March 11, 2024

Unlocking Portuguese Citizenship: Qualification and Application Guidelines

Portugal ranks 6th globally for passport strength, offering visa-free, e-visa, or visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries and territories, allowing unrestricted movement across the 26 European nations in the Schengen Area.

Apart from boasting a robust passport, Portugal boasts an exceptional quality of life, year-round sunny weather, and affordable access to top-notch healthcare and education—achievable after just five consecutive years of residency. Unlike neighboring Spain, which demands a lengthy 10 years of residency for citizenship, Portugal offers a comparatively shorter path. Thus, it's no surprise that Portugal emerges as a favored choice for citizenship among global citizens seeking entry into Europe.

Qualifying for Portuguese Citizenship

If you're a permanent resident in Portugal, this article is your go-to guide. It outlines the vital documents, requirements, costs, application process, and timeline for your citizenship application.

If you're not yet a resident of Portugal, you'll need to explore visa options to reside there. Alternatively, niche pathways for citizenship exist, some not mandating residency in Portugal for qualification.

Staying in Portugal for a minimum of five years

For most individuals, residing continuously in Portugal for the last five years is a requirement to be eligible for citizenship. This entails not being absent from the country for more than 8 months intermittently per residence permit (first permit valid for 2 years, second for 3 years), or 6 consecutive months per permit.

Various visa options are available for living in Portugal, such as:

  1. The D7 Visa: This visa, often regarded as a retirement visa, requires applicants to have a passive income exceeding the Portuguese minimum wage. Consequently, it's popular among investors and individuals with adequate passive income to sustain themselves in Portugal.
  2. The D2 Visa: Geared towards entrepreneurs, this visa necessitates purchasing a Portuguese company or shares in one, initiating a new business (inclusive of submitting a comprehensive business plan), or establishing a branch of an existing business in Portugal.
  3. The Digital Nomad Visa: A novel option designed for digital nomads and remote workers seeking residence in Portugal while employed by a foreign entity.

Making an investment in Portugal for a period of at least five years.

The Portuguese Golden Visa doesn't offer citizenship by investment, but it provides residency in Portugal in exchange for investing in the country's economy. Options include buying real estate or shares in Portuguese funds. After five years, you qualify for permanent residency and citizenship.

Like the D7, D2, and Digital Nomad visas, the Golden Visa allows you to reside and work in Portugal. However, you're only obligated to spend around 7 days annually in the country. Essentially, living in Portugal isn't mandatory; you just need to maintain the investment for 5 years.

Other pathways

While most individuals will likely pursue citizenship through naturalization (residing in Portugal as a resident for a specific duration), there are various alternative routes for citizenship, some of which do not require residency in Portugal at all.

These options include:

  1. If you were born in Portugal
  2. If one of your parents or grandparents holds Portuguese citizenship
  3. If you've been married or in a non-marital partnership with a Portuguese Citizen for three consecutive years
  4. If you previously held Portuguese citizenship but relinquished it for another
  5. If you can demonstrate descent from Portuguese Sephardic Jews and establish significant ties to Portugal (though this has become challenging since September 2022)

Portuguese Language Requirement

While not all pathways to citizenship necessitate proficiency in Portuguese, such as through Portuguese ancestry or Sephardic heritage, naturalization applicants must exhibit sufficient proficiency in the Portuguese language.

For language learning apps, we suggest exploring Memrise, which offers a comprehensive 7-part series on European Portuguese. Additionally, you can create personalized study lists or utilize those curated by other users.

YouTube offers "Talk the Streets," a valuable resource by a British native with impeccable Portuguese fluency, gained from years of living in the country. Through her videos, she shares insights into daily life, Portuguese culture, and practical language tips, helping viewers improve their listening skills and grasp colloquial expressions.

Application Process:

If you've navigated the extensive procedures for obtaining and renewing a visa, you might find the citizenship application surprisingly straightforward in comparison.

You'll need to gather the necessary documentation, then submit your application at one of the designated registry options (outlined in the next section) and pay the application fee, which is significantly lower than what you may have paid for certain visa options.

Collecting documentation:

Collecting documentation is the initial step; you'll need to gather all pertinent paperwork that verifies the mentioned prerequisites.

  1. Birth certificate: A copy of your birth certificate is required. If it is not in Portuguese, you will also need to produce a certified translation. If it is overseas, it must be validated with an apostille stamp from any Portuguese consulate.
  2. Extra paperwork particular to your citizenship case: your marriage certificate, for example, if you're attempting to become a citizen by marriage. You will require their birth certificate in addition to yours if you are getting it through your parents or grandparents.
  3. Proof of Portuguese language proficiency: To demonstrate sufficient language proficiency, you must have passed the CIPLE A2 exam. It has been mentioned that individuals who were born in a Portuguese-speaking nation are exempt. As previously indicated, it also depends on your path to citizenship; not all require evidence of proficiency in Portuguese.
  4. Criminal record: A certified translation into Portuguese is required for each country you have resided in since you were sixteen.

Application in writing

The next step is to draft a written application that you must send in Portuguese to the Ministry of Justice. It has to have the following components:

  1. Full name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Nationality
  4. Parents' names
  5. Profession
  6. Address
  7. All countries of residence
  8. Full name and address of legal representative
  9. Residence permit details: document number, issuance date, and issuing entity.

After that, it needs to be signed by both you and a reliable witness. This person can be an employee of the register where you file the application, or if it's submitted by mail, it can be someone who can verify the signature, such as a public notary or attorney.

Cover the cost.

There is a one-time €250 application fee that you must pay.

If you decide to apply in person at the registration, you can pay with cash or a credit or debit card right there when you submit your application.

In the event that you choose to mail your application, you will need to enclose a certified bank check payable to IRN (Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado) in the amount of euros from a bank or financial institution having a presence in Portugal.

You will obtain a naturalization certificate upon being granted Portuguese nationality. It's crucial to understand that you won't receive a passport. To apply for this, you must do so independently. Fortunately, Portugal is among the several nations that permit dual citizenship, so most people's travel outside of the EU will still be acceptable in the meantime.

Thankfully, the passport application process moves considerably more quickly than the citizenship application. A passport can be issued to you in as little as five business days.

Unlocking Portuguese Citizenship with Pelican Migration

Embarking on the journey to obtain Portugal permanent residence can be daunting, but with Pelican Migration by your side, the process becomes seamless. Our expert team specializes in navigating the complexities of Portuguese immigration law, guiding you through every step of the way.

Whether you're considering the D7 Visa for retirees or entrepreneurs exploring the D2 Visa, our consultants tailor solutions to your unique circumstances. Additionally, our assistance extends to niche pathways like the Digital Nomad Visa, ensuring you choose the most suitable route to residency.

With Pelican Migration, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, empowering you to make informed decisions about your future in Portugal. Contact us today and unlock the doors to your new life in this vibrant European nation!