Moving to Portugal from another
EU country is relatively straightforward. This has made Portugal a popular
destination for retirees from wealthier European countries, happy to take
advantage of low property prices; and ready to enjoy some of the warmest nights
and winters on the continent.
The benefits of setting up home in Portugal - in coastal Porto or more inland
Braga - go well beyond the economic and practical. The capital city of Lisbon is
populated by just 3 million souls. A large number of small villages have barely
changed in layout since medieval times
Why become a Portuguese citizen
• Portuguese citizens are entitled to vote in elections and referendums, run for
political office and obtain a Portuguese passport.
• As Portugal is a member of the European Union, they also enjoy all the rights
associated with being a citizen of Europe.
These are broad and highly sought after, and include the right to live, work and
retire in any EU state for an unlimited period, as well as the right to vote and
stand for election in local and European elections of other member states.
• Given the extensive rights of free movement and residency already enjoyed by
citizens of EU states, most who choose to relocate to Portugal do not feel the
need to obtain Portuguese citizenship.
There may be benefits in doing so, however, if you are likely to be affected by
the political and judicial ties that Portugal enjoys with another country, if
you wish your offspring to be able to claim Portuguese nationality, or if you
simply wish to demonstrate your allegiance to your adopted country.
Different ways of becoming a Portuguese citizen
There are a few different ways to obtain Portuguese citizenship, including:
• By Origin
• By Naturalisation
• By marriage
• Former Portuguese territories
It is not necessary to obtain citizenship in order to live and work in Portugal.
Most non-Portuguese nationals who are resident in the country either have the
right to be there as an EU citizen or have obtained a long-term residence permit
for work, study, training or investment purposes.
WANT TO MOVE TO PORTUGAL?
Portuguese citizenship is governed by Portuguese nationality law dating back to
1981, with variations dating from 2006. The law strongly favours blood ties,
although there is also limited provision for first- and second-generation
migrants and their offspring to become citizens.
Children of a Portuguese mother or father born in Portugal or abroad, or in
certain cases those born to foreign parents in Portugal, may be declared
If you are of Sephardic descent and can prove your family's presence in Portugal
in the 15th century, you are also entitled to apply for Portuguese citizenship.
This law is also the case for Spain.
An adult aged 18 or over may apply for naturalisation as a citizen of Portugal
once they have resided legally for six or more years in the country.
In order to apply, in addition to the residency requirement you will need to
prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and that you
have not been convicted of a crime that is punishable under Portuguese law with
imprisonment of up to three or more years.
If you wish to transmit your Portuguese citizenship to your children, this can
be done by declaration by any existing minors as long as they are under 18 when
the process completes, while any future children may be considered Portuguese
If you are married to a Portuguese citizen you may obtain Portuguese citizenship
after three years as long as you make your declaration while you remain married.
If you divorce or the marriage is annulled at a later date your Portuguese
citizenship will not be rescinded.
In the event that you are in a relationship with a Portuguese citizen but not
married, you may still obtain citizenship on the basis that you are in a de
facto union as long as the union has been officially recognised by a civil
There is no required residence period for obtaining citizenship in this way, but
you may be required to demonstrate your knowledge of the Portuguese language and
integration into Portuguese society.
Former Portuguese territories:
If you are a citizen of a former Portuguese territory special rules exist which
may assist with you obtaining Portuguese citizenship.
If you are from Goa:
The former Portuguese territory of Goa was annexed by India in 1961 and the
latter is now considered to have had sovereignty over the region ever since.
Under Portuguese nationality rules, those who were connected with the territory
prior to 1961 are permitted to retain or reclaim their Portuguese nationality if
they can prove their connection to the country.
Recent rule changes have also made it easier for the offspring of Goan parents
to claim Portuguese nationality, which has seen a spike in applications over the
course of the past five years.
Citizens of East Timor and Macau also benefit from similar rights.
Dual citizenship with Portugal
Dual citizenship is permitted under Portuguese law, however it should be noted
that certain countries, do not permit dual citizenship.
In this case you will be required to choose which nationality you wish to
How to become a Portuguese citizen
Proving your right to claim Portuguese citizenship
In order to become a Portuguese citizen you will need to demonstrate your right
under Portuguese nationality law and provide certain documentation as required
according to the basis on which you are claiming citizenship.
You may wish to employ the services of a lawyer to ensure that you complete the
process correctly and successfully, although it is also possible to go it alone.
Applying for Portuguese citizenship
Once you are sure that you have the right to claim Portuguese citizenship, you
should obtain the correct form on which to make your declaration of your wish to
acquire Portuguese nationality, and the basis upon which you are doing so.
You will need to provide::
• your birth certificate
• your photographic ID
• a document demonstrating your existing nationality
• Criminal record certificates from any country you have lived in since the age
If you are applying on the basis of your marriage to a Portuguese citizen, you
will also need to submit your marriage certificate and your partner’s birth
certificate. Any documents not originating in the Portuguese language should be
accompanied by a certified translation.
Wish you Best of Lluck.