PORTUGUESE NATIONALITY LAW
by Paulo Colaco Dias (
Around 1757, the Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal and the King of Portugal, D.
José I, signed a Royal decree granting all Portuguese Indians (
Portuguese Indians. From 1950, Goans recouped their status and were treated again just like any other Portuguese citizens from the metropolis.
were welcomed in
recognised the annexation of
they are not officially recognised as such. The total number of people of Indian origin living in
Antigo Estado da India
It is important to note that after 1975, the Antigo Estado da India (the legal term for
- "Lei da Nacionalidade Portuguesa" - Article 1º. clause (e), clearly says that all those born in the Antigo Estado da India who declare their intention to retain their Portuguese Nationality are entitled to do so. Other ex-Portuguese colonial citizens were given a
period of time to decide if they wanted to remain as Portuguese citizens or to adopt the nationality of the new independent countries like Angola or Mozambique.
Only the citizens from Antigo Estado da India were not given a time limit to decide if they wanted to continue being Portuguese citizens. They are still entitled to declare today their wish to continue as Portuguese citizens.
In the euphoria that followed
diatribes against Portuguese rule in the local media. Former Portuguese passport holders seemed content with their new Indian status until 1986. In that year,
forego. Thus began the clamour for a return of their Portuguese citizenship.
The number of applications increased exponentially after 1986 and
However, everything remains unchanged so far. Unfortunately, a large number of bogus applications came to light. Indians outside the former Portuguese territories were also claiming Portuguese citizenship. Sorting out the mass of applications became difficult
with each passing day, and today there is a very strict and lengthy process to check the veracity of all submitted documents. It is no longer unusual today for people of Indian origin to hold a Portuguese passport. In fact, many of these people (other than Goans) have acquired one because they had lived and worked in the former African colonies. The Hindu community in
Lately, many other Indians have succeeded in acquiring false Portuguese passports. There are people ready to pay large sums of money for one. I have personally met
Recently the Portuguese press reported that Masood Azhar, the well known Islamic Kashmir leader (whose release was demanded by Indian Airlines hijackers in December 1999), was in possession of a false Portuguese passport when he was arrested in 1994 in
The Portuguese Nationality Law also grants citizenship to descendants of Portuguese citizens. Therefore, a person born only yesterday but who had a grandfather born in Portuguese India before 1961, can apply for Portuguese nationality. Applications for Portuguese citizenship have to be submitted to the nearest Portuguese Consulate. The list of requirements may be found at the web site: http://www.geocities.com/paulocd/PortNatLaw.htm Supporting documents include birth and marriage certificates (if applicable), legal identification documents and certificate of residency during the period 1970 - 1980. All documents issued in
nearest Portuguese Consulate for details.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. Under what law can the descendants of former Portuguese Citizens claim Portuguese citizenship? The 1975 legislation refers to a person born in the Antigo Estado da India. Does it cover the children or grandchildren who may have been born elsewhere?
A1: If you were born after 1961 (anywhere in the world) or born before 1961 but outside the Antigo Estado da India, it is necessary for you to prove that your parents/grandparents were born in the Antigo Estado da India. Once you have proved that, you need to register your parents/grandparents as Portuguese Citizens in Lisbon (even if they are already dead) and only then you can apply for Portuguese citizenship based on the fact that you are the descendent of a Portuguese citizen fully registered in Lisbon, Portugal .
Q2: Is the birth of a person in Antigo Estado da India sufficient
A2: No. In addition, you need to prove that you were not residing in the Ex-Portuguese African colonies during 1974-1976. This is because those that were residing in the ex-Portuguese African colonies were given a short period of time to decide if they wanted
to remain Portuguese citizens. So, if you were residing during the 1970's in the Ex-Portuguese African colonies given independence in 1975 (Angola,
Mozambique, Guiné-Bissau, Cabo Verde, São Tomé e Principe), the chances are that your application will not be accepted.
Q3: Did the parents/grandparents (born in Antigo Estado da India) have to hold a Portuguese passport at all? What evidence has to be submitted by the child or grandchild?
A3: No. A Portuguese passport was never a requirement for citizenship. A birth certificate of your parent/grandparent is necessary along with a detailed list of other requirements that can be found at the following site: http://www.geocities.com/paulocd/PortNatLaw.htm
Q4: What if the person switched passport to Indian or British, Canadian, American, etc?
A4: Not at all.
Some countries do not allow dual nationality (example:
Q5: Do I have to travel to
A5: No. You should contact your nearest Portuguese Consulate and refer to the Portuguese Nationality Law. If they fail to give you information or if they do not
know enough about it (which is the case sometimes), then you should contact a Portuguese lawyer (there are several experts in Portuguese Nationality Law) and