Portuguese citizenship comes with a number of benefits, not least the ability to travel and work within the EU. According to the The Henley & Partners
Visa Restrictions Index of 2016, the Portuguese passport also offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 172 countries. This ranks the Portuguese Passport at 6th worldwide (alongside Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland and South Korea).
Since Brexit, as millions of British nationals try to hold onto their European ties, there has been an sharp increase in the number of people interested in obtaining Portuguese citizenship. This article looks at some of the different ways that one can do so.
Portuguese citizenship is not the easiest EU citizenship to obtain, it has to be said, but it’s not the hardest either. The easiest solution is probably to have an Irish or Italian grandparent. Failing that, some countries like Malta and Greece offer Golden Visas for a relatively small investment of between €250,000 and €300,000. If you’re not lucky enough to be of Irish or Italian descent, or to have €300,000 in the bank, the next easiest options are to spend three years living in Poland or to marry a Spanish person (for one year).
But, even though Portuguese citizenship isn’t the easiest citizenship to obtain, if you already have ties to Portugal this may be the most sensible citizenship for you to try to obtain.
Naturalisation (live in Portugal)
The most common way to obtain citizenship in any country is to live there for long enough. In Portugal, that length of time is 6 years. When applying for citizenship, there are a number of requirements that you have to meet. These include: you must be over 18, you must not have been convicted of a serious crime (one that’s punishable of up to three years imprisonment under Portuguese law), and you must be posses an A2 level of Portuguese.
The most challenging requirement here is staying in Portugal for up to 6 years as an non-EU citizen. Portugal issues long-term visas for a number of different groups of people including students, volunteers, those with a job offer in Portugal, and those who have sufficient funds to support themselves (~€50,000) or/as well as a passive income (including a pension).
Golden Visa (invest in Portugal)
Portugal is one of several European countries that offers a fully-valid residency permit to those who invest in Portugal. Investment can take many forms (such as creating a business that provides local jobs, investing in research, or investing in culture) but it can be as simple as purchasing a property in Portugal.
Properties should be valued at €500,000 or more, unless the property is more than 30 years old or in an area of urban renovation. If the property falls into the second category, it only needs to be valued at €350,000 or more. If you are willing to buy a property in a low-density population area, the required value of the property could be reduced by 20% to either €400,000 or €280,000.
The Golden Visa scheme allows investors to stay in Portugal (and to travel within the Schengen Area) for 5 years. After 5 years, investors can obtain permanent Portuguese residency. After 6 years, investors can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Marriage (marry a Portuguese national)
Foreigners married to a Portuguese national for three years or longer can apply for Portuguese citizenship. You don’t have to be living in Portugal for those three years, which is typically a requirement for citizenship with most other EU countries.
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By origin (through parents or grandparents)
If you have a Portuguese parent, you may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. If you were born outside of Portugal, and have a Portuguese grandparent, you may also be able to acquire Portuguese citizenship.
If you were born in Portugal to parents who weren’t Portuguese at the time, you may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship if they had been legally residing in Portugal for the five years prior to your birth.
Sephardic Jews ancestry (be a descendant of a Sephardic Jew)
If your ancestors were Sephardic Jews who lived in Portugal in the 15th and 16th century (and were kicked out by King Manuel) then you may be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. Spain has a very similar law as well.
This is a very unique situation and, unless you’re very familiar with your ancestry, it’s unlikely that 1) you have Sephardic Jews in your family tree and 2) that you’ll be able to trace that far back. The approval rate (around 8% in the first year) has been quite low but, if you think this might apply to you, then it’s worth following it up. More information can be found at sephardicjewsportugal.com.
If Portuguese parents adopt you, you can claim Portuguese citizenship. Unfortunately, you have to be under 18 for this one: there isn’t a provision in Portuguese law for Portuguese parents adopting anyone older than 18.
Portugal has special relationships with former Portuguese territories including Angola, Cape Verde, Portuguese India, Guinea Bissau, East Timor, Macao, Mozambique, São Tomé, and Príncipe. In most cases, there is (or was) a time limit during which citizens of these countries could apply to retain their Portuguese citizenship.
Note: As with all articles on Portugalist, this does not constitute legal or financial advice. If you are seeking Portuguese citizenship, speak to a legal professional who specialises in this field.