Portuguese Citizenship

How a foreigner can obtain Portuguese citizenship

Long-term visas are good. You can study or work, but the problem is that it must be constantly renewed if you need to stay in the country longer. And the only way to become a full Portuguese citizen is to obtain a passport.

This article discusses situations where a foreigner can apply for citizenship. We will tell you about the peculiarities of the legislation, as well as the cost of the documents.

Portuguese citizenship, brief information

Portuguese citizenship, summary
How a foreigner can obtain Portuguese citizenship 7

A standard visa is issued for 4 months or for the period of study/work contract. It needs to be extended in the same way as the registration as a resident. Immediately upon arrival, if you plan to remain in the country for longer than 4 months, a residence permit will be issued.

After five years, however, the person can replace the Portuguese residence permit. Permanent residence must be confirmed, but much less often than a visa. In addition, in this case, the person receives rights that are almost identical to those of citizens.

It makes sense to wait for the permanent residence permit and apply for citizenship for a foreigner after five years.

Who can get Portuguese citizenship?

Citizenship can be obtained by anyone who speaks the language, has no criminal record, and has lived in Portugal for six years. If you get a passport after marriage, the period is shortened to three years.

If you get a passport after marriage, the period is shortened to three years.

The rules are not the same for residents of countries that are members of the European Union, as well as for former colonies. The period can be limited to 1-2 years.

Before 2006, however, it was much more difficult to obtain citizenship in Portugal. You can read about all the innovations in the Citizenship Law as of 2006.

Rights and Benefits of Citizenship over Residents

Those who claim Portuguese citizenship receive the following benefits:

  • The ability to work or open a business without having to obtain a permit from the town hall.
  • Secondary and higher education.
  • Miscellaneous benefits, social security pensions.
  • The right to buy real estate.
  • The right to vote in elections and referendums.
  • Passport of citizenship in Portugal (the country is the 3rd in the ranking of passports in the world).
  • EU citizenship, which means the right to live and work in EU countries, and even retire there.

Cost of applying for citizenship

Cost of applying for citizenship
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The fee ranges from €175 to €250, the amount depends on the category. If the form is submitted on behalf of a child who claims citizenship by birthright, the application is free.

Double citizenship

Portugal allows dual citizenship, that is, its residents can have two passports or more. However, this is rarely the case in CIS countries: check the laws of your country to see if dual citizenship is allowed. If not, you have to give up your first passport before accepting Portuguese citizenship.

Applying for citizenship

Citizenship is processed at the Ministry of Justice (Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado) – all documents must be brought there.

The Citizenship Law specifies the following conditions under which a foreigner is eligible to apply for a Portuguese passport:

    • Marriage to a Portuguese citizen.
    • Portuguese roots of birth in Portuguese territory.
    • After 5 years of residence.
    • Passport of a former overseas colony of Portugal.
    • Jewish Law of Return for Sephardic Jews.

Portuguese citizenship by marriage

Portuguese citizenship by marriage
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A person can claim citizenship after three years of marriage or cohabitation with a Portuguese citizen on Portuguese territory.

There is no requirement of the previous residence, but the person will have to prove that his/her stay is effective and beneficial to the Portuguese society. So, an education proving that you are a qualified professional or an employment contract showing that you pay taxes regularly will do.

If you obtained citizenship but then divorced, the passport is not taken away.

Citizenship by descent or birth

Citizenship by descent or birth
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Persons may qualify for citizenship by descent or birth in several instances.

First where one parent is Portuguese:

    • The child was born in Portugal.
    • The child was born in another country where one parent is in the service.
    • The child was born abroad, but the parents’ birth in Portugal is documented.

Second where the parents are citizens of another country:

    • The child was born in Portugal, and the father or mother resides in Portugal at the time of the child’s birth.
    • Child born in Portugal, parents want to be Portuguese. Valid on the condition that one of the parents has lived in Portugal for at least five years at the time of birth.
    • The child has no other nationality.

Third where the parents obtained citizenship after the birth of the child.

Tips and Conclusion

There are additional conditions for approval of an application for citizenship under any category:

  • You know the Portuguese language, as proven by a certificate or test.
  • You have not been convicted of a crime, with a prison sentence of three years or more.

If all is well, you can apply on your own or through a proxy. Prepare the paperwork:

    • birth certificate;
    • proof of sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language;
    • passport;
    • visa or residence permit;
    • statement of occupation, current residence, and a list of countries previously resided in
    • report of criminal record;
    • document proving that you have been legally resident in Portugal for at least six years.

The processing of citizenship applications can take anywhere from two weeks to several months. However, if the application is rejected from the start, you will be notified within 20 days.


Purchasing Portugal residence permit gives you the following advantages:
  • The possibility to apply for Portuguese citizenship already 5 years after receiving the residence permit. A Portuguese passport gives you all the benefits of an EU citizen.
  • Possibility of visiting Schengen without a visa.
  • The right to invest in liquid assets such as businesses, securities real estate.
More about the benefits of living in Portugal.

Depending on the type of investment, the amount will vary:

  • Purchasing real estate:
      1. From €500,000 for any real estate in Portugal. The prerequisite – the property must be owned for at least 5 years.
      2. From €350,000 property that requires reconstruction and has been built at least 30 years ago in areas of cultural heritage.
      3. Purchase of shares – from €1 million for the purchase of shares in Portuguese companies.
      4. Investment in research or the arts – from €350,000.
One of the possible options for obtaining a Portuguese residence permit is investment. The following investment options are available:
  • the purchase of real estate;
  • a single capital transfer for research activities or works of art;
  • a capital transfer to register a company with a head office in Portugal combined with the creation of at least 5 permanent jobs.
After applying for a residence permit you must wait for its processing. It usually takes no more than 3-4 months. Add another 2 weeks for the production of the card and it turns out that the estimated waiting time can take up to 5 months. A year after the first residence permit, the card must be renewed for the next 2 years. For more information on obtaining a residence permit in Portugal through investment can be found in an article our blog.

Your family members can be granted residence status (Residence permit) in Portugal with you. This can be applied for:

  • spouse;
  • financially dependent children up to 26 years old;
  • parents are over 65 years old.

If you add family members to the program, its cost increases. For each situation, it is calculated individually.

After 5 years of residency status, the holder of a golden visa (GOLDVISA) in Portugal can apply for citizenship. To do so, the following conditions must be met:

  • knowledge of the Portuguese language. Level at least A2;
  • no criminal record;
  • at least 18 y.o.