Long live the King! RIP his passport.

Plus: Portugal's revised citizenship law for the Jewish diaspora

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Coming up:

  • Lisbon cracks the whip. Bowing to critics, Portugal tightens criteria for a citizenship program that rights the wrongs of the Portuguese Inquisition.

  • Germany woos foreign workers. Berlin has a plan to fast-track citizenship for eligible immigrants. Will they still restrict multiple citizenship?

  • Monarchs pack light. As King Charles III assumes the British throne, we examine why a passport fit for a king...is no passport at all.

Portuguese citizenship: new rules for old lineages

Photo credit: cottonbro/Pexels

Starting this month, Portugal is restricting eligibility for a program that allows descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews to apply for citizenship.

Candidates must now demonstrate a stronger link to Portugal, for example, through inherited real estate, commercial interests, or frequent visits to the country.

The reforms come as critics allege some beneficiaries of the program have squeaked by with only "tenuous" ties to Portugal, including sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Portugal's decree law 30-A/2015 atones for historic wrongs of the late 15th century, when Portugal's rulers forced Jews to convert to Catholicism on pain of execution or expulsion from the country. Today, there's an estimated 1,000 Jews still living in Portugal.

Neighboring Spain had a similar law until the deadline passed in 2019. It's estimated that 90,000 people or more have acquired Portuguese or Spanish citizenship on the basis of Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

Germany wants to ease requirements for citizenship. Is multiple citizenship next?

Germany is keen to attract more foreign workers. Photo credit: Ingo Joseph/Pexels

Last week, Germany's Labor Ministry announced a stunning proposal to cut residency requirements for foreign workers seeking citizenship.

If the law passes, foreign-born residents judged to be "well integrated" could apply for a passport after just three years, down from today's requirement of eight years.

The rationale is demographics, pure and simple. The country has a gaping labor shortfall, forecasting it will need around 240,000 new workers by 2026 to meet demand.

It is said the reforms might also relax a famously strict moratorium on multiple citizenship (which applies to all but certain cases), but specifics are hard to come by.

"Details of this law are currently being worked out," a government spokesperson told PolyPassport. "Coordination processes within the government are still ongoing."

King Charles III gets a crown and ditches a passport

The gates of Buckingham Palace in London, which houses the new British monarch. Photo credit: Roméo/Pexels

No one said being a royal lacked perks: a golden horse-drawn carriage. Zero inheritance tax. A bejeweled crown. 30 grand estates. Did we mention no inheritance tax?

But as King Charles III ascends to the British throne, there's yet another to add to the list. Just like Queen Elizabeth II before him, the sitting monarch of Great Britain does away with a passport when traveling abroad.

The explanation is straightforward. The passport is already issued in the King's name.

Emblazoned on any British passport is the royal coat of arms and a preamble which implores the reader, in the name of the British ruler, to let the holder pass "freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

We suppose it's awkward invoking one's own name for safe passage. The Royal Family's own website states this is reason enough for a kingly travel document to be "unnecessary."

Other members of the royal family aren't so lucky — William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, and other scions of the Windsor line have to carry a passport. How common.

Other headlines


Quote of the week

"The journey has not only given us a new identity but it has led us to discover a whole new country that a part of us will forever consider home. We can’t wait to go back."

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Jo Kessel chronicles her journey to Lithuania in search of family roots and a second passport.