Naturalization of Portuguese Sephardic Jews Descendants

Portuguese Constitution’s law decree 43/2013 of July 3, acknowledges the naturalization of the descendants from Portuguese Sephardic Jews, trying to clean the slate, five centuries after D. Manuel’s infamous decree that gave two options to the Jewish community, forced conversion or expulsion from Portugal.

Porto suffered a lot with the forced conversion of the Jews, but no more than the Jewish community itself. A very important part of Porto’s society, suffered a great loss and between the ones that died and the ones that “converted”, they left an open scar on the Porto’s social tissue.

Although Porto protected the converted with legal tricks, overruling the Portuguese Inquisition directives, it was impossible for them to live on the open. There’s one story that says that in Rua de S. Miguel, during the evening there was a lot of noise and the Inquisition attributed it to Jewish rites. To protect the Jews, the City stated that the noise was because of illegal gambling, but they surely know that a secret synagogue existed on that street. Transferring the case from spiritual and religious ruling to the Civil, blocked the Inquisition to go further and left them with their hands tied.

This and some other episodes, made the Inquisition complain several times to the King, saying that “…In Porto they don’t let us do our job…” and they moved to Coimbra.

This kind of approach protected the Jews until Capitão Barros Basto, on the 20th Century, started the Rescue of the Jews, but that is a complete different story.

Since March 2015, more than 900 Portuguese Sephardic descendants applied for the Portuguese nationality, from 21 different countries, including on the top 3, Turkey, United States and Israel. The international community as an estimated population of 1.5 Million elements around the world.

If you have Portuguese Sephardic ancestors you have to prove that you are traditionally part of a Portuguese Sephardic community, through Portuguese family names, family language – like Portuguese or Ladino – or direct or collateral ascendency.

First you’ll have to have a background check provided by Lisbon and Porto’s  Israeli communities before you go to the local authorities to apply. The background check costs 500€.

You’ll need:

Passport copy;

Birth certificate or similar that mentions birthdate, place of birth and the names of the applier parents.

Residency proof;

Payment of 500€ to open the process;

All the necessary proof that is needed for a fast and diligent evaluation;

All the documents in Portuguese, French and English will be accepted.

Means of proof:

1. Circumstantial evidence can be provided through any kind of proof that relates the appliccant with a foreign Jewish Sephardic community.

2. Documented evidence – can be provided through: family records, genealogy, community files relating to births, marriages and deaths, cemeteries and lists of graves, records of Brit Milah or Bar Mitzvah, government release such arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal.

3. Witnesse’s Evidence – the testimony of witnesses who can testify to the oral tradition of a family. Testimonial evidence should be submitted in writing in the form of written statements signed by the witnesses and certified by a notary. The testimonies, translated into Portuguese, should be sent to the Jewish Community, Witnesses must be credible and compelling their testimony.

4. Expert’s Evidence – The opinion of a specialist in Portuguese Jewish diaspora. The expert evidence must be submitted in writing. Experts reports in the Portuguese Diaspora must be made in writing and signed by its expert, authenticated by a notary and accompanied by a biographical note.

Attention: candidates can be held criminally responsible in case of false testimony of presentation and / or presentation of false or falsified documents.

After you are vouched by the Israeli community you can apply to citizenship and we, hopefully, will give you a warm wellcome as felow Portuguese.