Foreign national spouses and civil partners of Portuguese citizens can apply for Portuguese citizenship if they meet the following criteria:

      • They are married to or in a de facto union recognised by court with a Portuguese national for at least three years
      • They have a proven connection with the Portuguese community
      • They do not hold public positions, other than technical functions, in another country
      • They have not performed non-compulsory military service in another country
      • They have not been convicted of a crime punishable in Portugal with a prison sentence of three years or more
      • They have not been involved in activities related to terrorism

      Foreign national spouses/civil partners will not have to fulfil the five-year residency requirement in Portugal before applying for citizenship.

      Portuguese Citizenship by Adoption

      Foreign nationals adopted by a Portuguese national can apply for citizenship in Portugal if they meet the following criteria:

      • They were aged less than 18 years when adopted
      • They were adopted before 8 October 1981
      • The period for appealing the court decision declaring their adoption expired before 8 October 1981
      • They have an effective connection to the Portuguese community (e.g. know Portuguese language or have enrolled in a Portuguese educational institution)
      • They do not hold public positions, other than technical functions, in another country
      • They have not performed non-compulsory military service in another country
      • They have not been convicted of a crime punishable in Portugal with a prison sentence of three years or more
      • They have not been involved in activities related to terrorism
      • They must declare that they want to acquire Portuguese nationality

      Portuguese Citizenship by Investment

      In 2012, the Portuguese government introduced the Portugal Golden Visa programme. This is a route to Portuguese residency by investment for non-EEA/non-Swiss foreign nationals, which eventually leads to European citizenship.

      To be eligible, you will need to:

      • Make a qualifying investment in Portugal, such as real estate acquisition, fund subscription, capital transfer, company formation, or donation (however, please note that real estate acquisition and capital transfer may soon cease to be valid investment options)
      • Spend an average of only seven days per year in the country, for five consecutive years
      • Prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language (i.e. A2 level or higher)

      The Portuguese Golden Visa allows non-EEA/non-Swiss foreign nationals to reside, work and study in Portugal. Moreover, under family reunification principles, you may extend the Golden Visa to your eligible family members.

      Please note that the Golden Visa programme is set to end in 2023. While the exact end date is not yet known, it is advisable to speak with an immigration lawyer if you would like to explore your options under this programme before the application window is closed.

      You can speak to our immigration experts on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to discuss this further.

      Other Eligible Cases for Citizenship in Portugal

      Foreign nationals of Sephardic Jewish origin, or who have provided services to the Portuguese state or community, or former Portuguese citizens who have lost their citizenship can also apply for Portuguese citizenship.

      Foreign nationals who have been part of a local Portuguese community outside Portugal, where most members are recognised and proven to be of Portuguese descent, and who practise and disseminate values ​​and traditions of Portuguese culture, can also acquire Portuguese citizenship if they are 18 years of age.

      If your case fits in any of the scenarios mentioned above, you may be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

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        How Do I Apply for Portuguese Citizenship?

        The Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN), which is part of the Ministry of Justice, processes citizenship applications in Portugal. You may apply online, or send your application by post, or submit the same in person.

        You will need a legal representative to apply for Portuguese citizenship online. Your lawyer or solicitor must authenticate themselves on the IRN website with their digital certificate and have an active digital signature.

        You may send your citizenship application by post. Please download the form as applicable in your case from the IRN website, and fill up the same diligently following any instruction provided thereof.

        Once you have completed the application form, please send the same along with all supporting documents and the fee payment receipt/bank cheque to the following address:

        Conservatória dos Registos Centrais

        Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 202

        1099-033 Lisbon.

        Alternatively, you can submit your completed application form, fee payment receipt and relevant supporting documents at any of the following places:

        • Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs at the National Support Centre for the Integration of Migrants (CNAIM) in Lisbon or Porto
        • Registry Spaces in Lisbon, on Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, on the Campus da Justiça and in Benfica
        • Central Registry Office in Lisbon
        • A Nationality Desk
        • Odivelas Citizens’ Shop
        • Any Civil Registry offices
        • Portuguese Consulate in your home country

        What Supporting Documents Do I Need?

        To apply for citizenship in Portugal, you will need to submit supporting documents along with your citizenship application.

        We have provided below a general list of such documents. Please note that the documentation requirements will vary depending on your chosen path to Portuguese citizenship, so you will need to arrange for only the documents that are relevant to your case.

        However, please also note that this list is not exhaustive by any means, and IRN may ask for additional documents based on your circumstances.

        Required documents include:

        • Your birth certificate
        • Proof of residence in Portugal for the required length of time as applicable in your case
        • Proof of your knowledge of Portuguese language (at least A2 level or higher)
        • Your criminal record, if any, issued by foreign countries where you have lived from the age of 16
        • A declaration for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality, signed either in the presence of one of the Registry employees at the time of submitting the application, or before someone with powers to recognise the signature if you are sending your application by post
        • Your marriage certificate to a Portuguese national, or documents proving that you and your Portuguese citizen partner are living for three years or more in conditions similar to married couples
        • Your Portuguese spouse’s/partner’s birth certificate
        • Proof of your nationality
        • Proofs of your connection with the Portuguese community
        • Birth certificate(s) of your biological or adoptive Portuguese parent(s)
        • Birth certificate of your parent who is the child of your Portuguese grandparent(s)
        • Your adoption certificate
        • Documents proving the type of public functions you perform in another country
        • Documents proving the non-compulsory military service you have performed in another country
        • Documents proving your connection to the community of Portuguese descent outside Portugal
        • Documents proving your degree of disability
        • The number and year of registration for the loss of your Portuguese nationality
        • A request addressed to the Minister of Justice, written in Portuguese, stating:
          • Why do you ask for Portuguese nationality and other circumstances that you consider relevant
          • Your full name, date of birth, marital status, nationality, profession, address, parents’ names, country(ies) where you lived before Portugal, full name and address of your legal representatives if applicable, and the number, date and entity that issued your title or residence permit, passport or equivalent identification document(s)
          • This application must be signed either in the presence of one of the Registry employees at the time of submitting the application, or before someone with powers to recognise the signature if you are sending your application by post.

        Processing Time

        For non-EU nationals, the processing time for a Portuguese citizenship application can take up to 12 months or more. If you are already a EU citizen, the processing time is a few months.

        If there are any issues with your application, or IRN asks you to submit more supporting documents, the processing time will increase.

        You can check the status of your application on the IRN website.

        For help with applying for a Portugal citizenship, reach out to one of our experts today. Contact Us

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          Fees

          Overview

          The application fee for Portuguese citizenship is €250 in most cases. However, if you are claiming Portuguese citizenship by descent (i.e. you have at least one Portuguese parent or grandparent), no application fee is charged.

          Applying to regain Portuguese nationality is free of charge in most cases. If you ceased to have Portuguese Nationality when you were a minor or incapable, by decision of your legal representative, and you are now applying to reacquire your Portuguese citizenship, it will cost you €175 if you are over 18. No fee is applicable here if you are under 18 at the time of application.

          If you are under 18 or disabled, and either of your parents did not have Portuguese citizenship when you were born but acquired it later, you will be charged an application fee of €200.

          You can pay any applicable fees using a bank card or by cheque if you are sending your application by post.

          Additional Costs

          Many citizenship applicants must take and pass a language test to prove they can understand Portuguese to at least A2 level. If required in your case, you will have to take the test at an approved examination centre, which will cost you around €70.

          If your supporting documents are not in Portuguese, you will have to arrange for their certified translated copies, which will come at an additional cost. This cost may significantly vary depending on your country of origin.

          What If My Application Has Been Approved?

          You can apply for a Portuguese passport if your application has been accepted and you have been granted Portuguese citizenship, although it is not mandatory.

          If you want to apply for a Portuguese passport, you can do so at any of the following:

          • IRN offices
          • Autonomous regional governments of Madeira and Azores
          • Passport shops at Lisbon and Porto airports
          • A Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country

          A passport application in Portugal costs €65 for an adult passport. However, the cost may be more if you are applying abroad or using a fast-track service.

          What If My Application Has Been Rejected?

          You cannot appeal the rejection decision of your Portuguese citizenship application. However, you may contact IRN or the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country to request them to reconsider their decision.

          Alternatively, you will need to go through the Portuguese courts, which can be an extremely costly and lengthy process, and you will need expert legal representation.

          Speak to our legal team today. They can help with any matter. Contact Us

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            How Can Total Law Help?

            Obtaining Portuguese citizenship is a complex and fairly time-consuming process. Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, it is of utmost importance to fill up the relevant forms correctly and completely as well as submit all required documentation.

            Moreover, you cannot appeal if your citizenship application is rejected. So, it is crucial that you get the application process and documentation right at the first time.

            Total Law can help.

            Our team of sympathetic immigration lawyers have the required expertise to assist you, regardless of your personal circumstances or the complexity of your case.

            If you are seeking overall advice with your citizenship application or you would like an immigration expert to complete your application on your behalf, we are here for you. We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to IRN regulations.

            To know more about the services we provide and how we can help you, please call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 today to speak to our team of legal advisers.

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                      Related pages for your continued reading.

                      Frequently Asked Questions

                      Certain individuals can apply to fast-track their Portuguese citizenship application under special circumstances, such as:

                      • People of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish origin
                      • People who have served the Portuguese state or community (e.g. served in the Portuguese army etc.)
                      • Former Portuguese citizens seeking to reacquire Portuguese nationality, including:
                        • Who lost their citizenship through the will of a legal representative when they were children or had a serious disability
                        • Who lost their citizenship but never acquired another nationality
                        • Who lost their citizenship by taking another nationality before 1981, but now seek to reacquire their Portuguese citizenship
                        • Women who lost their citizenship through marriage to a foreign national, before the Portuguese Nationality Act of 1981

                      If you can prove that your case falls in any of the above categories, you can apply for fast-tracking your Portuguese citizenship application.

                      No. Although Portugal allows dual citizenship, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal does not permit its citizens to have dual nationality. Nepali citizenship will automatically be annulled once you receive your Portuguese citizenship.

                      However, foreign nationals of Nepali origin holding citizenship of non-SAARC countries, such as Portugal in this case, can apply for a Non Resident Nepali (NRN) card issued by the Nepali government, subject to applicable conditions. An NRN card holder enjoys various benefits in Nepal as listed in the NRN Act and bylaws.

                      Yes. Every citizenship or permanent residency applicant in Portugal must possess at least an A2 level proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale in Portuguese language.

                      You may be required to take a Portuguese language test while applying for citizenship in Portugal.

                      Portuguese citizenship is an alternative to permanent residence in the country in terms of social benefits, entering and exiting Portugal freely, and travelling to Schengen countries without a visa.

                      Portuguese citizenship offers additional benefits like the right to vote, and the right to a Portuguese passport and citizen card. However, becoming a citizen is more difficult, and you will have to give up your existing citizenship since Nepal doesn’t allow dual nationality.

                      So, whether you want to apply for citizenship or permanent residence in Portugal, it depends on your personal circumstances and immigration situation. Speak to our immigration experts on +44 (0)333 305 9375 today if you would like to have professional advice on this issue.