There have been recent changes to Portugal’s Law of Nationality by the Portugal parliament. The parliament approved the specific changes on 23 July 2020 and can be found in the Law 37/81 of October 3rd. The primary purpose of this new Portuguese Nationality Law was to ease the process of obtaining Portuguese citizenship and it applies to children of residence permit holders and second-degree descendants of citizens. 

In this article, we’ll cover how the new Portuguese Nationality Law 2020 changes affect the following: 

  • Children of Portuguese residents
  • Spouses of Portuguese residents
  • Second-degree descendants of Portuguese citizens
  • FAQs


Children of Portuguese Residents

The children of Portuguese residents are eligible to obtain Portuguese citizenship. However, before this new law was passed, both parents needed to hold residence permits. New amendments now change this rule. It is now sufficient if one of the parents has a residence permit for at least one year. As long as this is followed, the children born in Portugal can directly acquire Portuguese citizenship. 

More information on the changes to birthright citizenship can be found here


Spouses of Portuguese Citizens

Portugal has simplified the pathway to citizenship for spouses of Portuguese citizens. Before these changes came into play, the spouse could only apply for naturalization after three years of marriage or civil union. In addition to this, they would have to prove an adequate connection to Portugal, such as knowledge of the Portuguese language. Under the new changes, if the couple has children born in Portugal, the three-year requirement is waived. In this case, the spouse can directly apply for Portuguese citizenship. 

What’s more, in the previous version of the law, the Public Prosecutor’s Office was able to oppose the citizenship application if there were ineffective connections between the application and the country. Now, if the marriage is longer than six months, the Public Prosecutor’s Office cannot interfere with the citizenship application. Also, if the couple has children who are Portuguese citizens, then the Pubic Prosecutor cannot interfere and there is no ground for opposition. 


Second-Degree Descendants of Portuguese Citizens

The Portuguese Law permits second-degree descendants in a straight line of Portuguese citizens to apply for Portuguese nationality. This amendment specifically refers to the grandchildren of Portuguese citizens, whereby it is easier for them to be granted citizenship. The effective connection to Portugal can be shown simply by showing sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language. Prior to this, descendants had to also prove extensive effective connections with the country. In essence, if the second-degree descendent is able to prove that they are proficient in Portuguese, then they are able to obtain Portuguese citizenship. 

This update made in July 2020 simplifies the process for a second-degree descendant of a Portuguese citizen to become a Portuguese national, under the Portugal law of nationality changes. Indeed, this new version of the Law 37/8 offers great opportunities for second-degree descendants. 

Frequently asked questions about the New Portuguese Nationality Law:

How long does it take to become a citizen of Portugal?

After five years of living in the country, you can apply for permanent residence, and subsequently citizenship, through citizenship by naturalization. If you are married to a Portuguese national, you can apply for citizenship after three years. However, under the new amendments to the law, if your spouse is Portuguese and you have a child in Portugal, then you can apply directly for citizenship. 

Who is eligible for a Portuguese passport?

Under the New Portuguese Nationality Law 2020, children of Portuguese residents are able to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Second-degree descendants will only have to show that they are proficient in the Portuguese language and, if your spouse is Portuguese and you have a child in Portugal, then you can apply directly for citizenship. 

How can I get Portuguese citizenship?

There are various ways to get Portuguese citizenship. A popular route is the Portugal Golden Visa residency-by-investment program. This enables you to gain permanent residence in the country for a significant investment in Portugal’s economy. Investments can be made into real estate, an investment fund, to the national heritage of Portugal, amongst other routes. After five years, you are able to apply for citizenship by investment.

Aside from this, if you live in Portugal, you can apply for permanent residency and subsequently citizenship after five years. If you marry a Portuguese national, you can secure citizenship after three years. 

Can I have gma3 citizenship in Portugal?

Portugal allows dual citizenship, allowing foreigners to obtain Portuguese nationality without the need to give up the citizenship of their home country. You will first, however, need to make sure your home country also permits dual citizenship.