Portugal Updates Its Law of Nationality

Updated: 11 July 2021

The Portuguese parliament recently announced changes to Portugal’s Law of Nationality. The specific changes are on the Law 37/81 of October 3rd. The amendments are approved by the Portuguese parliament on July 23rd. The main purpose of the updates is to ease the process of obtaining Portuguese citizenship. The law applies to the children of residence permit holders and second-degree descendants of citizens.

Children of Portuguese Residents

Children of Portuguese residents have the right to Portuguese citizenship. However, previously, both parents needed to hold residence permits. New amendments change this rule. Now, it is sufficient if one of the parents has a residence permit for at least one year. The other parent does not have to have a residence permit. If this criterion is met, children born in Portugal can directly have Portuguese citizenship.

Spouses of Portuguese Citizens

Portugal simplified the route to citizenship for spouses of Portuguese citizens. Before the changes, a spouse could only apply for naturalization after three years of marriage or civil union. Also, they had to prove an effective connection to Portugal (such as knowing the language). Now, if the couple has children born in Portugal and/or Portuguese citizens, the three-year requirement is waived. In which case the spouse may directly apply for citizenship.

Moreover, in the previous version of the law, the Public Prosecutor’s Office could oppose the citizenship application if there are no effective connections between the applicant and the country. Now, if the marriage is longer than six years, the Public Prosecutor’s Office cannot interfere. Similarly, if the couple has children who are Portuguese citizens, there is no ground for opposition.

Second-Degree Descendants of Portuguese Citizens

The Portuguese Law allows second-degree descendants in a straight line of Portuguese citizens to apply for Portuguese nationality. The amendment refers specifically to the grandchildren of Portuguese nationals. Before, the descendants had to prove extensive effective connections with Portugal. With the recent updates, they do not need to put in so much effort. Now, the effective connection with Portugal can be simply proven through sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language. If the second-degree descendants can prove their proficiency in Portuguese, they hold the right to Portuguese citizenship.

These updates made in July 2020 considerably simplifies the process of becoming a Portuguese national. For the dependents of Portuguese citizens and residents, the new version of the Law 37/81 provides great opportunities.

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