In general, a foreign citizen can obtain the authorization to be married in Portugal by following this process:
- Request a copy of your birth certificate in your native country, embassy or consulate – it must be a legal or registered document and it must be translated. This birth certificate is valid for 6 months.
- Request a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage and its official translation. If the native country in question does not issue these certificates, request a written statement that explains exactly that (the non-emission of the matrimonial capacity certificate by this country).
- Start the marriage license process in Portugal in person or by assigning a solicitor with powers to do so and who will represent both the bride and the groom.
- The process must be submitted at any Civil Register Office in Portugal.
- The process should be initiated 6 months prior to the wedding date, at maximum. If this deadline is exceeded, the process must be renewed.
- The process costs approximately 100 Euros if there are no specifications regarding the marriage property regime.
Necessary documents: passport or national identity document (if you are a citizen of a European Union member country), legal or registered birth certificate, as well as its official translation; matrimonial capacity certificate that can be requested in loco in the native country or through the respective embassy or consulate, as well as its official translation.
It is important to note that, in the case of foreign citizens who are not authorized to reside in Portuguese territory, the Civil Register Office must notify the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF – Foreigners and Borders Service) of the marriage license request to get married in Portugal before issuing authorization. If the citizens applying are legal residents in Portugal, than this step is automatically eliminated.
If only one of the elements of the couple (bride or groom) is a foreign citizen and the other is a Portuguese citizen, the foreign citizen must follow the steps presented above. For the Portuguese citizen to initiate the marriage license process, he/she only needs a valid national identity document (Bilhete de Identidade or Cartão de Cidadão).
The availability of these documents and information do not substitute a prior consultation with any Civil Register Office in Portugal, so as to inquire about any existing specifications relative to the emission of certain documents by the bride/groom’s native country.
The substance and effects of the marriage contract and marriage property regime, legal or conventional, are defined by the bride and groom’s national law at the time of the wedding. If the bride and groom do not have the same nationality, the law pertaining to their usual residence at the time of the wedding is applied; if one does not exist, the law pertaining to their first residence as a married couple is applied.
If the citizen’s nationality is foreign and either the bride or groom have a habitual residence in Portuguese territory, than one of the regimes foreseen in the Portuguese law may be conventionalized.
According to Portuguese law, both husband and wife maintain their original nationality. The wedding in itself does not change or attribute a spouse’s nationality. However, if a foreign citizen has been married to a Portuguese citizen for a period longer than three years, than that citizen can apply for the same nationality.