How to get Citizenship in Portugal

So you want to know how to get Citizenship in Portugal? We you will be pleased to know that there several ways to get citizenship in Portugal including by descent, marriage and by simply living there long enough. In todays blog, we look at the reasons why you might want to get citizenship in Portugal and how to go about applying.

Reasons to get Portuguese Citizenship

  • To get an EU passport which is great for travel around Europe
  • You may want to have the same right as Portuguese such as voting in elections
  • You may have been living in Portugal for longer than your country of birth and therefore feel more ‘Portuguese’ than British.
  • Portugal allows for dual Citizenship so you don’t need to give up Citizenship of your original country of origin

The Difference between Permanent Residency and Citizenship

Permanent residency in Portugal can usually be gained after 5 years of living in Portugal. With permanent residency comes many advantages such as access to education provided by the Portuguese government. However, it won’t give you the same rights as Portuguese citizens such as the right to vote in elections.

How to get Citizenship in Portugal

There are five main ways How to get Citizenship in Portugal. They are:

  • Descent
  • Marriage
  • Living there
  • Investment
  • Sephardi Jewish heritage

Let’s take a look at each of these ways to obtain Portuguese citizenship in turn.

Portuguese Citizenship by Descent

If you have one Portuguese parent or a Portuguese grandparent then you can apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent. You will need to gather evidence including birth certificate and evidence your familiarity with the language. You can also get Portuguese citizenship by descent if you have lived in a Portuguese territory for more than 10 years. This could include Mozambique or Angola prior to independence.

Portuguese Citizenship by Marriage

If you are in love with a Portuguese citizen then you have the added advantage of being able to apply for Portuguese citizenship on marriage after 3 years of living in Portugal, or after 3 years of cohabiting with a Portuguese citizen as a couple. It cannot be revoked even after divorce, but remember that fake marriages for citizenship purposes are illegal and punishable according to Portuguese law.

By Living in Portugal

Most people who haven’t got a Portuguese partner or parent/grandparent go for the option of becoming Portuguese by naturalisation – that is by applying for Portuguese residency, living in Portugal and immersing yourself in Portuguese culture for over 5 years. It’s usual that people living in Portugal apply for permanent residency in year 5 after the expiration of an original 5 year residency certificate and then follow this with a Citizenship application in year 6. You would need to prove your language ability (at least intermediate) and your addresses (with bills and rental or purchase contracts) for the last 6 years.

Investment – Golden Visa

You can apply for Portuguese Citizenship via the Golden Visa Scheme if you have in excess of €500,000 to invest in Portuguese Property or business. For certain business investment such as Arts and Culture you may be able to apply for a Golden Visa with just a €250,000 investment (still a lot but half of the initial quoted figure!). One of the biggest magnets to the Golden Visa is that it gives automatic permanent residency to you and your immediate family and you can apply for Citizenship after 5 years WITHOUT the need to reside in Portugal.

Sephardi Jewish Heritage

In the 16th Century the explusion of Sephardi Jews from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) occurred. Portugal is now offering automatic Portuguese Citizenship to any Jews of Sephardi descent (Sephardi Jews). Many people do not know this, so if you have Jewish heritage and are unsure of whether you would be eligible, have a look into your family history to find out.

How to apply for Portuguese Citizenship

If you fit any of the above criteria then you are probably eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. In order to do this you will need to get in touch with the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) to find out about the application and getting your paperwork in order.

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