Portugal Citizenship

Thousands of foreign nationals from around the world move to Portugal to live and work each year. Over 50,000 apply for Portuguese citizenship annually. This page outlines the different routes to becoming a Portuguese citizen for Pakistani nationals.

Gaining citizenship in a new country can be a challenging process. Total Law can advise and support you with your application for citizenship in Portugal. Contact us today online or call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

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    What is Citizenship?

    Gaining citizenship in a country is the process whereby an individual determines their allegiance to a state. Citizenship allows you to work, settle, and live in the country without immigration restrictions.

    In most countries, there are several different routes you can take to gaining citizenship in that state. This generally splits into three different categories:

    • Citizenship through birth or heritage – if you are born on state territory, often you are automatically considered a citizen of that nation. You may also be able to apply for citizenship in a country if you your parents or grandparents are citizens of a country
    • Citizenship through residency – if you have been working and living in a country for an extended period of time, you can usually become eligible for citizenship
    • Citizenship through investment – some countries offer citizenship rights to individuals who invest significant amounts into the country’s economy.
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    Citizenship in Portugal for Foreign Nationals

    Many foreign nationals choose Portugal as a place to live and work as it is considered one of the most peaceful nations in the world, is globalised, and offers a high quality of life.

    Portugal is also a beautiful country to explore, with lots of history and a rich culture. Becoming a Portuguese citizen also means that you become a citizen of the European Union and European Economic Area.

    Becoming a citizen of Portugal would grant you the ability to do the following in Portugal and any other EU state without restriction:

    • Reside
    • Work
    • Conduct or start businesses
    • Invest
    • Study

    You will also gain access to:

    • The right to vote in Portugal
    • The right to enter Portuguese politics
    • State benefits
    • Portugal’s education system
    • Portugal’s healthcare system

    Portuguese citizenship also grants you the right to apply for a Portuguese passport, which opens up the opportunity to travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival to over 185 countries worldwide.

    In Portugal, you can apply for citizenship for yourself and can also apply on behalf of someone else so long as you meet all the relevant criteria (this is most common for parents who are applying for citizenship on behalf of their children).

    Am I Eligible for Citizenship in Portugal?


    There are several routes to citizenship in Portugal as a Pakistani national. Your eligibility depends on whether your individual circumstances meet one or more of the citizenship route eligibility criteria.

    The route best routes to take for Pakistani nationals to Portuguese citizenship are listed below:

    • Citizenship by birth
    • Citizenship by descent
    • Citizenship by adoption
    • Citizenship by marriage or civil union
    • Citizenship by long-term residency (naturalisation)
    • Citizenship by belonging to a Former Portuguese Territory
    • Citizenship by investment

    There are certain criteria that can offer favourable support to your application for citizenship regardless of which citizenship route you take. This includes:

    • You have a minimum of A2 international level knowledge of the Portuguese language
    • You have a genuine connection to and involvement with the Portuguese community, and a genuine desire to live in Portugal or represent Portugal abroad
    • A lack of affiliation with political parties abroad or foreign military
    • A clean criminal record.

    Citizenship by Birth

    If you were born in Portugal, you may already be registered as a Portuguese national. This is also true if you were born in a Portuguese territory, i.e. the Atlantic Archipelagos of:

    • The Azores, or
    • Madeira

    Citizenship by birth, or ‘attribution of nationality’, is a state law whereby the country or territory where a person is born means that they are automatically entitled to Portuguese nationality. In many countries around the world, this right is given regardless of their parents’ heritage or nationality.

    In Portugal, eligible circumstances for Portuguese citizenship by birth:

    • You were born in Portuguese territory to a Portuguese citizen
    • You were born in Portuguese territory to a foreign national who had lived in Portugal or one of the archipelago territories for at least 1 year prior to your birth (a minimum of 7 days of that year must have been spent in the country)
    • You were born in Portuguese territory to a foreign national and lived in Portugal for a period after your birth
    • You were born in Portuguese territory to a foreign national in Portugal on the Residency by Investment program
    • You were born in Portuguese territory and do not have citizenship in any other country.

    Citizenship by Descent

    Citizenship by descent or ‘acquisition of nationality’ in Portugal is a route that people with Portuguese ancestry can take in order to become a Portuguese citizen.

    Citizenship is generally only available to those who have at least one parent or one grandparent that is a citizen of Portugal. You cannot apply for citizenship through siblings or other extended family members.

    You do not need to be living in Portugal at the time of application in order to take this route to citizenship, and you do not necessarily need to live in the country after being granted citizenship. You also don’t need to have been born in Portugal to be eligible.

    In order to be eligible for Citizenship by Descent, your parent(s) or grandparent(s) must:

    • Be alive at the time of your application
    • Be a Portuguese citizen at the time of your application

    The Portuguese family line must be easily traceable and you must prove this by submitting:

    • Your birth certificate
    • The birth certificate of one of your parents or grandparents to prove they were born in Portugal, or
    • The citizenship certificate of one of your parents or grandparents to prove they are valid Portuguese citizens at the time of application.

    Citizenship by Adoption

    If you are the adopted child of a citizen of Portugal, you may be able to apply for citizenship. You must be able to prove:

    • That you were adopted legally by your Portuguese parent(s), and
    • That your parents were legal residents of Portugal at the time of your adoption

    The documents required specific to the citizenship by adoption route include:

    • Proof of identity
    • Adoption papers
    • Proof that you were under 18 when you were adopted
    • Evidence of residence and citizenship of one or both of your adoptive parents
    • Written consent from your parent(s) or legal guardians if you are under 18
    • Proof of relevant vaccinations
    • Proof of a recent medical examination undertaken that is valid according to the criteria outlined in the application process.

    Citizenship by Marriage or Civil Union

    If you are the partner of a Portuguese citizen, you may be able to apply for citizenship in Portugal through marriage or civil union.

    You may apply for citizenship so long as you continue to be in a relationship. If your relationship ends after you have gained citizenship, you will not lose your Portuguese nationality.

    You must be able to prove that you are in a long-term, stable and committed relationship with your Portuguese partner and fit the following criteria:

    • If you are unmarried, you must have been in a relationship with a Portuguese national for a minimum of:
      • 6 years if you do not have children, or
      • 3 years if you have children
    • If you are married or in a civil union with a Portuguese national, you must be able to prove that:
      • You are still in a relationship
      • Your licence is valid at the time of application
      • Your marriage or civil union is registered in the Portuguese registry system
    • If you applied for citizenship through marriage or civil union, there is evidence to suggest that the relationship isn’t valid and was only for the purposes of gaining citizenship
    • You failed to prove your connection to your Portuguese partner or to the Portuguese community

    Please note that if there is evidence to suggest that the relationship with the Portuguese national is performative for the purposes of your gaining citizenship (i.e. the relationship is fake), then this will be grounds for your application being refused and could cause issues for your ability to apply for citizenship in future.

    If you're a Pakistani national and would like to apply for Portuguese citizenship, reach out to us today. Contact Us

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      Citizenship by Long-Term Residency (Naturalisation)

      Citizenship by Naturalisation is a citizenship route available to foreign nationals who have been living and/or working in Portugal on a permanent residence permit for at least 5 years. You must have been living in Portugal consistently and not have spent long periods of time away from the country.

      If you have been living in Portugal for five years or longer, you are likely eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship through this immigration route. You must also meet the following criteria:

      • Be at least 18 years old
      • Be able to prove your residency for 5 years or longer with a valid residence permit
      • Can prove you have resided in Portugal legally and have kept all visas and permits up to date during that time, having never overstayed an immigration permission past its expiry date
      • Proof of assimilation with and strong connection to Portuguese culture and the Portuguese community
      • Have not been convicted of a serious crime for the duration of your time in Portugal
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      Portuguese Citizenship by belonging to Former Portuguese Territories

      Portugal maintains a strong relationship with its former colonies and as a result, many people who were born in former Portuguese colonies were considered Portuguese nationals at the time of their birth.

      Since the colonies have gained independence, the children and grandchildren of those born in Portuguese colonies may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship.

      Nationals who come from the following countries and territories can apply for Portuguese citizenship:

      • Angola
      • Brazil
      • Cape Verde
      • Portuguese India
        • Dadrá
        • Damiao
        • Diu
        • Goa
        • Nagar-Aveli
      • Guinea Bissau
      • East Timor
      • Macau
      • Mozambique
      • São Tomé and Príncipe

      The rules for retaining or gaining Portuguese citizenship as a national of a former Portuguese colony vary in each territory.

      The process can be complicated and it can be confusing to understand whether or not you qualify according to your personal circumstances.

      Total Law can help. Contact us online or call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to discuss your rights to Portugal citizenship today.

      Citizenship by Investment

      At the time of writing (September 2023), there is no investment scheme offered by the Portuguese authorities that directly offers citizenship through investment.

      However, the Golden visa program is an investment scheme that entitles you to a residence permit through investment in Portugal. If you have been to Portugal for at least five years with a Golden visa, and have spent at least 7 days per year in Portugal, you will be entitled to apply for Portuguese Citizenship through the naturalisation process outlined above.

      Please note it is likely that the Golden visa will be discontinued within the next year.

      To be eligible to get the Golden visa, you must invest significant sums of money into the Portuguese economy.

      Ways that you can do this are as follows:

      • Start a company in Portugal that creates a minimum of 10 new jobs
      • Transfer a minimum of €250,000 as an investment into the national heritage or into arts and culture
      • Invest a minimum of €280,000 to invest in renovation of properties aged over 30 years
      • Invest a minimum of €500,000 to invest in new commercial or residential real estate
      • Invest a minimum of €500,000 into investment funds or venture capital fund units
      • Invest a minimum of €500,000 to invest in scientific research activities
      • Invest a minimum of €500,000 to invest in a local company or business that creates at least five jobs
      • Make a minimum of €1,500,000 to capital transfer in Portugal

      There are many routes to becoming a Portuguese citizen. We can assist with the path that's best suited to you. Contact Us

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        How to Apply for Citizenship in Portugal

        Each application process for Portuguese citizenship differs and requires different types of evidence to submit with your application.

        You can apply for citizenship online, by post, or in person.

        Apply Online

        You need to have a legal representative authenticated by the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN) to support them with their application. You need to fill out your application in full as outlined online and upload all relevant documents, and then pay the fee at the end.

        Apply by Post

        You can download the application form from the IRN website and complete it fully. You can pay for the application online or by cheque. You must then collect all relevant documents and submit them with the application. If you paid online, you should include the payment receipt in your application, or if you wish to pay by post, enclose a bank cheque.

        You must send the application to:

        Conservatória dos Registos Centrais
        Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 202
        1099-033 Lisbon.

        Apply In-Person

        You can submit your application and all relevant documents at the following locations in Portugal:

        • Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs at the National Support Centre for the Integration of Migrants (CNAIM) – Lisbon and Porto
        • Registry Spaces in Lisbon, on Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, on the Campus da Justiça and in Benfica
        • Central Registry Office in Lisbon
        • Nationality Desks
        • Odivelas Citizens’ Shop

        If you are applying from abroad or from a Portuguese territory or former colony, you can apply from a civil registry office or Portuguese consulate.

        If you are applying from Pakistan, you can apply in person at the Portuguese embassy in Islamabad:

        7 Street 36, F-7/1 F7/1 F-7, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan.

        How Much Does it Cost to Apply for Citizenship?

        At the time of writing, the application costs are listed below.

        Citizenship Route Fees
        Citizenship by Birth €250
        Citizenship by Descent €175
        Citizenship by Adoption Born before Oct 8, 1981 – €20
        Born on or after Oct 8, 1981 – no fee
        Citizenship by Marriage or Civil Union €250
        Citizenship by Naturalisation €250
        Citizenship by Belonging to Former Portuguese Territories €250 adult
        €200 under 18
        Citizenship by Investment €250

        Generally, the fee is €250 for adults, or €200 for those under 18.

        In order to prove your abilities in the Portuguese language, you may be required to take a test. The cost of this is usually about €70.

        Other fees may be involved in your application process, such as transport (if applying in-person), sourcing or translating documents, and printing costs.

        What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Portuguese Citizenship?

        You must submit several documents as evidence as part of your application for citizenship in Portugal.

        Each citizenship route listed in this page is different, and so will require different types of documents in the application process. However, in general, you will need:

        • Your birth certificate
        • Your passport/proof of nationality
        • Proof of Portuguese residence
        • Proof of your knowledge of the Portuguese language (at least A2 level or higher)
        • A clear criminal record
        • A declaration for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality, signed under the circumstances required by the citizenship route
        • Marriage or civil union certificate, if applicable
        • Birth certificate of your partner, if applicable
        • Evidence of your connection and desire to be part of the Portuguese community
        • Birth certificate of parents of grandparents, if applicable
        • Your adoption certificate, if applicable
        • Proof that you have not undertaken non-mandatory military service for another country and are not involved in politics in another country
        • A letter written in Portuguese addressed to the Minister of Justice, stating your reasons for applying for citizenship, signed in the presence of an approved power.

        Let our lawyers help maximise your chances of a successful application with their experience and expertise. Contact Us

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          How Long Will the Application Process Take?

          The length of time it takes to apply for citizenship in Portugal depends on the citizenship route you take.

          In general, for applicants of Pakistani origin and other non-EU nationals, the application process can take up to 12 months or longer. It usually takes less time to process for EU nationals.

          You should always allow plenty of time to receive your application decision before making any concrete plans that could be impacted by your application being rejected.

          Sometimes, the immigration officer will require further documentation, clarification on some of the information submitted, or may call you in to interview.

          How Can Total Law Help?

          Applying for citizenship in Portugal is a big step for many foreign nationals who wish to live in Portugal on a permanent basis. Portugal offers a very high standard of living, has a great culture, and is one of the safest countries in the world. It’s a great place to raise a family and gain EU status.

          This means that it’s really important that your application goes smoothly, and that you can be sure that you are likely to have your application accepted. It might be particularly difficult to apply if there are multiple members of your family that are applying at the same time.

          That’s why Total Law is here. We have a team of expert immigration lawyers that can support you throughout the entire application process, and can advise you on your unique requirements.

          Total Law can help you become an official Portuguese citizen. Contact us today online or call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Applying for citizenship in Portugal is a lengthy process, and you must be able to prove that you meet all of the eligibility criteria for the particular route to citizenship that you take.

                    If your application has been rejected, the reason for rejection should be indicated in your refusal letter. Whether or not you are allowed to appeal the decision will also be outlined in the letter.

                    Sometimes, your application will simply be refused due to inaccurate information in the documents submitted. If this is the case, you should be able to reapply with the correct information.

                    Some reasons you may have been rejected for Portuguese citizenship include:

                    • You have been convicted of a crime that requires you to serve a prison sentence of three years or more in Portuguese law
                    • You have been deemed someone who poses a threat to public health, public order, or national security
                    • You submitted fake or misleading documents
                    • You worked for a foreign military by choice (and not as a mandatory measure under the law of that country)
                    • If you applied for citizenship through marriage or civil union, there is evidence to suggest that the relationship isn’t valid and was only for the purposes of gaining citizenship
                    • You failed to prove your connection to your Portuguese partner or to the Portuguese community.

                    Yes. Portugal allows dual citizenship with another country, meaning you can remain a citizen of your country of origin as well as keep your Portugal citizenship.

                    You must however check whether your country of origin allows you to have dual citizenship, because some countries and territories won’t permit their citizens to obtain Portuguese citizenship or dual citizenship in another country.

                    At the time of writing, unfortunately Pakistan does not have an agreement with Portugal whereby their citizens can obtain dual citizenship in Portugal. This means you will need to choose between retaining your citizenship in Pakistan or becoming a Portuguese citizen.

                    If you choose to become a Portuguese citizen, then you will have to renounce your citizenship in Pakistan. Pakistan does have dual citizenship agreements with other EU countries:

                    • Belgium
                    • Denmark
                    • Finland
                    • France
                    • Germany
                    • Ireland
                    • Italy
                    • Netherlands
                    • Sweden