Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin

portada nacionalidad portuguesa por origen sefardi

Throughout human history, we have seen countless cases of oppression and violation of people’s rights. In this specific case, the Jewish people are those who have suffered the most from this violation: history is full of cases of exile and persecution, and to this day, they are still trying to repair the damage caused.

One of these measures of historical reparation with the Jewish people is the issuance of decrees and laws in Spain and Portugal, which allow the descendants of Sephardic Jews to acquire the nationality of that country, regardless of whether or not they reside in the requesting country.

In Spain, this claim of the Sephardic people has presented great obstacles that prevented the corresponding application, leaving out a large number of people who wanted to acquire Spanish nationality by Sephardic origin.

On the other hand, Portugal offered its own Decree-Law, which allowed the descendants of Sephardic Jews to acquire Portuguese nationality in a much simpler and more accessible way for people.

On this occasion we want to talk about what is the law to obtain the Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin, what documentation is required and what is the deadline to apply for this law.

A bit of the history of the Sephardic people

Sephardic means “Hispania”, which is why this term was used to refer to the Jews who resided in the territories of the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the expulsion of the Jews residing in the Iberian Peninsula and Spain. In response, many Jews converted to Catholicism to avoid expulsion, while others fled the territory.

In view of the strong wave of migration, the King of Portugal, Manuel I, issued a law protecting all Jews escaping from the Iberian territory, but later, in 1497, the same king ordered the expulsion of all Sephardic Jews who did not convert to Catholicism.

In view of this, at present, both countries, made decrees and laws, which sought to return the nationality to the descendants of Sephardic Jews.

In Spain, the transitional law 12/2015 was created on June 24, which, within a period of 3 years, being able to be extended for up to one year, allowed the descendants of Sephardic Jews in the world to apply for Spanish nationality.

This law presented great flaws for its application, they were required to have a command of Spanish and cultural knowledge of the country, in addition, the high costs of the procedure made it almost impossible for the vast majority to be able to acquire such nationality.

For its part, Portugal issued Decree-Law 30A/2015, which allowed Sephardic Jewish descendants around the world to apply for Portuguese nationality, which, unlike the Spanish law, is much more accessible and without presenting so many obstacles in its process.


What are the differences between the laws of Spain and Portugal?

  1. Portuguese Decree-Law 30A/2015 does not have an expiration date, unlike Spanish Law 12/2015, which ceased to be rigorous on October 1, 2019.
  2. Portuguese Decree-Law 30A/2015 does not require a person to submit Portuguese language or cultural exam to apply for nationality.
  3. The person interested in applying for this decree-law is not required to travel to Portugal to sign the notary deed, this process can be done by proxy.
  4. The Decree-Law does not grant citizenship to minor children born before the Sephardic parent obtained Portuguese nationality.

What is the procedure to apply for Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin?

According to Decree-Law 30A of 2015; the person of Sephardic origin who carries out the application procedure for Portuguese nationality must:

  • 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 had residence (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 accrediting Sephardic origin).
  • The application for nationality before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, providing:
    1. Apostilled birth certificate.
    2. Civil birth records or birth or baptismal certificates of the applicant’s parents.
    3. Certificate of Sephardic origin.
    4. Certificate of criminal record apostilled and translated into Portuguese.
    5. Copy of passport.
  • Proof of payment of the fees corresponding to the procedure, which corresponds to 250 Euros (Two Hundred and Fifty Euros); that is, approximately $1,097,000 (One Million Ninety Seven Thousand Pesos).

Important: When the application is not submitted directly by the interested party; a power of attorney must be added, in order to validate the performance of the person in charge of carrying out the procedure.

The duration for this procedure is determined between 1 and 2 years, depending on the demand of applications submitted. Once a favorable response is obtained from the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, it is essential to register the date of birth in the Portuguese Civil Registry, as well as the issuance of the respective passport.


According to reports presented by the Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Service, 41,324 applications for nationality were submitted, of which 70% are of Sephardic origin, that is, 33,000, of which 10,000 have already been approved; on the other hand, there are 16% of applications for marriage or de facto unions and 9% for children born abroad.

As a consequence of the above, it has been possible to determine that the largest number of applications by Sephardic origin are submitted by countries such as Brazil and Israel, who have had an increase with respect to the applications that were submitted in previous years, before the modification of the nationality law in 2015; hence, the following distribution was seen for the year 2019:







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Simultaneously, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, has determined that by 2020, 153,774 applications for nationality have been filed in Portugal since the entry into force of Decree-Law 30A of 2015, of which 15,688 were approved worldwide; likewise, in Latin America, Colombia, has been the second country that has processed the most applications for nationality by Sephardic origin during the period 2015-2020, with a total of 8,388, of which 1,274 obtained favorable concept.

Current Discussion in the Portuguese Parliament

Regarding Portugal’s current regulations, different debates have been generated in both the political and social spheres, with the aim of determining the feasibility of implementing new conditions for acquiring the nationality of this country; according to the proposals submitted, the changes would be in force as of January 2022.

According to the above mentioned, it would be sought that people interested in acquiring Portuguese citizenship have some link with the country, such as:

  • Residence for at least two years in Portugal
  • Knowledge of the language

As of April 2021, a bill is still pending that would reform the requirements initially established in the Portuguese nationality legislation.

Portuguese Nationality Advantages

Finally, it is important to establish some of the existing benefits at the moment of being granted Portuguese nationality, considering that this country belongs to the European Union:

  • Right of access to the Education and Health systems of the European Union.
  • Freedom of movement of people, goods and services in the territory.
  • Dual nationality (when the country of origin allows it).
  • Residing, Investing, Studying or Working in Portugal or any other European country.
  • The Portuguese passport allows entry to 83 countries without the need to acquire a Visa.

In a nutshell

Thanks to Decree-Law 30A/2015, Colombians who have Sephardic Jewish descent, and this can be proven, have the right to acquire Portuguese nationality, by presenting a series of documents.

This process is quite simple and, financially speaking, quite affordable. If you have any doubts about the procedures required to acquire the Portuguese nationality by Sephardic origin, we can help you. At Servicio Legal we are experts in immigration law and we will help you in every step of acquiring your Portuguese nationality.

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