SEF documentation for residency extensions counting towards 5-year citizenship timeline

After completing the 5 years Golden Visa, we are now ready to apply for citizenship. Our lawyer has given us a list of required documents one of which is a document from SEF proving 5 years of residency in Portugal. It is taking a lot of time to issue and our apostilled documents are on the verge of being expired. Checking this website Como obter a nacionalidade portuguesa there is no mention of this document.

Does anyone have information whether this document is necessary or not? Just for info, our temporary residence cards are still valid.


Congratulations on coming this far!
Proof of 5 years’ residence is a requirement for many applications for citizenship (although there are exceptions - eg when the applicant is a direct Portuguese descendant or has acquired the right to apply via marriage, or is a refugee etc.). The website asks the applicant to fill out a request to the Minister of Justice: with information on 10 points (name, date of birth, marital status, nationality, parents name(s), profession, address, country(ies) where you lived, full name and address of your legal representatives/ attorneys, AND the number, date and entity that issued your residence permit).
A certificate of residence is issued by the Freguesia of the applicant for EU nationals, and for third party nationals it is/would be a SEF card (eg the card you now have for ARI plus the previous ones issued - to give a beginning and end-dates). The dates on the various cards issued would/should constitute proof of residence for ARI.
However, reading the webpage (which necessarily applies to many different types of applications for citizenship and gives minimum info) cannot substitute for legal experience. Consequently, if your current lawyers do not specialize in citizenship applications, speaking to lawyers that do specialize in such applications, would be appropriate to confirm what is required and reduce any last-minute risks! I do not remember reading any post of somebody who has come this far yet!


I have some friends who went through this procedure. What they told me is that the document was necessary to cover the periods when your residence cards were invalid. Eg you have a card valid for 2 years, then it expires, it takes you another year to get a new residence card, followed another two years with a valid card, etc. The time spent waiting for a renewed card can be counted towards citizenship if you get the appropriate letter from SEF. Otherwise, you can use the cards themselves as proof, but only for the times when they were valid, not while you were waiting for renewals.
It sounds like this may be what your lawyer is advising you as well.

Congratulations on making it this far!


As has been stated, congratulations on making it to this point!

Unfortunately I can’t provide any guidance, but please post details of your progress. It will be of great interest to many of us.


Great to have that info. Husband lived in Italy for 13 years so will need to figure out how to get a verification of lack of criminal record from Italy.


The freguesia issues these for non EU citizens as well - this also the quickest way to get a bank account btw - your purchase contract should work for this otherwise get two neighbours who live in the same freguesia to sign a form given by the freguesia and copies of their ID cards and it takes 2 days max.

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I believe you are referring to Atestado de Residencia which is indeed issued by freguesia, but I am afraid it’d be no good for the topic of this thread. I got my Atestado even without having my first GV card.

Thank you everyone for your replies. We managed to get the document just a few days before our documents expired. FYI this document takes around 1-1.5 months to be issued, so I would advise to issue your required documents a little later. Our lawyers have applied end of November and have mentioned that they would receive and send us a link to track our progress, but we’re still waiting for it.


Hi @2bcb21c800144f23f132. Thanks for the update. Could you specify what document you got for this purpose? Is it the one from the freguesia or is it something from SEF? For those who have Golden Visa, they may not be living in Portugal thus won’t have something from the freguesia.

According to the emails from my lawyers, it is called ‘ contagem do tempo’ and it is from SEF. And as previous replies in the thread have mentioned, it is important in order to cover the periods where your card was invalid.


Was your card invalid for periods due to delays in renewals? I am beginning the GV process with my family through Mercan and IAS, and we won’t be living continuously in PT. We wouldn’t be able to provide evidence of ongoing residency if our renewals are delayed beyond the expiration date of the cards, and it seems this could nullify our entire process.

Dear all;

I’ve spoken to my lawyers and they told me that they believe the residency extensions (granted for existing residency cards) will count towards the 5 year timeline that is needed to apply for citizenship.

Has anyone talked to their lawyers about this? If the renewal appointments are just keep getting postponed in exchange of extensions, for those waiting for the last residency cards, the extensions on the 2nd card can become a mean to fulfill the 5 year period especially for the ones whose cards have expired in 2020 or early 2021.

I always recall the phrase “the clock starts ticking when the residency is card is issued”

It would be good to hear if there are actual cases in which the extensions are used to fulfil the 5 year residency requirement.

All the Best


Is there any official news about this?

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The law regarding residence towards citizenship is at: and this thread is relevant: Switching from a Golden Visa to a D7
There is a great deal on this site that is worth reading before posting, despite the clutter.

There have been several posts on this topic all with conflicting options. If you look at the problem rationally you see the dilemma . Let’s say you get your first card but due to SEF delays you can’t renew for 2 years. FinLly you get a renewal card. After the end of your second card you would have 6 years residence on 2 cards.

I think you could make the case that you were resident legally for this entire 6 period and it should count but if SEF is expecting 3 renewals what would they do? I don’t think I have seen any definite answer.


The definitive answer comes from posts from those who applied for citizenship AND were subject to similar SEF delays and posted on the resolution. A couple of months before you apply for citizenship, you need to ask SEF for a Contagem do tempo: SEF documentation for residency extensions counting towards 5-year citizenship timeline - #10 by 2bcb21c800144f23f132. which covers the gaps ie the periods where your card was invalid.

See SEF documentation for residency extensions counting towards 5-year citizenship timeline - #8 by 2bcb21c800144f23f132
AND: SEF documentation for residency extensions counting towards 5-year citizenship timeline.

@tkrunning - could these two threads be joined?


Those assurances you cite seem a bit vague. For sure what they are saying is that if you had a gap in your residence permit where it became expired, then SEF will issue a certificate stating that you had X years of residence. But to my point, I have not heard anyone who said they were able to apply for PR after having only 1 renewal in total. I suspect your explanation is correct, but its a lot to take on a leap of faith.

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My lawyers also provided me a list of necessary documents when applying for citizenship.
Proof of legal residency of Portugal is one of them and they’ve told me they would ask for this document on my behalf.

Normally validity of the residency cards equaling 5 years would be used to demonstrate the 5 year validity period. Because of the delays in renewals during and after Covid extensions provided for cards can also be used to demonstrate the 5 year residency period. There is one technical watch-out; the final card has to be issued and you’ll have to spend the consequent two weeks for that cards before you can actually apply.

The extensions help to fill in the what would normally appear as gaps between the residency cards and you will not have to wait for the end date of your last card to apply for citizenship.

However in order to make residency extensions count for the 5 year citizenship, you would need the Certidão de Contagem do Tempo. My lawyers stated that

  • it takes two-four weeks to get the document
  • they advise to apply for the document after 5 years; 5 years after the initial issue date of the first card.

Hope it helps…


Hi @Mr.E , would you mind sharing the list of documents needed for citizenship?

Sure, here is the list I was provided;

• A valid Portugal residency title;
• A birth certificate (full transcript) issued no longer than 6 months before being submitted, duly legalized;
• Proof of having a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language (CEFR A2 level);
• Criminal record certificates issued by the countries of birth, nationality and residence of all the countries the applicant has lived in since turning 16 years old, duly legalized;
• Proof of legal residency of Portugal (Official Declaration that we will be requested on my behalf);
• A valid passport;
• Power of attorney.

I was also told that having

  • NIF
  • Número de Utente
  • Bank Account

was sufficient to prove the connection to the Portuguese community and though I own a property and have rented it I was told that for citizenship through naturalization it is not required to prove connections to the community.

Hope this helps.