How to get Portuguese citizenship

What do you have to do to get Portuguese nationality?
What do you have to do to get Portuguese nationality?
2 August 2018, Redaction

Ever wanted to be Portuguese? Have you lived in the country for a while now and are thinking of making it permanent? Or maybe you’re a British citizen uncertain of your status in Portugal after Brexit? Read on to find out the different ways of becoming a Portuguese citizen.

Aside from becoming a full-blown Portuguese person, you may decide to opt for permanent residence instead. It gives some of the same rights but there are subtle differences and the application process is less rigorous.

Being a Portuguese citizen

The costs for becoming a citizen range from 175-200 euro, on top of all the paperwork there is to be filled in, so the process is quite time-consuming. The good news is that Portugal allows dual citizenship with most countries, so you won’t have to give up your original nationality.

There are 5 main ways to become a Portuguese citizen: by descent, by marriage, by investment, by naturalisation or for being a Sephardi Jew.

  1. Nationality by Portuguese heritage: You are eligible to apply for Portuguese nationality if one or more of your parents is Portuguese, or a grandparent was Portuguese but you are familiar with the language, or even if you were born on Portuguese territory and lived there for more than 10 years. This includes people born on Portuguese colonial territory, such as Angola or Mozambique, before independence.
  2. Nationality by marriage: If you marry or legally cohabitate with a Portuguese person, you may apply for citizenship after 3 years. Once granted, it cannot be revoked even if you later divorce, though false marriages specifically for this purpose are illegal and punishable by law.
  3. Nationality by investment: The Portuguese government has a special scheme known as the Golden Visa programme, whereby people who invest several thousand euro in the country, especially in real estate, are automatically granted citizenship.
  4. Nationality by living there: Those who have lived in the country for at least 6 years and have a passable knowledge of the local language may automatically by eligible for citizenship.
  5. Nationality for Sephardic Jews: Anyone who can prove they are descended from the Sephardi, the group of Jews that was expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the 16th century, can apply for citizenship in Portugal.

Having permanent residency in Portugal

As a permanent Portuguese resident, you will have access to education and other services provided by the Portuguese government, but you will not be able to vote, hold a Portuguese passport or go to live in another EU member state without losing your status in Portugal.

To obtain this status, you need to have lived in the country for at least 5 years, with the corresponding residency permits if you are not from the EU. You have to apply to the Immigration and Borders Service with all the proof of addresses for the last five years and your personal documents such as passport, birth certificate, work contract or property deed.

It should be noted that if you are thinking of changing your nationality due to Brexit, the negotiations in Brussels have still not been finalised, so it remains uncertain what conditions will be necessary or sufficient for British people to keep living in Portugal.

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