Portuguese Citizenship Law for Sephardic Jews

Portuguese Citizenship Law For Sephardic Jews – Explained!

The Sephardic Jews are a community that is originally from the Iberian Peninsula. Their history in this region goes back hundreds of years.

European Union citizenship can provide access to countless opportunities for the holder. It is beneficial for those who want to live, work, and travel freely throughout European countries. An excellent country to receive citizenship from is Portugal. This country’s passport is valuable as it is ranked the third most powerful passport in the world. As well, the citizenship title grants visa-free access to 159 countries as of 2020.

Fortunately, Portugal is ranked as one of the easiest countries to obtain EU citizenship, especially through ancestry. In recent years, they have gained this high rank for ease of citizenship obtainment because of various processes and laws they have implemented. One of these laws that were put into place allows people of Sephardic Jewish descent to receive Portuguese citizenship.

Who Are The Sephardic Jews?

The Sephardic Jews are a community that is originally from the Iberian Peninsula. Their history in this region goes back hundreds of years. More specifically, they originated in Spain. However, their residence in Spain ended when they were subject to persecution under the Spanish Inquisition. This led the majority of the community to find refuge in the neighbouring country of Portugal.

When they first settled in Portugal, they were guaranteed protection under the law for a moment in time. However, by the late fifteenth century, the law was then overturned which resulted in the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Portugal.

Portuguese Citizenship Law 

To resolve the denial of citizenship to Sephardic Jews back in the 15th century, the government of Portugal implemented the Decree-Law 30-A/2015. The law was introduced so that the Portuguese government can grant citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Portugal.  

Who can apply?

The law does not restrict non-practicing Jews or non-Jews (descendants from Sephardic Jews) from obtaining citizenship. Therefore as long as there are supporting documents to prove lineage, anyone of Sephardic ancestry can apply.  

The law does however have the following stipulations that must be followed to apply for Portuguese citizenship:

  1. Applicants are Sephardic Jews of Portuguese descent.
  2. Applicants are over 18 years of age or emancipated under Portuguese law.
  3. Applicants have not been convicted, pursuant to final judgment of sentence, for committing a crime punishable with a maximum prison sentence equal to or exceeding three years, under Portuguese law.

Along with following the requirements above, the application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • A birth registration certificate
  • Criminal record certificate issued by the relevant Portuguese authorities, the country of residence, and country of nationality
  • Jewish Community Certificate that provides proof of Sephardic Jewish lineage of Portuguese origin

What is a Jewish Community Certificate?

The Jewish Community Certificate for Sephardic Jews is how an applicant can provide proof of lineage to receive citizenship. This is a certificate that is recognized under Portuguese law, and it is issued by officials of a Sephardic Jewish community. Therefore, you need to prove your ancestry to the officials of the community to be granted the certificate.

To obtain the certificate, the following documents may be requested:

  • Evidence of lineage to Sephardic Jews by surname
  • Evidence of the use of Ladino as a family language
  • Evidence of family relations in the genealogical lines

The proof of evidence you can provide can come in many different forms, such as family records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, or even government archives that show the arrivals and departures of your predecessors from Portugal.

If you cannot get a certificate from an approved Jewish community that is recognized by Portugal, there are other ways to prove your ancestry. You will need to submit a document from your local Jewish community that supports your Portuguese nationality application.

As well, you will need to send in the documentation on your application that proves you are a direct descendant of Sephardic Jews. This documentation could include records from synagogues, resident permits, wills, or property deeds.

How Can I Get Started?

EuroPassport makes the process of acquiring your EU citizenship by descent simpler than ever before. Our expert legal & genealogical team takes all the headache out of completing your citizenship application and obtaining your passport. We source all the documents required to get you the citizenship you deserve!

If you’re interested in applying for European citizenship by ancestry, take our quick pre-screening assessment today and find out if you may be eligible.

Have more questions about the process and whether you may be eligible? Check out our FAQs or contact us today to learn more.