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Portuguese nationality law is the legal set of rules that regulate access to Portuguese citizenship, which is acquired mainly through descent from a Portuguese parent ( mother, father, grandfather ), naturalisation in Portugal or marriage to a Portuguese citizen.
Overall the present Portuguese nationality law, dated from 1981, privileges Jus sanguinis, while the precedent law, of 1959, was based on the principle of Jus soli. This shift occurred in 1975 and 1981, thus basically making it difficult to access naturalization not only to first generation migrants, but also to their children and grandchildren. Only very recently, in 2006, was this situation slightly changed, but still stressing Jus sanguinis.


In general a child born in Portugal to foreign parents is not entitled to Portuguese citizenship unless the parents have lived in Portugal for 5 years with valid residence permits, or if the minor has concluded the first cycle of compulsory education in Portugal.


A child born to a Portuguese parent is automatically a Portuguese citizen provided the parent was born in Portugal or is employed by the Portuguese state. Or, the child may be registered as a Portuguese citizen. For example, a child born in Mozambique to a Portuguese-born parent can be registered as a Portuguese citizen at the country's embassy in Maputo. Under Mozambican law, the child automatically acquires Portuguese citizenship if the other parent is Portuguese-born.

Portuguese Nationality Act Law 37/81, of 3 October

Consolidated version, as amended by Organic Law 2/2006, of 17 April.

  • 1 –The Government grants Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to foreigners who satisfy each of the following requirements:
    • a) A person aged 18 or emancipated under Portuguese Law;
    • b) Have resided lawfully in Portuguese territory for a minimum of six years;
    • c) Have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language;
    • d) Have not been convicted of a crime punishable under Portuguese Law with imprisonment up to a maximum equal to three years or more.
      • 2 –The Government grants nationality, by naturalization, to minors, born in Portuguese territory, to foreign parents, provided that they fulfill the requirements set in sub- paragraphs c) and d) of paragraph 1 and that, at the time of the application, one of the following conditions is satisfied:
        • a) One of the parents has resided lawfully in Portugal for a minimum of five years;
        • b) The minor has concluded the first cycle of compulsory education in Portugal.
      • 3 –The Government grants naturalization, with exemption of the requirements set in sub-paragraphs b) and c) of paragraph 1, to persons who had Portuguese nationality and who, having lost it, never acquired another nationality.
      • 4 –The Government grants naturalization, with exemption of the requirement set in sub-paragraph b) of paragraph 1, to persons born abroad with, at least, one Portuguese ancestor in the second degree of the direct line, if he or she has not lost his or her Portuguese nationality.


      Portuguese Nationality Act Law 37/81, of 3 October, state that the child adopted by a Portuguese citizen acquires Portuguese citizenship. Child should be under 18.


        Article 3 Acquisition in case of marriage or de facto union
      • 1 –A foreigner married to a Portuguese national for more than three years may acquire Portuguese nationality by means of a declaration made during the duration of the marriage.
      • 2 –A declaration invalidating or annulling the marriage does not impair the nationality acquired by the spouse who married in good faith.
      • 3 –A foreigner who, at the time of the declaration, lives in a de facto union with a Portuguese national for more than three years may acquire Portuguese nationality, after judicial recognition of the status by a civil court.
      Note: No formal residence period in Portugal is laid down; however, in practice, knowledge of the Portuguese language and integration into Portuguese society may be required.


      Portugal allows dual citizenship. Hence, Portuguese citizens holding or acquiring a foreign citizenship do not lose Portuguese citizenship. Similarly, those becoming Portuguese citizens do not have to renounce their foreign citizenship.
      Although Portugal allows dual citizenship, some countries, such as Japan and South Korea, do not. Thus, dual Portuguese–Japanese citizens, under Japanese nationality law, must declare to the Government of Japan whether they are going to keep their Japanese or Portuguese citizenship. A similar procedure is required for dual Portuguese–South Korean citizens, under South Korean nationality law


      Article 9 Grounds

        Grounds for opposing the acquisition of Portuguese nationality are:
      • a) The lack of effective ties with the national community;
      • b) The conviction of a crime punishable under Portuguese Law with imprisonment up to a maximum equal to three years or more;
      • c) The exercise of public functions without a predominantly technical nature or the rendering of non compulsory military service in a foreign State.
      Article 10 PROCEDURE
      • 1 –The opposition is submitted by the Public Prosecutor within one year after the fact upon which the acquisition of nationality depends in a procedure to be initiated under article 26. 2 –It is compulsory for all authorities to report the facts referred to in the preceding article to the Public Prosecutor.


      Portuguese citizens are also citizens of the European Union and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.

      The balance between the past and the future ... a country where the journey never ends.

If you want to know how can acquire Portuguese nationality expose us to your case