Portugal Citizenship

If you meet the requirements, you can acquire Portuguese citizenship and live permanently in Portugal. These requirements vary and depend on your situation.

Are you interested in learning more about Portuguese citizenship, including how to apply, the documents and fees required? Do not hesitate to contact us at +44 (0)333 305 9375. We will advise you on what is best fit for you. You can also chat with us online.

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    An Overview Of The Portuguese Citizenship

    You can acquire Portuguese citizenship by birth, descent, marriage, investment or naturalisation. There are many benefits to acquiring Portuguese citizenship.

    First, you become a citizen of the EU and can live, study and work anywhere in the European Union without applying for a visa. Immigration rules no longer apply to you, and you can choose to live in Portugal or elsewhere without worrying about losing your status.

    You can also take up other nationalities without fear of losing your Portuguese nationality.

    There are many ways to acquire Portuguese citizenship through different visa routes. Once you fulfil the requirement of any of these routes, your application will be approved, and you will get your Portuguese passport.

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    Different Ways Of Obtaining a Portugal Citizenship

    To become a Portuguese citizen, you must meet the Portuguese citizenship requirements via any of the routes below:

    Citizenship Via Marriage

    This is one of the fastest ways to become a Portuguese citizen. You can apply for Portugal citizenship as a foreign national if you are married to or in a relationship with a Portuguese national. According to Portuguese law, you do not necessarily need to be married to a Portuguese national to gain citizenship through this route; you can be in a de facto union with them.

    To be eligible for this pathway, you must show that you have been married to a Portuguese national for at least 3 years. This is often easier to prove as you only need to present your government-issued marriage certificate.

    If you are in a civil partnership or relationship, it is a bit trickier to prove. To prove you are in a de facto union, you must present a document showing you live at the same address. This could be a bank statement or a rental agreement between you and the landlord.

    Know that if you apply for citizenship after you and the Portuguese national have ended your relationship, your application will be denied. It doesn’t matter if you were together for up to 3 years before the end of the relationship. The relationship or marriage has to be current.

    You must not be living in Portugal at the time of your application, and you must show the authorities you have ties to Portugal. These ties could be a property you purchased in Portugal, admission to study in a Portuguese university or being able to understand, speak, read and write Portuguese sufficiently.

    Note that before you present the marriage certificate, it has to be legalised by apostille.

    Citizenship Via Investments

    In 2012, the Portuguese government opened its doors to foreign nationals who wanted to invest in Portugal to gain citizenship. Since then, thousands of people have applied and have been accepted into the program.

    The program is called the golden visa program, and it is one of the valid routes to settling permanently in Portugal. As a golden visa applicant, you have 5 years to live in Portugal and manage your investment. You can also come with your family who will be free to study, work and live.

    The investment you will make to get this visa will cost you between €200,000 to €1,500,000. With this visa, you can stay in any country in the Schengen area for 90 days visa-free; you are exempt from taxes and are not required to remain in Portugal for more than 7 days yearly.

    Below are some of the investment options you can look out for if you want to apply through the citizenship-by-investment route:

    • Use between €200,000 to €400,000 to protect, refurbish or maintain a cultural or heritage piece of art.
    • Start up a company in Portugal. The company must provide at least 10 new permanent jobs in Portugal.
    • Invest in a business in Portugal. This business should create at least 8 new permanent jobs due to your investment.
    • Invest in tech or scientific research that will be carried out in Portugal.

    Citizenship by Birth or Origin

    If you were born in Portugal or have Portuguese parents, you may not be a citizen automatically. There are other factors that will determine your status. They are:

    • You have at least 1 parent who is a citizen at the time of your birth.
    • You have at least one grandparent who has not given up their citizenship, and you can understand Portuguese and have lived in Portugal for 3 years.
    • You are at least 18, born to foreign nationals in Portugal and have lived there for at least 5 years.
    • You were born to foreign nationals in Portugal, and they had already lived in Portugal for at least 1 year before your birth.
    • You have parents who became citizens after your birth, you have been in Portugal for 5 years, or you have a disability that prevents you from travelling out.

    If your grandparents are Portuguese, you must show ties to Portugal by proving you can speak and understand Portuguese.

    Citizenship by Adoption

    Another valid route to Portuguese citizenship is via adoption. This route is only available for children under 18. Your adopted child can acquire Portuguese citizenship if you present the official adoption papers.

    Before your child can get citizenship via this route, you will need to show they know how to speak Portuguese or have been enrolled to study in a Portuguese school.

    Citizenship via the Naturalization Route

    This is another pathway for people who want to gain Portuguese citizenship. Once you have stayed in Portugal for work or study for at least 5 years, you can apply for citizenship.

    Citizenship Via the Former Colony Route

    Citizens of former Portuguese colonies abroad are eligible for citizenship. Some of these former colonies are Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Timor, Portuguese India, Guinea Bissau and Macao. One thing these countries have in common is that they uphold the culture and traditions of Portugal.

    If you are a resident of these countries but not a citizen, you will have to be:

    • Emancipated by the laws of Portugal.
    • At least 18 years.
    • Offspring of parents or grandparents who are citizens.
    • Spouse or partner of a citizen of these countries.

    Citizenship Via the Sephardic Jewish Ancestry

    If you have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, you can apply for Portugal citizenship. During the Inquisition period around the Iberian area, many Sephardic Jewish people were forced to flee the area in the 15th century. As a result, the current government of Portugal is trying to compensate the descendants of these Jewish people and make up for the wrong they meted out to them many centuries ago.

    Proving Sephardic Jewish ancestry can be tedious, but you should be able to make a strong case if you can prove that:

    • You or your family members can still speak Ladino language.
    • You or your family members still use Sephardic last names.
    • You have the certificate of residence issued by the Jewish community in Lisbon.
    • You bought a property in Portugal.
    • You visit Portugal periodically.
    • You hold stock and shares in Portugal.

    Citizenship Via Service

    If you offered any form of service to a Portuguese community or government, such as military service, you could be rewarded with citizenship if you applied.

    Regaining Citizenship if You Lost It

    In 1981, Portugal revised their nationality act which previously did not permit citizens to hold dual citizenship and therefore stripped anyone who gained another nationality of citizenship. Now, the rules have changed. If you were affected by this law, you could regain citizenship if you apply.

    Lost Citizenship and Without a Nationality

    If you are yet to gain a new nationality after you lost or renounced Portuguese citizenship, you can regain it if you apply.

    Lost Citizenship Due to Marriage

    When Portugal outlawed dual citizenship, women who married outside Portugal and gained another nationality were stripped of their Portuguese nationality. However, since the rules changed in 1981, you can regain citizenship.

    Lost Citizenship Because of the Will of a Representative

    Suppose you were under the care and authority of a representative, perhaps a parent, lawful guardian or foster parents, and they decided to switch citizenship for you. In that case, you can regain it if you have come of age.

    Portugal Citizenship Requirements And Documents

    You must submit the following documents when you want to apply for Portuguese citizenship:

    Letter of Request

    It is mandatory that you submit a letter of request asking the Minister of Justice to bestow citizenship upon you. Your letter must be in Portuguese and signed in the presence of a Registry staff.

    You must notarise this letter if you are not making your application online.

    Here are the details your letter must contain:

    • Your name.
    • Your nationality.
    • Your birth date.
    • Your home address.
    • Your job.
    • Your lawyer’s address and name.
    • Your travel history.
    • Your marital status.
    • Your parents.

    Birth Certificate

    You have to show the ministry your birth certificate. You must translate and legalise all your documents that are not in English or Portuguese.

    Evidence of Connection to Portugal

    Foreign nationals who wish to settle in Portugal as citizens must show they are connected to Portugal. This connection can be proven when you submit any of these:

    • Proof you are proficient in Portuguese up to the A2 level. This is proven by presenting a test score from CIPLE.
    • Letter from school showing you have secured a place for study or research.
    • Rental agreement showing you have a place you stay in Portugal.
    • Deed of agreement showing you bought a property in Portugal.

    Criminal Record Certificate

    The Ministry of Justice must see a criminal record certificate before approving your application. This certificate aims to prove you are not guilty of any criminal offence. You must show a criminal record certificate from the country you reside in, your home country(if it is different from the country of residence), any country you have lived in for at least 3 months and every country you have lived in for the past 5 years.

    If your document is not in English or Portuguese, then you must translate and legalise it.

    Marriage Certificate

    When applying as the spouse of a Portuguese citizen, you must show you are legally married and have been together for at least 3 years. You prove this by submitting your marriage certificate. If you are in a de facto union, you will show you two live in the same apartment and share the bills.

    Valid Passport

    Your passport is an essential document, and it is needed for the citizenship application. You must ensure the passport you are submitting is still valid to avoid rejection.

    Proof You Have Paid Visa Fees

    Your application will be rejected if you do not attach a receipt showing you have paid the relevant visa fees.

    Proof of Legal Residence in Portugal

    You must show you have a legal residence status in Portugal. You must indicate to the ministry what visa you are on while applying for citizenship. Also, you must prove you have stayed in Portugal for at least 5 years. If you have changed visas within this period, you must also present them. Finally, you must show the address of where you have lived within that 5 years.

    Proof of Exceptional Service to the Nation

    If you have served the country or any community in Portugal, you can show proof of service and get your citizenship request approved.

    Birth Certificates of Parents and Grandparents

    If you are applying for citizenship via the origin or birth routes, you have to present the certificates of your parents or grandparents.

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      Fees For Applying For Portugal Citizenship

      Below are the fees for Portuguese citizenship: 

      • €250 is the application fee if you are 18 or older.
      • €200 is the application fee if you are disabled or under 18 years.
      • €175 is the application fee if you switched nationalities due to the will of a lawful guardian or representative.
      • €250 is the application fee if you don’t have a nationality yet, even after losing Portuguese citizenship.
      White building in Portugal

      How To Apply For A Portugal Citizenship

      For the Portuguese nationality process, there are only 3 methods to apply:

      In Person

      To make an application in person, you have to gather all your documents and submit them at the following application centres:

      • Nationality desk.
      • Portuguese embassy or consulate.
      • Registry spaces in Lisbon.
      • Lisbon Registry Central offices.
      • Civic Registry Offices.
      • Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN) at the National Support Centre for the Integration of Migrants (CNAIM). You can find their offices in Oporto and Lisbon.
      • Odivelas citizens’ shop.

      Online

      One of the most typical ways to apply for citizenship is by making an online application. To do this, you must employ the services of a solicitor. They have to apply via an application portal.

      The solicitor should have a digital certificate and signature to access the portal.

      You can contact any of our solicitors at Total Law. They are well-versed in citizenship applications and have recorded several successes with several clients. To contact us, kindly call +44 (0)333 305 9375. You can also reach out to us online if you prefer that option.

      By Post

      The last option is to apply by post. All you need to do is put together your supporting documents and the application form and send them to Conservatória dos Registos Centrais, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 202, 1099-033 Lisbon.

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        Processing Time After The Application Is Submitted

        Application for citizenship is a long process with no definite processing time. Each route of application has a different timeline.

        Another factor affecting the application time is administrative delays and the workload of the application centres.

        Ultimately, it could take 6 to 24 months to get a decision on your application.

         

        What Happens When Your Application Is Successful?

        Applying for a Portuguese passport is the next step if your application is successful. With the Portuguese passport, you can enter over 180 countries with little or no visa restrictions. There are four places you can apply for your passport. They are:

        • Portuguese consulate or embassy if you are not in Portugal at the time.
        • Passport shops found in Porto and Lisbon airports.
        • Autonomous Regional Governments of Madeira and Azores.
        • Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN).

        If you are 18 and above, you will pay €65 for the passport. You can expect to pay higher if you are outside Portugal.

        Language Test for Citizenship

        One way to show proof of ties to Portugal is by passing a language test. You are required to know Portuguese up to A2 level. You must take Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira (CIPLE). It will take you 2 hours to complete the test.

        The test is divided into sections. Oral comprehension makes up 30% of the test, verbal expression takes 25%, and reading and writing takes 45%.

        You have to score at least 55% to pass.

        You will pay €70 to take this test.

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          Benefits Of Portuguese Citizenship

          The benefits of being a Portuguese citizen are numerous. Here are some of them:

          Right to Vote and be Voted for

          If you become a Portuguese citizen, you can vote during elections. You can also run for any office you so wish.

          Access to Schengen Areas

          Since Portugal is a member country of the Schengen area, you can live, work and study in any Schengen country that you want without applying for a visa.

          Access to Cheaper Education

          Portugal is home to some of the world’s oldest and best universities, thus attracting numerous international students yearly. You and your family can access these schools while paying lower fees than foreign nationals.

           

          Citizenship Passed Down to Children

          As a Portuguese citizen, you can pass the citizenship to your children and grandchildren.

          Portuguese Passport

          After getting your citizenship, you can then apply for a Portuguese passport. With the passport, you can access over 180 countries worldwide without applying for a visa.

          Dual Nationality

          You do not need to renounce your former country if you gain Portuguese citizenship. This gives you the advantage of having the best of the 2 countries.

          How Can Total Law Help

          Making a successful citizenship application is no easy feat. It is a process that is complex and requires the gathering and submission of many documents. While this can pose a challenge to many people, it should not be so for you because we are here to help you make sense of the process.

          At Total Law, we have a team of experienced lawyers who are the best at assisting you in making a successful application. We have a track record of people we have similarly helped to get Portuguese citizenship. We can also handle yours, so your chances of getting approval would be higher.

          When applying online for citizenship, you will need the services of a lawyer. Look no further, as we can make the application on your behalf.

          Should you need more information concerning what we do and how we can come in during your applications, call us at +44 (0)333 305 9375. If you want to go over your options on chat, you can contact us online.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    You can no longer get citizenship in Portugal if you buy property. From 2012 till 2022, this was possible via the Portugal golden visa route. But as of last year, the Portuguese government discontinued that route following the increasing housing problems. You can still get citizenship by investment in Portugal if you start a company, invest in a business or sponsor the maintenance of cultural or artistic heritage. You can also get citizenship via the investment program route if you invest a sizable sum of money into tech or scientific research in Portugal.

                    There could be many reasons why your citizenship application was refused. One of the primary reasons could be that you are yet to stay up to 5 years in Portugal if you applied through the naturalisation route. It could also be that you submitted incomplete documentation. Many people make the mistake of not double-checking if their documents are complete before applying. A third reason why your application may be rejected is because you may have broken an immigration rule or committed a criminal offence. Whatever the reason, the Ministry of Justice will notify you in their rejection email. Ensure you fix the problem before reapplying.

                    As a Portugal passport holder, you can only stay in the UK for 180 days without a visa. Within these 6 months, you are not permitted to work or enrol in any course that will last more than 6 months. This is as a result of Brexit. Soon, the E-travel Authorisation (ETA) will be launched. Portugal passport holders will have to get the ETA before coming to the UK to stay as tourists. If you are looking to stay longer for work or studies, you must apply for the appropriate UK visa.