Click for reading article published in "Publico" newspaper, 27/2/2016, by Esther Mucznik


Granting Portuguese Nationality for Sephardic Jews 

Decree Law nº 30-A/2015 of February 27th


         The Jewish Community of Lisbon is pleased to announce that, following the approval of the Decree Law No. 30-A / 2015 - Award of Portuguese nationality through naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Jews by the Council of Ministers on 29.01.15, the Law has been enacted by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Portugal - Mr. Aníbal Cavaco Silva and published in the Diário da República (The Official Gazette of Portugal)  on February 27th, 2015.

       Further we inform, that  the Jewish Community of Lisbon started receiving the official required documents for approval procedure for the granting of the Portuguese nationality, by Naturalisation  to descendants of Sephardic Jews.


       Please find bellow the present law as its publication and  a guide procedure in support of the applicants


        More information can be obtained via email



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Decree Law nº 30-A/2015 - Granting of the Portuguese nationality,

by Naturalisation  to descendants of Sephardic Jews



On February 27th 2015 was published in the Diário da República (The Official Gazette of Portugal)  the law allowing the right of return for the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who so whish, by acquiring Portuguese Nationality by means of naturalisation and integration in the community with full correspondent rights and obligations.

The government can award the Portuguese nationality by means of naturalisation to Sephardic Jews descendants, the latter proving their tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on objective and proven requirements of connection to Portugal, namely family names, family language, direct or collateral descent.



 The designation "Sephardic Jews" is applied to Jews descending from the old traditional Jewish communities if the Iberian Peninsula. Following the expulsion decrees of 1492 in Spain, many Jews took refuge in Portugal. But, four years later, in 1496, the king Manuel I edited the same decree of expulsion from Portugal, and in 1497, the ruling of forced conversions..

With what came to be known as  the “baptismo em pé”, ("standing baptism"), the conversion by force of Jews to the Catholic religion, Portugal officially no longer had Jews, but only, "Cristãos-velhos" ("old Christians") and "Cristãos-novos" ("new Christians"), this new designation of "Cristãos-novos" ("new Christians") hiding their Jewish origin. Thirty nine years later, and aiming to fight the heresy to Christian faith, king João III allowed the setting of the Inquisition Court, which will be officially extinct in 1821.

Persecutions against  Jews and "New Christians" led to their fleeing the country and to their establishment in some Mediterranean regions, north of Europe, Brazil, Antilles and the United States among others, founders in those regions of well renowned communities and remarkable synagogues.

In many Sephardic Jewish family names the Portuguese root is still present even though in some cases already entangled with the Spanish. Besides family names and the use of the Portuguese language namely in prayer, there are Portuguese Sephardic Jews descendents who still speak "Ladino", the language used by the expelled Jews from Spain and Portugal in the XVth century, a language deriving from the "Castellano" (Spanish) and Portuguese, and spoken today by around 150.000 people in communities in Israel, Turkey, ex-Yugoslavia, Greece, Morocco, Americas, among many other places.

In the beginning of the 19th century, with the weakening of the Inquisition, Jews started to come again to Portugal coming mainly from Morocco and Gibraltar, some of them some of them descending from the old Sephardic Jews. These men and women were the founders of the present Lisbon Jewish Community – "Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa – officially recognized in 1912, with its synagogue Shaaré Tikvá built and inaugurated in 1904.




 1 – The Portuguese nationality may be granted by means of naturalisation to the descendants of Sephardic Jews, provided they meet the requirements stated hereinafter:  

a)     To be of age by one's own right or by release from parental, custody or tutor control as such considered by Portuguese law.

b)     To have no definitive sentence passed by a court of law and not pending appeal concerning all crimes punished by sentence of imprisonment of a maximum of three or more years according to Portuguese law. 

2 – In the request to be submitted by the applicant, the circumstances determining the belonging tradition to a Portuguese origin Jewish Sephardic community such as family name, family language, direct descent or family collateral relation of common ancestry coming from the Portuguese origin Sephardic community shall have to be presented.

 3 – To be complete, the application must contain the following documents:

      a)     Birth certificate.

b)     Certificate of a clean criminal record issued by the competent Portuguese authorities, country of birth and country of nationality, as well as the same certificate from the authorities where the applicant will have had  past or actual residence, the latter having to be authenticated when issued by foreign authorities.

c)     Certificate from a Jewish community registered as religious legal entity established in Portugal as determined by law on the date de entry into force of this legal text certifying the belonging tradition to a Portuguese origin Jewish community.



1 – The applicant to the granting of the Portuguese Nationality to Sephardic Jews descendents by means of naturalisation must, according to indent c of nº3 in II, obtain a certificate issued by a Jewish Portuguese community certifying his /her belonging tradition to a Portuguese origin Sephardic Jewish community.

2 Such certificate is issued by a Jewish community established in Portugal as a religious legal entity. The Lisbon Jewish Community – "Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa – CIL" can officially issue the said certificate.  

3 – The aforementioned certificate will certify the belonging tradition to a Portuguese origin Sephardic Jewish community, expressed namely through the applicant's family name, the family language, genealogy and family memory.

 The connection to Portugal proof is of an objective nature. The applicant will have the right to obtain the certificate provided he/she can prove his/her direct or collateral descent and an emotional connection.

 4 – The issued certificate shall mention the applicant's full name, date and place of birth, parent's name, nationality, place of residence, and direct descent as well as indication of collateral common ancestry relation to the Portuguese origin Sephardic Jewish community, duly presented with all evidence and proof elements.  



The Lisbon Jewish Community  has been consulted and heard by the Ministry of Justice on the project amending the Law of Nationality, presented and approved by unanimity by the Portuguese Parliament on April 12th 2013, and was also consulted and heard on the text of amendment to the Regulation on the Portuguese Nationality, approved by the Council of Ministers on January 29th 2015, enacted by the President of the Republic on February 24, 2015 and published in the Official Gazette on 27 February 2015.

The Lisbon Jewish Community will endeavour in the frame and according to the new legislation to promote the knowledge and the return of the potential candidates, descendents of Portuguese Jews. To this effect, a special Committee was established, to deal with the reception and analysis of all files and requests aiming to grant the certificate stating the belonging tradition to a Portuguese origin Sephardic Community, with an adequate method to respond to the aim of the law.  

1 – General Procedure  

The Lisbon Jewish Community certificate request must be sent by the applicant or his/her legal representative with power of attorney to such an action, to the contacts below:  

*      Email :

*     Telephone: + 351 21 3931139 (DIRECT ASSISTANCE) / + 351 21 3931130 (OFFICE)

*     Opening hours –Monday to Thursday from 10 AM to 13PM / 14 to 17 PM .

        Fridays from 10AM to 13PM 

Each request addressed to the Lisbon Jewish Community will be answered within a delay that cannot be previously established, be it by the certificate issuance or by a negative opinion.

A negative opinion will be the result of the lack of positive unanimity as to the validity of the applicant's request as being descendent of a Portuguese origin Jewish community. Notwithstanding the direct or indirect nature of the existence of the elements of proof presented, the Committee's conviction will always be formed based on evidence presented by the applicant, which will be submitted to a critical judgement with all the relevant facts found during the file evaluation period. 

The applicant will have to provide:


        v    Copy of passport.

v    Birth certificate or similar equivalent document with date and place of birth, and applicant's parents names.

v    Certificate of residence, or similar equivalent document valid as proof of residence.

v     Payment of service fee for file opening and analysis.***

v    All supporting necessary and sufficient evidence to adequately evaluate the file and allow decision making.

v  Documents will be accepted in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish for analysis.


·                       A one-time non-refundable €500 (five hundred Euros) fee per application will be charged in advance, for administrative services and file consideration and analysis.

·                      Starting on October 3rd, 2016 (1st of Tishrei 5777): the above mentioned fee, dully charged under the same terms, shall be reduced to €250 (two hundred and fifty Euros) for relatives of the applicant, ascendants or descendants in direct line (grandfather/grandmother, father/mother, and son/daughter) or collateral (uncle/aunt, and nephew/niece).

·                      However, individuals linked to this group of kinship through marriage are bound to provide proof of their own lineage of Sephardic origin – if it is not the same – and the €500 (five hundred Euros) service charge shall also apply to them.

·                       All payments must be for the full amount.

 Forms of payment

  •         Cash delivered at our premises.

  •         A local Portuguese Bank check payable to “Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa”.

  •          Bank transfer as indicated bellow

Beneficiary /Name of account: COMUNIDADE ISRAELITA DE LISBOA (CIL)



Account number: 0062 5693 0006

NIB:   0007 0006 00256930006 48  

IBAN: PT 50 0007 0006 0025 6930 0064 8 



2 – Means of Proof

The evidence of Jewish Portuguese descent through family name, language, direct or collateral descent and other elements can be of direct or circumstantial nature. 

The means of proof can be: circumstantial evidence, evidence by documents, testimonial proof or proof by expertise in the sense of "expertise evidence". 

a)     Circumstantial evidence can be presented by any means, provided that when considered isolated or in combination with direct evidence, they are considered convincing as to the validity of the claim of ties of the applicant to a Portuguese origin Sephardic Jewish community.

b)    Documental evidence (direct evidence) can be presented by means of: family records, genealogical tree, community archives concerning births, marriages, deaths, cemeteries and graves lists, Brit Mila or Bar Mitzvah registers ( rituals of circumcision and religious majority respectively), governmental archives showing arrivals from Portugal, ships passenger's lists and passengers arriving from Portugal.

c)     Testimonial evidence, that is to say, depositions of witnesses who may attest a family's oral tradition. Testimonial evidence must be presented in writing as written affidavit, signed by the witnesses and certified/authenticated by a solicitor. The written depositions or affidavit have to be sent and addressed to the Lisbon Jewish Community, together with the witnesses' authenticated copies of passports or authenticated copies of identification documents. The witnesses themselves have to be credible and their affidavits or depositions convincing.

d)    The expertise evidence, that is to say, the opinion of a specialist / expert in Portuguese Jewish Diaspora. The expertise evidence must be presented in writing. The Portuguese Diaspora specialist's reports or opinions must be presented in writing and signed by the expert / specialist in question, with his / her biographic resume and the authenticated signature by a solicitor.

e)     According to Portuguese Law, forged or falsified documents, forgery and use of forgery constitute crimes punished by law.

f)      Notwithstanding the fact that the Certification Committee of the Lisbon Jewish Community may inquire on the truthfulness of the documents presented which will be evaluated with the other evidence gathered during the course of the file investigation, we call all applicant's attention to the fact that they may be criminally responsible in case of presenting false witnesses, false depositions and or false /forged documents. 

*     NOTA BENE. Reading this information does not by any means excludes the consultation of applicable law.