Civil Unions and Gay Marriage

Information on the legal status of same-sex marriage and Civil Partnerships in Portugal, including next-of-kin rights, social and tax benefits and more...

The Civil Union (União de Facto) is a registered partnership that legally recognises a couple (same-sex and heterosexual) and brings to the union certain legal recognitions. This civil union may be entered into by any Portuguese citizen or legal foreign resident provided they have lived with their partner for a minimum of two years.

Civil Union Law

The law affords the same rights to same-sex couples as to heterosexual couples in most areas, and presents certain of the legal protections and recognitions that are afforded by marriage.

The articles of this law cover:

  • Welfare benefits
  • Housing arrangements
  • Civil servants and work benefits
  • The option to choose the same fiscal regime as married couples

Partnership rights also include next of kin, inheritance, property, social security and tax benefits. One difference is that same-sex couples may not adopt children together.

In March 2001 a law concerning common economy (economia comum) was also approved, protecting two or more people that live together, regardless of their gender, with most of the rights of civil union law except welfare benefits.

To start a civil union

No official registration is required, however a couple can make an application of joint tax assessment after living together for a minimum of two years.

To end a civil union

A civil union is ended:

  • By the death of one of the partners
  • At the request of one of the partners
  • If one of the partners decides to marry

Gay Marriage

In 2010 Portugal became the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage. It gives the couple the same legal rights as heterosexual couples regarding taxes, inheritance, and rights to property. A legal gay marriage performed in another country is recognised in Portugal.

The law does not permit same-sex married couples to adopt children as a couple and a legal adoption performed in another country may not be recognised in Portugal (the individuals retain a right to adopt).

The marriage documents required and the process for marriage are the same as any civil wedding. The marriage process can be started at a Civil Registry Office.