Sephardic Jewish Ancestry
Portuguese citizenship – Tracing your roots back to Portugal
Descendants of Sephardic Jews from all over the world are now entitled to apply for Portuguese nationality, with all the associated benefits of having an EU passport.
For some, the Portuguese passport will represent the return to the lost homeland. For others it is an opportunity to gain free access to the European Union.
Who can apply?
If you can trace your Jewish origins back to Portugal, you can apply for the Portuguese citizenship.
Portuguese law enables descendants of Jews forced into exile centuries ago to enter and live in Portugal or in the Schengen Area. Portuguese citizens have free access to all countries within the Schengen area and can engage in free trade, open bank accounts and work or incorporate companies in any EU country.
The Portuguese Nationality allows for dual nationality, enabling new citizens to retain their previous citizenship and have an EU passport.
Applicants must have their criminal record verified in order to apply for citizenship and must produce evidence of their Sephardic Jewish ancestry.
Evidence may include Sephardic Jewish traditions, family names, objects and documents that allow applicants to prove a Portuguese Sephardic ancestral origin.
Citizenship applies to:
- Adult or emancipated foreigners (family members’ citizenship may be applied for after);
- Persons that have not been convicted of a crime punishable, according to Portuguese Criminal Law, with imprisonment for a minimum of three years.
Therefore, it is not necessary either to speak Portuguese or to reside in Portugal, as required by the normal route into citizenship by naturalization.
Our team provides counsel to individuals and families in relation to obtaining Portuguese citizenship in accordance with the Portuguese Nationality Law.
Who has Sephardic Ancestry?
In 1492, Spain’s Catholic monarchs passed the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews, forcing Spanish Jews to either convert (Anusim) or leave the dominion.
Most found shelter in Portugal but, later on, the Portuguese King was pressured to evict all Portuguese Jews. All non-converts left to North Africa, Amsterdam, Thessaloniki, Constantinople, France, Morocco, Brazil, Curaçao or the Antilles, keeping the ladino (Espanolit) language.
Sephardic Jews, such as Baruch Spinoza or David Ricardo, kept their family house keys as a reminder of their lost past in the Iberian Peninsula throughout their diaspora.
Portuguese Citizenship Facts
The Portuguese passport allows for visa-free travel to 185 jurisdictions, ranking in fourth place along Austria, Luxembourg, Singapore and the United States of America.
Portugal allows multiple citizenship. Portuguese citizens do not have to renounce their foreign citizenship.
Please note that there is no international treaty which determines or limits the nationality or citizen status of a person. Such matters are governed exclusively by the laws of each country or jurisdiction which vary and can be inconsistent with each other.
All successful applicants for Portuguese citizenship receive the same type of passport as native citizens and are entitled to the same rights.
There are no minimum stay requirements and Portugal does not levy taxes based on citizenship or on wealth.
It is also possible to marry in Portugal without any religious ceremony or implications.