How You Can Relocate to Portugal and Acquire Citizenship of the Country

If you live in a country with an uncomfortable political climate, corrupt government officials, and economic turbulence, you might want to relocate to a less troublesome place on the planet. If so, why don’t you consider Portugal – a quiet, sunny and prosperous European country? Portugal makes it possible for people from other countries to acquire legal residence there and even full citizenship after some time. Below we discuss the ways to legally relocate to Portugal and possibly stay there for good.

Wealthy people seem especially prone to replicating from one country to another. According to New World Wealth organization based in Johannesburg, around 108,000 dollar millionaires changed their countries of residence in 2020. This is 14% more than a year before and twice as many as in 2013.  

Obtain Portuguese citizenship

Millionaires often leave China and Russia, which is a well-known and understandable fact. However, such wealthy states as Great Britain, for instance, are also losing their rich ones. Around 3,000 millionaires left the UK last year. Possible reasons for that are Brexit and high taxes.  

Some wealthy individuals choose to relocate to Portugal, as it is quite possible to legalize your stay in the country. Besides, new tax residents of Portugal can enjoy certain tax incentives, which is highly attractive for rich people in particular.

What makes moving to Portugal even more tempting is the opportunity to become a European citizen by naturalization. Normally, you have to permanently reside in a European country for many years if you are to qualify for citizenship by naturalization there. Things are quite different in the case of Portugal, however. You can spend only thirty-five days in the country in total over a five-year period and this will make you eligible to apply for citizenship of an EU member state. Sounds fascinating, isn’t it?

There are several ways of acquiring legal residence in Portugal and citizenship of the country. Some take more time and are rather expensive, while others simply require a bit of luck. Please mind, however, that basic knowledge of the Portuguese language as well as the country’s history and culture is required if you plan to apply for citizenship.

Acquire legal residence in Portugal before applying for its citizenship

We must stress that if you have been convicted for a crime and served a prison sentence in Portugal or in any other country, you will not be eligible to apply for legal residence there. Besides, if you have been involved with terrorism financing or some financial crimes, you are not eligible for Portuguese residence either.

On the other hand, people of all nationalities can apply for legal residence in Portugal provided that they are law-abiding citizens of their home countries. So wherever you come from, legal residence and citizenship of Portugal is attainable for you.


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Portuguese residence/citizenship for those who have relatives in Portugal

One of the simplest ways to become a Portuguese is to demonstrate to the immigration authorities of the country that you have (or had) a relative who is (was) a citizen of Portugal. It can be one of your parents or one of your grandparents. Besides, couples who have adopted a Portuguese child will also qualify for legal residence in the country. If you were lucky to be born in Portugal, you also qualify.

If you don’t have any relatives in Portugal, you can marry a local person, which will also make you eligible for legal residence and then citizenship of the country. Your marriage will have to last for three years before you can apply for citizenship.  

Please bear in mind that a pro forma marriage to a Portuguese citizen may put you in a lot of trouble. When you are found out, you are likely to become a persona non grata in Portugal and this status will make travelling around Europe highly problematic for you.

In any of the cases described above, acquiring citizenship of Portugal will cost you 250 euros. It goes without saying that one of the conditions needs to apply to you beyond any doubt. If you do not have relatives in Portugal and if marrying a Portuguese person is out of the question, you have other options too! There are other ways to obtain Portuguese residence/ citizenship.

Portuguese residence/citizenship for descendants of Sephardi Jews

You are lucky if any of your ancestors were Sephardi Jews. You can think of yourself as a lottery winner. These ancestors of yours will make it a piece of cake to acquire Portuguese residence/ citizenship. Again, it is going to cost you only 250 euros.  

Many years ago, Sephardi Jews lived on the Iberian Peninsula, on the territory of Spain and Portugal. But at the end of the 15th century, this ethnic group was expelled from their lands.

Today, the Spanish and Portuguese authorities are trying to right the wrong by granting citizenship to the descendants of Sephardi Jews. So study your genealogical tree! If you find a Sephardi Jew among your ancestors, you can apply for legal residence in Portugal and then citizenship of the country! It is going to be easy for you to acquire a European passport.

Relocating to Portugal on a startup visa

The Portuguese Government stimulates the development of innovative technologies and supports research and development efforts. One of the incentives available to foreign business people in the country is the so-called Startup Visa.

A startup visa will give you important preferences if you are a foreign entrepreneur who wants to provide valuable services or produce some highly demanded innovative products. The incentives are available only to citizens of non-EEA countries.

Relocating to Portugal on a golden visa

There is one more immigration program in Portugal that does not require any luck but only money. You can legalize your stay in the country by obtaining an investor visa aka ‘golden visa’ to Portugal. You will qualify for legal residence there if you put a couple hundred thousand euros in real estate in the country or in some other types of assets.

For instance, you can invest half a million euros in any livable property to qualify for the golden visa. We must note at this point, however, that purchasing real estate in Lisbon, Porto, and the region of Algarve will not make you eligible for a golden visa beginning January 1, 2022.

On the other hand, if you choose to buy an old piece of property in Portugal (over 30 years of age) that needs repairs, you can qualify for a golden visa by bringing only three and a half thousand euros. If you decide to purchase property in the Portuguese countryside, the required investment amount is going to be even smaller.  

In addition to that, you can invest in other assets in Portugal to obtain a golden visa. Investing in solar energy or putting money in a venture fund will do, for example.

Spend five years in Portugal and become eligible for an EU passport

After holding a legal residence permit (a golden visa) for five years, you have the right to apply for full citizenship of Portugal. We would like to reemphasize the following fact: you do not have to live in Portugal all the year round to keep your golden visa. It is enough to spend 7 days a year in the country during the five years and this will do the trick. Have you been a golden visa holder for five years? You are welcome to apply for citizenship by naturalization! 

Needless to say, your five-year stay in Portugal has to be legal. Apart from golden visas, there are other types of residence permits in the country. For instance, a job contract can make you qualified for legal residence. In any case, when applying for citizenship of Portugal, you will have to supply a residence certificate that you can obtain from the local City Hall.

You also have to know that you have to pass a language test if you are to become a Portuguese citizen. For this reason, it would be wise to start learning Portuguese beforehand. The language is not too difficult to master but staying in Portugal for extended periods of time and talking to local people would certainly help you in this endeavor. You will have to demonstrate reading and writing skills too.

Learn basic facts about Portugal before applying for citizenship of the country

If you have made up your mind to relocate to Portugal and acquire citizenship of the country with time, you should learn some basic facts related to the Portuguese history, culture, and political order as there is going to be a test on that too.  

For practical purposes, you will be well-advised to acquaint yourself with the local ways of driving a car, for example, of consuming wine, of spending the leisure time, and other similar things. Find out how the healthcare system works, how you should go about paying the taxes, how you can set up a bank account in Portugal, and so on.

When you take the test, you may be asked what the most famous pastry in Portugal is (it is Pasteis de Belem) or what the most popular music group is (it is Dead Combo), etc. The Portuguese Prime Minister’s name is Antonio Costa and he is the head of the Government. The Portuguese President’s name is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and he is the head of the state. If you are asked where the best beaches in the world can be found, you should say ‘In Algarve’ without any hesitation.

You buy a return ticket when relocating to Portugal

The Portuguese legislation does not mind dual (triple, etc.) citizenship at all. You will not have to renounce citizenship of your home country when becoming a citizen of Portugal. This means that you can go back to where you came from at any point in time. No sanctions will be applied to you in Portugal whatsoever.

When you settle down in Portugal and start making friends with your neighbors, you may well run into a world-famous person. Such celebrities as Madonna, Michael Fassbender, and Scarlett Johansen, for instance, have residential accommodations in Portugal.  

If you are interested in the opportunity to relocate to Portugal in this or that way, please do not hesitate to contact us and ask us any questions that you want. We will be happy to help you find the optimal path to Portuguese legal residence/ citizenship. Please write to or use a messenger or our live chat to contact us. In any case, we will reply promptly!

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