Portugal

Update from September 2023:

On 10 August 2023, a new law adopted by the Portuguese parliament entered into force that introduces the definition of a stateless person and recognises that persons who are considered stateless according to the 1954 Convention are entitled to a travel document and statelessness status. Law no 41/2023 amends existing provisions of the Asylum Act and the Immigration Act, although further legislation must be approved to establish a statelessness determination procedure (SDP), safeguards for applicants, the rights granted upon recognition of statelessness status, and the authority responsible for assessing claims.

The information below was last updated in February 2023.

Portugal has a relatively good record on accession to relevant human rights instruments, including three of the four core statelessness conventions. Some data on the stateless population is available, but this is limited due to the lack of mechanisms to identify and determine statelessness, inconsistencies in recording, and overlapping data categories. A new census was carried out in 2021, and a brief explanation of the concept ‘stateless’ was included in the questionnaire, but disaggregated results are not available at the time of writing.

There are no procedures through which statelessness can be determined in Portugal nor a stateless protection status established in law.
There are also gaps in protections to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people, and it is likely that some stateless people are detained in practice. However, there are relatively strong procedural safeguards in place and cumulative time spent in detention counts towards the maximum (relatively short) time limit.

Portugal performs well on the prevention and reduction of statelessness, although some improvements could be made. For example, the legal safeguard for otherwise stateless children born on the territory is not necessarily automatic in practice, and the burden of proof in evidencing statelessness lies with the child. However, successive recent amendments to the Nationality Act have broadened the scope for children born in Portugal to foreign parents to acquire nationality at birth. In practice, foundlings acquire nationality by birth, there is no risk of statelessness in adoption procedures, and no discriminatory conditions on the acquisition of nationality by children born to nationals abroad. The registration of all births in Portugal is mandatory and facilitated even if parents cannot prove their identity or miss the registration deadline. Portuguese nationality law contains safeguards to prevent statelessness as a result of deprivation or renunciation of nationality.

Përditësimi i fundit: 
Feb 2023
Ekspert/ë i/të Shtetit: 

Inês Carreirinho (Portuguese Refugee Council) and Rita Santos

Burime shtesë

ÇELËSI I VLERËSIMIT

++POZITIV
+ DISI POZITIV
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- DISI NEGATIV
--NEGATIV

INFORMACION SHTESË

-NORMAT DHE PRAKTIKAT E MIRA

 

Instrumentet Ndërkombëtare dhe Rajonale

Assesses whether countries are State party to the relevant international and regional instruments, including whether reservations have an impact on statelessness, and whether instruments are incorporated into domestic law. The four core statelessness treaties (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; European Convention on Nationality; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession) carry more weight than other relevant human rights instruments in the assessment.

Portugal has a relatively good accession record to relevant human rights treaties, including the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions, as well as the European Convention on Nationality. Portugal is state party to most other relevant regional and international instruments with no significant reservations, except for the European Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession and the UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, to which it is not party.

  • Portugal is state party to the 1954 Convention, and it has direct effect. It entered a reservation at the time of accession to clarify that under Article 38, it does not consider the more favourable treatment it provides to nationals of countries with special relations (such as EU countries and Portuguese-speaking States) the general standard of treatment of foreign nationals that should apply to stateless people.
  • Portugal is state party to the 1961 Convention with no reservations, and it has direct effect.
  • Portugal is state party to the European Convention on Nationality, but not to the Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession.
  • Portugal is party to all other relevant regional and international human rights instruments with no relevant reservations, except for the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, to which it is not signatory.

Të Dhënat e Popullsisë për Pashtetësinë

Examines the availability and sources of disaggregated population data on statelessness. Provides recent figures and assesses reliability of measures countries have in place to count stateless persons, including in the census, population registries, and migration databases. Notes whether statelessness has been mapped in the country and whether there are sufficient measures in place to count stateless persons in detention.

Some limited data is available on the stateless population in Portugal. The 2011 census included a nationality category ‘stateless persons’, disaggregated by age and gender. Statistics Portugal and the Immigration and Borders Service report on the resident population under the categories ‘stateless’, ‘unknown nationality’, and ‘other non-classifiable’, and some data on asylum applicants registered as ‘stateless’ is available. UNHCR published a mapping study of statelessness in Portugal in 2018 but reported that only limited population data was available. It is not clear on what basis people are recorded as stateless in official statistics as there is no statelessness determination procedure in Portugal, there are overlapping categories, and evidence suggests that only those with residence permits are counted. The Government does not routinely publish data on people held in immigration detention. The 2021 census questionnaire included a brief explanation of the designation "stateless”; however, preliminary results on the stateless population were not available at the time of writing.

  • The 2011 census included a nationality category 'stateless persons', which is disaggregated by age and gender (284 men; 269 women; most common age groups: 30-34 years (76 people), 35-39 years (100), and 40-44 years (56)).  The 2021 census questionnaire included a brief explanation of the designation ‘stateless’, but preliminary results did not contain disaggregated data on the stateless population.
  • Statistics Portugal publishes data on the resident stateless population (30 stateless people in 2020 - 16 men, 14 women) as well as residents recorded as having 'unknown nationality' (none in 2019 or 2020) and ‘non-classifiable’ (72 in 2020 – 34 men, 38 women). The Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report (RIFA), published yearly by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), includes information on the resident population, disaggregated by nationality and gender. According to its 2021 edition, 24 persons were recorded as stateless (13 men and 11 women), while 22 (13 men and 9 women) were recorded as having unknown nationality.
  • Some data is also available on the number of stateless people and people of unknown nationality acquiring Portuguese nationality at birth (less than 5 in 2019). Data on acquisition of nationality after birth for 2021 indicates that no stateless persons, persons of unknown nationality nor of ‘non-classifiable’ nationality acquired Portuguese nationality during the year.
  • According to the Asylum Act, SEF must communicate all asylum applications filed in Portugal to the Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR) (6 applicants for international protection were registered as stateless in 2019). 
  • According to EUROSTAT data, of 1,540 asylum applications filed in Portugal in 2021, none were stateless or Palestinian; 5 were of unknown nationality.
  • It is not clear on what basis stateless people are recorded in the statistics as there is no statelessness determination procedure in Portugal. Some evidence suggests that the data covers only those issued with residence permits. There are also overlapping categories, for example, the 2021 Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report included figures under the category 'Palestinians' (61 people - 36 male, 25 female), despite internal guidance that establishes that applicants for international protection identifying as Palestinian and Saharawi should be recorded in the statistics as 'stateless'.  UNHCR published a mapping study of statelessness in Portugal in 2018, but it noted that available data on the stateless population was limited, so it does not provide an overall figure for the stateless population in the country.
  • The Government does not routinely publish data on people held in immigration detention, and IOM reports that it does not have reliable data on the nationality status/statelessness of detainees. 
  • Some data has been made available through reports by the Ombudsperson, UNHCR in its 2018 mapping study, and IOM.  In a 2017 report , the Ombudsperson reported the number of people detained during the second semester of 2016 by region of origin but not by nationality/statelessness, although a category of 'unknown nationality' was included (35 people).Subsequent reports have not provided any similar or updated information.

Statusi dhe Përcaktimi i Pashtetësisë

Identifies whether countries have a definition of a stateless person in national law that aligns with the 1954 Convention, and whether they have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure (SDP) leading to a dedicated stateless status. If an SDP is not place, it assesses whether there are other procedures in which statelessness can be identified or other routes through which stateless people could regularise their stay or access their rights. Countries are subdivided in three groups to enable comparison between those with an SDP leading to protection, those with other procedures, and those with a statelessness status but no clear mechanism to access protection. The existing procedures and rights granted to stateless persons are examined and assessed against international norms and good practice. Assesses whether stateless people fleeing war have access to temporary protection.

There is no definition of a stateless person in Portuguese law, but since the 1954 Convention has direct effect, the convention definition applies. However, Portugal does not have a statelessness determination procedure nor any other administrative procedure through which statelessness can be determined. There is no stateless protection status nor specific rights attached to being considered stateless by the authorities. If a stateless person is eligible for international protection, they will be able to regularise their stay that way; but if not, they are likely to face barriers to regularisation without a valid travel document. There is an exceptional regularisation regime intended to address 'extraordinary situations', but this is discretionary and does not lead to a specific protection status. In theory, stateless people have access to the relatively flexible Portuguese nationality regime. However, in practice, requirements such as documentary evidence of identity may hamper access to nationality.

  • There is no definition of a stateless person in domestic law, but the 1954 Convention has direct effect, so the convention definition and exclusion clauses apply.
  • UNHCR conducted a series of trainings for the Immigration & Borders Service (SEF), civil registration officials, and judges and prosecutors in 2018.
  • It is unclear whether training is provided on a regular basis to all relevant officials.
  • The Central Registry Office institutional training programmes include statelessness-related content in the context of nationality.
  • The continuing training plan of the Centre for Judiciary Studies for 2022/2023 includes training on Foreigners Law (Asylum and Statelessness).
  • Although stateless people may be encountered in the context of other administrative procedures, none amounts to formal identification or determination, and there is no stateless protection status nor specific rights attached to being considered stateless by the Portuguese authorities.
  • In July 2022, a legislative proposal was tabled in Parliament for the creation of a statelessness status. UNHCR has provided technical observations, namely concerning the definition of stateless person used in the proposal, and the need to link statelessness to a dedicated status and not to subsidiary protection.
  • In cases where a stateless person is eligible for international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection), they should be able to regularise their presence on the territory through that route. While the number of stateless applicants for international protection is low, there is no record of specific challenges faced by this group when compared to applicants with a nationality.
  • Stateless people may be able to regularise their stay through general routes under the Immigration Act, but if they have not previously been identified as stateless by another State, they will likely face significant obstacles, for example, due to the need to present a valid travel document.
  • The Immigration Act also includes an exceptional regularisation regime intended to address 'extraordinary situations' where there are national interest, humanitarian, or public interest grounds, but this is discretionary and does not lead to a specific protection status. It is unclear whether stateless people are able to regularise their stay through this route. None of these procedures has statelessness determination as an objective, nor do they provide for any consequence or rights on the basis of statelessness alone. Organisations working on related issues report challenges for stateless people or those at risk of statelessness to access any route to a residence permit.
  • Portugal received a recommendation from the UN Human Rights Committee in 2020 that it establish an effective mechanism for the identification of stateless people in the context of international protection procedures.
  • If a stateless person is simultaneously eligible for international protection, they should be able to regularise their presence in Portugal through that route. Stateless applicants for international protection are entitled to the same rights as other applicants. While the number of applicants registered as stateless is low, there is no record of specific challenges faced by this group when compared to applicants with a nationality.
  • It may be possible for stateless persons to regularise their stay through general routes under the Immigration Act. However, stateless persons who have not previously been identified as such (i.e., by another State) will likely face significant obstacles in accessing such routes (for example, due to the need to present a valid travel document).
  • In the absence of a statelessness determination procedure, it is often difficult for entities providing legal assistance to refer people who have not previously been determined as stateless to adequate legal routes and assess their viability.
  • Statelessness is not identified or assessed in any of the procedures available to stateless people to regularise their stay in Portugal.
  • Information on guidance for authorities on how to deal with statelessness in immigration or international protection procedures is not available.
  • Existing procedural safeguard are not designed to ensure that statelessness is identified or addressed, but in some circumstances may assist stateless persons.
  • According to the general rules on legal aid, stateless people are entitled to free legal aid if they have a valid residence permit in an EU Member State and can prove they have insufficient means.
  • Applicants for international protection are entitled to free legal aid, and to benefit from the services of an interpreter when preparing the application for international protection and during the procedure.
  • The Immigration Act also explicitly  grants the right to free legal aid and to an interpreter to foreigners not admitted to the national territory, victims of human trafficking or of actions to facilitate illegal immigration, as well as to those intending to challenge a coercive removal decision in court. The right to free legal aid is also explicitly granted to long-term residents who have been subject to a judicial expulsion decision.
  • The general rule is that administrative decisions must be delivered in writing, and that reasons must be given for certain administrative acts (including for negative decisions). Both the Asylum Act and the Immigration Act contain specific obligations for the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) regarding this matter.
  • The law does not provide for a specific status nor any rights to be granted to stateless people on the basis of their statelessness.
  • While access to healthcare is provided to all persons, regardless of their residence or documentation status, legal status may impact on applicable fees. Also, the right to education is guaranteed to all children.
  • Stateless people holding a residence permit under the Immigration Act are entitled to healthcare, education, work and vocational training, social security, access to justice and the courts, as well as family reunification. Nevertheless, according to the available information, stateless people will likely face significant obstacles in practice to regularise their stay under the Immigration Act.
  • Stateless beneficiaries of international protection have access to the same rights as other beneficiaries of protection, including residence, work, healthcare, education, social security, housing, and family reunification.
  • Only nationals of certain States residing in Portugal are entitled to vote in local elections if they are duly registered as voters. In certain cases, a residency period is also required. It is unclear whether stateless people may have the right to vote in some elections in Portugal.
  • Ukrainian nationals and beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine (including stateless beneficiaries of international protection), coming from Ukraine and who cannot return due to the war, are eligible for temporary protection. People who are related to an eligible person are also entitled to protection.
  • Until December 2022, temporary protection was further granted to other third country nationals or stateless people who were in similar conditions, and who could prove that they were permanent residents in Ukraine; had a temporary residence permit in the country; or had a long-term visa in order to obtain such a permit, and whose durable return to their country of origin was not possible.
  • The personal scope of temporary protection was restricted in December 2022, and stateless people who held a temporary residence permit or long-term visa in Ukraine are no longer entitled to temporary protection. According to the new amendments, stateless people are only entitled to temporary protection if they were beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine, if they held a permanent residence permit in Ukraine, or if they are family members of a Ukrainian national or a person who benefitted from international protection in Ukraine.
  • Stateless people in need of international protection who are not within these categories, may apply for asylum as per the general rules.

Ndalimi

Analyses law, policy and practice relating to immigration detention generally, but focusing on protections in place to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people during removal and deportation procedures. Subthemes examine areas such as the identification of statelessness and assessment of whether there is a reasonable prospect of removal, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight, and effective remedies, as well as the rights granted to stateless people upon release from detention and protection against re-detention.

There are gaps in protections to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Portugal. For example, there is no requirement that a country of removal is identified prior to detention, and statelessness is not routinely considered juridically relevant in detention decisions. The Immigration Act implies that the least-restrictive effective measure should be applied in the consideration of detention for removal, but this is not explicit. In practice, judges consider the necessity and proportionality of detention, and voluntary return is more common than coercive removal. There are relatively strong procedural safeguards including a time limit, regular ex officio reviews, and access to legal aid. Upon release, people receive a document confirming they were detained, and cumulative time spent in detention is counted towards the maximum time limit. However, there are few other protections on release from detention.

  • Powers for immigration detention in Portugal are provided for in the Constitution, Immigration Act and Asylum Act. 
  • There is no mention in the Immigration Act of alternatives to detention on refusal of entry to the territory, nor any clear legal provision stating that detention should be a measure of last resort after all alternatives have been exhausted. In the context of detention for removal, the Immigration Act implies that the least-restrictive effective measure should be applied in an individual case, but this is not explicit. Measures include mandatory reporting to the Immigration & Borders Service, residential detention with electronic surveillance, and detention in a detention facility. 
  • There is no specific obligation in law to identify a country of removal prior to detention for removal, and the Immigration Act does not contain a specific obligation to release a person when there is no reasonable prospect of removal.
  • According to the information available, in practice judges consider the necessity and proportionality of detention, similarly to the process followed in Criminal Law. This requirement also arises from the constitutional provisions.
  • The Portuguese removal regime has a clear preference for voluntary removal which is born out in the statistics: in 2021, 1,152 voluntary removal notifications were issued compared to 382 coercive return orders. 
  • The Asylum Act states that detention must only be applied to applicants for international protection if less coercive measures cannot be effectively implemented. Alternatives to detention and alternative forms of detention in the Asylum Act include periodic reporting to the authorities and residential detention with electronic surveillance.
  • Since March 2020, individuals applying for international protection at the border have been referred to the regular asylum procedure and not detained. Persons who apply for international protection while in detention in relation to a removal procedure remain in detention until their application is admitted, or for up to 60 days.
  • Statelessness is not routinely considered a factor impacting on detention decision-making in practice. There is little general awareness of the relevance of statelessness to detention decision-making. It appears there is a tendency to consider that no one is stateless until proven otherwise. Given this tendency and the low awareness and lack of mechanisms to identify and determine statelessness, it is likely that stateless people (whose statelessness has not been identified) are detained in practice.
  • There is no specific requirement in the Immigration Act to undertake a vulnerability assessment in the context of a decision to detain, and no explicit definition of vulnerability in Portuguese law.
  • Under the Immigration Act, detention in the context of removal can only be maintained for the time needed to carry out the removal order and cannot exceed 60 days. People who have been released can be subject to an additional detention period of 30 days. Detention under the Asylum Act is also subject to a 60-day time limit.
  • Detainees are informed of the reasons for detention and provided with legal information. This is information of a technical nature, and sometimes it is reportedly not provided in a language they understand.
  • People detained in the main detention centre ‘Unidade Habitacional de Santo António’ (UHSA) receive written and oral information about their rights and duties from centre management, IOM and the Jesuit Refugee Service. 
  • There are regular, periodic ex officio reviews of detention before a court every eight days, and a person detained for irregular entry/presence on the territory must be brought before a judge within 48 hours. 
  • The law establishes that detained asylum seekers must be informed in writing and in a language they understand (or are expected to understand) of the grounds of detention, possibility to appeal and the right to legal aid in order to do so. Documents pertaining to the asylum application include a reference to the legal framework on detention of asylum seekers within border procedures, but information is not available regarding the specific provision of detailed information to detainees regarding their detention. 
  • Under the Immigration Act, people refused entry or subject to removal have the right to legal aid subject to a means test, on the same basis as nationals. In practice, access to legal aid within the context of removal procedures is generally fast and straightforward in the UHSA, but lack of funds to cover the costs of interpretation and difficulties accessing detainees' files (which may remain in their place of former residence) are potential barriers to effective legal representation.
  • In 2020, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, and Bar Association signed a cooperation protocol to ensure provision of legal assistance to people refused entry at the border. Procedural rules on its implementation entered in force on 8 March 2021.
  • Information on the rules governing the process of re-documentation/ascertaining nationality is not available.
  • People released following expiry of the maximum detention period are issued with a document proving they have been detained, but it is not clear if this provides access to any other rights or for what purposes it can be used.
  • The law does not establish a legal status for people released from detention. In the case of applicants for international protection, their status will depend on the outcome of the asylum procedure.
  • Cumulative time spent in detention is counted towards the maximum time limit.
  • According to available information, Portugal has entered into seven bilateral readmission agreements and is party to EU protocols with Russia, Serbia and Albania. 
  • In general, the agreements provide for the readmission of nationals and people who can clearly be presumed to be nationals based on ‘strong indications.’
  • The agreement with Hungary clearly establishes that there is no obligation on the contracting parties to readmit stateless people as defined in the 1954 Convention.
  • The agreement with Lithuania establishes that a contracting party must on request readmit a stateless person who has entered the territory with a travel document issued by the requesting state.

Parandalimi dhe Reduktimi

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including facilitated routes to naturalisation for stateless people, and protections for otherwise stateless children born on the territory or to nationals abroad, foundlings and adopted children. Examines law, policy, and practice on birth registration, including access to late birth registration, and reduction measures taken by States to prevent and reduce in situ statelessness. Analyses provisions on deprivation of nationality and whether there are safeguards related to renunciation and deprivation of nationality to prevent statelessness from occurring.

Portugal presents some good practice on the prevention and reduction of statelessness, but there are some remaining gaps. There is a safeguard for the acquisition of nationality at birth by a child born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless, but in practice, evidence of statelessness may be required, and the burden of proof lies with the child. However, successive recent amendments to the Nationality Act have broadened the scope for children born in Portugal to foreign parents to acquire nationality at birth (even if not stateless). Infant foundlings are presumed to have been born in Portugal unless proven otherwise and acquire Portuguese nationality. The same procedure is followed for older children in practice. There is no risk of statelessness in adoption procedures, and no discriminatory conditions on the acquisition of nationality by children born to nationals abroad, although registration with the Portuguese authorities is required. The registration of all births in Portugal is mandatory and facilitated even if parents cannot prove their identity or miss the registration deadline. A free birth certificate is issued upon registration and only the nationality of non-Portuguese parents is noted. Neither deprivation nor renunciation of nationality is permitted where it would result in statelessness. Facilitated naturalisation regimes may benefit stateless people or those at risk of statelessness, although they are not specifically designed to do so.

  • The Portuguese Nationality Act permits naturalisation of adults who have lawfully resided in the country for at least five years, have sufficient knowledge of Portuguese language, do not represent a danger to national security, and have not been convicted to a prison sentence of three years or more.
  • While there is no specific naturalisation regime for stateless people, in theory, stateless people have access to this relatively flexible Portuguese nationality regime. However, in practice, residence and procedural requirements, such as documentary evidence of identity, may hamper access to nationality.
  • There are several facilitated naturalisation regimes in the Nationality Act, including one for people who lost their Portuguese nationality and never acquired another one (exemption from legal residence and language requirements). Other facilitated naturalisation regimes may  benefit stateless people or those at risk of statelessness, although they are not specifically designed to do so.
  • The costs of procedures for nationality acquisition vary according to the applicable legal provision. For naturalisation, for instance, the procedure can be free of charge or have a cost of up to 250 EUR.
  • The law provides for the automatic acquisition of nationality by children born on the territory who do not have another nationality.
  • There is no requirement for a period of legal residence of the child or parents and no age limit.
  • Regulations establish that the acquisition of Portuguese nationality is automatic if the person is born on national territory and it is registered in their birth certificate that they do not hold another nationality (this must be recorded, if proven). 
  • In practice, if the parents are not previously registered as stateless and do not hold a document identifying them as such, statelessness must be proven through statements from relevant authorities, and the burden of proof lies on the child/their representative. 
  • A 2022 amendment to the Nationality Regulation added a provision establishing that, if the authorities of a third country do not reply within three months to an official request made by the Portuguese authorities, it is presumed that the person concerned does not have the nationality of the respective country.
  • The law does not require the parents to be stateless, but in practice, the application of the safeguard is much more straightforward when parents are documented as stateless.
  • The provision in the Nationality Act for children born on the territory to foreign parents was widened in scope in 2020. A child now acquires Portuguese nationality at birth if at least one of the parents legally resides in the country at the time of birth or one of the parents has resided in Portugal for at least one year at the time of birth (regardless of residence status). This change applies retroactively.
  • According to the Nationality Act, new-born foundlings are presumed to have been born in Portugal unless proven otherwise and, in practice, nationality is established at birth registration.
  • According to the available information, in practice, the same procedure is adopted in the case of older children of unknown parentage whose apparent age is under 14, or people who are intellectually disabled whose parents’ whereabouts are unknown.
  • Nationality cannot be withdrawn from foundlings.
  • Portuguese nationality can only be withdrawn in cases of voluntary renunciation or fraudulent acquisition, so adoption by foreign parents does not affect the Portuguese nationality of the child.
  • Acquisition of nationality by a non-Portuguese child adopted by Portuguese nationals is automatic in the case of a full adoption. If the adoption was determined under the Hague Convention, the Institute of Social Security is responsible for communications for the purposes of nationality acquisition; if it was otherwise determined by a foreign court, the final decision must be reviewed and confirmed by the competent national court. If the full effect of the adoption is not mentioned in the original decision, additional judicial steps may be required. 
  • There is no age limit on acquisition of nationality by adoption so long as the full adoption took place while the person was under 18.
  • A child born to Portuguese nationals abroad is automatically Portuguese at birth if the parents are abroad at the Service of the Portuguese Republic. In other cases, the child is Portuguese if their birth is registered in the Portuguese Civil Registry or if they (or their representative) declare willingness to be Portuguese through submitting a request to the competent consular authority for registration along with proof of Portuguese nationality of one of their parents. There are special rules regarding people over 14 years old who do not provide an identification document and a foreign birth certificate. The amended Nationality Regulation provides for the possibility of registration procedures to be conducted electronically in some cases.
  • There are no discriminatory conditions.
  • The Ombudsperson recommended in 2019 that where children born to Portuguese nationals abroad have no other nationality, requests should be prioritised to avoid statelessness. This recommendation was accepted.
  • The law establishes that birth registration is mandatory irrespective of the status of the parents. If parents cannot provide an identity document, this can be replaced by the testimony of two witnesses. 
  • Births must be declared in a civil registry office within 20 days or, if the birth took place in a medical facility where declaration is possible, before medical discharge of the mother. The duty to report the birth applies successively to: the parents or other legal representative of the child or person empowered to do so; the closest relative who is aware of the birth; the director/administrator or other official of the medical facility where the birth took place/was declared.
  • It is possible to register the birth of a child in all public hospitals and maternities as well as in some private hospitals. Where applicable, it is also possible to request the national identity document for the child immediately. Since 13 April 2020, birth registration can be performed online.
  • Late birth registration is possible but may be subject to a fine of between 50-150 EUR for an individual, and 150-400 EUR for a legal person. However, if the declaration is voluntarily performed before the legal process begins, the fine is not applied, and fines are generally not enforced in practice. When the birth occurred more than a year prior to registration, it can only be voluntarily reported by one of the parents, by the person responsible for the child or by the person concerned if they are over 14 years old. If possible, the parents must be heard even if they are not the persons reporting the birth. If the birth occurred more than 14 years ago, two witness are required for late birth registration. If possible, a document confirming the truthfulness of the declaration must be presented. The official performing the registration may require/perform additional inquiries.
  • A free birth certificate (either digital or on paper) is issued to all children upon registration.
  • The nationality of the child is not recorded on the birth certificate and the law does not provide for a nationality determination procedure. According to the Nationality Regulation, the birth registration of a child born to non-Portuguese parents must indicate the nationality of the parents or the fact that their nationality is unknown. The birth certificate must also mention if it is proven that the child does not hold another nationality, unless the child was born in the territory and both their parents are stateless.
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates that information about nationality provided to parents at the time of birth registration is often limited and varies according to location. In addition,  there are knowledge gaps at some birth registry offices regarding the criteria for acquisition of nationality at birth when the parents are not Portuguese.
  • There are no mandatory reporting requirements that would deter undocumented migrants from registering the birth of a child; however, there is no prohibition on sharing information from birth registration offices with immigration enforcement officials.
  • Portugal acceded to the two statelessness conventions in 2012.
  • The successive amendments to the Nationality Act have been generally positive in terms of avenues for acquisition of Portuguese nationality.
  • With regards to birth registration, Nascer Cidadão ('Born a Citizen'), a joint initiative of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Solidarity & Social Security, and Ministry of Interior, promotes birth registration by enabling all births in public hospitals and maternity wards, as well as some private hospitals, to be registered on site, and where applicable, national ID cards to be requested immediately.
  • UNHCR's 2018 mapping study identified 9 main types and causes or risks of statelessness in Portugal including the impact of decolonisation on the nationality of people born in the former colonies, and the nexus between forced displacement and statelessness.
  • At the Global Refugee Forum in 2019, Portugal pledged to 'establish mechanisms to identify, protect, prevent and reduce statelessness in Portugal' and to 'provide the issuance of Convention travel documents for refugees and stateless persons according with international standards'. Also in 2019, it introduced a National Plan for the Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, which included measures to address statelessness, which according to the Government, have now largely been implemented.
  • The Portuguese nationality regime permits deprivation of nationality only in cases of fraudulent acquisition, and there is a safeguard against statelessness. Provisions do not apply where deprivation of nationality would result in statelessness. Further, the Portuguese nationality of a person who has held it in good faith for at least 10 years, or 18 months in cases of children whose births have been registered in Portugal, is secure, even if granted in error.
  • In cases of renunciation of nationality, the law requires that the person presents documentary proof of another nationality before being able to renounce Portuguese nationality.
  • There are no provisions on deprivation of nationality on national security grounds, and no provisions that could be considered discriminatory.
  • There are no provisions relating to derivative loss of nationality.

Burimet

Library of resources, legal instruments, publications and training materials on statelessness, specifically relevant to this country. More regional and international materials, as well as resources from other countries, are available on the Resources library. Domestic case law can be consulted in the Statelessness Case Law Database (with summaries available in English).

Please note that we are in the process of adding new resources, so check back soon.

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In conversation with experts working in different countries, we presented our annual state of play assessment of key trends on statelessness in...
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Portugal passes law to introduce a statelessness status

Portugal has adopted a law that paves the way for the introduction of an SDP, although further legislation is needed.
10 Aug 2023 / Portugal / Statelessness determination and status

WEBINAR: 2023 State of Play Assessment on Statelessness in Europe

Join us for the online launch of our annual StatelessnessINDEX state of play assessment and hear about key trends from several experts working on the...
23 Mar 2023 / Albania / Austria / Belgium / Bulgaria / Council of Europe / Croatia / Cyprus / Czechia / European Union / France / Germany / Global / Greece / Hungary / International and Regional Instruments / Ireland / Italy / Latvia / Malta / Moldova / Montenegro / Netherlands / North Macedonia / Norway / Poland / Portugal / Romania / Serbia / Slovenia / Spain / Sweden / Switzerland / Ukraine / United Kingdom

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