Am I eligible to apply for Portugal citizenship?
June 9, 2008 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I was surprised to learn that some EU countries will allow applications for citizenship based on decent for grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren of citizens. I'm having trouble tracking down whether this is the case in Portugal (and whether I would be eligible). Can anyone point me in the right direction?
posted by the jam to Law & Government (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I found this, though I'm not sure how old it is, but it's good for a starting point. Anyway it fits with my own experience that children of Portuguese nationals who are born outside Portugal are eligible for Portuguese citizenship. I suggest that you get in touch with your local embassy for further information, but as far as I know grandchildren are not eligible.
posted by different at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2008

Oh and by the way it's "descent", which might help with your Googling ;-)
posted by different at 12:47 PM on June 9, 2008

As different said, Portugal does not appear to extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation. Here's a summary of the relevant law as of December 2005 (the blog also describes the relevant law for many other countries).
posted by catlet at 12:52 PM on June 9, 2008

Wikipedia has a section on Portuguese nationality law. Really, though, give the consulate nearest you a call, explain your relationship to a Portuguese person, and see if you qualify.
posted by mdonley at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2008

I don't believe Portugal offers citizenship beyond the first generation either.

Italy seems to have the most liberal dual citizenship policy in Europe; my boyfriend and I recently determined that he and his brother qualify for dual citizenship, based on the fact that his grandfather (who immigrated here in 1907) was naturalized after his father was born. (Had his grandfather been naturalized before his father was born, though, my bf wouldn't qualify.) There is no generational limit to claim citizenship for Italy, though the ancestor in question must have been an Italian citizen as of 1861 (when Italy was unified). So yes, practically speaking, that would mean great- or even great-great-grandparents could "count" (as long as other specific conditions are met) for people seeking Italian citizenship today.

Irish citizenship can be acquired through having at least one grandparent born on Irish soil, though I don't believe it stretches back further than that (otherwise I'd qualify).
posted by scody at 1:32 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

oops: should be "though the ancestor in question must have been an Italian citizen as of 1861 or later."
posted by scody at 1:34 PM on June 9, 2008

Holy crap, I might be an Italian citizen. Thanks scody. Now all I have to is track down my great-great-grandfather's naturalization records and my great-grandfather's birth certificate... hmm....
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:49 PM on June 9, 2008

Best answer: The Nationality law was revised in 2006 (pdf) and actually says:

4 — O Governo concede a naturalização, com dis-
pensa do requisito previsto na alínea b) do n.o 1, aos
indivíduos nascidos no estrangeiro com, pelo menos,
um ascendente do 2.o grau da linha recta da naciona-
lidade portuguesa e que não tenha perdido esta nacio-

The government lets foreigners acquire the pt nationality if they have a second degree ancestor - in other words a grandparent - who is/was portuguese and who hasn't lost his nationality. You don't need to reside in Portugal but you might have to prove you have sufficient knowledge of the portuguese language. And you can't have been judged guilty of a crime that would require a 3 year sentence or more according to pt law.
posted by vacapinta at 3:38 PM on June 9, 2008

PercussivePaul: cool! You might want to try searching on as a start -- that's how I found the ship's manifest when grandpa Tomaso came through Ellis Island to find out the name of the tiny village in Piedmont where he came from (so I'd know where to look for the birth certificate), and then was able to compare various census records to see when he'd been naturalized (as not all states have their naturalization records online) so we'd know if it was worth pursuing all the paperwork or not in the first place. There are some good websites that list everything you need to gather to go through the process (lots and lots of paperwork and the waiting time once you file formally with your consulate, which we haven't even started to do yet) -- drop me a line and I'll send you some links, if you like.

Also, you'll want to keep in mind: women could receive Italian citizenship through a parent, but under Italian law could not pass on Italian citizenship to their children until 1948 (hurray for sexism). So your pre-1948 line back to Italy must involve men only.

posted by scody at 3:43 PM on June 9, 2008

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