Portuguese Nationality / Portuguese Citizenship

Lamares, Capela & Associados deals with all types of nationality/citizenship processes, which can be obtained by foreign citizens who are family members of Portuguese people, or living in Portugal, or Sephardic Jews’ descendants, among others.

Also we provide all related services, such as:

  • Mandatory civil registration of acts and facts of life of Portuguese citizens, including the transcription of those occurred and/or registered abroad;
  • Review of foreign court decisions;
  • Judicial actions in opposition to Portuguese nationality;
  • Appeal proceedings of Registry Offices and Consulates;
  • Follow-up of ongoing processes;
  • Instruction and guidance on the rectification of foreign documents
  • Location and issuance of Portuguese documents


In addition to the privilege of holding a citizen card from a country with a rich history, whose culture is spread all over the world, citizens enjoy the following rights:

  • Live in a safe and peaceful country at a social and political level, with an internationally renowned education system and a highly qualified and accessible health system;
  • Benefit from the free movement of people and goods within the limits of the European Union, allowing to establish their residence in any of those countries;
  • Benefit from the excellent relationship that Portugal has with all Official Portuguese-speaking countries (PALOP – Portuguese-speaking African countries);
  • Hold one of the strongest passport in the “Passport Index 2021” ranking – the Portuguese passport – which allows entering in 159 countries without needing a visa, in addition to free movement in the Schengen Area;
  • Maintain your original nationality, if your home country also allows it; and
  • Family reunification. Family members have the right to reside with the Portuguese where he resides, either in Portugal or another country of the European Union.

Nationality / Citizenship

In theory, those who have the right to the Portuguese nationality are the son, the grandson, the husband or wife, the partner in non-marital cohabitation (stable co-habitation), the descendant of Sephardic Jews, people residing in Portugal, among others.

In practice, there are other determining factors such as the location of the documents, the establishment of parenthood, the content of the documents, the related mandatory civil registration processes, the evidence of a link to Portugal in some cases, and others.

Therefore, after a preliminary analysis to frame the type of process, it is necessary that all details and documents are carefully analysed by an experienced professional to achieve success in the process.

We believe that there should be a strategy for the whole family and the processes must be well-conducted from the begining, since they are often delayed or denied even though the right exists because private individuals make mistakes due to poor knowledge of the law and procedures.

If in parallel with the nationality process you want to live in Portugal, it is advisable to start planning all other relevant aspects of the family relocation. For this, we offer related services and associated areas

Types of Nationality processes

Nationality can be obtained in an original or derived form. The original nationality takes effect from the date of birth and can be transmitted to descendants without limitations. The derived nationality only takes effect after registration of acquisition, so it can only be passed to descendants born after such registration.

  • Children of Portuguese mother or Portuguese father, born in Portugal or abroad;
  • Grandchildren of Portuguese who have ties of an effective connection to the Portuguese community (or grandchildren of Portuguese who are already naturalized Portuguese, this ones don’t have to prove ties);
  • Individual of foreign parents born in Portugal, if at least one of the parents is also born here and resides here, regardless of a residence permit at birth;
  • Individual of foreign parents born in Portugal, who are not at the service of their State, provided that at the time of birth one of the parents has been legally residing here for at least two years; and
  • Born in Portugal and having no other nationality.

Note: Great-grandchildren can only obtain the Portuguese nationality after one of their ascendants (parents or grandparents) obtains it first.

  • Minors or incapable individuals whose mother or father acquired Portuguese nationality after their birth;
  • Married for more than three years with a Portuguese citizen;
  • Those who have lived in non-marital co-habitation (stable co-habitation) for more than three years with a Portuguese citizen;
  • Those who have been Portuguese and lost their nationality as a minor or incapable individual by declaration of the relevant representative;
  • Those fully adopted by a Portuguese citizen after the date of entry into force of Nationality Law No. 37/81 of October 3;
  • Adults or emancipated individuals who have been legally residing in Portugal for at least five years;
  • Minors, born in Portugal, children of foreigners, provided that at the time of application one of the parents legally resides here for at least five years, or the minor has completed here the first cycle of basic education;
  • Adults or emancipated individuals who have had Portuguese nationality and, having lost it, have never acquired another nationality;
  • Adults or emancipated individuals born in Portugal, children of foreigners, who have remained here in the 10 years immediately prior to the application;
  • Adults or emancipated individuals who are not stateless, has had Portuguese nationality, those considered descendants of Portuguese, members of Portuguese communities with Portuguese ascendants and foreigners who have rendered or are called to provide relevant services to the Portuguese State or the Portuguese community;
  • Those fully adopted by a Portuguese citizen through before the entry into force of Nationality Law No. 37/81 of October 3;
  • Adults or emancipated individuals who are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

Some types of nationality acquisition processes, such as those based on marriage, non-marital co-habitation and adoption, depend on the actual connection of the Applicant with Portugal, which, if not existing, can justify a Judicial action of opposition to Portuguese nationality. In these particular cases, it is convenient to examine well the case before submitting the process as well as other documents the Applicant believes will help but may be prejudicial.

Note: Until 30.06.2017, the law allowed the naturalization of Portuguese grandchildren who obtained Portuguese nationality in a derived form but without having to prove their connection with Portugal. The Portuguese who obtained the nationality by naturalization can now convert their nationality to that by attribution, without having to prove effective connection with Portugal, being able to transmit nationality to their descendants without limitations.

  • Women who lost Portuguese nationality because they acquired a foreign nationality by marriage with a foreigner;
  • Those who, have had Portuguese nationality and lost it because they voluntarily acquired a foreign nationality.
  • Foreign women married to a Portuguese citizen before the entry into force of the Nationality Law of 1981 automatically acquired Portuguese nationality by marriage, and must apply for registration (Base X of Law No. 2098 of July 29, 1959).

Note: There are also other cases under the legislation prior to the Nationality Law that allow obtaining Portuguese nationality. So, the analysis must always be done for the specific case and the documents must be verified.

Note: In the case of the former Portuguese territories (former colonies) such as India, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Macao and Timor,  specific rules are applied.

Related Services

Once citizenship is obtained, Portuguese citizens must mandatorily register the acts and facts of their lives in the Portuguese Civil Register.

The most common acts and facts are marriage, divorce and death, but there are also changes to registration data (such as gender, name, etc.), prenuptial agreements or changes to the property regime, adoption, the regulation of parental responsibility, inhibition and interdiction, trustees of absentees and presumed death.

Each of the facts subject to compulsory registration corresponds to a different process at the Register.

The acts of the life of Portuguese that happened abroad must also be registered in Portugal and be additionally recorded on the birth certificate (transcription of civil marriage and Catholic marriage, transcription of death, etc.).

The interested parties often initiate processes without being assisted by a lawyer at the Consulates or at the Registers, and in the process they are faced with several problems.

In these cases, our services can range from the verification of the process status to the preparation of a report and proposal for the procedures to be adopted for its success, up to the complete follow-up of the process in progress and the rest associated with it.

Foreign court decisions or notarial deeds of equivalent value, must be reviewed and confirmed by a Portuguese court in order to be valid in Portugal.

Examples: final decisions on divorce, adoption and paternity investigation.

The process review of a foreign court decision is judicial, it requires being assisted by a lawyer and it can only be done in Portugal.

In some cases, in processes of nationality acquisition by marriage, non-marital co-habitation or adoption, the lack of effective connection to the Portuguese community can be invoked by the Public Ministry in a legal action of opposition to nationality.

In the course of the process of acquisition of nationality at the Register, the interested party is summoned by the court to challenge the legal action, being obligatory to do so through a lawyer.

It is only after the success of this legal action that the nationality process continues.

The actions of Registers and Consulates in matters of nationality or civil registration can be legally supervised and challenged.

Note: There are many processes rejected by the Register or Consulate that can be appealed.

When a process is rejected and even if the deadline to appeal has been exceeded, it is possible to start a new process, this time duly organized.

When there are divergences, errors and omissions in the documents for nationality processes, civil registration or legal proceedings, the Register or the Consulate ask the interested party to pronounce or to rectify the documents in the country which issued.

An experienced lawyer can often overcome the divergences, present the necessary evidence and thus following up the process without any rectifications. However, in exceptional cases it is necessary to rectify abroad the documents.

The rectifications can be made in the courts or notaries, and for rectification to be done correctly, to be complete and useful, it is advisable to directly instruct the registrar or lawyer of the foreign country on what should be done.

Note: We can prepare a report to assist the foreign registrar and/or lawyer in order to ensure that rectification is useful to produce the desired effect.

Check with more detail and ask for the location service below.

Localization and issuance of Portuguese documents

The location of the birth certificate of the Portuguese relative is essential, without this document it is not possible to do nationality/citizenship process.

According to the date and place of birth of the Portuguese, it is possible to locate such document in a wide variety of places, from Conservatories, District Archives, Municipal Archives, Parish Archives, etc.

In order to locate a birth certificate it is necessary to have complete Portuguese data, which is not always simple to locate.

Thus, we not only provide the localization and issuing service of the Portuguese document, but also guide the clients in locating the Portuguese data that will allow the localization of the document in Portugal.

Work Method

Given our transparency and because we believe that clients are entitled to know our work method, we share it below:

When we receive the client’s first contact through any of the available means, we invite her/him to register on the website in order to access the user reserved area.

Note: Contact through the user reserved area is easier and more convenient for clients, but they can always choose to continue contact through traditional ways.

We analyze the information of the first contact and ask the necessary questions to better understand the client’s situation.

We inform the clients about the most appropriate type of service and the most effective procedures, as well as the associated costs, so that they can decide in an informed and conscientious way.

Analysis of the clients’ documents is key in order to confirm how many and which proceedings are necessary and their feasibility.

Note: It is convenient to analyse the different family members’ processes together as there may be significant savings of time and money for the client.

We enter into a contract detailing our services and all that was previously agreed in order to guarantee the client our commitment and responsibility.

We guide the client on the necessary documents and assist in their obtaining and legalization.

Note: We provide the service of locating and obtaining the Portuguese documents.

Once the documents have been received in Portugal, they are processed immediately.

Our proceedings are done directly at the Registries/Courts/relevant sectors in Portugal, using the fastest services at the moment and adequate to the specific case.

Note: we do not start proceedings at Consulates and Embassies as they always take more time and are too bureaucratic, often precluding procedures that are only possible directly in Portugal.

Clients can follow the evolution and progress of their proceeding(s) in the user reserved area of the website.

They can also join the Facebook group to share doubts and experiences with us and other clients and consult this group or our website’s blog to keep up to date on topics of their interest.

We inform about the conclusion of the proceedings in the user reserved area and by email with a copy of the Portuguese document.

Associated Areas

We provide guidance or counseling to our clients on the following subjects that may also be of their need or interest: visas and residence permits, accreditation of diplomas, notarial acts, obtaining the NIF and representation for tax purposes, bank financing, real estate acquisition, real estate monetization and management, investment and company incorporation, inheritances, social security and others.

We know and recommend professionals from other related areas and of the clients’ interest such as real estate agents, architecture and/or engineering firms, real estate management companies, market studies, accounting and taxation, financing and community funds, marketing and others.