How to Get Dual Citizenship in Portugal

Does Portugal recognize dual citizenship? This question is very popular among expats who're dreaming of making this warm European state their second homeland. The answer is positive! Foreigners from many countries are allowed to become Portuguese citizens without sacrificing their original nationality. In this overview, we'll explain what exactly you can do to achieve this goal.

Who Has the Right to Apply for Dual Citizenship

Does the US allow dual citizenship with Portugal? Can I have a Portuguese and British passport simultaneously? Yes, these English-speaking countries don't mind dual citizenship.

Austria, Japan and the Netherlands are among the countries that fail to support dual citizenship. It doesn't matter whether you want a passport from Portugal, China, Egypt, or any other state.

Germany can serve as an example of a country that is not too straightforward in this aspect. On the one hand, it prohibits dual citizenship. On the other hand, selected individuals might obtain a personal permit from the government as an exception.

Please check the laws of your homeland. Even if they don't allow dual citizenship, you always have a right of acquiring the Portuguese one after renouncing the one that you already have. Foreigners usually do so for the sake of the climate and access to the social, cultural, legal and economic benefits of the European Union. Plus, Portugal has been striving to create a thriving environment for entrepreneurs.

Requirements

The Portuguese law dual citizenship relies on five pillars:

  • Ancestry

  • Naturalization

  • Marriage

  • Investment

  • Adoption

To apply for a passport of Portugal, it's necessary to meet at least one of these requirements:

  • Have at least one parent or grandparent who holds citizenship of this country.

  • Legally spend at least five years in the territory of this state (this is called "naturalization").

  • Tie the knot with a Portuguese citizen or be involved in a romantic relationship with them for over three years and be able to confirm this with documents.

  • Invest in the local economy.

  • Be legally adopted by a Portuguese citizen.

To meet the last requirement from this list, an individual needs to be aged younger than 18. In all the other cases, it's mandatory to come of age.

Paperwork

The exact set of documents to prepare might vary depending on the ground for applying for citizenship. Typically, it includes:

  • Passport

  • Birth certificate

  • Birth certificate of your Portuguese mother, father, grandmother or grandfather

  • Information about your job and sources of income

  • Details of the current residence permit and all the previous ones that you've ever held

  • Proof of language proficiency

  • Proof of the fact that you've always been law-obedient

  • Proofs of having paid all the fees involved

It's crucial to open an account in a local banking institution and get a tax number (NIF).

It's okay if the papers are in English. Just don't forget to get the apostille.

Ways of Applying for Portuguese Dual Citizenship

In this article, we won't focus on the rather straightforward case of getting married to a local.

Let's start with the options that only selected expats can resort to.

You can't expect to become a Portuguese citizen simply because you were born here. But if your mother or father became Portuguese residents at least 12 months before giving birth to you, you'll be granted citizenship.

If your mother, father, grandmother or grandfather were Portuguese, your birthplace doesn't matter. It's enough to have one ancestor who holds or held citizenship of this country and prove it with documents. Then, you'll step on the shortest path to getting citizenship.

If your great-grandfather was from Portugal, this might fail to bring the coveted citizenship to you. Try to explore your family tree further. Was any of your ancestors a Sephardic Jew? If yes, you'll get the citizenship almost just as promptly as if your mom were from Lisbon.

Here are the signs that can confirm your Sephardic Jewish roots:

  • Evidence that your ancestors used to speak the Ladino language

  • Cemetery records

  • Sephardic surnames

  • Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish community

Consider hiring a professional genealogist to help you with research.

In the past, Portugal used to have a lot of colonies that were scattered all around the world. These include Brazil, Angola and Macau — around a dozen territories in total. If you have links to any of them, you may discuss your situation with a lawyer who specializes in this topic. After spending considerable time in the status of a metropolitan state, Portugal decided to reward the residents of its former colonies with its citizenship. However, there is no 100% success guarantee. Each case is individual.

If neither adoption nor ancestry can help you, opt for the investment path. First, it's essential to get a visa that would grant you long-term residency.

If you get regular passive income from abroad, consider applying for a D7 visa. Initially, it was conceived for retirees who'd like to live in a warm climate. Today, the target audience of this document includes people of all ages who get royalties, rental income, dividends or salaries from organizations that are registered outside Portugal. The minimum required amount of monthly income is €705, which is ridiculously low by European standards. The higher your passive income, the better your odds of getting your visa and, ultimately, citizenship approved.

Those who'd love to launch a business in Portugal should apply for the D2 visa whose target audience is entrepreneurs. The most challenging part will be to prove the viability of your business idea and explain how the local society and economy will benefit from it.

If your business will be backed up by scientific research, the HQA visa might be the best solution. This acronym stands for "highly qualified activity". To obtain this type of permit, it's necessary to:

  • Launch a research project in a local university.

  • Invest €175,000 or more in it.

  • Register a local business that will benefit from the research.

Busy expats don't need to handle such an endeavor themselves. They can hire a third-party professional to supervise their HQA project. They won't need to stay in Portugal for any predetermined time period.

The HQA visa is something in between its D7 counterpart and the Golden Visa. Its primary merit consists in the fact that it's approved within one month, which is exceptionally fast.

After you get your long-term residence permit, be ready to wait for at least five years to apply for citizenship. During this period, it's important to remain law-obedient and timely pay your local taxes.

Besides, you can become a student in Portugal to get a long-term visa. If your educational program lasts less than five years, think of opportunities to stay in the country longer to become eligible for naturalization.

Citizenship in Exchange for Investments

Well-off foreigners can invest a large sum of money in this country, get a long-term residence permit and apply for citizenship in five years.

Here are the key numbers to remember for those who're planning to invest in property:

Minimum investment threshold

Property requirements

€280,000

Was erected over three decades ago, requires rehabilitation and is located in an area with low population density

€350,000

Situated in a rehabilitation zone

€500,000

Situated anywhere except for Lisbon, Porto and other territories that were exempt from the program (such areas are densely populated and attract a lot of tourists)

SInce 2022, Portugal has excluded residential properties in Lisbon, Porto and coastal areas from the Golden Visa programme. However, it is still possible to get one if you buy commercial properties such as a hotel unit or a supermarket in the capital, Porto or any other city you like.

The cheapest type of property might seem the most appealing variant. However, the selection of properties that meet the legal requirements is limited. You can't choose any random old building that you fancy. If you lack experience in property rehabilitation, such an asset might incur considerable losses for you.

The good news is that both residential and commercial properties qualify for the Golden Visa. In the commercial sector, hotels generate the highest demand. After you finalize the purchase, you can either use the property for yourself or rent it out.

Some expats aren't planning to relocate to Portugal and don't need to purchase a house or apartment here. They can consider these investment variants:

Sum to invest

What to invest in

€500,000

Local VC or private equity investment fund

€350,000

Scientific research

€250,000

Culture, art or national heritage

€1.5 million

Not invest but keep on your account in a local banking institution

The most affordable variant from this table is used extremely rarely. Expats aren't allowed to invest in a random object or project that they like. The process of picking such a project and completing all the procedures takes too much time and effort.

All the other options from the table might enable you to get dual citizenship faster than buying real estate.

Another way out is to register a local business. If it's located in a territory with low population density, it's crucial to create at least 5 job places. Otherwise, a minimum of 10 job places are required.

It's vital to finalize the process of purchasing real estate, investing funds or opening a business before applying for the Golden Visa.

After you get this document, you won't be forced to spend a lot of time in this country. It's ok to stay for just one week per year here to qualify for citizenship. If you prefer to relocate here immediately after getting the visa, you have the full right of doing so.

How to Apply for Dual Citizenship

On the territory of Portugal, you can submit an application to one of these offices and organizations:

  • Institute of Registers and Notary

  • National Support Center for the Integration of Migrants

  • Citizen Shop

Alternatively, consider applying to a Portuguese consulate or embassy in your homeland.

The laws of many countries require people to inform the government of their homeland about the fact of getting a second citizenship. If this is your case, make sure to fulfill this requirement within the legal time frame.

Expenses

Typically, the application fee ranges from €200 to €250. It's free if you're adopted or confirm that your parents or grandparents are of Portuguese nationality.

The cost of taking the language exam is around €70.

When applying for a Portuguese passport locally, expect to pay roughly €65 for this document. The price will be higher for those who apply from abroad or require fast-track services.

Taxation

Are you planning to spend at least 183 days per year in Portugal? If yes, be ready to pay the taxes locally. If not, you'll be required to pay most of your taxes in your homeland. Only the income that you get from a Portugal-based business or assets will be taxed in this state. Plus, you'll need to pay the tax for the property that you own here.

Some countries haven't signed the double tax treaty with Portugal. If your place of residence is one of them, you might have to pay taxes in both states.

Other countries enable their citizens to avoid double taxation and get a tax refund in their homeland for the tax that they pay in Portugal.

Language Test

It's enough to confirm that you know Portuguese at the basic conversational level. It's not mandatory to get a high score — 55% is sufficient.

The exam lasts two hours. Your goal is to showcase proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Those who tick at least one of these boxes can do without the test:

  • Are aged over 60

  • Are illiterate, handicapped or face severe health issues

  • Come from a Portuguese-speaking territory

  • Have a Portuguese spouse

  • Have spent at least five years in this country

  • Have a document that proves their language proficiency at a level that is higher than the test requires

Individuals with special needs or learning difficulties, as well as girls and boys aged younger than ten, are allowed to pass a simplified test.

Attention: individuals who apply for the Golden Visa don't need to pass the test if they're not planning to relocate to Portugal permanently. But if they're planning to stay here for at least half a year annually, it's impossible to skip the exam.

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