Dual Citizenship in Portugal


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Those who are contemplating taking on Portuguese citizenship often wish to retain their nationality of origin. Fortunately, Portugal recognises and permits dual nationality. There can be a variety of reasons for taking on Portuguese citizenship:

  • Lifelong access to state healthcare;
  • For British nationals, certainty regarding their status in the EU after “Brexit”;
  • The ability to move freely around Europe and enjoy the benefits of being an EU citizen;
  • Being able to vote in national elections.

Any foreign citizen aged 18 or over may apply for naturalisation once having formally resided for six or more years in the country. As EU nationals, this requires having held temporary residency in Portugal for a period of 5 years, then taking permanent residency through the local SEF office (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).


Central to the naturalisation process is a notarised and translated copy of the Birth Certificate issued in the country of origin.

A criminal record certificate, translated and apostilled, is also required from Portugal, from the country of origin and from any other country of residence. In Portugal, the certificate is issued at the local Tribunal. For UK nationals, application can be made online:


Then choose the ‘Police Certificates’ tab.

The Process

Citizenship application is handled by the IRN (Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado) through the local Conservatória. Depending on the nature of one’s situation, there are appropriate forms available in Portuguese only on the IRN website:

http://www.irn.mj.pt/sections/irn/a_registral/servicos-externos-docs/impressos/nacion alidade/impressos-nacionalidade

Language Test

Applicants must pass a Portuguese language proficiencytest, known as CIPLE – A2, except for those who have been married to a Portuguese national for more than 3 years.

Application for the test should be made online at least one month in advance. To help prepare, there is a book of model tests available from the following link:

http://www.lidel.pt/pt/catalogo/portugues-europeu-lingua-estrangeira/avaliac ao-certificacao/

CIPLE measures the basic ability to interact in a limited number of predictable daily communication situations. The exam consists of three parts:

  • Reading comprehension and written interactions
  • Oral comprehension
  • Oral production and interactions
Citizenship by marriage

If married to a Portuguese national, citizenship may be obtained after 3 years of residency. In this case, the language test is usually waived.

If you are in a cohabiting relationship with a Portuguese citizen but not married (commonly referred to as “união de facto”), it is still possible to obtain Portuguese citizenship once the union has been officially recognised. While there is no formal process for registration for cohabiting couples, the status must still be proven. The couple should request a declaration from the local parish council, stating that they have lived together for at least two years. Two local witnesses are necessary. Translated copies of the birth certificate will also be necessary. In this case, no minimum required period of residency exists prior to applying for citizenship. However, authorities may require a Portuguese language proficiencytest as well as documented links which demonstrate integration into Portuguese society.


All foreign language documents should be translated into Portuguese and certified. Once all of the paperwork has been assembled and checked, application should be hand delivered or sent by post via registered mail to:

Conservatória dos Registos Centrais

Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 200 1099-003 Lisboa

or visit the local “Conservatórias do Registo Civil”. The process usually takes around 3-6 months.

Aggregate vs Autonomous Reporting Options


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When assessing Company profits, taxation occurs in a two-stage process: first, the Company pays Corporate Income Tax on its profits, then Shareholders pay Individual Income Tax on these distributed profits (now called dividends). This assessment procedure is called “economicdouble taxation. Almost all countries in the EU have adopted one of several methods to eliminate “economic” double taxation-some via the Company, some via the Individual. Regardless of the method, the end result should be the same: dividends reported by the Individual should be after the elimination of any “economic” double taxation.

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State Budget 2021 – tax havens


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The imposition of IMI and IMT for companies directly or indirectly based in so-called tax havens, approved in the State Budget, does not distinguish between the jurisdictions with which Portugal has double taxation (ADT) and information exchange (ATI) agreements from those in which complete opacity prevails in capital movements. Sovereign funds and other investors from Oman, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar as well as investors based in Hong Kong – all included in the list of tax havens but with ADT with Portugal – will be some of the hardest hit. The same happens with the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Mann or Panama, where the funds are established, which aggregate a large part of institutional investors worldwide.

Brexit – Stays of 90 days


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The commercial agreement established between the United Kingdom and the European Union will allow the mobility of European and British citizens for short stays (maximum 90 days consecutively). As of yet, there is still no agreement for longer stays. The agreement does not cover the right of UK nationals to enter (with or without a visa) to work, reside or remain in the EU, nor vice versa.

Sole Traders can make stage payments of VAT in 2021


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Self-employed workers in the Simplified Regime can use the exceptional programme that permits the payment of VAT in the first half of 2021 to be deferred in three- or six-monthly instalments. The decree that provides for this exceptional and temporary plan is one of the measures that aims to ensure liquidity to small businesses faced with a drop-in activity and invoicing due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.

State Budget 2021 – Masks and disinfectant gel enter as IRS medical expenses


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Expenses for masks, visors and disinfectant gel are now to be considered deductible health care expenses. If you buy individual protection equipment in an establishment that sells other products (such as supermarkets), you must ask for a separate invoice in order to deduct these expenses on your IRS return. In pharmacies, the deduction is automatic.

Brexit – Visiting UK Nationals eligible for “tax free” reimbursement


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Businesses in Portugal have prepared systems for non-resident UK nationals to participate in “tax free” purchases as of 01 January 2021. The plan allows for the recovery of VAT paid on eligible purchases when exiting Portugal. There is a minimum amount of €61.50 within an establishment to be entitled to “Tax Free” refunds. The tax is recoverable only on purchased products and not on services, such as hotels and restaurants.

Residency Registration for British Nationals


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Even in the year of the pandemic, many British nationals continue to seek out Portugal as a popular destination. The UK government has multiplied notices to UK citizens who reside in Portugal to have their documentation in order by 31 December. Currently, there are more than 50,000 British nationals residing in Portugal, ranking Portugal in sixth place behind Spain, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. Official data in 2019 from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) indicated there were 34,358 UK citizens officially residents in Portugal. SEF officials explain that from January to October 2020, a further 6,469 new Residency Permits were issued to UK nationals for a total of 40,827 current residents. Since 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum, 19,384 Britons registered in Portugal. Up until last October, the increase reached 111%.

The British embassy in Lisbon recognises that there are, in fact, many more Britons living in Portugal than the official figures would indicate. By the end of the year, many more are expected to register officially with SEF. What is certain is that now all will have to deal with the new bureaucracy necessary to remain in the country in January 2021 and beyond. At this point, the embassy also does not have definitive record of the number of British nationals who have already completed all the necessary steps.

Portuguese bureaucracy

At the top of the concerns of the British in Portugal are upcoming changes. One of the reasons for the aggressive advertising campaign to ask British citizens to take care of all necessary documentation is also due to Portuguese bureaucracy. There may be delays in scheduling services as well as problems in accessing services due to the pandemic. The embassy clarifies that Portugal does not oblige UK nationals to apply for a new residency status according to the current agreement. However, as there are many who are still unregistered, it is important that everyone needs to become compliant to protect their rights after the transition period at the end of December. In October, the embassy, in partnership with SEF, launched a joint campaign asking the British living in Portugal to register where they reside by the end of the year.

Driving licences 

You can drive in Portugal with a UK driving licence until it expires. You must register your address in Portugal with IMT services within 60 days of settling in Portugal. The IMT online (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes – IMT) allows for the exchange of a UK licence for a Portuguese one. Even if you are unable to affect the exchange immediately, British citizens have 90 days after 1 January, so no road test should be necessary.


Another concern is access to the Portuguese National Health System. Coverage may be dependent on your residency status. If British nationals are registered as residents in Portugal, they should have full access to the  Portuguese National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS).


British embassies are no longer involved if a passport expires. Renewal is now carried out online. The embassy warns that British citizens living in Portugal that they must have a valid passport after 1 January 2021.


The British Government has posted a dedicated website called “Living in Portugal” (gov.uk/livinginportugal or sef.pt/en). The embassy indicates that the Portuguese Government is responsible for implementing the Exit Agreement. British citizens are accountable for ensuring that they have their documentation in order before the end of the transition period.