PORTUGUESE CITIZENSHIP FOR DESCENDANTS OF SEPHARDIC
Table of Contents
Portugal Sephardic Jews Law - Ministry of Justice Decree-Law No 30-A / 2015, Feb. 27
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, had been the object of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition,
many of its members took refuge then in Portugal.
Contact VisaConnect's specialist Consultants, and our partner Portuguese Lawyers, in 2022, by phone or complete an online Form or
visit us in our offices in Brisbane, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, UK and Lisbon, Portugal for advice and assistance with your
Citizenship of Portugal application, and supporting documents, as a descendant of Sephardic Jews of Portugal!
History of Sephardic Jews of Portugal
Initially, King Manuel issued a law that guaranteed protection of the Jews of Portugal, but then he
ordered the expulsion of all Sephardic Jews that did not convert through a 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
Despite the persecution and expulsion from their ancestral territory, many
Sephardic Jews of Portuguese background and their descendants kept not only the
Portuguese language, but also the traditional rites of the ancient Jewish worship
in Portugal, preserving their surnames for many generations, objects and documents proving
their Portuguese origin, along with a strong memorial relationship that leads them
to qualify themselves as Portuguese Jews and 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
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 in Ladino, the language used by Sephardim expelled from
Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century. Ladino is 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
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 Sephardic Jews Law requires that the applicant meet
the following conditions to obtain Portuguese Nationality:
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.
Most Common Portuguese Sephardic Last NamesThe Sephardic
diaspora around the world is composed of a number of different surnames, in the UK
and the Netherlands specifically these are the most common:
In Latin America the following names are also common:
- Abrantes, Aguilar, Andrade, Brandão, Brito, Bueno, Cardoso, Carvalho,
Castro, Costa, Coutinho, Dourado, Fonseca, Furtado, Gomes, Gouveia, Granjo,
Henriques, Lara, Marques, Melo, Prado, Mesquita, Mendes, Neto, Nunes, Pereira,
Pinheiro, Rodrigues, Rosa, Sarmento, Silva, Soares, Teixeira and Teles.
Also, in other parts of the world these Sephardic Jewish names are also
common among descendants of the Portuguese community:
- Almeida, Avelar, Bravo, Carvajal, Crespo, Duarte, Ferreira, Franco, Gato,
Gonalves, Guerreiro, Leo, Lopes, Leiria, Lobo, Lousada, Machorro,
Martins, Montesino, Moreno, Mota, Macias, Miranda, Oliveira, Osrio, Pardo,
Pina, Pinto, Pimentel, Pizarro, Querido, Rei, Ribeiro, Salvador, Torres and
- Amorim, Azevedo, Álvares, Barros, Basto, Belmonte, Cáceres,
Caetano, Campos, Carneiro, Cruz, Dias, Duarte, Elias, Estrela, Gaiola,
Josué, Lemos, Lombroso, Lopes, Machado, Mascarenhas, Mattos, Meira, Mello e
Canto, Mendes da Costa, Miranda, Morão, Morões, Mota, Moucada, Negro,
Oliveira, Osório (or Ozório), Paiva, Pilão, Pinto, Pessoa, Preto,
Souza, Vaz and Vargas
Evidentiary Conditions - Portugal Sephardic Citizenship
The Sephardic Jews Law requires that the applicant meet
the following conditions to obtain Portuguese Nationality:
Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community
for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese
Jewish Community of Lisbon, 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
of Lisbon. Note that from 30 April 2022, applicants cannot apply to the Porto
Jewish Community for a Certificate.
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 descendants, 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
Proof of Descendants of Sephardic Jews of Portugal
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
3. Expert evidence
- Support of an expert on Portuguese Jewish diaspora.
Expert evidence must be submitted in writing.
Documents - Portugal Sephardic Citizenship by NaturalizationVisaConnect'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 of Lisbon
- Advice regarding documentary evidence required
- Translation of documents to Portuguese, Apostilled or Certified by the
- Preparation of your application to the Portuguese Government, Process
Analysis and Reports
- Representation to Portuguese Administrative and Judicial Authorities, in the
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 absence 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
- certified by a Portuguese Consulate or
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
- which establishes the connection to a Portuguese community of
Sephardic origin and the study which resulted in the Jewish community
7. Pay Government Processing Fees and Portugal Lawyers fees
Portuguese Citizenship Granted to Descendants of Sephardic Jews Processing time
- the processing time until
Portuguese citizenship is granted is 18 - 24 months.
After Portuguese citizenship is granted, the applicant has the following
- Obtain a Portugal citizen card
- Apply for a Portuguese Passport. Portugal Passport is Ranked 5th in the World
- The 2022 Passport Index ranks the Portugal Passport as 5th most powerful
passport in the world, and it allows visa free access to 187 countries
- The Portuguese passport allows visa-free travel to the 26 Schengen Area countries.
- 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 Changes Law - Connection to Portugal Required - 16 March 2022
As at 16 March 2022, the Portuguese Government has approved a new decree, which means that new Applicants applying must:
Prove an Effective Connection to Portugal
1. Inheritance of a Property in Portugal
- Ownership of a Portugal property (Real Estate), transferred by death or other personal rights or shareholdings
in commercial or cooperative companies based in Portugal.
2. Regular Visits to Portugal
- throughout the Applicant´s life.
Note that the change of law will not be retroactive, and therefore will not impact the citizenship of Applicants whom have already received Portugal
Citizenship as descendants of Sephardic Jews. This amendment to the law will only come into force on 1 September 2022, until then the rules regarding the
granting of Portuguese nationality to Sephardic Jews will remain the same.
Portugal Golden Visa, Portugal Property and Citizenship for Sephardic Jews
See our Brochure below about the Portugal Sephardic Jews
Law, and web page links regarding the Portugal Golden Residence Permit eligibility
criteria, and assistance with the purchase of a Portugal Property:
Office Address and Telephone - VisaConnect Portugal
Contact VisaConnect's Consultants at our Lisbon, Portugal office below:
Avenida do Atlântico, Nº 16, escritório 5.07,
1990-019, Parque das Nações
Telephone: (+351) 304 501 939
Useful Links - Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews
Application Process - Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews
Steps to Apply for Portugal Citizenship
Number of Applicants for Portugal Citizenship from Sephardic Jews