Portuguese citizenship: choose from 16 ways to get a passport

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Do you want to become a Portuguese citizen? You don’t have to wait for years! The law offers about 20 pathways to citizenship. Let’s figure it out together!

What gives you Portuguese citizenship?

Portuguese citizenship confers a number of privileges, including the right to reside, work and study in the country, as well as the ability to participate in elections and domestic politics. In addition, Portuguese citizens have easier entry to other EU countries and visa-free access to 175 countries around the world.

  • Allows you to have a different citizenship. When obtaining it, you will not have to renounce your native citizenship, so it is possible to have a second citizenship.
  • Passing on citizenship to descendants. If citizenship holders have children or intend to have children, they can transfer Portuguese citizenship to them.
  • Portuguese passport. Gives the Portuguese citizen visa-free access to 175 countries and is currently ranked 3rd in passport strength.
  • Citizen’s Rights. Portuguese citizenship confers the rights and obligations of a full citizen of Portugal. For example, you can vote and stand as a candidate in local elections and in the European Parliament.
  • Access to EU countries. Persons who have obtained Portuguese citizenship can live, work and study in any of the countries belonging to the European Union through a simplified registration procedure.
  • Diplomatic and consular protection. From the moment one becomes a Portuguese citizen, one has a certain level of protection while in another country.
  • Duties of a Citizen. At the same time, a European citizen has an obligation to abide by all the laws and protocols of European citizenship.

How do I get Portuguese citizenship?

In this section, I will cover all the ways to obtain Portuguese citizenship in accordance with the Citizenship Law.

I’ve divided them into 3 categories:

  • Foreign born
  • Born in Portugal
  • Special cases

If born abroad

  • Lived in Portugal legally for 5 years
  • One of the parents is Portuguese
  • Grandparents are Portuguese.
  • Was adopted until he was 18 by a Portuguese man.
  • You’re married to a Portuguese man.
  • You have been in a non-marital relationship with a Portuguese man for more than 3 years.

If born in Portugal

  • At the time of birth, one of the parents has lived in Portugal for at least 1 year in legal status
  • At the time of the application, one of the parents of the minor child has legal status (and this article of the law does not specify the duration of the status🤔)
  • At the time of the application, one of the parents of the minor child has lived in Portugal for 5 years, irrespective of status
  • A minor child has at least 1 year of any education from preschool onwards

In special cases

  • A minor child in an orphanage or other social institution
  • Called upon to render certain services to the Portuguese state
  • Is a descendant of indigenous Portuguese or a member of Portuguese communities and can prove it
  • Is he a descendant of Sephardic Jews or Abramovic?
  • If you lose your Portuguese nationality and become stateless or acquire another nationality
  • If you lost your Portuguese nationality as a minor and want to regain it when you become legally competent

Portuguese citizenship by naturalization

I have already given a detailed overview of the 16 ways to obtain Portuguese citizenship. But the most common method is naturalization. It takes very little to become a citizen under this program.

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Live in the country with a residence permit for 5 years
  • Knowledge of the language at a basic level
  • Not have a prison sentence of more than 3 years
  • Not to engage in terrorist activities

How do you count five years?

The countdown starts from the date of validity of the first resident card or resident visa.

To find out for sure how many years you have lived in Portugal (according to the SEF), you can request a special certificate from them at any time – Certidão de contagem de tempo. It is from it that the time for citizenship should be calculated.

These 5 years can be lived either uninterrupted or with pauses. That is, you can live with a residence permit for 2 years, then leave for 2 years to live somewhere else and come back to live for 3 years. It is only important to keep in mind that the accumulated period should be within 15 years.

Required documents

The following documents will be needed at the time of your request:

  • Statement
  • Certificate from SEF proving 5 years of stay in Portugal (not always obligatory)
  • Passport
  • Resident Card
  • Birth certificate
  • A document proving knowledge of the language: a certificate of training or a passed exam
  • A certificate of no criminal record from all countries where you have lived since you were 16 years old

The process of obtaining Portuguese citizenship

You can submit your request online through an attorney, or in person through the mail or a visit to one of the agencies. The cost of applying for Portuguese citizenship is €250.

Within 15 days of submitting the request, an email is sent to your email with your access details where you can follow the process.

And then there are the famous “8 stages to citizenship” in the expat community:

  1. The registration office receives the application
  2. The application is registered in the system of the Institute of Registration and Notaries (IRN)
  3. Checks whether all necessary documents have been submitted
  4. It is checked whether the submitted documents comply with the legal requirements
  5. Other organizations are consulted, for example, to verify that a person has no criminal record
  6. All necessary conditions for granting citizenship are checked
  7. A decision is made as to whether the person is eligible for Portuguese citizenship
  8. A new Portuguese citizen is registered at the Portuguese Registry Office

Waiting period for Portuguese citizenship

I have not found in the law a time limit for the Ministry of Justice to process the request. Unofficial sources everywhere write a period of 24 to 29 months. Which is pretty close to reality.

According to feedback from those who have obtained citizenship, the process takes from 1 year to 3 years. And they note that progress is faster on naturalization than on marriage.

It is very often mentioned that kicks in the form of calls and emails help move the process dramatically to the next stage.

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