Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin: Analysis of Decree Law 30A/2015.

portada nacionalidad portuguesa por origen sefardi analisis

In the past, we have discussed the procedure for obtaining Portuguese nationality by Sephardic originthe documents that are required, the most frequently asked questions that may ariseamong other issues; in this opportunity we will delve into the information and new discussions of the projects that are underway before the decree law 30A/2015.

Background of Decree Law 30A/2015

The Portuguese State is governed by Decree-Law no. No. 237-A/2006 as amended by Decree Law no. 237-A/2006 as amended by Decree Law no. 237-A/2006. º 43/2013 which contains the regulation for Portuguese nationality. This can be acquired through will, adoption and naturalization[1], however, in such regulations no special consideration was made for the granting of nationality taking into account factors such as origin, religion, among others.

Decree Law 30A/2015 aims to remedy a historical debt by vindicating the rights of the descendants of the Sephardic Jews expelled by the King of Portugal, Manuel I, as of 1496 for not having submitted to Catholic baptism. The exiled Jews continued “always united to the Iberian land and customs, and it is this heritage that, hundreds of years later, is claimed by their descendants”[2].

Object of Decree Law 30A/2015

The specific objective of the decree law is to allow the granting of Portuguese nationality through naturalization to Sephardic Jewish descendants. The regulation seeks to “reconnect Portugal with the traditional Sephardic communities of Portuguese origin, without requiring residence in the national territory or fluency in Portuguese”[3].


The application for Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin consists of two steps:

  1. A certificate of Sephardic ancestry must be presented, which must be issued by the Jewish communities of Oporto and/or Lisbon.
  2. The application for nationality before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, providing: Apostilled civil registry of birth, civil birth records or Birth or baptism certificates of the applicant’s parents, certificate of Sephardic origin, certificate of criminal record apostilled and translated into Portuguese, copy of passport[4].

The decree in question, unlike Law 12/2015 of Spain[5], did not establish an expiration date for the filing of applications, so that, in principle, at any time the interested party could initiate the proceedings.

Proposed amendments to Decree Law 30A/2015.

While it is true that Decree Law 30A/2015 has not been amended so far, it has been the subject of heated debates in the Portuguese Assembly where some amendment proposals have been presented to restrict the conditions for the granting of Portuguese nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews.

This debate has been generated, since some parliamentarians consider that the number of applications for Portuguese nationality due to Sephardic origin has been very high, and they also suspect that there are irregular business dealings with passports[6]. However, the Israelite community of Lisbon has called on the Portuguese authorities to review all their files and confirm the transparency of the nationality acquisition processes. Additionally, he defends the decree law 30A/2015 since “thanks to the Sephardic legislation, Portugal today has a positive perception by the Jewish communities around the world, that, in addition, to the positive repercussions on the flow of tourists from Israel to Portugal”[7].


The following is a brief description of the legislative proposals:

  1. The initial reform proposal was presented by the Socialist bench, which sought to add another requirement for the origin of Portuguese nationality. The wording of the rule would be as follows:

Nationality will be granted to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, through the demonstration of the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of links with Portugalespecially: surnames, family language, direct or collateral descendants, and that have been legally resident in Portugal for a period of two (2) years.

This proposal was quite controversial even within the Socialist party itself, former deputies such as José Vera Jardim, Manuel Alegre, Alberto Martins e Maria de Belém Roseira[9] pointed out that such a modification would represent in practice the revocation of decree law 30A/2015. Likewise, the PSD and CDS parties disagreed.

  1. Due to conflicts with the previous reform proposal, the Socialist party modified it in May of this year, eliminating the requirement of two years of residence in Portugal to obtain nationality. However, it “maintained the requirement of objective criteria of effective links with the country”.[10]. However, the proposed regulation does not specify what are the objective factors that prove a link with the country, however, an example could be to prove previous residence for two years in Portugal (although it is no longer mandatory) or to prove ownership of real estate in the country.
  2. On July 15 of this year, the Socialist Party withdrew the reform proposal mentioned in the previous paragraph, however, simultaneously, Congresswoman Constança Urbano de Sousa “announced a new amendment proposal that refers to the Portuguese Government the regulation of the requirement of the effective fulfillment of objective requirements of ties with Portugal by the descendants of Sephardic Jews”.[11]. In the initial vote, this proposal was approved by the Socialist party and the BE party; on the other hand, the PCP party voted against and the PSD party abstained.

This proposal is currently in force and in process.

  1. Finally, the PSD party proposed that candidates for Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin should be required to meet one of several legal requirements[12] such as “authorization of residence in national territory” “regular trips to Portugal” “ownership of more than three years of real estate in Portugal” “having rendered high services to the country or to the Portuguese people” among others. However, it was not well received in the initial vote and was “dropped”.

If you have any doubts about the procedures to obtain the Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin, we can help you. At Servicio Legal we are experts in immigration law and we will help you step by step to achieve your Portuguese nationality.

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[1] It can be consulted in the second section of the decree.

[2] See: https://expresso.pt/sociedade/2020-05-13-Cresce-movimento-contra-alteracao-da-lei-da-nacionalidade-de-judeus-sefarditas

[3] Ibid.

[4] See previous article: https://serviciolegal.com.co/derecho-migratorio/nacionalidad-portuguesa-por-origen-sefardi/

[5] Law 12/2015 of Spain ceased to be effective on October 01, 2019.

[6] See: https://rr.sapo.pt/2020/07/26/em-nome-da-lei/judeus-sefarditas-estado-portugues-acusado-de-fazer-negocio-a-custa-da-soberania/artigo/201456/. The controversy originated in the government itself, with the Minister of Foreign Trade and the head of Justice admitting business with Portuguese passports. Santos Silva even admitted in parliament that there are “black friday” campaigns that undermine the country’s international reputation”.

[7] See: https://rr.sapo.pt/2020/07/26/em-nome-da-lei/judeus-sefarditas-estado-portugues-acusado-de-fazer-negocio-a-custa-da-soberania/artigo/201456/

[8] See: https://tvi24.iol.pt/politica/nacionalidade-portuguesa/ps-muda-proposta-de-alteracao-a-lei-da-nacionalidade-sobre-judeus-sefarditas

[9] See: https://rr.sapo.pt/2020/07/23/informacao/esquerda-e-pan-alteram-lei-da-nacionalidade-filhos-de-imigrantes-garantem-cidadania-ao-fim-de-um-ano/noticia/201312/

[10] Consult at: https://tvi24.iol.pt/politica/nacionalidade-portuguesa/ps-muda-proposta-de-alteracao-a-lei-da-nacionalidade-sobre-judeus-sefarditas.

[11] Consult at: https://portocanal.sapo.pt/noticia/228888

[12] Ibid.