How to Obtain a Portuguese Citizenship

Updated March 20, 2017

Portugal's Nationality Act sets forth the country's laws for obtaining Portuguese citizenship. Portuguese law does not automatically confer citizenship on individuals born in Portugal --- rather, individuals must often meet additional requirements, such as a parent with Portuguese nationality. Individuals may obtain citizenship by parentage, adoption, marriage or naturalisation after residence in Portugal for a specified number of years. Interested foreigners may wish to consult with a Portuguese immigration lawyer or contact the nearest Portuguese consular office for advice regarding the relevant citizenship and naturalisation procedures.

Identify the basis under which you may qualify for Portuguese citizenship under Portugal's immigration laws, such as parentage by at least one Portuguese citizen, child adoption by Portuguese parents, marriage to a Portuguese citizen or naturalisation based on residency. Research the relevant requirements by reading the Portuguese Nationality Act or contacting a nearby Portuguese consular office such as their embassy. Confirm that you meet the minimum time requirements for the basis of your application, which may be three years of marriage if you wish to acquire citizenship by marriage or six years of residency if you would like to naturalise.

Gather certified copies of your personal documents, such as your birth certificate, and any additional documents relevant to your claim to citizenship, such as your marriage certificate or adoption papers. Collect other documents that document your ties to Portugal and the Portuguese community. Obtain Portuguese translations from a certified language translator or professional service if your original documents use a different language.

Obtain official copies of your criminal history, or certifications proving a lack of criminal history, as well as any military service records, from your country of origin. Comply with other criminal background check requirements as requested by the relevant Portuguese consular office or agency processing your citizenship application.

Obtain the application paperwork from a civil registry office in Portugal or the nearest Portuguese consular office serving your area of residence. Make a clear declaration of your intent to acquire Portuguese citizenship in front of a Portuguese diplomatic or consular agent. Complete the paperwork as instructed by the application materials and attach all requested documents such as your birth certificate. Return the completed application to the civil registry office or consular office along with payment of any application fees, which vary depending on the basis of your application.


Applicants under the age of 16 years may not need to submit criminal history or military service record documents as part of their citizenship materials.


Lack of ties to the Portuguese national community may serve as grounds to deny an individual's application for citizenship.

Things You'll Need

  • Certified copies of personal documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cindy Chung is a California-based professional writer. She writes for various websites on legal topics and other areas of interest. She holds a B.A. in education and a Juris Doctor.