How to Get Portuguese Citizenship: Your Guide in 2024

Wondering how to get Portuguese citizenship? The process involves meeting clear residency, language, and ancestry requirements.
Ana Fankhauser
April 8, 2024

Wondering how to get Portuguese citizenship? The process involves meeting clear residency, language, and ancestry requirements. This guide will outline the essential steps towards obtaining citizenship, covering legal prerequisites, application details, and the perks of being a Portuguese citizen, such as extensive visa-free travel. Whether you’re seeking citizenship through naturalization, descent, marriage, or investment, you’ll find streamlined information to help you embark on your path to becoming a Portuguese national.

Key Takeaways

  • Portuguese citizenship grants access to numerous benefits, such as freedom of movement within the EU, visa-free travel to 173 countries, and access to Portugal’s social security system.
  • Eligibility for Portuguese citizenship can be based on residency, language proficiency, and ancestry or family ties, requiring a minimum of five years’ legal residence, adequate Portuguese language skills, and the ability to prove familial connections to Portugal.
  • There are multiple paths to obtain Portuguese citizenship, including naturalization, descent, marriage, adoption, investment, and special cases for certain groups like Sephardic Jews, each with specific requirements and fees.

Understanding Portuguese Citizenship

Portugal Flag

Numerous possibilities unfold with Portuguese citizenship, including the option to acquire Portuguese citizenship. As a Portuguese citizen, you gain access to a full suite of benefits under Portuguese law, including Portugal’s social security system, healthcare, and education. But that’s just the beginning. Portuguese citizenship also provides the freedom to live, work, and study throughout the European Union without any limitations.

In terms of international travel, Portuguese citizenship offers the following benefits:

  • Visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to 173 countries
  • The privilege to reside, work, and pursue education in Portugal
  • Access to the Schengen Area
  • The ability to stay in the US for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.

Eligibility Criteria for Portuguese Citizenship

Residency, language proficiency, and ancestry or family ties are the three main factors determining eligibility for Portuguese citizenship.

As a general rule, acquiring Portuguese citizenship requires:

  • Legal residence in Portugal for a specific period, usually five years. This duration is commonly known as the naturalization period.
  • Individuals holding a D7 Visa may also achieve permanent residency and, subsequently, citizenship after residing in Portugal for five years.
  • A certain level of proficiency in the Portuguese language is also required, which is typically assessed through a language test.

Portuguese nationality law adheres to the jus sanguinis (right of blood) principle in terms of ancestry or family ties, which means that people with at least one Portuguese parent born in Portugal are frequently eligible for citizenship by descent under Portuguese law.

Residency Requirements

The standard residency criteria for acquiring Portuguese citizenship involves living in Portugal for a period exceeding five years, unless you are married to or in a de facto union with a Portuguese citizen.

To evidence your legal residency in Portugal, you would need to submit suitable documents, such as rental agreements or residence permits, when applying for citizenship through naturalization. If you have a Portuguese grandparent, you may be eligible for citizenship by descent, and you will need to provide their birth certificate as part of your application.

Language Proficiency

The Portuguese language test for citizenship, an important aspect of the Portuguese community and Portuguese national identity, is known as the Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira (CIPLE). This test evaluates applicants’ proficiency in comprehending and employing everyday Portuguese expressions.

A minimum overall score of 55% is mandatory to succeed in the CIPLE Portuguese language test. It’s important to note that you are required to take the Portuguese language test at an approved center located in Portugal. The fee for taking the CIPLE Portuguese language test is €70.

Ancestry and Family Ties

Ties to Portugal through ancestry or family relations can serve as a solid foundation for obtaining Portuguese citizenship. The legal principle of jus sanguinis acknowledges nationality based on ancestry or bloodlines. If you can demonstrate a familial link to Portugal, perhaps through a Portuguese parent or grandparent, you may be able to acquire Portuguese citizenship.

To establish your lineage, you would need to provide birth certificates from your parents and grandparents. For those who are married to a Portuguese citizen or in a de facto union with one, you would need to provide evidence such as a government-issued marriage certificate, shared rental agreements, utility bills, and other proof of relationship, such as evidence of cohabitation.

Compare Portugal Visas:

Visa Type Purpose Eligibility Key Advantages Key Disadvantages
D7 Visa (Passive Income) Passive income generation Income from sources outside Portugal Low minimum income requirement, path to permanent residency and citizenship Income must be generated from passive sources, such as investments or pensions
D8 Visa (Freelance and Remote Work) Freelance and remote work Self-employed individuals or remote workers with clients outside Portugal Opportunity to live and work in Portugal while serving international clients Requires proof of income and clients outside Portugal
Golden Visa Investment Investment of €280,000 or more in real estate or other approved investments Fast-track to permanent residency and citizenship, no physical residency requirement High investment threshold, potential for property market fluctuations
Startup Visa (D2) Entrepreneurship Innovative business idea and minimum investment of €50,000 Support for entrepreneurs and potential for high returns, path to permanent residency Competitive application process, risk of business failure
Tech Visa Highly skilled workers Employment in a qualified tech sector company Access to Portugal's growing tech industry, streamlined application process Dependent on securing employment with a qualifying company
Studnet Visa Education Enrollment in a Portuguese educational institution Access to Portugal's education system, potential for post-graduation employment Requires full-time study, may not lead to permanent residency
Family Reunion Visa (D6) Family reunification Close family members of Portuguese citizens or residents Allows family members to live in Portugal with their loved ones Dependent on the status of the family member in Portugal
Jobseeker Visa Job search Proof of job search in Portugal and sufficient financial means Opportunity to explore job opportunities in Portugal, potential to obtain a work visa Limited duration, no guarantee of finding employment

We offer all long-term Portuguese visas for your needs.

Routes to Acquiring Portuguese Citizenship

Man discovers the path to Portuguese citizenship acquisition

There are multiple routes to acquire Portuguese citizenship, offering a variety of choices for those who aspire to become Portuguese citizens. One could opt for naturalization, which involves living in Portugal for a minimum of five years, following the acquisition of a valid visa such as D2 or D7, and meeting all other residency and legal criteria.

Alternatively, you could qualify for citizenship based on your lineage if you have Portuguese parents or grandparents. If you have married a Portuguese citizen, then you could potentially claim Portuguese citizenship based on your marital status.

Investment in Portugal, whether through starting a business or participating in the Golden Visa Program, can also result in eligibility for Portuguese citizenship after a period of five years of maintaining legal residency. Each of these routes has its own specific requirements, which we will delve into in the following subsections.


People show respect for Portuguese naturalization process

The process of naturalization is a common route for those seeking Portuguese citizenship. People who want to become Portuguese citizens frequently use this process. It entails:

  • Living in Portugal for a minimum of five years
  • Following the acquisition of a valid visa, such as D2 or D7
  • Meeting all other residency and legal criteria.

In order to obtain Portuguese citizenship, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • Reside lawfully in Portugal for a minimum of five years
  • Exhibit competence in the Portuguese language
  • Show familiarity with Portuguese culture
  • Have no criminal record that is pertinent under Portuguese legislation.


The descent route is one of the most straightforward methods to attain Portuguese nationality. If you were born to, or have ancestry tracing back to, Portuguese parents or grandparents, you may be able to acquire Portuguese citizenship.

When applying for Portuguese citizenship based on ancestry, it is crucial to provide a certified copy of the long-form birth certificate, proof of lineage to a Portuguese citizen, and all documents must be authenticated by apostille. Additionally, non-Portuguese documents need to be translated into Portuguese.


Being married to a Portuguese citizen can also facilitate the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship. The law recognizes the communal rights established for spouses, hence making it possible for one to acquire citizenship through marriage.

The initial procedure for applying for Portuguese citizenship through marriage involves submitting an application to the Portuguese Consulate. The necessary documentation includes a complete narrative birth certificate of the Portuguese spouse, a copy of the spouse’s passport and ID, a filled-out application form, a certified copy of the applicant’s birth certificate, and proof of marriage registration in the Portuguese system.


If a Portuguese citizen legally adopts a child from abroad who is under 18, the child can immediately apply for Portuguese citizenship. This allows the child to acquire citizenship at a young age..

In order to be eligible, an individual must have been adopted by a Portuguese citizen before turning 18 and demonstrate connections to Portugal, usually by showing proficiency in the Portuguese language or by pursuing education in Portugal.


The Golden Visa Program is a popular route to citizenship for those looking to invest in Portugal. The program expedites the acquisition of a residence permit in Portugal for non-EU/EEA citizens through a qualified investment.

The prerequisites for the Golden Visa Program in Portugal are:

  • Making a substantial investment in Portugal
  • Upholding the investment for a minimum of 5 years
  • Residing in Portugal for seven days annually
  • Displaying proficiency at an A2 level in the Portuguese language

Investment options for the Golden Visa Program include investment funds and artistic donations, with minimum investments ranging from €250,000 to €1.5 million.

Special Cases

Certain groups, such as Sephardic Jews or descendants of Portuguese citizens, have the option for fast-track citizenship. The process involves obtaining Portuguese citizenship through a route that grants it to individuals who are descendants of Sephardic Jews.

To establish Sephardic Jewish heritage for the purpose of obtaining Portuguese citizenship, this can be established by providing evidence such as the presence of Sephardic surnames in your family, cemetery records, or documentation of the use of Ladino language within your family.

Application Process for Portuguese Citizenship

Application checklist for Portuguese Citizenship

Upon determining your eligibility and selecting your preferred citizenship route, you can commence the application process. Acquiring Portuguese citizenship is generally a straightforward process that can be finalized within a few months.

There are different fees associated with different paths to citizenship. For instance, the fee for citizenship by naturalization, through marriage, or by adoption is €250. The Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN) is responsible for processing all applications.

Required Documents

Crucial documents for the Portuguese citizenship application encompass birth certificates, marriage certificates (if applicable), and residency proof. Additional documents are required when applying for Portuguese citizenship through descent, marriage, or adoption. It’s crucial to ensure that all documents are authentic and if they’re in a language other than Portuguese, they must be translated into Portuguese.

Application Fees

The applicable fees for obtaining Portuguese citizenship are €250 for naturalization, through marriage, and by adoption. For citizenship by descent, the fee is either $225.00 or 175 euros.

For those opting for the investment route, the minimum investment required to obtain Portuguese citizenship through investment is €280,000, €350,000, or €400,000, depending on the chosen investment option. In addition, there is an extra cost of €65 for obtaining the Portuguese passport.

Submission Methods

You have several options for submitting your application for Portuguese citizenship. You can apply online, by post, or in person. If you choose to apply online, you will need a valid digital signature and certificate for the submission of the online application.

If you prefer to submit your application by post, make sure that the letter requesting citizenship is notarized before dispatching it. The application should be forwarded via post to the Central Registries in Lisbon.

Portuguese Citizenship Test and Language Assessment

Portuguese citizenship test with flag and documents

The citizenship test and language assessment are key components of the citizenship process. The mandatory Portuguese language certificate for citizenship applicants is known as the Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira (CIPLE).

The CIPLE exam is comprised of reading and writing (45%), oral comprehension (30%), and oral expression (25%). To successfully pass the CIPLE exam, a candidate must attain an overall score of 55% or higher.

Dual Citizenship and Renouncing Portuguese Citizenship

Portugal allows dual citizenship, including with countries like the United States. However, it’s important to note that individuals holding dual citizenship are obligated to use their Portuguese passport for both entry into and exit from Portugal.

If, for any reason, you wish to renounce your Portuguese citizenship, the process involves contacting either the Portuguese Civil Registry Office (IRN) or the nearest Portuguese embassy or consulate.

Support and Assistance in Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship

Expert legal advice proves invaluable while navigating the complexities of the citizenship application process. Legal services can assist with the application process, ensuring that the submission is accurately completed. In some cases, they can even complete the application on behalf of the applicant, especially for online applications that require an attorney’s involvement.


In a nutshell, acquiring Portuguese citizenship is a journey filled with exciting possibilities. With a rich culture, a host of benefits, and a welcoming community, becoming a Portuguese citizen is a rewarding endeavor. Whether you choose to pursue citizenship through naturalization, descent, marriage, adoption, investment, or special cases, the path to Portuguese citizenship is a journey worth embarking on!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to get citizenship in Portugal?

It is relatively easy to obtain Portuguese citizenship, with the process being straightforward and taking only a few months. Ancestry or marriage are common pathways, but there are other options for those who do not qualify through these routes.

Can a US citizen get citizenship in Portugal?

Yes, a US citizen can obtain citizenship in Portugal through the Portugal Golden Visa program, which allows holders to apply for citizenship after five years of holding the visa.

Can you have dual citizenship in the US and Portugal?

Yes, both the US and Portugal allow dual citizenship under specific criteria and situations, permitting individuals to hold citizenship in both countries simultaneously.

What are the benefits of obtaining Portuguese citizenship?

Obtaining Portuguese citizenship offers access to Portugal's social security, healthcare, and education; freedom to live, work, and study throughout the EU without limitations; and visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to 173 countries. These benefits provide a range of advantages for individuals seeking to establish their lives in Portugal and beyond.

What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining Portuguese citizenship?

To be eligible for Portuguese citizenship, one must meet residency requirements, demonstrate language proficiency, and have ancestry or family ties.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property search, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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