A Question of
Paulo Colaço Dias
Any individual can apply for Portuguese Nationality by virtue of any
one of the parents being Portuguese citizens. Not necessarily both
parents. The only condition is that parents' marriage needs to
be registered in Portugal.
Nowadays, it is much much more difficult to get Portuguese Nationality
through marriage than by virtue of being a descendent of a Portuguese
On the other hand, if one analyses the Portuguese Nationality law as I
did, one will understand that any citizen of the Antigo Estado da India
born before 1961 retained their Portuguese citizenship unless he or she
officially renounced it. It is very important to understand this.
If an individual never renounced Portuguese Citizenship, the
individual is today a Portuguese Citizen and the Portuguese Nationality
Law recognizes him/her as Portuguese because he/she was born Portuguese in
the Antigo Estado da India and never actually renounced Portuguese
That individual was
born Portuguese in the Antigo Estado da India just like the Madeirenses
were born Portuguese in Madeira and the Acoreanos were born Portuguese in
Azores and the Minhotos were born Portuguese in Minho and the Lisboetas
were born Portuguese in Lisbon.
The Antigo Estado da
India was since 1953 officially a province of Portugal and NOT a colony.
The only problem is that when the Portuguese left Goa after 1961, the
records were not taken with them and therefore, Portugal lost the contact
and the records of all citizens of the Antigo Estado da India. Hence the
necessity to register in Portugal as a Portuguese Citizen.
When a Goan born in Goa (or anywhere in the Antigo Estado da India) before
1961 starts his/her process for Portuguese Nationality, he/she is not
applying for nationality but he/she is merely registering himself/herself
Goa. The law still considers he/she as a Portuguese citizen. If their
children also want Portuguese citizenship, then they will be applying for
citizenship by virtue of their parents being Portuguese.
There were cases of East Timoreses who managed to escape persecution in
Indonesia some years ago. They were caught in Australia and they claimed
Portuguese Citizenship in a Australian court of law when Australia was
trying to get them extradited back to Indonesia. They were caught in
possession of an Indonesian passport. After consultations with the
Portuguese Consulate in Australia, the conclusion was that these East
Timoreses were indeed Portuguese citizens according to the Portuguese
Nationality Law because they were born Portuguese and never actually
renounced their Portuguese citizenship.
The only difference is for the people born in the Portuguese African
colonies (which were given independence) and also Macau (which was given
back to China).
People that were born
or lived in Portuguese Africa were given a limit of
time to decide if they wanted to retain their Portuguese Nationality.
that, they lost their right to claim Portuguese Nationality. People from
Macau can claim as long as they were born before the Chinese-Portuguese
agreement of the Macau hand over.
The Antigo Estado da
India and East Timor are indeed different cases since
there was an invasion (by India and by Indonesia) and therefore, the
Portuguese nationality Law still considers people born in these places as
Portuguese citizens if they did not renounce their nationality. It is
the Portuguese law is in their favour because they were invaded and they
did not have their say in the matter ...
So, to finish all this, the problem is with India really who does not
allow second nationality. It is indeed a complex matter. I guess if a Goan born
before 1961 does not register in Portugal, nobody can really say he/she is
a Portuguese National because Portugal does not have any records about
he/she. Although theoretically, according to the Portuguese Nationality
Law, they retained their Portuguese Nationality.
More details on:
Paulo Colaço Dias
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