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How to Get Portuguese Citizenship: The Ultimate Guide

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This article will discuss how to get Portuguese citizenship, several ways to become a Portuguese citizen, its benefits, and the application process.

Famous for its beautiful coastline, exquisite cuisine, delicious wine, and historical towns, Portugal is one of the most attractive European travel destinations.

However, in the RCBI world, the country is known for its various residency programs, business-friendly environment, tax schemes, and investment opportunities.

In essence, Portugal is a stable EU jurisdiction with various personal and corporate benefits for investors, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads.

There are several routes you can adopt to obtain Portuguese citizenship. However, strict due diligence and legwork are needed to deal with Portuguese immigration authorities – something you may find difficult to DIY.

If you want to get a Portuguese passport without spending months getting your application in order, Nomad Capitalist might be the right fit for you. We specialize in sorting out paperwork and dealing with foreign authorities, so you don’t have to. Set up a call with us today to become an EU citizen and live your best life.

Portugal country overview

Portugal – Country Overview

Situated on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is a southwestern European country. The country shares its only land border with Spain and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. Portuguese territory also comprises two archipelagos, Azores and Madeira, that have their own regional governments.

Portugal’s current population is 10,112,877. The official language is Portuguese, and the official currency is the euro. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas and larger cities.

Lisbon is Portugal’s capital, largest city, and economic and cultural center. It is also a major digital nomad hub thanks to its proximity to beaches, vibrant culture, and plenty of co-working spaces.

The country boasts excellent cuisine, delicious wines, and 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Portugal’s terrain is exceptionally diverse, making it an excellent country for a second home. Whether you want a beach house or a luxurious condo in the city, the country will not disappoint you.

Portugal – Passport

According to the Nomad Passport Index, the Portuguese passport is the fourth-best in the world regarding travel freedom, tax-friendliness, dual citizenship, and general perception. Portuguese citizens enjoy visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 173 countries.

Portugal has the shortest naturalization period in the EU – only five years. After five years of legal residence in Portugal, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residence. Whether you should choose PR or citizenship depends entirely on your vision.

Portugal – Economy

Portugal boasts a developed and diversified high-income economy, it’s one of Europe’s major energy exporters and also has the 14th largest gold reserves in the world. Thanks to its hyper-active services sector, vast consumer market, and investment opportunities, the country is among the best EU jurisdictions for investors and entrepreneurs.

Historically, Portugal has seen its fair share of economic ups and downs, but the country has always come out of a crisis stronger and more stable than before, making it a pretty suitable choice to park your investment.

Portugal flag

Ways to Get Portuguese Citizenship

The Portuguese nationality law states several ways to acquire Portuguese citizenship. Some routes require establishing Portuguese residency for a few years, while others may qualify you automatically.

The following are the most significant ways to get Portuguese citizenship:

  • Portuguese citizenship by naturalization
  • Portuguese citizenship by descent
  • Portuguese citizenship by birth
  • Portuguese citizenship by marriage
  • Portuguese citizenship by Sephardic Jewish Ancestry

Portuguese citizenship by descent is the cheapest option among the routes mentioned above. However, it’s not the quickest.

If you don’t have Portuguese ancestry but want to live in Portugal long-term, you can look into residency options like the D2 or the D7 visa, which will give you a residency permit within a few months and a chance to get Portuguese citizenship five years down the road.

Below we’ll talk about all the routes mentioned above in detail.

Portuguese Citizenship by Naturalization

Portuguese Citizenship by Naturalization

Most people adopt the naturalization route to get Portuguese citizenship. At five years, Portugal has the shortest naturalization timeline in the EU. Considering the perks of becoming an EU citizen, spending five years in a beautiful and stable EU jurisdiction with tons of personal and corporate opportunities is not a bad deal at all.

You can apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of legal residence there. The key term here is establishing legal residency. So, EU nationals living in Portugal without establishing residency may be unable to use those years toward their citizenship application.

Non-EU nationals looking to acquire Portuguese nationality can apply for a Portuguese residence permit and maintain it for five years to be eligible for citizenship.

The D2 and the D7 visa are among the most sought-after Portuguese residency visa options by non-EU nationals. Let’s briefly discuss these options below:

Portugal D2 Visa

Portugal’s D2 visa, also known as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa, allows non-EU/ EEA/ Swiss citizens to start a business, open a branch of an existing business, or invest in an existing business in Portugal.

The visa is primarily designed for entrepreneurs, investors, and self-employed professionals like freelancers or digital nomads. Portugal also has a digital nomad visa, but it doesn’t lead to citizenship.

A D2 visa is issued for four months, during which the applicant must request a residency permit to stay in Portugal. The first residency permit is valid for two years. After two years, the permit can be renewed for another three years.

After five years of legal residency, you may apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship.

The D2 visa is an excellent route for non-EU entrepreneurs, investors, and independent service providers who want to plant a business flag in a stable EU jurisdiction while working toward becoming an EU national.

Eligibility Requirements for the D2 Visa

The D2 visa has no minimum investment threshold, but you must demonstrate some of the following items to prove your eligibility:

  • A solid business plan detailing how your investment or business will benefit Portugal’s economy.
  • A declaration of investment showing that you’ve invested or plan to invest in Portugal.
  • Enough financial resources to sustain your company.
  • A Portuguese bank account with at least €9,120 in savings (i.e., minimum yearly wage in Portugal)

Moreover, you must:

  • Be aged 18 or above
  • Be a non-EU/ EEA/ Swiss citizen.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Have health insurance
  • Demonstrate proof of accommodation (rental or purchase agreement)

The eligibility requirements for the D2 visa are highly dependent on the nature of your business, profession, and investment.

Portugal D7 Visa

Portugal’s D7 visa, also known as the Portugal Passive Income Visa, allows non-EU/ EEA/ Swiss citizens to live in Portugal as long as they fulfill certain passive income requirements.

A D7 visa is a dual-entry residency visa valid for four months, during which the applicant must request a residency permit to stay in Portugal. The first residence permit is issued for two years.

Once you acquire your residence permit, you can live, study, or work in Portugal without any restrictions.

After two years, the permit can be renewed for another three years. After which, you may apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship.

The D7 visa is an excellent option for investors, entrepreneurs, and retirees who want to establish long-term residency in Portugal and work toward citizenship.

Eligibility Requirements for the D7 Visa

To be eligible for the D7 visa, you must:

  • Be aged 18 or above
  • Be a non-EU/ EEA/ Swiss citizen.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Have health insurance
  • Demonstrate a minimum passive monthly income of €760.
  • Demonstrate a rental or purchase agreement.
  • Demonstrate a Portuguese bank account with at least €9,120 in savings

Some of the items mentioned above are not explicitly required by Portuguese law. However, in our experience, your inability to fulfill the above criteria may affect your application process.

Portugal CBD

Portuguese Citizenship by Descent (CBD)

If you have Portuguese parents or grandparent(s), you may be able to claim Portuguese citizenship by descent.

Acquiring Portuguese citizenship by descent is the cheapest and the most direct route to becoming a Portuguese citizen. We say direct because you won’t have to demonstrate any additional ties to the country, like an investment, company formation, or legal residence.

Is it easy to get Portuguese CBD, though? That depends.

In any CBD process, the burden of proof is on you. You’ll need to demonstrate birth certificates, marriage certificates, and any other documents the authorities deem necessary in the citizenship process.

The further up you go in your family tree, the harder it is to retrieve information or documents regarding your ancestors – especially if you’ve never set foot in Portugal.

That’s where we come in. At Nomad Capitalist, we help our clients reconnect with their roots through our exclusive Citizenship by Descent Plan. We deal with all the paperwork and the foreign authorities, so you don’t have to. If you have Portuguese origin, get in touch with us today.

Required Documents for Portuguese CBD

The documents required to apply for Portuguese CBD are the following:

  • Application form signed in the presence of Portuguese consulate official
  • Certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of Passport or other valid picture ID
  • Any relevant marriage certificate
  • Copy of birth certificate of both parents
  • Birth certificate of the Portuguese grandparent – if applicable
  • Birth certificate of the parent who is the child of the Portuguese grandparents – if applicable
  • Document proving that you speak Portuguese – if applicable
  • Criminal record certificate.

Portuguese Citizenship by Birth

Being born on Portuguese territory won’t qualify you for Portuguese citizenship automatically because Portuguese nationality law works on the principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood) rather than jus soli (right of soil).

People born in Portugal to foreign parents may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship if at least one of the parents has been a Portuguese resident for at least a year.

However, people born in Portugal to a Portuguese parent don’t have to apply for citizenship. They’ll get it automatically.

Portuguese Citizenship by Marriage

Portuguese Citizenship by Marriage

Portugal is one of the easiest countries to get citizenship by marriage. The country also recognizes long-term stable relationships, also known as a de facto union.

You can apply for Portuguese citizenship if you are married or in a long-term relationship with a Portuguese citizen for three years or longer.

The only essential requirement is to prove the duration of your marriage or partnership before submitting your citizenship application. The duration must be three years or longer.

You don’t have to live in Portugal for those three years. However, you must show ties to Portugal and the Portuguese community to qualify for citizenship. Some examples of ties to Portugal include having knowledge of the Portuguese language, Portuguese real estate ownership, etc.

Remember, just because you’re married to a Portuguese citizen doesn’t mean you’ll get citizenship.

In addition to Portuguese ties, you must prove the authenticity of your marriage or partnership. 

Expect to submit documents like a shared rental deed or purchase agreement, utility bills, etc.

Portuguese Citizenship by Sephardic Jewish Ancestry

Portuguese Citizenship by Sephardic Jewish Ancestry

A unique way to get Portugal citizenship is through Sephardic Jewish heritage, though obviously the criteria are quite specific. 

Here’s some context about this unique route: During the Inquisition period, thousands of Jews had to flee the Iberian Peninsula. Now, hundreds of years later, Portugal allows their descendants a chance to claim what could’ve rightfully been theirs – Portuguese nationality.

To claim Portuguese citizenship through this route, you must trace your family tree far enough to prove your Sephardic Jewish heritage.

You can prove so by presenting Sephardic surnames (in your family), cemetery records, or evidence of Ladino language being used in your family. The most crucial element is the certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community in Lisbon or Porto.

Per a 2022 amendment, you must also prove a deep and lasting connection with Portugal. You can do so in one of the following two ways:

  • Proof of personal (home) or professional base (company) in Portugal (mortis causa or otherwise)
  • You have traveled regularly to Portugal throughout your life.
Benefits of Acquiring Portuguese Citizenship by Descent

Benefits of Acquiring Portuguese Citizenship by Descent

Strong Passport

The Portuguese passport ranks fourth in the Nomad Passport Index thanks to its immense travel freedom, its stance on dual citizenship, tax-friendliness, and general perception.

Portugal citizens enjoy visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to 173 countries, making the Portuguese passport an excellent addition to your passport portfolio.

Business-Friendly Environment

Portugal has a vast consumer market, and the country offers investors and entrepreneurs a gateway to access regional markets, making it an excellent jurisdiction to plant a business flag.

Moreover, the EU is the world’s largest single market area, and Portuguese citizenship allows foreign nationals to access all its perks.

The larger cities in Portugal, especially Lisbon, are the ultimate start-up hub with plenty of co-working spaces and a business-friendly environment. Digital nomads and location-independent individuals from around the world visit Lisbon to network within the business community and grow their entrepreneurial activities in the EU.

Lucrative Tax Incentives

Standard tax rates in Portugal are progressive and can go up to 28% and 48% making Portugal a high-tax country. Portugal also taxes the worldwide income of its residents.

However, the country has an excellent tax scheme for foreigners looking to establish tax residency in Portugal – The Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) program.

By registering for the NHR program, foreign individuals can become Portuguese tax residents while legally reducing or eliminating their tax liabilities on most foreign-sourced income for ten years.

NHR holders can expect the following tax incentives:

  • No Taxes on foreign income (salaries, dividends, royalties, capital gains, rental income from foreign real estate, etc.)
  • Reduced flat tax rate of 20% on Portugal-sourced income of highly qualified individuals.
  • 10% tax on foreign-sourced pensions.
  • No gift, inheritance, or wealth tax.

For details, you can take a look at our article on how you can pay zero tax in Portugal as a Non-Habitual Tax Resident.

EU Member State

Portugal is an EU member state. Acquiring Portuguese citizenship means that you’ll also become an EU citizen. As an EU citizen, you can live, study, and work anywhere in the EU without any restrictions.

Once you get your Portuguese passport, there’s no need to be confined to Portuguese territory. You’re free to choose any EU jurisdiction that best suits your lifestyle.

EU Member State, Portugal

What are You Waiting For?

EU membership, political and economic stability, business-friendly environment, lucrative tax incentives, shortest naturalization period in the EU, and more, Portugal has it all.

If you have Portuguese roots, you can simply get our exclusive Citizenship by Descent Plan to acquire a Portuguese passport without dealing with any foreign authorities, legwork, or intensive research.

If not, you have a variety of residence permits to choose from that’ll offer a gateway to Portuguese citizenship after five years of legal residence.

The government recently discontinued the investors-favorite Portugal Golden Visa program almost abruptly. It goes to show how fast things can change in the RCBI world and the world in general.

If you are interested in what Portugal has to offer, get in touch with us today. You never know which perks won’t be available tomorrow.

How to Get Portuguese Citizenship in 2023: The Ultimate Guide FAQ

Does Portugal have a citizenship-by-investment program?

No, Portugal has several residency programs but not a citizenship-by-investment program. If you are looking for EU citizenship by investment we recommend Malta

What is the Personal Income Tax Rate in Portugal?

Portugal’s personal income tax rates are progressive, ranging from 14.5% to 48%.

What is the Corporate Tax Rate in Portugal?

Portugal’s headline corporate income tax rate is 21%.

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