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Sephardic Origin


The Portuguese government may grant Portuguese nationality through naturalization to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Portugal and Spain in the fifteenth century.

The Portuguese Administration, in application of Law No. 37/81 of October 3, may grant Portuguese citizenship through naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Jews, when they meet the following requirements: 

  •  Adult or legally emancipated.
  • Not having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment of      three years or more under Portuguese law.
  • To have a Cerficate of its links with a Sephardic Jewish community of        Portuguese origin. 

1. Portuguese nationality may be granted to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, who after leaving Portugal, due to religious persecution (1496-1821), maintained ties with “organized communities” that were typically Portuguese, such as those that existed in Salonika and Smyrna before being decimated by the Shoah (KK Portugal, KK Portugal Velho, KK Lisbon, KK Évora, etc.); or had ties with the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogues in London, Amsterdam, Curaçau, Suriname, etc. 

2. Portuguese nationality may be granted to applicants whose families once abandoned the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) and for centuries have been integrated into Portuguese and Spanish communities, commonly known as “Sephardim” (Turkey, Greece, former Yugoslavia, Morocco, etc.), rife with marriages between Jews of Portuguese origin and Jews of Spanish origin and who used the language known as Ladino (a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish languages with local languages). Those applicants may obtain the certificate, even if they cannot find “Portuguese” surnames in their known genealogy. 

3. Portuguese nationality may be granted to all those descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who after leaving Portugal, due to religious persecution, travelled far and wide, whether in an organized manner or not, as part of a community or not and whether belonging to a synagogue or not, and who maintain an emotional connection to Portugal, even if they have since, by virtue of circumstances, become part or not of other Jewish Communities, whether Sephardic or Ashkenazi. 

In practice, we could split the application process for Portuguese Nationality into three different procedures: 
  • The initial procedure consists in the application for the Sephardic certificate of origin before one of the Portuguese Israeli communities legally authorized to issue it. Certificate issued by the Israeli community in Lisbon or Porto. The burden of proof is on the applicant. Different means of proof can be provided.
  • The second procedure consists in the formal application of Portuguese nationality, filed before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, through a legal representative.
  • In a third phase, once the nationality is granted, birth will be registered in the central Civil Registry of Portugal and the applicant will have to complete the formalities at the Portuguese Consulate of his habitual residence. 
How to prove Sephardic origin 
The Israeli Communities of Lisbon and Porto provide that the following may be submitted as evidence:
  • Personal family documents: Birth or death certificates, family documents in Ladino (ancient Judeo-Spanish) language, personal objects, photographs and videos, records of weddings or funerals through Hebrew rites or traditions, bibliographic quotations or book reviews, historical documents, from the Inquisition etc.
  • Genealogical documents: Family genealogical study of the applicant. Your family tree should contain indications of dates and places of birth, death and marriage of ancestors. indicating the dates and places of birth, marriage and death corresponding to several generations of relatives until reaching a recognized direct Sephardic ancestor or convert.
  • Testimonial documents: Certificates or letters of recommendation signed by the rabbi or president of one of the Sephardic communities to which the applicant belongs or of his place of residence, by reputable witnesses of the family oral tradition, etc.
  • Other means of evidence: The Israeli Community of Porto even admits the submission of DNA or genetic evidence linking the applicant to the genotypes of the Sephardic communities. However, the validity of this type of evidence will always be secondary to other more well-founded tests.
General documentation required for Sephardic certificate. 
  • Complete copy of your passport, certified and apostilled or legalized.
  • Birth certificate, apostilled or legalized.
  • Apostilled criminal records from those countries where you have been a legal resident (residence of more than 90 days) since the age of 16.
  • Marriage or Divorce Certificate. If your name has been modified from how it appears in your birth certificate, you must provide apostilled documentation.
  • Power of attorney to act before the Portuguese authorities (we provide it).
  • Residence certificate. 

After obtaining the certificate the next step is to make a formal application for citizenship before the Portuguese justice administration. It is advisable that this procedure be carried out by a specialized and qualified lawyer. In this case, you should grant him/her sufficient powers of attorney. 

You shall submit the following documents to the Portuguese administration: 
  • The certificate of Sephardic origin issued by one of the aforementioned Israeli communities in Lisbon or Porto.
  • Legalized complete passport.
  • General power of attorney in Portuguese, granted in favor of the legal representative to act on behalf of the applicant before the Portuguese administration.
  • Birth certificate of the applicant, apostilled or legalized by the Consulate and translated into Portuguese.
  • In the case of women who have changed their surname, a marriage and/or divorce/death certificate, apostilled or legalized by the Consulate and translated into Portuguese.
  • Certificate of absence of criminal records issued by the authorities of the country of origin and countries of residence, apostilled or legalized by the Consulate and translated into Portuguese. 
Benefits of obtaining a European nationality 

Portugal is a full member state of the European Union. Your passport grants you the same rights and obligations as any other citizen of the EU, including the right to free movement, residence or work in any of the member countries. 

Do you have any questions? 

For more information and individual advice on obtaining Portuguese nationality as a Sephardic Jew, fill out our feedback form or contact us by phone or e-mail and make an appointment and we will help you with any questions you might have.


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