An increasing number of foreign citizens are interested in getting married in Portugal, for the most diverse reasons.
In some cases, couples plan to get married in Portugal because their union is not authorized or recognized in their country of origin or residence.
Who can get married in Portugal?
Any individual over 16 years of age. However, if any of the engaged parties are not yet 18 years old, parental or guardian authorization is required.
In other words, anyone who is not prevented from getting married, whether a Portuguese citizen or a foreigner, resident or non-resident, can organize their civil marriage in Portugal.
Can same-sex couples get married in Portugal?
While same-sex partnerships have been recognized in Portugal since 2001, it was only in 2010 that same-sex marriages became legally possible.
All married couples, including same-sex couples, receive the same rights regarding property, taxes, and inheritance. Since March 2016, same-sex couples are also allowed to adopt a child in Portugal.
How to get married in Portugal?
It is only possible to get married in Portugal in accordance with Portuguese law.
In general terms, the marriage process is initiated when the engaged parties go to the Portuguese civil registry office and declare their wish to get married.
In the matrimonial process, the engaged parties may also be represented by their representatives with special powers. The process is concluded with the order of the civil registry office authorizing the marriage if there are no impediments to it.
It will be necessary to provide several original and duly legalized documents. All documentation that is not in Portuguese must be accompanied by official translations. According to the nationality or country of origin of the engaged parties, the collection of documentation may be more demanding.
It takes at least 4 weeks from the time of filing until a marriage license is issued and once issued, the marriage must take place within 6 months.
If any of the engaged parties have been married before, it will be necessary to prove that he/she is divorced or that your previous spouse has passed away, so he/she is free to remarry.
When applying for a marriage license, you must state the type of marriage you wish to host: civil or Catholic, and state the day, time, and place of the marriage, as well as the marriage regime chosen.
After the marriage ceremony, the spouses will receive a marriage certificate issued by the Portuguese Civil Registry. This will be the official certificate of the marriage in Portugal.
If the spouses want the marriage performed in Portugal to be recognized in another country, it will very probably be necessary to homologate the marriage in the national legal system.
What are the matrimonial property regimes in Portugal?
There are three types of matrimonial property regimes in Portugal.
The default choice is a marriage in a communion of acquired property (comunhão de adquiridos). This means that the spouses only share property and assets after the marriage, whether these were acquired or incurred during or before the marriage.
There are two other types of matrimonial property regimes that must be chosen by a prenuptial agreement:
- A general community of property (comunhão geral): all property brought into the marriage and acquired during the union is communal. It is not possible to choose this regime if one or both parties already have children.
- A separate property (separação geral de bens): there is no shared property. Each person owns what he/she acquired before or during the marriage. This regime is compulsory if one of the parties is 60 years of age or older.
Alternatively, couples may choose to draw up another prenuptial agreement that suits their individual needs.
How about religious marriage in Portugal?
Couples getting married in Portugal can choose between a Catholic or civil ceremony. For other religions, a civil ceremony must take place first for the marriage to be legally binding. Only registrars or priests can perform a wedding in Portugal. The civil ceremony will be performed in Portuguese, so a translator may be needed to conduct the ceremony on the wedding day.
Is it possible to register a civil partnership instead?
Yes, it is possible. In fact, many Portuguese couples are also opting for a civil partnership (união de fato). While this provides similar rights to marriage, such as tax benefits, it may not offer you the same protection as a divorce in the event of separation. Couples in these unions can also have difficulties when it comes to dealing with things like property inheritance and child custody.
If you have lived together for at least two years in Portugal, you may enjoy some of the same rights as a married couple, such as inheriting the home you share and other Portuguese tax benefits.
Getting married in Portugal can be bureaucratic and sometimes slow. However, apart from the paperwork, there are not many legal restrictions to getting married in Portugal.
Anyone who is not impeded from getting married, whether a Portuguese citizen or a foreigner, resident or non-resident, can organize their marriage in Portugal.
For any questions about getting married in Portugal, please do not hesitate to contact us.
* This article was originally published by the author Lidiane de Carvalho in her personal profile, on December 16, 2022.