on January 25, 2021

Portuguese citizenship for grandchildren is simpler, but there are still doubts

on January 25, 2021

Cidadania portuguesa para netos está mais simples, mas ainda há dúvidas

In 2020, the Portuguese Nationality Law (Law No. 37/81) was the subject of debate and amendments by the Portuguese Parliament. Repeating what happened in previous times when the law was modified, the new amendments have raised doubts about the impact that the new text will have on nationality processes. It is worth remembering that the Portuguese Nationality Law has undergone several changes in recent years. Before November 2020, the last change to the law took place in 2017.

Among the points that have generated great interest and doubt are the criteria for attributing Portuguese nationality to Portuguese grandchildren. For these cases the changes are being evaluated as positive. For Thiago Huver, a lawyer specializing in Portuguese citizenship processes and a partner at Martins Castro, the changes made the law more objective and clear with regard to proof of ties with the Portuguese national community, a point that had been making it difficult for the nationality to apply for of foreign grandchildren of Portuguese.


With the changes, the proof of the link started to be made through a clear and objective means, with the domain of the Portuguese language being now the chosen criterion to establish the connection of the grandson with the Portuguese community. Regarding this change, the lawyer clarifies that "with the change in the law, to prove a link with the national community, the grandson of Portuguese must only demonstrate mastery of the language and if the applicant is from a country where Portuguese is the official language. requirement is satisfied.” The current wording of the Law may benefit thousands of Brazilians of Portuguese descent who previously ran into the difficulty of proving a link.

Other criteria of Portuguese nationality for grandchildren of Portuguese

In addition to the bond, grandchildren of Portuguese people must also prove the Portuguese nationality of their grandfather/grandmother. The Portuguese Nationality Law establishes that this proof must be done through the birth certificate (certificate) of birth or the baptistery of the Portuguese grandfather/grandmother. The presentation of one of these documents is essential for the beginning of the process of attributing Portuguese nationality.

For those who do not have one of these documents at hand, historian and genealogist Camila Amaral explains that “it is possible to request a copy of the birth certificate or even the baptistery in Portugal. For that, it is necessary to gather information that helps to identify where these records are and be sure that they are in fact from the Portuguese of origin we are looking for”. According to the historian, the full name, date of birth, affiliation (parents' names), the county and parish in which the Portuguese of origin was born are important for the search for documentation to be successful.

Changes in law and great grandchildren

Another recurring doubt after the changes in the text of the law is related to the great-grandchildren of Portuguese. The Portuguese Nationality Law determines that “individuals with at least one ascendant of Portuguese nationality originating from the 2nd degree in the straight line who has not lost that nationality” have the right to be granted nationality. This means that, for a great-grandson to have the right, the grandson must first apply for and have Portuguese nationality himself.


This possibility opens up, as the grandson who obtains nationality is considered Portuguese since birth. Thus, who, in principle, was a Portuguese great-grandson, is now considered a Portuguese son, since his father/mother (Portuguese grandson) is now also Portuguese. It is in this context that the great-grandson is entitled to the attribution of nationality. For this reason, in cases where a Portuguese grandson is already deceased, nationality cannot be requested by the great-grandson, since there is no legal provision to support requests for descent beyond the grandchildren.

Published in Portal Terra