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List of Sephardic Jewish Last Names

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Frequently asked questions about Sephardic Jewish last names and Portuguese citizenship

Jewish Sephardic last names run in my family, what does that mean?

In 2015, Spanish and Portuguese governments passed laws sating that any descendant of the Sephardic Jews expelled from their territory in 1492 and 1496, would be eligible to obtain Spanish citizenship and a Spanish passport, or Portuguese Citizenship and a passport of Portugal, respectively.

This article has been published on April 2020, and as of today, the Spain no longer grants this right. The Law of Return for ancestors of the Sephardic Jews has expired during October 2019. However, the Portuguese version of this Act is currently valid and many apply for Portuguese citizenship.

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That is great news, as long as you can prove your family is indeed a descendant of Spain or Portugal by name, language, birth or marriage certificates, and many other associations with the Sephardic language and customs. Portugal is part of the EU, therefore having a Portuguese passport can offer exciting opportunities to many.

Our Law Office

Our law office has much experience in immigration law in general and a specific expertise in obtaining the certificate to prove Jewish heritage from the Jewish communities in Portugal. We assist our clients from the beginning until the successful end of the process of receiving a Portuguese passport. You can read more information about this in the most comprehensive guide we published on our website.

What happened to those Spanish expelled families?

For approximately 500 years, the descendants of Jews deported from Spain and Portugal have been living their lives outside of their country of origin. Some Jews moved to the former Ottoman Empire, some to North Africa, and some to Europe, carrying on the Jewish faith to future generations, alongside the Ladino language and unique Sephardic last names.

Spanish descendants settled countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. A little known fact is that initially, Sephardic Jews settled also in places like Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Serbia, and Macedonia. The expelled Jews of Spain and Portugal eventually got all the way to countries like the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the UK, and even reached India, China, and America. So, you do not necessarily have to be considered Sephardi to be a Spanish descendant.

Am I one of those eligible for a passport of Portugal?

Well, since the Portuguese government declared its intention to open their door and offer citizenship to anyone who can prove their Sephardic links, we now need to present them with proof. This proof can be made by preserved Spanish or Ladino language in your family, by documents that indicate Spanish lineage, by cultural affiliation with Spanish communities or more simply, by your Jewish Sephardic last names. You can read more about this in this article on our website.

Recommendation of Jewish community in Portugal

The main issue in receiving a Portuguese passport and citizenship is obtaining the letter of recommendation from one of the Jewish communities in Portugal. You can read more here about the process of receiving the recommendation of the Jewish community in Porto or Lisbon. Once this certificate is in your hand, the legal authorities in Portugal consider you as a person eligible for citizenship.

Does a list of Sephardic Jewish last names exist?

A big part of the Portuguese government’s consideration is the question of whether your surname or one of your ancestor’s names is linked to the Spanish deportees. Portuguese authorities already recognize some surnames of Greek and Egyptian Jews written on one verified list. You can read more about the list of family names in this article on our website.

Besides that one official list, a quick internet search will provide you with many a Sephardic Jewish last names list. Look for your immediate family name and search your genealogy and family trees for other names that might be on one of those lists. If your name or an ancestor’s name appears on a list of Sephardi surnames, this may be the first step in acquiring the recommendation of the Jewish community and after that having the Portuguese Immigration Office recognizing you and your family as citizens.

Contact us – Your law firm for a Portuguese passport

If you think you might be eligible by law to receive a passport of Portugal as a descendant of Sephardic Jewish ancestors please contact us. We will be glad to hear your case and let you know what are your chances.

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