How to Get Portuguese Citizenship: Your Guide

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Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship

While becoming a citizen of Portugal isn’t a requirement for living and working in the country, it is still an option. One of the best things about Portugal in terms of its residency options is that it also allows for dual citizenship, which means that becoming a Portuguese citizen doesn’t mean you have to give up your national identity or cut ties with your home country.

Of course, both permanent resident permit holders and citizens of the country have many of the same benefits, including:

  • Being able to participate in full-time employment or self-employment without a work permit or visa
  • Being able to participate in all education and study programs
  • Access to social security benefits and pensions
  • Being able to purchase property within the country

You’re probably wondering, why bother becoming a citizen when I can simply get by with a permanent residency permit?

Well, becoming a Portuguese citizen comes with some additional benefits, including:

  • Being able to legally vote in Portuguese elections and referendums
  • Obtaining a Portuguese passport. (The Portuguese passport is currently ranked 16th in the world on the Passport Index)
  • Also being a European citizen, meaning you can travel freely across European countries as well as live, work, study, retire, and get access to healthcare in most European countries

Applying for Portuguese Citizenship

There are several ways you can obtain Portuguese citizenship. In most cases, you can just wait six years (as a resident) and apply through the naturalization process. Regardless of how you obtain citizenship, the one thing that remains constant is that the application must be submitted to the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado (IRN - the Portuguese Ministry of Justice).

Let’s take a look at the most common options for obtaining Portuguese citizenship:

Citizenship by Marriage

After three years of marriage or even cohabitation with a Portuguese citizen in the country, you can apply for your own citizenship with ease. There are no requirements in terms of a prior period of residency in Portugal, however, all applicants must provide legitimate documents proving their constructive connection to their spouse and the community.

Additionally, if you decide to divorce or separate after obtaining citizenship through marriage, you won’t have to worry about your citizenship being revoked.

Citizenship by Descent

Citizenship by descent simply means that either your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were citizens of a country—in this case, Portugal.

To acquire Portuguese citizenship by descent, you must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • One or both of your parents (or grandparents) were born in the country or a national territory
  • One or both of your parents were born abroad while their parents were living and working in the country—their birth must be registered with the Portuguese civil registry
  • One or both of your parents acquired Portuguese citizenship after your birth or resided in the country with a residency permit for at least five years by the time of your birth
  • You have at least one grandparent of Portuguese nationality who is fluent in the Portuguese language
  • You were born in a national territory to foreign parents but have lived in Portugal for at least 10 years
Naturalization

Once you have lived in Portugal for six years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship. However, you must meet the following requirements for approval:

  • You have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, which you’ll be expected to prove with one of the certificates or tests listed in the previous chapter
  • Have never been convicted of a crime in Portugal or your home country that was punishable by a jail sentence of three or more years
Citizenship by Investment

To attract foreign investment into the country, Portugal also offers a specific visa program—the Golden Visa program also mentioned in the previous chapter.

This program was designed to speed up the process for all non-EU/EFTA foreign investors to obtain a Portuguese residence permit and claim citizenship through investment.

You can learn more about the Golden Visa program and its requirements for citizenship here.

Applying for Citizenship  

All citizenship applications can be submitted yourself or through an appropriate proxy, such as a relative or an attorney.

The documentation required along with your citizenship application include:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your passport or travel ID
  • Proof of adequate knowledge of the Portuguese language
  • Proof and details of current residence permit
  • Details of your place of birth, including the date, as well as your occupation, current living address, and a list of any countries you’ve previously resided in
  • A criminal record certificate
  • A document issued by the SED proving that you have been a legal resident in the country for a minimum of six years

Depending on which category you’re applying for citizenship under, the application will cost between €175–250 ($213-$305). You’ll need to submit your application form to the IRN along with the proper documentation and payment.

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Ana Fankhauser

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