Portuguese Nationality by Birth

The latest version of the Nationality Law, which extends the procedures for granting nationality, was promulgated in February 2020.

This way, the children of immigrants who have lived in the country for at least one year, even if illegally, as well as in cases where one of the parents resides legally in Portuguese territory, regardless of the length of time, can now be Portuguese at birth.

Currently, the access of foreigners to Portuguese naturalisation through marriage or de facto union is allowed to those who have had this relationship for at least three years and it is necessary to prove this duration.

Thus, according to the first article of the referred nationality law (Law no. 37/81, of 03 October) they are considered Portuguese by origin:

“a) The children of Portuguese mother or Portuguese father born in Portuguese territory;

b) The children of Portuguese mothers or Portuguese fathers born abroad if the Portuguese parent is there in the service of the Portuguese State;

c) Children of Portuguese mother or Portuguese father born abroad if they have their birth registered in the Portuguese Civil Registry or if they declare their wish to be Portuguese;

d) Individuals with at least one ascendant of Portuguese nationality of the 2nd degree in the straight line who has not lost that nationality, if they declare that they want to be Portuguese and have effective ties to the national community;

e) Individuals born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners, if at least one of the parents was also born here and resided here, regardless of title, at the time of birth;

f) Individuals born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners not in the service of the respective State, who do not declare that they do not wish to be Portuguese, provided that, at the moment of birth, one of the parents legally resides in Portuguese territory, or has resided here, irrespective of the title, for at least one year;

g) Individuals born in Portuguese territory and who do not hold any other nationality. ”

The following articles (2 to 5) define that minor or incapacitated children of a father or mother acquiring Portuguese nationality may also acquire it by declaration; by marriage or de facto union; or by adoption.

Article 6 of the same law defines the procedures for the acquisition of nationality through naturalisation:

“1 – The Government shall grant Portuguese nationality, by naturalisation, to foreigners who cumulatively meet the following requirements:

a) They must be of age or emancipated in accordance with Portuguese law;

b) They have legally resided in Portugal for at least five years;

c) They have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language;

d) They have not been convicted of a sentence of imprisonment of three years or more for a crime punishable under Portuguese law;

e) Do not constitute a danger or threat to national security or defence, through their involvement in activities related to the practice of terrorism, under the terms of the respective law.

2 – The Government shall grant nationality, by naturalisation, to minors born in Portuguese territory, children of foreigners, who, if they have reached the age of criminal responsibility, fulfil the requirements of paragraphs d) and e) of the preceding number, provided that, at the time of the request, they fulfil one of the following conditions:

a) one of the parents has been resident here, independently of title, for at least five years immediately before the application;

b) One of the parents has legal residence in the national territory;

c) The minor here has attended at least one year of pre-school education or basic, secondary or vocational education.

3 – In the case of children or young people under 18 years of age, sheltered in a public, cooperative, social or private institution with a cooperation agreement with the State, following a definitive promotion and protection measure applied in a promotion and protection process, under the terms of paragraph 3 of article 72 of the Law for the Protection of Children and Young People in Danger, approved in the annex to Law 147/99, of 1st September, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for promoting the respective naturalization process with exemption from the conditions referred to in the previous number.

4 – The Government shall grant naturalisation, with exemption from the requirements prescribed in paragraphs b) and c) of no. 1, to individuals who have held Portuguese nationality and, having lost it, have never acquired another nationality.

5 – The Government shall grant nationality by naturalisation, with exemption from the requirement established in paragraph b) of no. 1, to those individuals who satisfy cumulatively the following requirements:

a) They were born in Portuguese territory;

b) Are children of a foreigner who had residence here, regardless of title, at the time of their birth;

c) They have resided here, regardless of title, for at least five years.

6 – The Government may grant naturalisation, with exemption from the requirements prescribed in paragraphs b) and c) of no. 1, to individuals who are not stateless but who have held Portuguese nationality, to those who are considered to be descendants of original Portuguese citizens, to members of communities of Portuguese descent and to foreigners who have rendered or are called upon to render relevant services to the Portuguese State or to the national community.

7 – The Government may grant nationality by naturalisation, with dispensation from the requirements foreseen in paragraphs b) and c) of no. 1, to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, through demonstration of the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent.

8 – The Government may grant nationality by naturalisation, with exemption from the requirement established in paragraph b) of no. 1, to individuals who are ascendants of original Portuguese citizens, have resided here, regardless of title, for at least five years immediately prior to the application and provided that the ascendancy was established at the time of birth of the Portuguese citizen.

9 – The Government shall grant nationality by naturalisation, with exemption from the requirements laid down in paragraphs a), b) and c) of no. 1, to individuals who have not retained Portuguese nationality under the terms of article 2 of Decree-Law no.308-A/75, of 24th June, because they resided in Portugal for less than five years on 25th April 1974, provided that after the loss of Portuguese nationality they have not been in the service of the respective State and have remained and continue to remain in Portugal, irrespective of title, as well as their children, born in national territory, to whom original nationality has not been granted.

10 – The knowledge of the Portuguese language referred to in paragraph 1(c) is presumed to exist for applicants who are nationals of Portuguese-speaking countries. ”

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