Portugal is a popular destination for those looking for a new country to call home.

The year-round warm climate, gorgeous landscapes, stunning wines, and unique culture make it an attractive choice for anyone. Plus, as a modern country at the heart of the EU, it caters brilliantly to those seeking a life of luxury (see our guide to luxury living in Portugal).

There are even relatively simple options for moving to Portugal. The country’s Golden Visa program is one of the best options. Alongside a host of other benefits, it provides easy access to the EU, although it does require a minimum investment of 500,00 Euros in a private equity fund. Alternatively, Portugal’s D7 visa, for those with a passive income, is another fast and common route into the country.

But how can you take the next step and gain Portuguese citizenship? What routes are available to you and your family? And what are the benefits of citizenship?

We’ll explain all in this guide. And if you’re interested in moving to Portugal, then our team of international experts are on hand to provide advice on all aspects of citizenship in Portugal and worldwide. You can contact us for a free consultation.

What Are The Benefits Of Portuguese Citizenship?

The benefits of Portuguese citizenship include:

  • The right to live, work and study in Portugal, and anywhere in the EU
  • Visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to many countries around the world, making international travel easier and more accessible
  • Political stability and high quality of life
  • Relatively low cost of living compared to other Western European countries
  • A high standard of public healthcare
  • Excellent educational facilities with access to highly regarded universities and the advantage of lower EU tuition fees
  • Portugal allows dual citizenship, meaning you can retain your original nationality while enjoying the benefits of Portuguese citizenship.
  • Citizenship offers foreign nationals the chance to retire to a warm, safe, and welcoming country
  • There are beneficial tax arrangements for NHRs (non-habitual residents)

How To Get Portuguese Citizenship

There are several ways an individual can gain citizenship in Portugal. Generally, they must fulfil one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Through birth – if they were born in Portugal, even if their parents were/are not Portuguese citizens; or if they were born in Portugal to foreign parents but one parent has been a legal resident of Portugal for a year
  • Through descent – if they were born in another country but have a parent or grandparent who has or qualifies for Portuguese citizenship
  • Through citizenship by acquirement. Those who qualify under this criteria include:
    • An underage or incapacitated child of someone who has acquired Portuguese citizenship
    • The spouse (or partner of at least three years duration) of a legal Portuguese resident
    • An individual who has been legally resident in Portugal for five years
    • An individual who is under 18 years of age and has completed at least one full school year of education in Portugal or who has one parent who has been legally resident in Portugal for the last five years at the time of the application
    • A person born in Portugal who has had legal residency for five years, providing that at least one parent had legal residency in Portugal at the time the child was born
    • Sephardi Jews whose ancestors were Portugese Sephardi Jews
  • Through marriage (or partnership) – there has to be proof that the marriage or partnership is of at least three years duration. If this is proven, the spouse or partner does not have to wait the full five years for citizenship.
  • Through investment under Portugal’s Golden Visa program, leading to citizenship in five years
  • Through the D7 Residence Visa, leading to a full residency and then to citizenship in five years
  • NB: If the applicant is not from the EU or Switzerland and does not have a Golden Visa, they will need to show that they:
    • have not been convicted of a crime that is liable to receive a prison sentence of more than one year
    • they have sufficient financial means to support themselves
    • they have a place to live in Portugal, and
    • they can pass a basic language test

How Long Does The Application Process Take?

Portugal has one of the fastest residency application processes in Europe, with approval generally being granted within 90 days.  The residence permit can be applied for remotely.  The residency has to be renewed every five years.

When Would Citizenship of Portugal Be Granted?

Citizenship can be granted after five years of residence.

Is There A Requirement To Live In Portugal?

Portugal has low requirements for residency in the country.  The applicant would need to stay for 7 days during the first year of residency and 14 days during the subsequent two years.  The residency can be cancelled if the holder does not visit the country for two consecutive years or is absent for 30 non-consecutive months in a five-year period, subject to certain exemptions, for example if the person goes back to their home country for work, cultural, social or entrepreneurial reasons.  Our team at Astons can advise you on all of these requirements.

What Is The Golden Residence Program and What Are The Requirements of Citizenship By Investment in Portugal?

  • There is a range of investment opportunities under the Golden Residency (or Golden Visa) program.  The minimum investment is 500,000 Euros in private equity.
  • The investment has to be kept for a minimum of 6 years but can be sold after this time.
  • Another investment option is to start a business employing at least ten Portuguese people
  • The Golden Visa is renewable every two years
  • Non-European Golden Visa holders, after having Golden Visa residency for five years, can continue to renew their Golden Visa every two years, regardless of whether they have passed the language test.  Once they do pass the language test they can apply for the Golden Visa Permanent Residency and/or apply for Portuguese Citizenship.

What Are The Requirements For Golden Visa Permanent Residency Or Citizenship?

In order to qualify for Golden Visa Permanent Residency or citizenship the applicant will need to demonstrate:

  • That they still hold the investment that they got as a condition of the Golden Visa
  • That they have fulfilled the minimum stay requirements
  • That during their five years of residency they have not been convicted of a crime punishable by more than 1 year’s imprisonment
  • That they have proof that they have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • That they have passed the language test

What Is the D7 Visa?

The Portuguese D7 Visa  (or Portugal Passive Income Visa) is a visa for non-Portugese-nationals and non-EU/EAA/Swiss nationals who have a passive income, and provides an entry facility for them to apply for permanent residency.  The visa is valid for one year and can subsequently be renewed for successive two-year periods.  After five years this can then be converted into a permanent residency or citizenship.

Although the D7 visa is for people with a passive income, the residence visa would not prevent the person from having a professional income.

Applicants have to prove that they have sufficient income to support themselves.  These funds can include income from pensions, investments and property rentals.

The deadline for a decision on whether to grant a D7 visa is usually within 60 days.

The family of the person granted the D7 visa is also entitled to a residence permit under the country’s family reunification laws. In addition, the D7 visa entitles the holders to a 10-year income tax break.

The process for obtaining the visa is faster and cheaper than that for a Golden Visa and is therefore a good alternative for people who qualify and want to live in Portugal.

Once issued, the D7 visa provides the main benefits of residency in Portugal:

  • The right to live and work in Portugal
  • The right to travel freely within Portugal and to have visa-free travel to all the countries in the Schengen area
  • The tax benefits of having the option to become a “non-habitual resident” of Portugal for tax purposes, ie very little and in some cases no tax on foreign-sourced income, whether from pensions, dividends, interests, royalties or real estate
  • Access to other rights of residency: education, healthcare, social security, trade unions and the protection of Portuguese law.

Astons can give fast, up-to-date and comprehensive advice and help during the entire process of gaining Portuguese residency and citizenship. Contact our friendly team of experts for a free consultation.