Question on Apostille / Translation for Birth & Marriage Certificates

Hi everyone,

We are one of those families who sat on applying for the PGV and are now making a run for it!

I’m confused by our attorney’s instructions and think something might be getting lost in translation. I would love to get clarification from anyone here who might know the answer.

It sounds like my attorney is saying

  • get birth and marriage certificates
  • get those certificates apostilled
  • get those certificates translated
  • get the translations apostilled

Is this what other people did? A friend who did the PGV a few years ago said he only got the docs apostilled and his attorney handled the translation/certification. I wonder if because they are overloaded, they are pushing more of the work back onto us, to keep the process moving forward.

I’ve already ordered new marriage/birth certificates (arriving this week). So I just want to get ahead of the process and understand what I specifically need to do next.

If anyone has

  • clarification
  • recommendations on translators, certifiers, notaries
  • any other advice or criticism

Please comment! Thank you in advance for this community’s help! Longtime lurker and first time poster!


In my case, I got the certificates, had them apostilled, and my lawyer took care of the translation. I don’t believe the translated copies are apostilled (in fact, I’m not even sure what that concept would involve?)


If they were translated in Portugal there is no need for apostille, since the purpose of apostille is cross country recognition.

Probably the most important deadline is the main applicant, which requires no birth or marriage certificates. You can add your spouse and children once their apostilles are available.

Your attorney is correct. The certificates need to be apostilled. They also need to be translated, and the authority of the translator is notarized, and then the accompanying notary certificate must be apostilled.

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But if you can find a professional translator in Portugal, their translation doesn’t need to be apostilled, which could save some time.


Here was my process that was accepted by my attorneys and SEF (awaiting my final approval at this point)

  1. Get your documents (certified copies)
  2. Get documents apostilled (If you can go to your secretary of state’s office and get it done via walk in, do that vs. mailing. Here in CA it took about 6 weeks, just like US State Dept Apostille)
  3. Get documents, with apostille attached, translated (it’s all treated as one document for translation purposes). Most attorneys will handle but I sent mine to You send them a scan, and they send you a translation with certification. Took about two biz days. I printed it off on nice paper and sent it, along with original dox/apostille to attorney via Fed Ex. I paid about $45 per document at the time vs when my attorney did it in Portugal I think I paid a couple of hundred for one document.

You shouldn’t need any notaries for those documents as your state can apostille a certified document issued by one of its counties. Good luck!

@kwakers012 please refer to this post and thread:

@kwakers012 , you are receiving some different opinions on the translations. If you are not having your Portugal lawyer handle the translation for you, I would recommend that you follow your lawyer’s specific instructions if you are having it done in your home country. At this stage of the game, the last thing you want is a delay if the translation (and its supporting certification) is not acceptable to the SEF.

Sure, asking the lawyer is always nice, but if I followed my initial lawyer’s “advice” I would not even have closed the property deal by now. That’s what this forum is for - share input from real-life successful experiences and knowledge of the original official sources (the latter lawyers never share for obvious reasons).

If you look up the previous thread I quoted it does provide all the info including the official SEF requirement on translations.

“Double apostille” may work but it is not an official option that SEF lists out.


Yes, as has been voiced on this forum often, all the Portugal lawyers are not the same. I am sorry for your experience with your initial lawyer.

My real-life experience was that I followed the guidance that @kwakers012 's lawyer also suggested, and my approvals were granted.

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What I did is:

  1. Go to and order the certificates needed. Pick the copies that are prepared for apostil.
  2. Mail certificates and apostil request to the secretary of state office (the state that issued the certificates. Check the office website for form and payment. Walk-in will usually be faster if not far).
  3. Mail the apostilled certificates to the lawyer in Portugal. They took care of the translation with some charge.

This might be off topic slightly. Just adding in another perspective that I received.

We are a family of five. My attorney said I can apply as the main applicant and then add my husband and kids in later on. Or not add our kids at all since we won’t be living there in the next 3 years, and kids are not eligible to apply for citizenship/passport until they are 16 or 18 (I don’t remember precisely). He said if we have plans to have our kids attend schools in Portugal on a later date, they can get student resident visa, which is much cheaper than golden visa. They are still eligible to apply for citizenship once their parents become a citizen, and when they meet the age requirements. —> if anyone else has received this same opinion, please feel free to comment. Based on our attorney’s suggestion, I am leaning to not include our kids in the application for now. You can still add your kids during the visa renewal process too according to him.

The documents required from us:

  • Marriage certificate,
  • FBI background check.

Both documents need to be apostilled in our state of residence, we will need to mail the documents to our attorney will arrange the translation and certificates in Portugal.


Hi Everyone,

Just to circle back on this thread. I ended up going with the “get state level apostilles and then send the apostilled document to my Portuguese Lawyer” option.

I emailed for clarification, but it wasn’t any clearer.

A friend of mine who has already been through the PGV process (already done biometrics and has his first residency card) told me he just sent the apostilled docs to his attorney who handled the other steps.

Thank you everyone for responding! This took a couple of steps off my plate!

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From my experience, we only had our birth certificates and criminal clearances apostilled. I am single so I don’t have a marriage certificate. Since our documents are in English, there was no need for us to have them translated. At any rate, I don’t think translations need to be apostilled. Only. the original documents (i.e., birth cert, criminal clearance, marriage cert) need to be apostilled.

I’m curious how many times people have had to have their marriage certificates and their criminal clearances done, apostilled, and translated. My lawyer tells me that these documents are only valid for six months or so, and because the process has so far taken 17 months (my wife’s biometrics are tomorrow), we’re now on our second round of getting all this done. It’s very expensive and as many of you know, a pain to get done. What’s been your experience?

The marriage cert is valid 6 months. The criminal clearance is only valid 90 days.

I did a clearance for pre-approval and another for the actual biometrics appointment.

It seems for automatic renewals they don’t require a fresh criminal clearance? But if they go back to in person renewals, I would expect you have to do 2 again, 1 for renewal pre-approval and 1 for renewal biometrics.

Our lawyers did all the translating on their side though so we only had to pay for records and apostilles.