According to the current legislation in Portugal, those who wish to acquire Portuguese nationality based on residence have the right to do so after legally residing in the country for a minimum period of 5 years.
It is important to emphasize that only the time of “legal residence” in Portugal is considered for this calculation. This means that only those who are in Portuguese territory with their situation regularized before the authorities, whether through visas, authorizations, or other titles provided for in the law on foreigners and asylum, can accumulate this time to apply for citizenship.
According to the provisions of the Nationality Law (Law No. 37/81), the required 5 years of residence for the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship can be counted by considering all periods of legal residence in the country, whether continuous or intermittent. This means that it is possible to add different periods of legal residence until the requirement of 5 years is met, as long as this occurs within a 15-year interval.
For those who have doubts about how long they have legally resided in Portugal, it is possible to request a certificate of time counting from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). This certificate will provide accurate information on how SEF counts the period of legal residence, allowing the interested party to have clarity on when to begin the process of applying for Portuguese citizenship based on residence.