Portuguese Citizenship for Sephardic Jews Descendants

Requirements and Procedure (2022)

The Law of Return

During the 15th and 16th centuries, a large number of Sephardic Jews were expelled from Portugal. However, many of the Sephardi Jews of Portuguese origin kept their language (Ladino), the rites of the Portuguese old Jewish cult, their family names, many objects and documents that can be used to demonstrate both their Portuguese origin and their solid historical relationship with the Portuguese people. The Sephardi Jews that were forced to abandon Portugal settled in many regions of the world, especially in Europe (Germany, Belgium, Croatia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, England), in the Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey) and the American continent (United States of America, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Curaçau, Suriname).

Against this historical background, on the 3rd of July 2013, the Portuguese Citizenship Act (Lei da Nacionalidade) was amended to allow the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship by the descendants of Portugal’s Sephardic Jews, the so-called Law of Return.

Who Can Apply?
Advantages of the Portuguese Citizenship
Why Portugal?
  • Pursuing your roots and embracing your family ancient traditions;
  • One of the strongest passports in the “Passport Index 2021” ranking – the Portuguese passport – which, in addition to free movement in the Schengen Area, allows entering in 159 countries without needing a visa
    • Countries to which you can travel without needing a visa: Albania, South Africa, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Byelorussia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Chile, Cyprus, Colombia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Equator, Fiji, Philippines, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guiana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Lesotho, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, Namibia, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Thomas and Prince, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Serbia, Swaziland, Togo, Taiwan, East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican e Venezuela. Countries to which you can travel and obtain a visa on arrival: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Camarones, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, and Zambia.

  • Right to live in any EU country: benefiting from the freedom of movement of persons and goods within the European Union, allowing to establish their residence in any of those countries;
  • Benefiting from the excellent relationship that Portugal has with all Official Portuguese-speaking countries;
  • Portugal allows dual citizenship;
  • Family reunification in the EU: Family members have the right to reside with the Portuguese wherever they live, either in Portugal or another country of the European Union.
  • And, have in mind, that if you opt for living in Portugal, we are:
    • Most welcoming country for expanding the world (InterNations™ Global Guide)
    • Best place in the world for remote working (Momondo™ Travel and Work index 2022)
    • 3rd safest country in the world (Global Peace Index™ 2021)
    • 4th strongest passport in the world (Global Passport Index™ 2021)
    • 7th on the 2021 EF™ English Proficiency Index;
    • 7th country with the best food in the world (USNEWS™ ranking)
    • 8th best football national squad in the world (FIFA™ ranking)
Requirements:
And, remember:
The procedure for obtaining Portuguese nationality for the descendants of Sephardic Jews

Our Law firm provides a full study of each case and legal assistance during the procedure until you get Portuguese Citizenship.

The procedure is divided into two stages:
Stage 1 – The Sephardi Ancestry Certificate

After reviewing your case, we will perform an internal pre-analysis and see if you have enough evidence to support success. If so, we will submit your application before one of the Jewish Communities of Portugal (Lisbon or Porto) – we will advise you the best Jewish Community for your case – to obtain a Sephardi Ancestry Certificate, attesting to the tradition of belonging, materialized specifically in the applicant’s surname, family language, genealogy, and family memory.

Please have in mind that the Porto Jewish Community only accepts applications from Practicing Jews, while Lisbon handles all the remaining cases.

Usually, we expect a pre-approval from the Porto Jewish Community roughly around 48 hours after the Lisbon Jewish Community roughly around 45 days after applying.

You will be asked to donate (Porto: 250€ – Lisbon: 500€) to the Jewish Community that will issue the Sephardi Ancestry Certificate. However, such donation will only be made after the Jewish Community certifies that your case is in the condition of being analyzed.

You can expect the Sephardi Ancestry Certificate to be issued within 15-60 days (Porto) and 90-180 days (Lisbon) – These time windows are not binding.

Stage 2 – Application for the Portuguese nationality before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice

We will assist you with all the documents that will be required, beside handling all the translations and notarization of documents issued by foreign Authorities.

We will also draft and submit your application, ensuring that there are no missing elements to your application (if an application is submitted with elements missing, a delay of, at least, 3 month, is expected). The application will be submitted in the Registry Office that is handling the procedures with more readiness.

We will collect your case number and access code, allowing you to track your application in real time, gaining instant updates on your citizenship application.

Once the Portuguese nationality is granted, we will collect and send you your Portuguese birth certificate, that is the legal document that ensures you are a full right Portuguese Citizen. With this document, you will be able to request, at the closest Consulate/Embassy, both you Portuguese Citizen Card and Passport.

FAQ

  1. You will not need to travel to Portugal, saving in travel expenses, as we will represent you before all Portuguese and Jewish authorities.
  2. We work with fixed/flat fees so you will not face any unexpected costs
  3. Our “law protection plan”, that ensures that your application will be submitted under the current law and will abide by such law until the end of the procedure.
  4. We have a experienced team (each of our lawyers have over 15 years of law practice) and already handled hundreds of Sephardi applications;
  5. We can also cover every other legal needs:
    • Real Estate Investments due diligence/conveyance;
    • Non habitual resident status (special tax regime);
    • Assistance in TIN/NIF assignments, Social Security and National Health Care enrollment, beside everything else to make your relocation smoother, if required.
    • Arbitration and Litigation.

Yes we can. All our clients benefit from our “law protection plan”, that ensures that the application will be submitted under the current law and will abide by such law until the end of the procedure.

The Portuguese legislation defines no deadline. However, on the past 11th of May 2020, the Partido Socialista (Governing Party) presented an amendment proposal at the Parliament in order to require 2 years of legal residency in Portugal in order to obtain the Portuguese Nationality through the Sephardic Regime. After some public discussion, such amendment proposal was changed and, currently, there is a amendment pending approval at the Portuguese Parliament to add another requirement to the Sephardi program: the effective connection with the Portuguese Community (the exact terms of this concept remain unprecise). Therefore, even if there is no amendament approved to the Law, it is 100% sure that the law will be changed, adding extra requirements to the Sephardi applicants. That is why we strongly suggest that the applications are made as soon as possible in order to avoid unpredicted surprises. It is the date of submission of the application that is most relevant. So, even if the Portuguese legislation changes, by implementing a short-term deadline, you will be able to take the benefit of applying for the Portuguese Passport. However, you can't apply before having the Sephardic Certificate issued by the Rabbinate so if you don't act quickly, you may have to face a change of the law while you are waiting for the Certificate and be unable to apply for the citizenship.

You can handle the process directly. However, this is a legally complex process and should be accompanied by a lawyer. Even the Jewish Communities recommend to have legal assistance, in order to prevent bureaucratic and legal issues.

The whole procedure will take place in Portugal. All administrative and judicial authorities use the Portuguese language. With the exception of lawyers established in other Member States of the European Union, lawyers not registered with the Portuguese Law Bar Association cannot practice law in Portugal. Surely a lawyer from your country of residence will act in partnership with a Portuguese lawyer. Therefore, you should ask yourself this question: why not hire a Portuguese lawyer and deal with everything directly with who will handle the process, suppressing middle men?

  • Sending of our documents check list and our procedures;
  • Drafting and sending the Power of Attorney so that you don’t have to travel to Portugal for such purpose;
  • Support in the obtention of documentation from you birth country (we partner with law firms in Israel and in several other Latin American countries);
  • Translation of official documents issued by the authorities of foreign countries to Portuguese;
  • Obtaining the official recognition of documents issued by foreign authorities by the Portuguese ones;
  • Requesting and accompanying the procedure for the obtention of the certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community (Lisbon or Porto) OR drafting and accompanying the procedure for the obtention of documents that are able to replace the Certificate of the Portuguese Jewish Community;
  • Preparation and monitoring of the application for the Portuguese Jewish Community Certificate (Lisbon or Porto) OR the preparation and monitoring of applications for the issuance of documents that replace – in the application for Portuguese Citizenship - the Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community;
  • Certification of all the necessary documents (including translations and notarizations) to submit the application for Portuguese Citizenship;
  • Drafting, submitting and follow up of the procedure for the concession of Citizenship;
  • Supplying the code for consulting the application online, 24/7/365.
  • In case of prompt refusal (by insufficiency of documents or other reason):
    • Analysis of the notification of refusal;
    • Support correcting the deficiencies highlighted and/or obtaining additional documents
  • In case of a final decision of no concession of the Portuguese Citizenship;
    • Analysis of the final notification of refusal
    • Submitting and following up the administrative or judicial appeal for the granting of the Portuguese Citizenship in the Administrative Court of Law

Yes, you can. The Law of Return is open to Jewish and non-Jewish people who can prove their Sephardic ancestry. The religion of the applicants does not matter; what matters is their Sephardic ancestry.

 

An applicant's first step towards Portuguese citizenship will be the acquisition from a Sephardic Jewish community, of a certificate of origin. This certificate attests to ties with a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin. Once obtained, the applicant should send the document to the Jewish community in either Porto or Lisbon.

The guarantee is given by the Portuguese laws that regulate the activity of lawyers and that regulate the judicial proceedings. Thus, the Lawyers have a duty of professional secrecy provided for in art. 92 of Law number 145/2015, of the 09th of September (Statute of the Law Bar Association), and the violation of this professional secrecy constitutes a crime punishable by imprisonment. The facts revealed by the Lawyer, in violation of professional secrecy, also constitute forbidden evidence in court, so the law prevents them from being used in court.

Also, have in mind:

The spouse and children of any new Sephardi Portuguese Citizens also have the right to become Portuguese Citizens too.

Contact us for more information.