All you need to know about Portuguese nationality laws

The Portuguese nationality law is based on a set of legal laws that regulate access to citizenship which is obtained through naturalisation in Portugal, marriage to a Portuguese national or descendent of Portuguese parent.

In a few cases, a child born in Portugal to non-citizens may qualify for nationality however, this rule isn’t for a child or children born to short-term visitors or tourists. The citizenship law of Portugal is complicated due to existence of various former colonies.

There’re rare cases in which claiming or qualifying for Portuguese citizenship is possible after valid proof of jurisdiction against member of these former settlements. A common example is of Portuguese India, Macau and East Timor.

Recently, Portugal also launched Golden Visa Programme according to which non-EU residents may qualify for legal nationality. Here’re a few rules on how to get Portugal citizenship;

Portuguese by Origin

The legal Portuguese by origin are;

  • Children of Portuguese father or mother born within the territories of Portugal
  • Children born to Portuguese father or mother serving the State of Portugal however in another country
  • Children born to Portuguese father or mother board outside of the state’s border however have legal proof and registration at the Portuguese civil registry
  • Children born in the territory of Portugal to any of the parent bearing legal Portuguese citizenship and also a resident regardless of the title at the time of birth
  • Children born within borders of Portugal to foreign parents who have no association whatsoever to their former country of origin and have been legally residing as well as serving Portugal for more or less five years
  • Any individual born within the Portuguese borders and don’t possess any other nationality
  • Individuals born outside the borders of Portugal however are descendent of grandparents having direct and legal connection to Portugal and still have their citizenship active


After successfully residing in the country for six years with no criminal record whatsoever, an individual aged 18 or above may be naturalised  after fulfilling certain criterions such as;

  • Have a strong grasp and fluency over Portuguese language along with effective association to the National Committee.

The entire process of naturalisation executes successfully once all the prerequisites and essentials are met. Nationality can’t be transferred to the descendants if they’re already above 18 years of age by the time naturalisation process is finished.

From the year 2006 till 2015, grandparent of a person who hasn’t yet lost Portuguese citizenship is relieved of residence requirement when applying for naturalisation.

Citizenship by;

  • Adoption

A child under 18 years of age who’s adopted by a Portuguese national qualifies for citizenship

  • Marriage

A spouse married to a Portuguese national for at least three years may apply for citizenship with no restriction on six years residence. However, strong grasp of Portuguese language, culture and norms is a must.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is accepted in Portugal which means a person holding two nationalities at a time is welcomed but rules and regulations per country may vary.


The above details explain how to get Portugal citizenship in a legal way!

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