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07. Search and Transcriptions of Certificates

Search and Transcription of Certificates in Portugal

The first necessary step for anyone who wants to apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent, whether from a Portuguese father, grandfather or great-grandfather, is to obtain the Portuguese certificates of this ascendant, mainly the birth certificate. And if you do not have a copy of this document, you may need to search for a certificate in Portugal.


Without this document, it is not possible to apply for citizenship for descendants, as this is the only accepted means of proof to prove Portuguese descent, which generates the right to nationality. It is not possible to apply for nationality through the surname, or only with the presentation of Brazilian documents, and the Portuguese seat is always requested.


In addition, the document must be current, with a maximum of one year of issuance. Often, the document is very old and the search becomes even more relevant as well as more difficult. The conservatories (Portuguese civil registry offices) began to make the records in 1911, with the "Law of Separation of the Church from the State". Before that, birth, marriage and death records were made by the parishes and these documents have civil effectiveness, but they must be sought in the respective parish where the registration took place.


It is very common for Portuguese who emigrated to Brazil to have married and died there, and that such acts have not been transcribed to Portugal, not least because there was no need to do so. Therefore, once the birth certificate of the Portuguese ancestor is found, other procedures may be necessary, such as, for example, the transcription of the marriage and death from Portuguese to the civil registry in Portugal. If the same married in Brazil, the marriage transcription will have to be done in Portugal, the same thing in relation to the death transcript.


Many descendants who do not have a copy of their ancestor's Portuguese certificate do not even know the place and date of birth. Brazilian documents often have important information that helps in the search for a certificate in Portugal. If we know all the document-specific data, we can simply ask the responsible Registry for a duplicate of the document. But, if we don't have a copy of the document and we don't know where Portuguese was registered, how to proceed?


When the document is very old, over 100 years old, the search is done manually in the district archives and public libraries linked to the respective parishes.


The ideal is to gather as much information and documents as possible to identify where the certificate should be sought. The most relevant information is:


  • The full name of the Portuguese citizen;

  • Affiliation (name of citizen's parents);

  • Place of birth: District (State), Council (City) and Parish (Neighborhood);

  • Approximate date or year of birth.


It is worth remembering that there are many cases where Brazilian documents from Portuguese were made with some errors, such as different spelling and even divergent dates. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to expand the search scope to previous and subsequent years of the one indicated in the Brazilian document. In addition, once in possession of the Portuguese certificate, if differences in names and dates are found, it will be necessary to correct the documents in Brazil before applying for nationality.


Therefore, the older the document, the more complex the search and the less information it has, the more difficult it is to find. Historical searches are often necessary and the research work can be extensive. There are genealogy tree and foreign entry registration websites and platforms that can help you find the missing information.


Specialized advice can help a lot in this process by reducing search deadlines and costs.

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