Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by Victor Queiroz
If you are considering permanently relocating to Portugal, then you need to be thinking along the lines of getting a Portuguese permanent residency or citizenship. You may end up obtaining dual citizenship in Portugal!
While both routes allow you to stay in Portugal indefinitely, getting citizenship grants you more benefits during your stay in Portugal.
There are plenty of incentives that the Portuguese government has put in place to benefit expats who choose citizenship.
This post will bring to the fore the intricacies that go into applying for Portuguese citizenship and also a deep dive into dual citizenship in Portugal. Let’s get right in!
Applying for dual citizenship in Portugal through residency
Portugal has different provisions for the application of citizenship for EU and non-EU citizens.
While it is rather easier to apply for citizenship for European Union citizens, it is not quite similar for non-EU counterparts.
There are different ways of getting Portuguese citizenship which include:
- Naturalization (after living in Portugal for 5 years);
- Via former Portuguese colonies;
- Descent of Sephardic Jewish heritage;
Let’s have a look at citizenship by naturalization.
Wait until you have lived in Portugal for 5 years
Getting citizenship via naturalization is the most common route to citizenship for most immigrants in Portugal.
What makes citizenship through naturalization a viable option for most expats is that it is a method that most people can control.
Naturalization might take longer compared to other methods like citizenship via marriage, but it remains to be the only method that is under your full control.
Citizenship via naturalization is granted to expats who have stayed in Portugal for a minimum of 5 years legally.
5 years of legal residency in Portugal is deemed enough time for expats whether EU or a non-EU citizens to be given a chance to apply for citizenship.
Conditions to applying for Portugal dual citizenship through residency
While getting the opportunity to apply for dual citizenship in Portugal through naturalization remains to be within every expat’s control, there are requirements you must fulfill.
- Proof of five years of legal residency in Portugal
- No criminal record during the period of your stay in Portugal.
- Clear your tax obligation with no outstanding taxes in Portugal.
- Must have knowledge of Portuguese language at least to an A2 level.
- Show proof of present integration into the community.
- Should be of 18 years or older
Children of parents who have acquired citizenship by naturalization may also get citizenship by declaration.
Subsequently, the children who are born from parents who got citizenship through declaration acquire citizenship by birth.
The document you must show
Application for citizenship in Portugal is an official process and requires proof of fulfillment of the requirements by presenting the necessary documentation.
Here are the documents that you will need to present:
- A birth certificate;
- Valid passport or travel ID;
- Proof of knowing the Portuguese language;
- Residence permit details;
- Proof of details of your country of birth, age, current residence, occupation, and the list of other countries you have resided in previously;
- A valid document from the SEF showing you have been living legally in Portugal;
- Criminal record certificate.
Where to apply for dual citizenship in Portugal for the time of residence
Once you consolidate every required detail and are sure you have met the criteria mentioned above, then it is time to submit your application.
Send the duly filled form together with all the documents to the Central Registry Office at the IRN.
Be sure to pay the required fee as well. Remember, the application takes time to process depending on the type of application.
However, if you fall short of some requirements, then you should be informed within 20 days that your application was not successful.
Do I lose my original citizenship by getting Portuguese?
No, you do not! Dual citizenship is legal and applies to both expats and citizens in Portugal. You shouldn’t have concerns about revoking your country’s citizenship to get Portuguese.
However, you should check with your country if having dual citizenship is possible. Countries that do not allow dual citizenship (like Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, China, Ethiopia, and Austria) will require you to relinquish your citizenship from your home country before applying for dual citizenship.
What are the Benefits of having Portuguese Citizenship?
Staying in Portugal doesn’t really require you to have Portuguese citizenship. You can enjoy most services that Portugal has to offer and still live a comfortable and fulfilling life. However, the big question is, why should you consider applying for citizenship if you fit the requirement? Here are a few reasons:
The Portuguese passport
If you don’t know by now, Portugal’s passport is not only powerful but also among the top in the world.
As of 2020, the holders of the Portuguese passport had access to travel to more than 191 countries without needing a visa.
This placed the Portuguese passport as the sixth most powerful passport in the world. There are plenty of benefits that come with having a Portuguese passport and they include the following.
- Allows you to travel to the 27 countries that are current members of the EU without necessarily having a visa. You can visit any of the 27 countries and others within the Schengen Area at your own leisure;
- The Portuguese passport also grants you the ability to live, study, work, or retire in any of the EU countries;
- Take part in both local Portuguese politics and the European elections.
Become a European citizen
Again, one advantage you will enjoy as a citizen of Portugal which is one of the countries in the European Union is becoming a European Citizen.
This gives you the ability and right to participate in the larger European political space. What’s more, Portuguese citizens hold the right to also run for the European elections as well.
As an EU citizen, you will also pass the citizenship to your spouse and children. They will also benefit from the EU tuition fees in any of the top universities.
How much does Portuguese citizenship cost?
Application charges for Portuguese citizenship vary depending on the category that you fall under. However, the average cost for a citizenship application is between €175–250.
Moreover, children who qualify for application through descent are not required to pay any fee for the process.
How long does the Portugal dual citizenship process take?
In comparison to permanent residency in Portugal, the citizenship application process takes longer. Also, how fast the process will take will also depend on your citizenship application category.
Nonetheless, citizenship through naturalization takes close to 2 years to process to completion.
Can I obtain Portuguese citizenship through ancestry?
If you are among the few who were born lucky to have either Portuguese parents or grandparents, then you have a right to apply for citizenship.
Also, if you are born in Portugal to parents who are not citizens of Portugal during that time, you are also eligible to apply for citizenship. However, this only applies to those whose parents were living legally in Portugal.
The easiest way to get Portuguese citizenship is through ancestry. It only requires you to produce the necessary documents of your parent’s connection to Portugal as proof.
Also, you are not required to have spent time in Portugal before in order to make a citizenship application using this method.
Since proper documentation of the certificates is necessary for this process, it proves difficult for anyone who is not close to their grandparents or parents for that matter.
Getting birth certificates or marriage certificates from either your grandparents or parents can be hard because these are the things that easily get lost.
Is having a Portuguese nationality and citizenship the same thing?
Nationality and citizenship are two separate things. While individuals who have either of the titles have access to the same national privileges, the two terms are not the same.
To begin, nationality is used to refer to individuals who belong to a particular nation, for this case Portugal.
Those who have Portuguese nationality have ancestry that is easily traced back to the country and also shares cultural and historical ties with other citizens.
Citizenship on the other hand is simply sharing the political ties to a said country. Some of these political ties may include the right to participate in the democratic processes of the nation or being eligible to enlist in the country’s military.
Are you ready to apply for dual citizenship in Portugal?
If you have been dreaming of spending the rest of your life in Portugal, then getting Portuguese citizenship should be your ultimate goal.
We hope that this post has given you a detailed understanding of the process and also, prepared you psychologically on what to expect. There are so many perks that come along with becoming a citizen of Portugal as an expat.
We understand that this process might be difficult if you are not guided by professionals. For this reason, our experts at Viv Europe are willing and able to help you get your citizenship.
Be sure to check out our Facebook group (All About Portugal for Expats) and connect with other people from across the globe.