Goa’s history has for many centuries been intertwined with that of Portugal. Goa was a Portuguese colony for four hundred years, starting in the early 16th century and ending on 19 December 1961, and an important centre for Portuguese trade in Asia.
As early as 1757, the King of Portugal issued a decree granting Portuguese citizenship to all Goans, and allowing them representation in the Portuguese parliament. As of 1974, all Goans born before 1961 whose births are registered at Lisbon’s Central Registry of Births may obtain Portuguese citizenship. Moreover, their issue up to third generation descendants may also apply for Portuguese citizenship, even if the original qualifying individual is no longer alive. Spouses of qualifying individuals may also apply for Portuguese citizenship. The law applies not only to Goans, but also to individuals born in Daman, Diu, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli.
Portuguese citizenship is attractive to Indian passport-holders because it allows individuals to travel without a visa to more than 170 countries and territories across the globe, while Indian citizenship only allows them to do so for about 50 countries. Portuguese citizenship is also the key to the European Union, allowing individuals to live and work across the EU’s 28 member states. Of these 28 countries, the United Kingdom is a particularly popular destination. Portugal also offers a higher standard of living than India, ranking 43rd in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, as compared to India’s 141st ranking. Finally, Portugal permits dual citizenship – allowing individuals a degree of internationalism – whilst India does not. India does however allow certain foreign nationals to apply for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.
Data has shown that about 2,000 Goans give up their Indian passport every year to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Of these individuals, 70% are between the ages of 18 and 35, an increasing number of which is applying with their entire families.