Citizenship by descent, also known as citizenship by ancestry, allows you to claim a second citizenship based on familial connections to your ancestral homeland.
What is citizenship by descent?
In simple terms, if a person has at least one parent who is a citizen of a specific country, they may be eligible to claim citizenship in that country by virtue of their lineage.
The rules and requirements for acquiring citizenship by descent vary from one country to another. Some countries have straightforward and automatic provisions for granting citizenship to individuals born to citizens, while others may have more complex criteria and processes to follow.
Citizenship by descent is often seen as a way to maintain a connection to one’s ancestral heritage and to foster a sense of belonging to a particular nation. It can also provide various benefits and privileges, such as the right to live, work, and study in the country, as well as access to social services and political rights, like the right to vote in elections.
It’s essential for individuals seeking citizenship by descent to research and understand the specific laws and regulations of the country in question. Some countries may impose limitations on the number of generations that can claim citizenship by descent or may require additional documentation to prove the lineage.
The Portuguese citizenship
Being born in Portugal automatically grants you Portuguese citizenship, regardless of whether your parents are foreign nationals. Portugal allows dual citizenship, which means you can hold Portuguese citizenship alongside another nationality.
If you were born abroad to parents who are Portuguese citizens or to a couple where at least one parent is Portuguese and your birth is registered in the Portuguese civil registry, you are eligible for Portuguese citizenship by descent.
Additionally, you qualify for Portuguese citizenship if you have a Portuguese grandparent as a second-degree relative, as long as they did not lose their Portuguese citizenship. This familial connection allows you to claim citizenship and enjoy the privileges of being a Portuguese national.
Benefits of the Portuguese citizenship
Portuguese citizenship brings with it a multitude of privileges that open doors to a world of opportunities.
Holding a Portuguese passport provides freedom of movement and visa-free access to 173 countries. As a Portuguese citizen, you gain the invaluable right to live, work, and study anywhere within the European Union (EU), enjoying the seamless borders and boundless possibilities that come with it.
Whether it’s exploring new cultures, pursuing career prospects, or enriching your educational journey, this freedom allows you to embark on exciting ventures across the EU member states.
Acquiring Portuguese citizenship automatically bestows EU Citizenship upon you. This provides an array of additional benefits and protections across all EU countries. Not only can you enjoy seamless travel across borders, but you also gain access to a vast economic market and diverse job opportunities within the EU.
In the spirit of inclusivity and understanding, Portugal recognizes Dual Citizenship, allowing you to retain your original nationality while holding Portuguese citizenship.
This flexibility ensures that you can maintain strong ties to your country of origin while fully embracing the privileges and opportunities that come with being a Portuguese citizen.
Dual citizenship fosters a sense of belonging and empowers you to navigate global networks with ease, fostering diverse connections and enriching your life journey.
One of the Portugal resident permit benefits is the access to a special tax regime known as NHR (non-habitual resident).
Under this program, you are exempt from or pay very little taxes on any foreign-sources income and you have access to a special individual tax treatment on incomes for a period of 10 years.
Here you can find a detailed guide for the NHR Portugal Tax regime.
Right to Vote
Portuguese citizenship grants you the Right to Vote, empowering you to actively participate in shaping the nation’s future. By exercising your democratic right, you have a direct say in crucial decisions that impact the country’s policies and direction.
Your voice matters, and as a citizen, you can play a pivotal role in Portugal’s governance and contribute to building a thriving and inclusive society.
Who can request Portuguese citizenship?
- Being born in Portugal automatically grants you Portuguese citizenship, even if your parents are foreigners.
- If you are born outside Portugal but have Portuguese parents or at least one Portuguese parent, and your birth is registered in the Portuguese civil registry, you are eligible for Portuguese citizenship through descent.
- Additionally, you can acquire Portuguese citizenship if you have a second-degree relative (grandparent) who is a Portuguese ancestor, as long as they have not lost their citizenship.
How to request Portuguese citizenship by descent?
1. Portuguese citizenship through parents
If you seek to apply for Portuguese nationality through a first-degree relative, such as a Portuguese parent, you can do so by visiting the Portuguese Consulate in your current place of residency.
2. Portuguese citizenship through grandparents
If you seek to obtain Portuguese citizenship through a second-degree Portuguese ascendant, like a grandparent, you will generally be required to demonstrate proficiency in the Portuguese language and a strong connection with the country.
Applying for a tax ID and opening a Portuguese bank account can be valuable ways to provide evidence of your ties with Portugal and your commitment to becoming a Portuguese citizen.
These steps can help establish your integration into Portuguese society and showcase your genuine interest in becoming a part of the nation’s community.
Documents required to apply for Portuguese citizenship through parents or grandparents
To apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent, you need to collect and submit several official documents that validate your lineage and demonstrate your ties with the country.
- An application form signed in the presence of a Portuguese consulate official.
- A certified copy of your birth certificate.
- A copy of your Passport or another valid picture ID.
- Any relevant marriage certificate.
- Copies of the birth certificates of both parents.
- The birth certificate of the Portuguese grandparent, if applicable.
- The birth certificate of the parent who is the child of the Portuguese grandparents, if applicable.
- A document demonstrating proficiency in the Portuguese language, if applicable.
- A criminal record certificate.
- Proof of address
Who can request Portuguese nationality?
Applying for Portuguese citizenship is not limited to individuals with a Portuguese parent or grandparent. There are various other avenues through which you can successfully obtain Portuguese citizenship, including:
- Residing legally in Portugal for five years or more.
- Being married to a Portuguese citizen.
- Proving Sephardic Jewish origin.
Regardless of the pathway chosen, you must demonstrate to the Portuguese government that you pose no risk to their current citizens.
Portuguese citizenship for Sephardic Jews
If you are of Sephardic Jewish origin, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship through the following process:
1. Proof of Sephardic lineage
Applicants must provide evidence that they are descendants of Sephardic Jews who once resided in Portugal. This proof can be established through genealogical records, historical documentation, or other relevant evidence that confirms their ancestral ties to the Sephardic Jewish community.
2. Certificate from a Sephardic community
As part of the application process for Portuguese citizenship through the Sephardic Jewish program, applicants are required to obtain a certificate from a Sephardic community recognized under Portuguese law. This certificate serves as official confirmation that the applicant is indeed a descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews
3. Submit your application
The application process typically involves completing the necessary forms and providing all required supporting documents, including proof of Sephardic lineage, the certificate from a recognized Sephardic community, and any other relevant documentation.
You can submit your application either directly to the Portuguese consulate or embassy in your country of residence
4. Approval process by the Portuguese government
Application will undergo a review process by the Portuguese government to determine your eligibility and assess your connection to Portugal through Sephardic heritage or other qualifying criteria. The processing time may vary, and it is advisable to remain patient as the authorities carefully evaluate each application.
If your application is approved, you will be granted Portuguese citizenship, and you can then enjoy the benefits and rights of being a citizen of Portugal.
Law amendment from March 2022
An amendment to the requirements was introduced in March 2022, which now necessitates proving a deep and lasting connection with Portugal. This can be achieved in one of two ways:
- Providing evidence of a personal (home) or professional base (company) in Portugal.
- Demonstrating regular travel to Portugal throughout your life.
Why work with us for your Portuguese citizenship application?
We know Portugal. Due to our extensive local knowledge, we believe that concentrating our services in a single country destination is the best way to give you the most thorough and useful information.
One single channel of communication for the entire process. We provide you with a comprehensive service that covers all aspects of your move, from identifying the ideal residency visa to finding your new home or helping you to settle.
We recommend what’s best for you based on an extensive process experience that saves time and money to clients. Our pricing is clear and competitive, and we don’t sell services that make us more money.
Technology plays a very important role in our company. We minimize our clients’ involvement in paperwork. We are customers ourselves and we know how to serve you.
Frequently asked questions about Portugal citizenship by descent
What is Portuguese citizenship by descent?
Portuguese citizenship by descent is a process through which individuals with Portuguese ancestry can acquire Portuguese citizenship based on their familial ties to Portuguese citizens.
Who is eligible for Portuguese citizenship by descent?
Individuals who can prove their descent from Portuguese parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship by descent.
What documents are required to prove Portuguese ancestry?
The typical documents required include birth certificates of parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, marriage certificates, and any other relevant genealogical records.
Is there an age limit for applying for citizenship by descent?
No, there is no age limit for applying. Individuals of any age can apply if they meet the ancestry requirements.
How long does the application process take?
The processing time can vary, but it usually takes several months to receive a response from the Portuguese authorities.
Can I hold dual citizenship?
Yes, Portugal generally allows dual citizenship, so you can retain your current citizenship while acquiring Portuguese citizenship.
Do I need to renounce my current citizenship?
No, in most cases, you do not need to renounce your current citizenship when acquiring Portuguese citizenship by descent.
Can I pass Portuguese citizenship to my children?
Yes, if you acquire Portuguese citizenship, you can pass it on to your children, even if they were born outside of Portugal.
Can I apply for citizenship if my parents were born in Portugal, but I was born outside the country?
Yes, if you can prove that your parents were Portuguese citizens at the time of your birth, you may be eligible for citizenship by descent.