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Tracing Your Roots: Qualifying for Greek, Portuguese, or Spanish Citizenship by Descent

citizenship by descent

Are you curious about your European heritage and wondering if it could be your ticket to an EU passport? You’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll go over how your lineage could grant you citizenship by descent in Spain, Portugal, or Greece.

This isn’t just about feeling connected to a place—it’s about practical benefits, like living and working freely within the European Union. And yes, by the end of this article, you’ll find out how Lexidy can be your guiding star on this journey toward citizenship by descent. Let’s jump right in.

What is Citizenship by Descent?

Citizenship by descent all boils down to one key concept: gaining the legal status of a citizen in a country where your family has roots. Think of it like a family reunion but on a national scale. You’re not just embracing your heritage; you’re literally becoming a part of a country through your family connection.

So how does this work, legally speaking? Well, if you have a relative—be it a parent, grandparent, or even someone further back in the family tree—who was a citizen of a particular country, you could be eligible for citizenship there. Sounds cool, right? But hold your horses; there are some hoops you need to jump through first.

Each country comes with its own set of rules, eligibility criteria, and—yes, you guessed it—paperwork. And we’re not talking about a simple form; we’re talking about documents, proof, maybe even language tests. It’s a process that needs meticulous planning and attention to detail.

In the coming sections, we’ll delve into the specifics of three European countries: Spain, Portugal, and Greece. We’ll cover what you need to know, what you need to show, and how to navigate the labyrinthine legal pathways to that sought-after passport.

The Importance of Ancestral Connections in Europe

Citizenship by descent offers more than just an emotional link to your past; it comes with a host of practical benefits. Here are some compelling reasons why ancestral connections in Europe matter:

Global Mobility

Let’s face it, waiting for visas is like watching paint dry. With an EU passport, you’re free to live, work, and travel in 27 EU countries. No need to jump through bureaucratic hoops; just pack your bags and go.

Expanded Educational, Professional, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Whether you’re keen on studying at a prestigious European university, climbing the corporate ladder, or launching the next big startup, an EU passport makes these opportunities far more accessible. It’s a resumĂ© booster, an academic edge, and a business enabler all rolled into one.

Reclaiming Your Cultural Identity

Ancestral citizenship isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s a way to reclaim and deepen your cultural roots. This can be incredibly rewarding, from partaking in traditional customs to fully understanding the nuances of your ancestral language.

Political Participation

Ever yelled at your TV during a political debate? With EU citizenship, you can do more than just yell—you can vote. Participate in local, national, and EU-wide elections. Democracy isn’t just a concept; it’s a practice, and now you can be a part of it!

Expanded Rights and Protections

EU citizenship provides a robust social safety net, from high-quality healthcare to unemployment benefits. And if you ever find yourself in legal trouble while abroad, you’re entitled to consular protection from any EU country. It’s like having 27 guardian angels watching over you.

Dual Citizenship Benefits

Holding two passports isn’t just cool, it’s practical. Many European countries allow dual citizenship, which means you can benefit from the rights and responsibilities of both. Double the nationality, double the opportunities.

Business and Investment Opportunities

Imagine the doors that open when investing or doing business in Europe become as easy as doing so in your home country. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or you’ve just got a killer business idea, an EU passport offers a more straightforward path to expand your financial horizons.

International Networking

Rubbing elbows with international professionals could be just the spark you need to take your career or business to the next level. An EU passport instantly broadens your networking scope, putting you in touch with people you might not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

Spanish Citizenship by Descent

Spanish citizenship by descent

Ah, Spain! The land of Flamenco, Paella, and—possibly—your ancestors. If you’ve got Spanish blood flowing through your veins, here’s what you need to know to make your Spanish citizenship dreams come true.

Eligibility Criteria

So, who gets to benefit from Spanish citizenship by descent? According to Spanish laws, you can obtain citizenship by descent if:

  • Your mother or father is a Spanish national. Yep, one parent is enough!
  • Both of your parents were born in Spain. 
  • You were adopted by a Spanish national before you hit 18.

Application Process

This is where the rubber meets the road. While the paperwork can differ based on your personal story, you’ll generally need to arm yourself with these documents:

  • A valid passport (make sure it’s up-to-date)
  • A birth certificate
  • Birth certificates for each ancestor leading back to your Spanish forebear 
  • Marriage certificates, if applicable (for better or worse, they help)
  • Death certificates, if applicable 
  • Criminal record certificates from every country you’ve lived in since turning 18 
  • Proof of financial support and means of income 

Once all your documents are in order, march on down to the Spanish consulate in your home country and submit your application. 

Required Fees

Ah yes, the part where you trade your hard-earned cash for a shot at Spanish citizenship. Here’s the rundown on what you’ll need to fork over:

  • Application Fee: You’ll have to pay between 60-100 Euros.
  • Fees for obtaining and translating required documents: No, Google Translate won’t cut it here.

Take note: Make sure you’re crystal clear on all the requirements and fees before you dive into this process. Nobody likes a surprise bill unless it’s being picked up by someone else.

Portuguese Citizenship by Descent

Portuguese citizenship by descent

Let’s talk about Portugal! No, it’s not just about stunning beaches, cork oaks, and soccer legends. If you’ve got roots reaching back to this gem of the Atlantic, you might just have a chance at citizenship. Ready to dig in?

Eligibility Criteria

Getting Portuguese citizenship by descent isn’t a free-for-all, but it can be accessible to those who can prove their ancestry. You can be eligible for citizenship if you are:

  • Born in Portugal: If one of your parents/grandparents is Portuguese, congrats, you’re almost there!
  • Born Abroad to a Portuguese State Employee: You’re in luck, could be an option to gain Portuguese Citizenship
  • Born Abroad but Registered: So you were born elsewhere but still made it onto Portugal’s civil registry or formally proclaimed your Portuguese-ness? Awesome.
  • Got Portuguese Roots?: Even if you’re born abroad, if you’re related to a Portuguese citizen within two generations, and they’ve kept their citizenship, you could qualify. But you need to prove some connection to Portugal. 

Additional Conditions:

  • Connection to the Community: You’ve got to show you’re at least a little Portuguese at heart, through language proficiency or spending time in the country.
  • Criminal Record: A clean slate is a must. If you’ve committed a crime with a maximum sentence of three years or more, it’s a no-go.
  • No Terror Activities: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. If you’re linked to terrorism, it’s not happening.

The Application Process: A Step-By-Step Guide

Ready to apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent? Great! It’s not as tough as finding a needle in a haystack, but you do have to follow a few steps. Here they are:

  1. Gather Your Docs: It’s all about the documents. You’ll generally need:
    • Your birth certificate, either original or certified
    • Passport or another picture ID (kids under 14 get a free pass on this)
    • Birth certificate of the Portuguese parent or grandparent you’re claiming descent from
    • Birth certificates or valid IDs for both your parents if either or both are Portuguese. No documents? No problem. You just need to give the full name, date of birth of the Portuguese relative and the parish and municipality of born for the officials to track down their certificate.
    • Proof of your affiliation (could work with your parents or grandparents’ marriage certificate)
    • Marriage Certificate in case you’re married or in a civil relationship with a Portuguese Citizen.
    • Proof of address: This could be a utility bill or bank statement, you get the drill.
  1. Register Foreign Marriages/Divorces: Did your parents or grandparents tie the knot or split up outside of Portugal? You’ll need to get that info into the Portuguese civil registry system.

Required Fees

Ah yes, the big questions we all want to know—how much is this gonna set you back? Well, here’s the essentials:

  • Application Fee: The standard fee is 175 Euros for the processes through the parents and grandparents and 250 Euros if you are married to a Portuguese Citizen. But this fee can vary depending on the current exchange rates or any additional service charges that are added on.
  • Payment Methods: They’re pretty flexible here. You can pay via debit card right at the consulate, or go old-school with a postal order. They also accept Portuguese bank checks in Euros, issued by the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado, I.P.

So, before you take the plunge, make sure you’ve got the cash ready in an acceptable format.

Greek Citizenship by Descent 

Greek citizenship by descent

If you’ve got Greek roots, you could be eligible for citizenship in this EU member country. But how do you go from loving gyros to becoming a Greek citizen?

Eligibility Criteria

So, you’re curious if your family tree’s roots extend all the way to Greece. You’ll want to make sure that you have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who could qualify you for Greek citizenship by descent Here’s how you can qualify:

  • Born in Greece? One Greek parent is all you need.
  • Greek Parent, but Born Abroad? You’re eligible.
  • Greek Grandparent? Proof is needed, but yes, you’re eligible.
  • No Greek Blood? A long-term stay in Greece can be your ticket.
  • Studying in Greece? This is another pathway.

Application Process

So, you’ve dusted off the family tree and found you’ve got Greek roots. What now?

  1. The first step is to gather the necessary documents. There may be additional documents required, but here is generally what you’ll need:
    • Your passport
    • Your birth certificate
    • Christening or baptism certificate, if you’ve got one
    • Marriage certificate, if you’re hitched
    • Birth certificates of your kiddos, if you have any
    • Baptism certificates of your kids, if applicable
    • Documents for the ancestor that makes you eligible—birth, marriage, and death certificates, along with their municipal registration
  2. Next, you can go ahead and submit your application.
    • In Greece? Once you have all your documents together, you will need to go in person to the registry office in Athens to register them. Note: In order to register directly in Greece for your documentation and become Greek, there are strict circumstances that you have to fulfill such as permanent residence in Greece. 
    • Outside Of Greece? Applications are accepted at all Greek embassies. Initially, you should visit the embassy website to see if you need to make an appointment; it is likely that you will. Ensure you take as much documentation as possible to your appointment to enable the process to run smoothly and quickly.

Required Fees

The good news is the cost isn’t astronomical—a mere 150 euros at your nearest Greek embassy or consulate will get the ball rolling.

Additional Tips for a Smooth Sailing Citizenship Journey

You’ve got the eligibility criteria and application process down to a tee, but how do you ensure the journey is seamless? Here are some pro tips that can make the whole process feel like a breeze.

1. Consult an Expert

Don’t go it alone, especially when the stakes are high. An experienced hand can guide you through the labyrinthine legal process. Shameless plug: That’s where Lexidy comes in.

2. Plan Ahead

These processes take time—a lot of time. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Book your appointments early and have all your documents ready.

3. Get Multiple Copies

Trust me, you don’t want to be running around for another apostilled birth certificate just when you thought you were done. Get multiples; it’s worth the extra euros.

4. Digital Is Your Friend

Scan all your documents and keep them in a secure online location. You never know when you’ll need a backup. The Cloud is your BFF here.

5. Double Check All Translation

Bureaucracy can be a stickler for details. Any typos or translation errors can send your application back to square one.

6. Keep an Eye on Currency Fluctuation

Fees are in euros. Be smart about when to make your payments, especially if you’re dealing in another currency.

7. Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

When in doubt, ask. Don’t assume, don’t Google—ask. Whether it’s your lawyer, the consulate, or a family member who’s been through the process, their knowledge is invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask About Citizenship by Descent

Citizenship is complicated, but your questions about it shouldn’t be. Let’s crack into some of the most frequently asked questions about citizenship by descent.

1. What other countries offer citizenship by descent?

Apart from Spain, Portugal, and Greece, countries like Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, and Armenia also have ancestry-based citizenship routes. Each country has its own rules and timelines, so it’s best to do your homework or consult with a specialist for details.

2. How long does the process take?

  • Spain: Depending on your specific situation, you might be looking at 1 to 2 years.
  • Portugal: Anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, sometimes even more if there are complications.
  • Greece: It could be as short as 3 months if your parents are Greek, but it can stretch to 2 to 3 years for more distant ancestry.

3. How far back can I trace my lineage to qualify?

  • Spain: Usually, it’s your parents or grandparents.
  • Portugal: Parents and grandparents are the norm, but great-grandparents can sometimes also qualify you.
  • Greece: Parents, grandparents, and in some cases, great-grandparents. The chain might have to go through each generation to get to you, though.

4. Can I hold dual citizenship with my current country and my ancestral country?

  • Spain: Generally, Spain doesn’t allow dual citizenship, but there are exceptions for certain Latin American countries.
  • Portugal: Portugal is cool with dual citizenship, no worries there.
  • Greece: Greece also allows dual citizenship.

5. If I obtain citizenship by descent, can my children or spouse also get citizenship?

  • Spain: Yes, your minor children and potentially your spouse can also apply.
  • Portugal: Your immediate family can join the Portuguese bandwagon once you’re a citizen.
  • Greece: Your minor children can piggyback on your application. Spouses can, too, but it’s a bit more complicated and requires additional residency.


So, you’ve got roots in Spain, Portugal, or Greece? That’s not just a cool fact for family gatherings; it could be your golden ticket to a second citizenship. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to have the option of living it up in another country?

Getting citizenship isn’t a cakewalk, but it’s doable. And the perks? Well, they’re pretty sweet. Whether you’re looking to travel more freely, tap into new job markets, or just embrace your heritage—going through the process could be worth your while.

Can Lexidy Help Me Acquire Citizenship by Descent?

If the thought of navigating legal labyrinths on your own makes you sweat, don’t worry—Lexidy’s got your back. Our team of expert Immigration Lawyers knows the ins and outs, the paperwork piles, and how to make a daunting task just a bit more doable (and a lot less dull). 

With our expertise, we’ll help you compile your documents, guide you through the legal hoops, and offer a comforting shoulder to cry on when bureaucracy gets you down. Reach out through the form below, and let’s get you that ancestral citizenship you’ve been dreaming of.

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