USA and the UK
About Portuguese Citizenship through Naturalisation
The Portuguese nationality law provides easy access or route for non-citizens to acquire Portuguese citizenship. Its amendment in 2018 reduced the residency requirement to five years.
If you are to take the naturalisation route to Portuguese citizenship, there are expectations of residency timeline and cultural integration into the Portuguese community that you must demonstrate. You should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the Portuguese language.
Your residency timeline of five years must be recent and through a resident permit or permanent residency. Portuguese citizenship enables you to access opportunities such as:
- Working without needing a work permit.
- Set up a business or self-employment.
- Attend study programs.
- Own a property.
- Become a beneficiary of Portuguese social security benefits.
- Access pension benefits.
Holding citizenship will provide you with a Portuguese passport which grants you entry to countries around the globe without needing a visa. Portuguese citizenship also gives you EU citizenship which allows you to enter, work, retire, or study in any EU country aside from Portugal.
Portugal allows dual citizenship, so you do not need to worry about giving up your citizenship status in your country of origin. As a citizen of Portugal, you have the right to vote. You can express your voting power in Portugal’s national elections and referendums.
- About Portuguese Citizenship through Naturalisation
- What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
- Naturalisation through Resident Permit
- Portugal Golden Visa Program
- What Are the Documents Required for Application?
- How to Prove Your Knowledge of the Portuguese Language
- How to Obtain Portuguese Citizenship after 5 Years of Residence
- What Is the Processing Time?
- How can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
The following are the eligibility requirements for obtaining Portuguese citizenship through naturalisation.
- You must be 18 years old or above.
- You must have been legally residing in Portugal continuously for at least five years.
- You must demonstrate proficiency in the Portuguese language.
- You must be actively involved in the Portuguese community.
- You must not have a criminal conviction record of a crime that carried a prison sentence of three years or more under Portuguese law.
- You must not be linked to any terrorist activities.
Other Circumstances of Eligibility
The following are other legal means to become a Portuguese citizen by naturalisation:
- If you were born in Portugal and your foreign parents were not legal residents at the time of your birth, you can claim Portuguese citizenship after five years of residence. You still need to meet the requirements listed above.
- If you were born in Portugal and one of your foreign parents was living in Portugal during your birth period. You can obtain Portuguese nationality after five years of residence in Portugal. This is irrespective of your parent’s legal residence. However, you must meet the requirements listed above.
In addition, parents with Portuguese citizenship status who want their 18-year-old or dependent child to acquire Portuguese citizenship can use the naturalisation route. As a citizen of a Portuguese-speaking country, you do not need to provide a language proficiency certificate.
You can also apply for naturalisation if you have been a Golden Visa holder for more than five years and have maintained your investment and resident status.
Naturalisation through Resident Permit
The Portugal resident permit enables foreign nationals to live, work, study, join family members, or get medical care in Portugal.
It is temporary and can be renewed depending on your visa route into Portugal or the length of your stay. Once your stay in Portugal is up to five years, you become eligible to apply for citizenship as long as you satisfy other requirements.
If you are outside Portugal and interested in getting Portuguese citizenship, obtaining a resident permit is a step closer to becoming eligible for one. You can access a resident permit through a long-stay visa program.
You do not need a resident permit if you are an EU national. However, the five years minimum stay applies. If you have a permanent residence permit, you can also apply for Portuguese citizenship.
To get more clarity and help, speak to one of our legal experts today by calling: +1 844 290 6312
Portugal Golden Visa Program
Portugal’s Golden Visa is one of the straightforward routes the Portuguese Government provides for non-EU citizens to obtain citizenship in Portugal. The Golden Visa is a residency visa that is valid for a year and enables renewal for two years. You have the opportunity of residence for five years, after which you can apply for citizenship.
You need to invest substantially in Portugal to qualify for the visa. Investment can be in the form of:
- Buying property in real estate. (Although there are changes happening to this as of July 2023)
- Making capital transfer worth one million euros to a Portuguese bank account.
- Making a capital investment.
- Investing in urban regeneration areas, arts, or research projects.
- Creating employment opportunities.
It is important that you meet the eligibility requirements for citizenship by naturalisation. You must also maintain your investment during the course of the five years of residence to acquire citizenship.
What Are the Documents Required for Application?
You will have to present the following documents to apply for Portuguese citizenship through naturalisation:
- Valid Passport.
- Details of your residence permit.
- Birth certificate.
- Criminal record certificate.
- Portuguese language certificate (A2 level).
- Details of location and date of birth.
- Information on your employment, present legal residence and previous countries of residence.
- Proof of a five-year legal residence in Portugal through the SEF-issued document.
The Qualification Certificate is for students who studied the Portuguese language as a discipline or course for two or more academic years. The study program can be in a private, public, or cooperative educational institution. The Qualification Certificate must be from an accredited school.
Certificate of Approval
You can provide a Certificate of Approval in a Portuguese language test. The test must be conducted in Portuguese public schools or recognised establishments outside Portugal. The test centre must have accreditation with Camoes – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, I.P.
Certificate in Portuguese as a Foreign Language
You can obtain a certificate in Portuguese as a foreign language strictly designed for non-citizens. The certificate must be through an assessment centre with accreditation from the Ministry of Education and Science.
Certificate of Qualifications
The Certificate of Qualification verifies your language proficiency – A2 or higher. You can provide a Certificate of Qualification from training centres, organisations of employment, public education establishments, and protocol centres of IEFP, I.P. – Institute of Employment and Vocational Training.
Ensure that You Are Eligible
There are various routes to getting Portuguese citizenship. You should familiarise yourself with them to determine if naturalisation is the best or only route for you. Some of the other Portuguese citizenship routes you can attain citizenship in Portugal are through being an ascendant of a Portuguese grandparent or having traceable origin in Sephardic Jewish ancestry or former Portuguese territories.
If you are in the process of applying for a Portuguese visa and you plan on becoming a Portuguese citizen in the long run, prepare yourself to meet the requirements. One way to prepare yourself is to plan to get a language proficiency certificate and be integrated into the Portuguese community. If you are already a resident in Portuguese and have already stayed five years, be sure you tick all the eligibility boxes before applying. If you are on a work visa, ensure your tax is up to date. You must have a clean criminal record and provide evidence of your legal residence in Portugal.
Most importantly, you must demonstrate that you have been law-abiding. Asides from proving eligibility for Portuguese citizenship through naturalisation, you must have evidence of full compliance with the conditions of your stay in Portugal. Also, you must be able to establish an active and consistent connection to a Portuguese community.
Get a Language Certificate
If you are not from a Portuguese-speaking country, you must present evidence of sufficient ability to communicate effectively in Portuguese. The evidence must be in the form of a certificate from a language test, course, training, or any other means under Portuguese law.
For persons who can not read and write, the language test result must establish their ability to demonstrate their knowledge of Portuguese.
Prepare All the Necessary Documents
Gathering the required documents for Portuguese nationality can be tasking. Thus, before applying, you want to be certain you have all your documents ready for submission. You must have copies translated into Portuguese if your documents are not written in English, French, or Spanish. A certified translator must translate your documents. Ensure your translated copies are according to the requirements of Portugal.
Your birth certificate should be a full copy. You only need to submit a photocopy. Your criminal record certificate must be from your country of origin and other foreign countries you have been a resident from age 16.
Fill Out the Application Form
You need to download and complete an application form for Portuguese nationality through naturalisation. The form is addressed to the Minister of Justice. It is vital to make an official declaration to obtain Citizenship in Portugal. You will be verifying that you meet all the requirements and have all the required documents. Therefore, all the information you provide must be accurate and verifiable. Giving false information is a punishable crime under Portuguese Law. You must fill out the application form in Portuguese.
Apply for Portuguese Citizenship
There are two modes of application. You can apply for citizenship in person or through the mail. If you are applying for your dependent, you may have to visit the Portuguese Consulate in person. Suppose you apply in person; you must sign the form in the presence of an official at the Registers.
The following are the application centres you can visit for citizenship application:
- Portuguese Civil Registry Register.
- The Central Registers Office in Lisbon.
- Nationality Desk of the Central Archives of Porto.
- Nationality Desk of the Civil Registry.
- Local Portuguese Consulate nearest to you.
- National Immigrant Support Centre of Porto.
- National Immigrant Support Center of Lisbon.
If you prefer to submit it through the mail, you must sign the form in the presence of an individual with the power to validate your signature. You can send your application to any of the following:
Pay the Application Fee
The application fee to obtain Portuguese citizenship through naturalisation is 250 Euros for adults and 200 Euros for children. You must pay with a bank card if you prefer to apply in person. You have to pay by check if you choose to apply via mail.
What Is the Processing Time?
The processing of Portuguese nationality by naturalisation application may take up to one year or more, depending on your situation.
What Happens during the Processing Time?
After you apply for Portuguese citizenship at your choice of application centre, your application will be sent to the Central Registry Office for review. The review takes about 30 days. If your application is not complete, meaning that your documents or information are not complete, you will be notified to submit them within a timeline of 20 days. Your application will be denied if you do not respond within the allotted time.
If your application is complete, the Central Registry Office will run a background check on the information you provided, such as your criminal record and residence status for five years. Information will be requested from relevant public authorities to be sent within a period of 30 days. After which, the Central Registry Office will review and decide on your application within 45 days.
If the Registry Office rejects your application, you will get a notification. You have the right to prove your eligibility within 20 days. If your defence is valid and accepted, your application will be sent to the Ministry of Justice for a final decision. On the other hand, if the decision is positive (based on merit), your application goes to the Ministry of Justice. The Minister of Justice will make the final decision to approve or reject. However, there is no timeline attached to the Minister’s decision.
IAS has the experience and resources to represent you to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Our immigration lawyer can represent you at the Portuguese embassy to apply for citizenship through naturalisation.
IAS is a team of immigration lawyers who are highly trained and experienced in Portugal immigration and citizenship. If you are outside Portugal and in need of the best route to access Portuguese Citizenship, our team can assist you in determining the most suitable visa route to attain a resident permit. Our lawyers will educate and work with you through each step of gathering the required documents and your application process.
Our profound knowledge of Portuguese nationality law and years of experience drives our successful citizenship application. We also assist in other Portuguese citizenship routes such as citizenship through Portuguese parents or grandparents, Marriage or De-facto Union, Sephardic Jewish heritage, Golden visa, and Former Portuguese Colonies.
You can easily access more information on Portuguese citizenship, visas and other immigration matters through our Application package. Our Advice Package provides assistance and guidance for a successful application process.
Last modified on August 16th, 2023 at 8:27 am
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Yes. The Citizenship Law of Portugal allows dual citizenship. You can retain your existing citizenship.
You can travel to EU countries and other countries across the globe. Portuguese citizens can travel visa-free to 152 countries using a Portuguese passport.
Portugal’s long-stay visa will qualify you for a resident permit which you can renew if it expires. Work, study, reunification, retirement, investment visa, and professional training or internship long Stay visas are good routes to attaining the five years timeline.
No. You do not need to live in Portugal after you obtain Portuguese citizenship. However, you should maintain a connection with the Portuguese community.
Portuguese Citizenship has more benefits than Portuguese Permanent residence. Portugal citizenship provides visa-free travel, residence, study, work, and retirement opportunities in any EU/EEA country. As an EU member state, you automatically become an EU citizen when you become a Portuguese national. You can enter over 100 countries visa-free with your Portuguese passport.
Portuguese permanent residence allows you to become a legal resident in Portugal. You can visit other Schengen countries on a short-stay visa (90 days) without a visa.
Yes. Portuguese citizenship is one of the easiest to get in the world. It has simple requirements and an application process.
Yes. The United States and Canada are among the countries Portuguese citizens can travel to without a visa. You will need your Portuguese Passport.