Changes in obtaining Portuguese nationality due to Sephardic origin?

portada cambios en la nacionalidad portiguesa

Recently, rumors have been heard about some possible changes in the obtaining of Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin, today we are going to discuss these modifications that this process could undergo, and when they would be coming into force, but first it is necessary to give a little context.

How did it originate?

In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the expulsion of the Jews residing in the Iberian Peninsula, leading them to hide in the New World as Christian converts to avoid the Inquisition.

In order to settle this historical debt, both Spain and Portugal offered the opportunity to acquire the nationality of their countries to the descendants of those Sephardic Jews expelled from their homes.

Spain, on the one hand, set a deadline for the application of this process, which was initially until 2020, but applications were allowed to be submitted until 2021.

On the other hand, Portugal, issued Decree Law 30A/2015, which allowed the descendants of Sephardic Jews, to acquire Portuguese nationality, in a much simpler and more accessible way than Spain, and as if that were not enough the application of this would be given indefinitely. Therefore, to apply for nationality by Sephardic origin it is sufficient to:

  • Be of legal age.
  • Not having had a sentence of 3 years or more, for the commission of a crime, in any of the countries in which he/she has resided (The background certificate cannot exceed 90 days from the date of issuance).
  • Proof of descent from a person of Sephardic origin (Certificate given by the community of Oporto or Lisbon proving this).
  • The application for nationality before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice.

At the present time

And, as a consequence of this, an immense number of applicants has been observed, some 20,892 descendants of Jews obtained Portuguese nationality in 2020, that is, an average of 57 new Portuguese per day, being rejected only about 0.6% #1.

This has caused some sectors of society to be in favor of changes in obtaining Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin and to tighten them, imposing as a requirement to demonstrate a connection with Portugal.

The great debate has been on how to demonstrate this connection, many people have given various solutions, among these we find the socialist party, the bench of the aforementioned party proposed that this be demonstrated with 2 years of residence in Portugal, a condition that, in the eyes of the majority, is too strict, so it did not receive the necessary support for approval.

What has been done about this issue?

Today, the draft decree-law 955 XXII 2021 suggests changes in the acquisition of Portuguese nationality, putting numerous requirements for the process of Portuguese nationalization, including for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin.

The articles that modify this obtaining of nationality are aimed at ensuring that these new Portuguese nationals have a connection with the Portuguese country, the possible proofs of the mentioned connection could be:

  • Ownership of rights in rem over real estate located in Portugal.
  • Regular trips to Portugal.
  • To have commercial or cooperative relations with organizations of the Portuguese society.
  • And/or knowledge of the Portuguese language.

These requirements would be added as such for obtaining the certification of Sephardic origin granted by the Jewish communities in Portugal, being these the ones that would have the duty to observe the fulfillment of the specific requirement.

Finally, it will be up to the executive to define how the effective connection with Portugal will be demonstrated, and it may be only one of the options mentioned above or even one that we have not mentioned.

cambios en la nacionalidad portiguesa

In the same vein, it is also unknown whether this connection will be mandatory or simply an alternative to obtain the specific certificate, so it could be an additional criterion to take into account in the application for the certificate of Sephardic origin.

Or it could even maintain the current state of affairs, because it would be possible that the Israeli communities in Portugal interpret the donation that is currently required to access the process of obtaining the certificate, as a cooperative relationship with an organization of the Portuguese society, this interpretative difficulty has not yet been clarified, so whatever the case may be, it is still too early to point out concrete changes and their possible consequences.

What to expect in the future?

For the moment, what is known is that these new changes have not yet reached the presidential office, and that it is still subject to changes, after the approval of this and the subsequent promulgation in the official gazette, this new legislation would enter into force on the 15th of the month following its publication, so that all those who have already submitted their application to any of the Israeli communities in Portugal will not be affected by these changes, nor will those who submit their application before the amendment in question comes into force.

In conclusion

The new proposal for changes in obtaining Portuguese nationality was submitted to the Portuguese Government, which will be in charge of regulating the effective fulfillment of objective requirements of ties with Portugal.

At the moment, it is not possible to say how relevant these changes will be, but it is it is advisable to start the process as soon as possibleThe changes could also generate an increase in costs, or even make it difficult and impossible for some to obtain Portuguese nationality through this route.


The deadline was three months, but the government a year ago regulated the nationality of descendants of Sephardic Jews – CNN Portugal (