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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Portugal

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: August 2015

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to a new country, you are able to bring the rest of your family with you. This way, you can all help each other to get through the disorientation and possible culture shock that often comes with moving to a new country. All non-nationals must fulfil certain requirements to be eligible to reside in the country. This applies whether you and your family are all first-time immigrants into Portugal or you are a returning Portuguese citizen with a family of non-nationals.

The Family Reunion visa is a subtype of residence visa that can be issued in certain circumstances. Generally, once you have held a residence permit for at least a year, you can apply for your family members to come and live with you in Portugal. They will receive a renewable resident permit for the same length as yours if yours is temporary, or for two years if yours is permanent. After two years, family member receive residence permits in their own right.

Family members moving to Portugal with a new employee must also submit applications for work and residence visas. All family members coming with the employee need to be entered onto the employee’s application. This can be done at the same time, though note that approval for the employee may come several weeks before that for the family members.

Marriage certificates of any spouse (with an Apostille) and birth certificates of children will be required for their applications. Health and police certificates for all family members will also be needed. Work permits for spouses and other family members need to be obtained separately.

There may be financial, legal or other reasons why your family members are not able to immigrate at the same time as you. In such cases, you may need to spend some time residing and working in Portugal, perhaps remitting money to your home country to help support your family there. During the wait, you can take the time to familiarise yourself with your new country of residence. Once you have taken care of matters such as finding suitable family accommodation and looking into schools, childcare and the like, the rest of your family should find that their move into Portugal runs more smoothly.

In the meantime, family members will of course want to visit you if it is practicable. To do so, each will need to apply for a Schengen visa, providing proof of their relationship to you. If of age, they will also need to provide documentary evidence that they have enough money to support themselves.


In Portugal, the minimum age you can get married at is 16 for both sexes, though written consent from both parents is required for each party that is under 18. As of 2010, marriage is also permitted for same-sex couples under the same restrictions.

In order to be eligible to marry, one party must have resided in Portugal for a minimum of 30 days. After this, the couple need to obtain a certificate of no impediment: from a local priest for Catholic weddings or otherwise from the nearest consulate or embassy. Banns must be published to declare your intention to marry.

You can have either a civil ceremony or a Catholic one. If you are of any other religious persuasion than Catholic, you will need to have a civil ceremony first, then a religious one. Only the civil ceremony has legal effect in this case.

As usual with Portugal, bureaucracy will slow down the process. Documents you will need to take include, as a minimum, are as follows:

In all cases, if you have been married before, you must produce documentation that proves that you are fit to marry: divorce decrees absolute and death certificates, as appropriate.

The certificate of no impediment is valid for three months, within which time the wedding ceremony must take place. Any documents not in Portuguese must be accompanied by translations that have been authenticated by a notary. The marriage ceremony will also be conducted in Portuguese, so you may need an interpreter.

Marrying a Portuguese citizen does not automatically confer citizenship on the spouse. However,  after three years of marriage, your spouse can apply for Portuguese citizenship at the local central registry office (Conservatória dos Registros Centrais.)




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