PORTUGAL CITIZENSHIP FOR DESCENDANTS OF SEPHARDIC JEWS - IN 2020
About the Portuguese Sephardic Jews Law - Ministry of Justice Decree-Law No 30-A / 2015, Feb. 27
The designation of Sephardic Jews refers to the descendants of the ancient Jews and traditional Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula. The presence of these communities in the Iberian Peninsula is very old, and even before the formation of the Iberian Christian kingdoms, as was the case with Portugal.
Given that these Jewish communities, from the late fifteenth century and after the Alhambra Edict of 1492, been the object of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition, many of its members took refuge then in Portugal.
Persecution and Expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Portugal
However, King Manuel, who had initially issued a law that guaranteed their protection, he ordered the expulsion of all Sephardic Jews that did not apply to the Catholic baptism. Thus, many Sephardic Jews were expelled from Portugal in the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century.
In general, these peninsular Jews settled in countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey as well as in parts of North Africa and later in American territories, including Brazil, Argentina , Mexico and the United States of America (USA).
Despite the persecution and expulsion of their ancestral territory have, many Sephardic Jews of origin portuguese and their descendants kept not only the Portuguese language, but also the traditional rites of the ancient Jewish worship in Portugal, saving over generations their surnames, objects and documents proving their Portuguese origin, along with a strong memorial relationship that leads them to qualify themselves to themselves as “Portuguese Jews ‘or’ Jews of the Portuguese Nation”.
During the period of the Inquisition many of these New-Christians and Portuguese Jews managed to escape the kingdom. They established highly reputed and notable synagogues, such as the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, the Synagogue Shearith Israel in New York, the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, the Touro Synagogue in Newport (Rhode Island – USA), the Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal and Tzur Israel Synagogue in Recife.
Ladino Language Spoken by Descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews
In addition to the familiar nicknames and the use of Portuguese, particularly in the rites, there are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who, even today, talk to each other Ladino, the language used by Sephardim expelled from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century, derived from cas telhano and Portuguese and currently spoken by about 150,000 people in existing communities in Israel, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Greece, Morocco and in America, among many other places.
Right of Return for Sephardic Jews Descendants
This law authorizes the exercise of the right of return for Sephardic Jews descendants of Portuguese origin that so wish, through the acquisition of Portuguese nationality by naturalization, with its attendant rights and obligations.
Eligibility Criteria for Foreign Naturalization as a Descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews
The Government of Portugal may grant citizenship through naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Jews, when they fulfill the following requirements:
1. They are Adult or Emancipated under the law.
2. Not Committed Serious Crime
- not been convicted, with final judgment of sentence for committing a crime punishable with a maximum prison sentence equal to or exceeding three years, under Portuguese law.
3. Evidence of belonging to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese Origin
- Evidence includes family surnames, familiar language, direct descendants or family relationship in the collateral line of common parent from the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin.
Evidentiary Conditions - Sephardic Jews Law
The Sephardic Jews Law requires that the applicant meet the following conditions to obtain Portuguese Nationality:
Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community
The applicant for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community which attests to his/her ties to a Sephardic Jewish Community of Portuguese origin. A request for this Certificate must be addressed to the Jewish Community of Porto or to the Jewish Community of Lisbon.
Evidence of the applicant’s family history of connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin, by means of family names, language, direct or collateral descendance, or other elements which are indicative of this connection, may be direct and circumstantial.
- may be provided by means of the following: family records, family tree, community archives of births, marriages and deaths, cemeteries and lists of tombs, brit milah records, general Government archives that show arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal.
- may be provided by means of any type of proof, provided that all of such elements of proof, when considered collectively or individually, in combination with direct evidence, will serve to convince the Committee.
Proof of Descendants of Sephardic Jews of Portugal
The following means of proof are acceptable:
1. Documented evidence
- For example, family records, family tree, community archives of births, marriages and deaths (such as those in Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Curacao, St. Thomas and Sofia), cemeteries and lists of tombs (like those found in Surinam, Thessaloniki, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Curacao, Bayonne, Paris and Vienna), brit milah records, general Government archives that show arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal.
2. Testimonial evidence
- Reputable witnesses who can attest to a family’s oral tradition. Testimonial evidence must be submitted in writing.
3. Expert evidence
- Support of an expert on Portuguese Jewish diaspora. Expert evidence must be submitted in writing.
Documents Required for Portuguese Citizenship by Naturalization
VisaConnect's Consultants and our specialist Portuguese Lawyers that have successfully processed hundreds of Citizenship applications, assist and advise you with:
- Application to the Portuguese Jewish Community
- Advice regarding documentary evidence required
- Translation of documents to Portuguese, Apostilled or Certified by the Portuguese Consulate
- Preparation of your application to the Portuguese Government, Process Analysis and Reports
- Representation to Portuguese Administrative and Judicial Authorities, in portuguese language. No need to travel to Portugal
The following documents are required for the Portuguese Lawyers to prepare and submit your application:
1. Certificate from Jewish Community in Portugal
- Certificate stating you belong to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin, embodied in particular in the applicant’s name, in the familiar language, genealogy, and family memory. In the abscence of a Certificate, the following evidence is also admissible:
2. Certified Passport copy
- Authenticated document issued by the Jewish community to which the applicant belongs, stating the use of the same expressions in Portuguese in Jewish rites or, as spoken by themselves within that community
- Authenticated documentary records, such as records of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, as well as residence permits, property deeds, wills and other evidence of family connection to the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin
- certified by a Portuguese Consulate or apostilled.
3. Power of attorney
4. Birth certificate
- issued within the previous six months.
5. Criminal record certificate
- from the applicant's country of birth and countries which he/she has resided more than 1 year, and issued within the previous ninety days.
- which establish the connection to a Portuguese community of Sephardic origin and the study which resulted in the jewish community certificate.
7. Pay Government Processing Fees and Portugal Lawyers fees
Portuguese Citizenship is Granted to Descendants of Sephardic Jews
The processing time until Portuguese citizenship is granted is 18 - 24 months.
After Portuguese citizenship is granted, the applicant has the following rights:
- Obtain a Portugal citizen card
- Apply for a Portuguese Passport. Portugal Passport is Ranked 5th in the World - The 2019 Passport Index ranks the Portugal Passport as 5th most powerful passport in the world, and it allows visa free access to 185 countries worldwide
- The Portuguese passport allows visa-free travel to the 25 Schengen countries and UK
- Access to residence permits to other European countries
- Dual Citizenship - You do not need to renounce your previous nationality to become a Portuguese citizen
- Freedom to Live, Work, manage a Business and Study in Portugal
Portugal Golden Visa and Portugal Property
For information about the Portugal Golden Residence Permit eligibility criteria, and assistance with the purchase of a Portugal Property, click on the following VisaConnect website pages: