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Family Reunification – Legal Fact Sheet

Any person living in Portugal with a residence permit, EU blue card, or permanent residence status is entitled to apply for family reunification so that their family member can live with them here in Portugal, so long as they are able to provide the necessary documents.

An individual can apply for family reunification for family members who have lived with them in another country, who depend on them, or who cohabit with them. It is not necessary for the family ties to have existed before the individual’s entry into Portuguese territory.

The following are considered family members:

  • A spouse;

  • Children who are under 18 or incapacitated and are dependants of the applicant and/or their spouse;

  • Children under 18 minors adopted by the applicant when he/she is not married, by the applicant or his/her spouse, as a result of a decision of the competent authority of the country of origin, provided that the law of that country grants the adopted the same rights and duties as those of natural filiation and that the decision is recognized by Portugal

  • Adult children (18 or over) of the applicant and/or their spouse who are single, studying in a Portuguese educational institution, and dependent on the applicant and/or their spouse;

  • Adult children (18 or over) of the applicant and/or their spouse who are single, studying, and dependent on the applicant and/or their spouse, if the holder of the right to reunion has a residence permit granted under Article 90-A (residence permit for investment activity);

  • Ascendants in the direct line and in the first degree (i.e. parents) of the applicant and/or their spouse who are dependent on the applicant;

  • Siblings who are under 18, as long as they are under the applicant’s guardianship, in accordance with a decision taken by the competent authority of the country of origin, as long as such a decision is recognised in Portugal.

If the applicant has a residence permit for study purposes, an unpaid professional traineeship, or a voluntary position, only the first three categories above are considered family members.

If the applicant is an unaccompanied minor (under 18) refugee, the following are also considered family members:

  • First-degree direct ascendents (i.e. parents)

  • Legal guardians or any other member of the family, if the refugee has no direct ascendants or it is not possible to locate them

Family reunification is also available for unmarried partners, provided they are living in a de facto union and that this can be proven under Portuguese law. In such circumstances, an application for family reunification can be made for the partner and any children under 18 (providing they are not married) or incapacitated children, including adopted children, of the de facto partner. When considering the application of a person applying for family reunification for an unmarried partner, SEF will take into consideration factors such as the existence of a common child, previous cohabitation, registration of the partnership or any other reliable means of proof of the de facto union.

Key documents required for Family Reunification

Proof of the right to family reunification through a residence permit, EU Blue Card (given to highly-qualified workers from outside the EU) or long-term resident status (a status granting the applicant a renewable residence permit with a five-year minimum validity, applied for at SEF). There is no minimum period that a person must have held their residence permit to begin the family reunification process. If the resident is in the process of renewing their residence permit at SEF, they can instead provide their renewal receipt.

Certified copies of the identification documents (e.g. passport) of the applicant’s family members.

Documents proving the existence of relevant family ties or the de facto union, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates or registration of a partnership. Note that where a refugee cannot produce official documents proving the family relationship, other evidence of the existence of such relationship will be taken into consideration.

Proof of adequate accommodation (this requirement is not applicable to refugees). This could include a tenancy agreement, a mortgage agreement, a deed and registration of ownership of property in the applicant’s name, a certificate of residence (atestado de residência) provided by the parish council (Junta de Freguesia), or a declaration issued by the Tax Office (Finanças) proving the fiscal residence of the applicant, which can be requested at the Tax Office Portal (Portal das Finanças). As a matter of precaution, a tenancy agreement or deed and registration of ownership of property is recommended above the other documents.

If you use a tenancy agreement, it must have a duration of at least one year and be registered with the Tax Authority (Autoridade Tributária) and you must also provide the last rent receipt. The contract does not have to be valid for the entire duration of the residence permit as long as, at the time of renewal of the residence permit, the existence of a rental contract or other form of accommodation can be proved again.

If the applicant intends for the family member(s) to live with them, they should also provide a declaration stating that their family member(s) will live in their home with them.

Proof of adequate means of subsistence for the applicant and for the family (this requirement is not applicable to refugees). The amount required is the minimum salary (€ 705.00/month) plus 50% of this amount for each adult being reunited and 30% for each child under 18. Proof could be at least 3 months of bank statements (though some SEF offices ask for 6 months) or an employment contract and salary receipts (though bringing bank statements as well is recommended).

Criminal record certificate(s) issued by the competent authority of the family member’s country of nationality and any countries where they have been resident for more than one year (this does not apply to children under 16).

Note: any documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation which can be done by a Portuguese Notary, the Portuguese Consulate in the country where the document was issued, or the Consulate of that country in Portugal.

Additional documents required in certain cases

There are certain additional documents that are required when applying for family reunification for different types of family members.

Family member

Additional documents

A family member who has already entered Portuguese territory

Proof of legal entrance in national territory (e.g. stamp on passport)

A child under 18 or an incapacitated child

Written authorisation from the non-resident parent authenticated by a Portuguese consular authority, or a copy of a decision attributing legal custody of a child under 18 or guardianship of the incapacitated child to the resident or their partner

A non-married partner

Proof of the de facto union. This can be any legal document, either testimonial proof or a declaration issued by the competent parish council (Junta de Freguesia) [1]

A first-degree ascendant (i.e. parent) under the age of 65

Proof of economic dependence (e.g. bank transfers)

A dependent incapacitated adult child

Proof of incapacity

An adopted child

A certificate of the decision that approved the adoption and a certificate of the decision of the national authority that recogisned it

An adult single dependent child

Proof of economic dependence (e.g. bank transfers) and proof of enrolment at an educational establishment in Portugal

A sibling who is under 18 and under their guardianship

A certificate of the decision that approved the guardianship and a certificate of the decision of the national authority that recognised it

How to apply

If the family member is outside of Portuguese territory (e.g. in their country of origin), it is the holder of the residence permit who must request family reunification at SEF. They can make an appointment at SEF for family reunification and should bring all the required documents and a completed application form (see below) to the appointment. If SEF accepts the request, the family member may go to the Portuguese Consulate in their country of origin to apply for a visa to travel to Portugal. Once they have arrived in Portugal they will be able to change this visa to a residence permit at SEF without providing any further information or documents.

If the family member is in Portuguese territory, either the holder of the residence permit or their family member may apply. The person who applies will need to bring the required documents and application form to the appointment.

SEF will notify the applicant of its decision in writing as soon as possible, and in any case within three months. In exceptional circumstances, this deadline may be extended for three months.

Family members will be granted a residence permit of identical duration to that of the resident. The family member of the holder of a permanent residence permit is issued a renewable residence permit valid for two years.

Application form (article 98.º/1)

Click here to download the required application form. The applicant should fill out this application form as follows:

Venho requerer:

_x_Reagrupamento Familiar nos termos do n.º _(1)_do art.º_(2)_ da Lei 23/2007 de 4 de julho na sua atual versão, a favor de _(3)_(Vínculo Familiar). Havendo lugar à solicitação de Visto de Residência indico como Representação Diplomática Portuguesa_(4)_

English translation:

I hereby request:

_x_ Family Reunification under the terms of paragraph _(1)_of art. _(2)_ of Law 23/2007 of 4th July in its current version, in favour of _(3)_(Family Relation). If a Residence Visa is required, I indicate as Portuguese diplomatic representation _(4)_

(1) 1 – if their family members are outside the country, 2 – if their family members are inside the country, or 3 – if they have refugee status.

(2) 98º.

(3) Name(s) of the family members they wish to reunite with.

(4) To be confirmed.

by Anna Thomson 7/6/2022


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