Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews

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 (USA).

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 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 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 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

Portugal Jewish Certificate
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 Names

The 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:
Also, in other parts of the world these Sephardic Jewish names are also common among descendants of the Portuguese community:

Evidentiary Conditions - Portugal Sephardic Citizenship

Portugal Parliament
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 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.

Direct evidence - 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.

Circumstantial evidence - 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 - Portugal Sephardic Citizenship by Naturalization

Portugal Citizen Card
VisaConnect's Consultants and our specialist Portuguese Lawyers that have successfully processed hundreds of Citizenship applications, assist and advise you with:
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 - 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.

6. Evidence - which establishes 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 Granted to Descendants of Sephardic Jews

Portugal Sephardic Jews Law
Processing time - the processing time until Portuguese citizenship is granted is 18 - 24 months.

After Portuguese citizenship is granted, the applicant has the following rights:

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 by either:

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:

VisaConnect Portugal
Avenida do Atlântico, Nº 16, escritório 5.07,
1990-019, Parque das Nações

Telephone: (+351) 304 501 939

Application Process - Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews

Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews - Process

Steps to Apply for Portugal Citizenship

Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews - Steps

Number of Applicants for Portugal Citizenship from Sephardic Jews

Portugal Citizenship for Sephardic Jews - Number of Applicants
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