Citizenship for Sephardic Jews Descendants

Spouse and children

already a portuguese citizen?

Did your application came to its end successfully, meaning you are already a Portuguese Citizen?

Are you aware that your wife/husband (or partner) for more than three years has the right to the Portuguese Citizenship, without needing any Sephardi ties?

Are you aware that your children have the right to the Portuguese Citizenship, without needing any Sephardi ties?

2023 rules for new sephardi applications

The amendment to the Regulamento da Lei da Nacionalidade (Regulation of Nationality Law) was published last Friday, the 18th of March. It introduced some changes on the requirements in several cases of Citizenship acquisition (grandchildren of Portuguese citizens, current legal residents in Portugal, etc) and, in particular, to the applicants under the Sephardic Law of Return.
Reducing the analysis to the changes introduced to the Citizenship through the Sephardic Law of Return, we should highlight the following:
a) CIP Certificates already issued and not yet submitted to the Portuguese Authorities will not be accepted, because they don’t include the reference to the applicant’s family line from the common Sephardic ancestor of Portuguese origin;
b) New requirement added of ownership, transmitted mortis causa (inheritance), of rights in rem over real estate located in Portugal, other personal rights of enjoyment or shareholdings in commercial companies or cooperatives headquartered in Portugal or regular trips throughout the applicant’s lifetime to Portugal;
c) It will always be possible for the Portuguese Authorities to request the original documents sent to the Jewish Community responsible for the applicant’s Certificate;

d) Any certificate issued by Lisboa or Porto will also have to include:

  • Authenticated document, issued by a Jewish community with a tradition to which applicant belongs, attesting, in a reasoned manner, the use by the same of expressions in Portuguese in Jewish rites or, as a language spoken by the applicant within that community, of Ladino; AND
  • Authenticated documentary records, such as records of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, as well as residence permits, property titles, wills, genealogical studies and other evidence of the applicant’s family connection, via direct descent or family relationship in the collateral line of common parent from the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin.
e) Regardless of the date of issuance of the Certificate (meaning that, even if you have a Certificate issued, for instance, in 2018 – and still valid under the current law – if you submit the citizenship application to the Portuguese Authorities after the 31st of August, the Certificate will not comply with the new requirements and will be insufficient for the acquisition of the citizenship), all these changes will become effective on every case submitted after the 31st of August 2022.

Frequently asked questions

Which are the benefits of hiring your law firm?
  1. You will not need to travel to Portugal, saving in travel expenses, as we will represent you before all Portuguese and Jewish authorities.
  2. We work with fixed/flat fees so you will not face any unexpected costs
  3. We can also cover every other legal needs:
    • Real Estate Investments due diligence/conveyance;
    • Non habitual resident status (special tax regime);
    • Assistance in TIN/NIF assignments, Social Security and National Health Care enrollment, beside everything else to make your relocation smoother, if required.
    • Arbitration and Litigation.
Is there a deadline to filing the application?

The Portuguese legislation defines no deadline. However, on the past 11th of May 2020, the Partido Socialista (Governing Party) presented an amendment proposal at the Parliament in order to require 2 years of legal residency in Portugal in order to obtain the Portuguese Nationality through the Sephardic Regime. After some public discussion, such amendment proposal was changed and, currently, there is a amendment pending approval at the Portuguese Parliament to add another requirement to the Sephardi program: the effective connection with the Portuguese Community (the exact terms of this concept remain unprecise). Therefore, even if there is no amendament approved to the Law, it is 100% sure that the law will be changed, adding extra requirements to the Sephardi applicants. That is why we strongly suggest that the applications are made as soon as possible in order to avoid unpredicted surprises. It is the date of submission of the application that is most relevant. So, even if the Portuguese legislation changes, by implementing a short-term deadline, you will be able to take the benefit of applying for the Portuguese Passport. However, you can’t apply before having the Sephardic Certificate issued by the Rabbinate so if you don’t act quickly, you may have to face a change of the law while you are waiting for the Certificate and be unable to apply for the citizenship.

Why should I hire lawyers if I can take care of all the procedures in person?

You can handle the process directly. However, this is a legally complex process and should be accompanied by a lawyer. Even the Jewish Communities recommend to have legal assistance, in order to prevent bureaucratic and legal issues.

Why should I hire Portuguese lawyers and not lawyers from my country of residence?

The whole procedure will take place in Portugal. All administrative and judicial authorities use the Portuguese language. With the exception of lawyers established in other Member States of the European Union, lawyers not registered with the Portuguese Law Bar Association cannot practice law in Portugal. Surely a lawyer from your country of residence will act in partnership with a Portuguese lawyer. Therefore, you should ask yourself this question: why not hire a Portuguese lawyer and deal with everything directly with who will handle the process, suppressing middle men?

What can you do for me if I decide to hire you?
  • Sending of our documents check list and our procedures;
  • Drafting and sending the Power of Attorney so that you don’t have to travel to Portugal for such purpose;
  • Support in the obtention of documentation from you birth country (we partner with law firms in Israel and in several other Latin American countries);
  • Translation of official documents issued by the authorities of foreign countries to Portuguese;
  • Obtaining the official recognition of documents issued by foreign authorities by the Portuguese ones;
  • Requesting and accompanying the procedure for the obtention of the certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community (Lisbon or Porto) OR drafting and accompanying the procedure for the obtention of documents that are able to replace the Certificate of the Portuguese Jewish Community;
  • Preparation and monitoring of the application for the Portuguese Jewish Community Certificate (Lisbon or Porto) OR the preparation and monitoring of applications for the issuance of documents that replace – in the application for Portuguese Citizenship – the Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community;
  • Certification of all the necessary documents (including translations and notarizations) to submit the application for Portuguese Citizenship;
  • Drafting, submitting and follow up of the procedure for the concession of Citizenship;
  • Supplying the code for consulting the application online, 24/7/365.
  • In case of prompt refusal (by insufficiency of documents or other reason):
    • Analysis of the notification of refusal;
    • Support correcting the deficiencies highlighted and/or obtaining additional documents
  • In case of a final decision of no concession of the Portuguese Citizenship;
    • Analysis of the final notification of refusal
    • Submitting and following up the administrative or judicial appeal for the granting of the Portuguese Citizenship in the Administrative Court of Law
Can I Apply for Citizenship if I'm Not Jewish?

Yes, you can. The Law of Return is open to Jewish and non-Jewish people who can prove their Sephardic ancestry. The religion of the applicants does not matter; what matters is their Sephardic ancestry.

How Can I Prove my Sephardic Origin?


An applicant’s first step towards Portuguese citizenship will be the acquisition from a Sephardic Jewish community, of a certificate of origin. This certificate attests to ties with a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin. Once obtained, the applicant should send the document to the Jewish community in either Porto or Lisbon.

What is my guarantee of confidentiality in the processing of all my personal info?

The guarantee is given by the Portuguese laws that regulate the activity of lawyers and that regulate the judicial proceedings. Thus, the Lawyers have a duty of professional secrecy provided for in art. 92 of Law number 145/2015, of the 09th of September (Statute of the Law Bar Association), and the violation of this professional secrecy constitutes a crime punishable by imprisonment. The facts revealed by the Lawyer, in violation of professional secrecy, also constitute forbidden evidence in court, so the law prevents them from being used in court.

The Law of Return

During the 15th and 16th centuries, a large number of Sephardic Jews were expelled from Portugal. However, many of the Sephardi Jews of Portuguese origin kept their language (Ladino), the rites of the Portuguese old Jewish cult, their family names, many objects and documents that can be used to demonstrate both their Portuguese origin and their solid historical relationship with the Portuguese people. The Sephardi Jews that were forced to abandon Portugal settled in many regions of the world, especially in Europe (Germany, Belgium, Croatia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, England), in the Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey) and the American continent (United States of America, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Curaçau, Suriname).

Against this historical background, on the 3rd of July 2013, the Portuguese Citizenship Act (Lei da Nacionalidade) was amended to allow the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship by the descendants of Portugal’s Sephardic Jews, the so-called Law of Return.

Who Can Apply?
Advantages of the Portuguese Citizenship
Why Portugal?
  • Pursuing your roots and embracing your family ancient traditions;
  • One of the strongest passports in the “Passport Index 2021” ranking – the Portuguese passport – which, in addition to free movement in the Schengen Area, allows entering in 159 countries without needing a visa
    • Countries to which you can travel without needing a visa: Albania, South Africa, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Byelorussia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Chile, Cyprus, Colombia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Equator, Fiji, Philippines, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guiana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Lesotho, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldavia, Monaco, Montenegro, Namibia, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Thomas and Prince, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Serbia, Swaziland, Togo, Taiwan, East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican e Venezuela. Countries to which you can travel and obtain a visa on arrival: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Camarones, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Djibouti, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, and Zambia.

  • Right to live in any EU country: benefiting from the freedom of movement of persons and goods within the European Union, allowing to establish their residence in any of those countries;
  • Benefiting from the excellent relationship that Portugal has with all Official Portuguese-speaking countries;
  • Portugal allows dual citizenship;
  • Family reunification in the EU: Family members have the right to reside with the Portuguese wherever they live, either in Portugal or another country of the European Union.
  • And, have in mind, that if you opt for living in Portugal, we are:
    • Most welcoming country for expanding the world (InterNations™ Global Guide)
    • Best place in the world for remote working (Momondo™ Travel and Work index 2022)
    • 3rd safest country in the world (Global Peace Index™ 2021)
    • 4th strongest passport in the world (Global Passport Index™ 2021)
    • 7th on the 2021 EF™ English Proficiency Index;
    • 7th country with the best food in the world (USNEWS™ ranking)
    • 8th best football national squad in the world (FIFA™ ranking)
And, remember:

The procedure for obtaining Portuguese nationality for the descendants of Sephardic Jews

Our Law firm provides a full study of each case and legal assistance during the procedure until you get Portuguese Citizenship.

The procedure is divided into two stages:
Stage 1 – The Sephardi Ancestry Certificate

After reviewing your case, we will perform an internal pre-analysis and see if you have enough evidence to support success. If so, we will submit your application before the Lisboa Jewish Community  to obtain a Sephardi Ancestry Certificate, attesting to the tradition of belonging, materialized specifically in the applicant’s surname, family language, genealogy, and family memory.

You will be asked to donate 500€ to the Jewish Community that will issue the Sephardi Ancestry Certificate. However, such donation will only be made after the Jewish Community certifies that your case is in the condition of being analyzed.

You can expect the Sephardi Ancestry Certificate to be issued within 15-60 days (Porto) and 90-180 days (Lisbon) – These time windows are not binding.

Stage 2 – Application for the Portuguese nationality before the Portuguese Ministry of Justice

We will assist you with all the documents that will be required, beside handling all the translations and notarization of documents issued by foreign Authorities.

We will also draft and submit your application, ensuring that there are no missing elements to your application (if an application is submitted with elements missing, a delay of, at least, 3 month, is expected). The application will be submitted in the Registry Office that is handling the procedures with more readiness.

We will collect your case number and access code, allowing you to track your application in real time, gaining instant updates on your citizenship application.

Once the Portuguese nationality is granted, we will collect and send you your Portuguese birth certificate, that is the legal document that ensures you are a full right Portuguese Citizen. With this document, you will be able to request, at the closest Consulate/Embassy, both you Portuguese Citizen Card and Passport.

Also, have in mind:

The spouse and children of any new Sephardi Portuguese Citizens also have the right to become Portuguese Citizens too.

Contact us for more information.