Global Citizenship Guides 2022

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How to Get Portuguese citizenship in 2022?

How does one apply for Portuguese citizenship? The following guide explains the rules for getting Portuguese citizenship by marriage, Sephardic citizenship, descent, and investment.

If you wish to reside in Portugal permanently or long-term, you should apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residency. After six years of residence, Portugal offers Portuguese citizenship or claims citizenship by marriage after three years. Permanent residence is available after five years of residence.

The benefits of citizenship and permanent residence are similar, but there are some differences between the two. Residents can stay in Portugal indefinitely by renewing their permanent residency, but Portuguese citizenship offers additional benefits to foreigners applying for Portuguese citizenship.

What are the conditions for applying for dual citizenship? How do you apply, as well as what fees you must pay? This guide examines who can obtain Portuguese citizenship and the main differences between citizenship and permanent residence.

Table of Contents


Who is eligible for Portuguese Citizenship?

Portuguese citizenship is obtained differently if you are from an EU/EFTA country or not. Citizens of the EU/EFTA are in a better position.

Portuguese nationality law reforms also benefit residents of non-EU/EFTA countries. In 2006, Portugal amended its citizenship laws, allowing non-EU nationals to become Portuguese citizens after six years of residence and granting Portuguese citizenship by marriage after three years.

Some foreigners, such as former Portuguese colonists, may acquire Portuguese citizenship sooner.

Ways to Applying for Portuguese citizenship

Citizenship is usually granted to foreigners after six years of residence in Portugal. You must apply to the Portuguese Ministry of Justice (Instituto dos Registos e do Notoriado – IRN).

Citizens of Portugal can acquire citizenship in one of the following ways:

  • Getting married to a Portuguese citizen
  • (Portuguese by birth or descent)
  • After six years of residence, naturalization occurs
  • Formerly an overseas territory of Portugal
  • Portuguese Sephardic citizenship law (Jewish law of return for Sephardic Jews)
  • If you were once a Portuguese citizen but lost your citizenship because of certain circumstances.

How to Get Portuguese Citizenship by Marriage?

After three years of marriage to a Portuguese citizen, you can acquire Portuguese citizenship through marriage or three years of cohabitation. It is not necessary to have lived in Portugal before applying, but the applicant must prove an effective connection to the Portuguese community.

Your Portuguese citizenship will not be revoked if you later divorce or separate.

How to Get Portuguese Citizenship Descent?

A child who acquires citizenship by descent or birth is Portuguese by origin if they are:

  • The mother or father is Portuguese and was born in a Portuguese territory;
  • a Portuguese parent born abroad and serving the Portuguese state;
  • Portugal must recognize the Portuguese nationality of any child of a Portuguese mother or father born abroad if their birth was registered at the Portuguese civil registry or if their parents declared their intention to become Portuguese;
  • An individual born in Portuguese territory to foreign parents who resides here at the time of their birth;
  • When one of the parents has lived in Portugal for at least five years at the time of birth and declares they wish to be Portuguese;
  • Individuals born on Portuguese territory who do not possess another nationality.

According to changes in Portuguese nationality law, the following individuals can also claim citizenship by descent:

  • Portuguese nationality acquired after birth by a parent who was born in Portuguese territory or abroad;
  • At least one grandparent must be of Portuguese nationality and be sufficiently conversant in the Portuguese language;
  • If the child has lived in Portugal for ten years, it is born on Portuguese territory to foreign parents.

How to Get Portuguese citizenship through Naturalization?

You can apply for Portuguese citizenship if you have lived in Portugal for six years and meet the following requirements:

  • Portuguese language proficiency (proven by test or certificate);
  • Do not hold a criminal conviction punishable by more than three years of jail term.

Citizenship applications can be submitted directly or through a suitable proxy. Also required is the following documentation:

  • (If possible) Birth certificate
  • Knowledge of the Portuguese language is sufficient
  • Travel ID/passport
  • Information about the current residence permit
  • Information about date and place of birth, occupation, current residence, and previous countries of residence
  • Certificate of criminal history
  • Proof that you have lived legally in Portugal for at least six years, issued by the SEF.

Send the completed form and necessary documents and payment to the Central Registry Office at the IRN.

It takes varying amounts of time to process citizenship applications. If your application is rejected at the outset, you will be notified within 20 days.

Sephardic Jews and Citizenship

A person who inherits Portuguese Sephardic citizenship can demonstrate that they are descended from a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin. Portuguese Sephardic names are a requirement, as is familiarity with the language.

How to Get Portuguese Citizenship by Investment?

Portugal offers a special visa program designed to attract foreign investment. Portugal’s Golden Visa program expedites the process of obtaining a residence permit and claiming Portuguese citizenship by investment for foreign investors from non-EU/EFTA countries.

Portugal still ranks among the cheapest countries in Europe, despite its stable economy and high standard of living. By purchasing a property for less than 280,000 euros, you can get a Golden Visa.

How to Get Citizenship by Adoption?

Children from abroad under 18 who a Portuguese citizen has legally adopted can apply for citizenship immediately. 

People from former Portuguese territories

If you were born during the period when Portugal ruled, you qualify for Portuguese citizenship:

  • Angola
  • Cape Verde
  • Portuguese India
  • Guinea Bissau
  • East Timor
  • Macao
  • Mozambique
  • Sao Tome and Principe

A person who is a descendant of someone born under Portuguese rule in Portuguese India or Macao can also apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Citizens of Portugal in the past

Former Portuguese citizens can regain their Portuguese citizenship in certain situations. Among them are:

  • The loss of citizenship by a legal representative, e.g., the removal of the family to another country when the children were young;
  • The loss of citizenship, but not the acquisition of another country’s citizenship;
  • Women who lost their citizenship after marrying a foreigner;
  • Before the Portuguese Nationality Act of 1981, those who acquired foreign citizenship voluntarily lost their citizenship.

Residents of the UK and Brexit

UK citizens living in Portugal or planning to move there are not yet aware of how Britain’s decision to leave the EU will affect their rights. Currently, British expats living in Portugal can either apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residence, although whether permanent residence will be sufficient in the future remains to be seen. British nationals who obtain Portuguese citizenship before the UK’s exit can retain their EU citizenship rights. However, there are several initiatives to procure special rights for UK citizens already living abroad.

Benefits of Portuguese Citizenship

Portuguese permanent residents enjoy many of the same benefits as Portuguese citizens. Among them are:

  • Employed full-time or self-employed (without a Portuguese work permit)
  • Study and participate in education
  • Pensions and benefits from the Portuguese social security system
  • Property to buy in Portugal

However, there are additional benefits to being a Portuguese citizen. For instance, you can:

  • Electoral and referendum voting in Portugal
  • Get a Portuguese passport, ranked 16th in the world on the Passport Index
  • You can travel freely throughout the EU after obtaining EU citizenship
  • You can live, work, or retire in another EU member state.

The application process for Portuguese citizenship is more complicated than obtaining permanent residence, and the cost of a Portuguese passport is typically higher. Depending on your home country, you may also have to relinquish citizenship. However, many nationals can maintain dual citizenship.

The cost of applying for citizenship

Portuguese citizenship application fees range from €175 to €250 depending on the category you apply for. Children eligible for citizenship by descent are free to apply.

Dual citizenship

Foreigners who wish to acquire Portuguese citizenship need not give up their home country’s citizenship because Portugal allows dual citizenship. First, you will need to determine whether your home country allows dual citizenship. You may be required to renounce your citizenship in your home country before becoming a Portuguese citizen.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a citizen of Portugal?

Residents of Portugal can apply for citizenship after five years of legal residence in Portugal, including those who participate in the residence by investment program, if: The applicant has reached the age of 18. They have lived in Portugal for at least five years.

Who is eligible for Portuguese citizenship?

It is possible to become a Portuguese citizen if you are 18 years old or older and have resided in Portugal for five years, subject to certain conditions. Before, legal residence required six years.

Is it easy to obtain Portuguese citizenship?

Portugal’s golden visa, or ARI visa, is one of the easiest ways to acquire Portuguese citizenship if you have money to invest in property or business. It is as easy as buying a house in Portugal and spending seven days here every year (14 days every two years) for five years.

What is the process for obtaining dual citizenship in Portugal?

Fortunately, Portugal is one of the countries allowing dual citizenship, so you don’t need to give up your nationality. You can become a Portuguese citizen in five different ways: by descent, marriage, investment, naturalisation, or being a Sephardi Jew.

Is it possible to get Portuguese citizenship through my grandparents?

A person born abroad with a Portuguese ancestor on the second degree of the succession line who has not lost that citizenship is eligible for naturalization by the Portuguese government.

How much does it cost to get Portuguese citizenship?

To become a citizen of Portugal, you can invest in Portuguese property. Depending on what type of property and what type of location you are interested in, the minimum investment requirement starts at €280,000, €350,000, €400,000, or €500,000.