There are many citizens who contact us to request help to make sure that the foreign court decisions are applicable to them in Portugal

The most common processes are the review of divorces decided by foreign courts (when the couple has their marriage registered in Portugal but apply for a divorce in a another country) and adoption cases granted in countries other than Portugal (when the adoption documents need to be registered in Portugal).

The Portuguese civil code includes the following:

The need for a review

1 - Without any loss to treaties, conventions, community regulations and special laws, no decision from a foreign court with regards to private rights will have any effect in Portugal, regardless of the nationality of the parties, without prior review and confirmation by a Portuguese Court.

Competent court

The review and confirmation of the foreign decision is to be done by the High Court of the judicial district of the area of residence of the applicant, having in mind articles 85.º to 87.º

Requirements for the confirmation

For the decision to be confirmed, it is necessary:

  • That there are no doubts about the authenticity of the document containing the decision and that the decision makes absolute sense.
  • That the decision has been taken in accordance to the law of the country where the case has been heard.
  • That the decision originating from a foreign court has been lawful and not based in fraud, and does not include any matter of the exclusive competence of Portuguese courts.
  • That one cannot use the exception by the 'lis pendens' rule or the rule of the already decided case with direct effect to a Portuguese court, except if it was the foreign court who prevented the jurisdiction.
  • That the respondent has been cited regularly, in accordance to the clauses of the law of the court of origin, and that in the process, the principles of contradiction and equality of the parties have been fully taken into consideration.
  • That the decision is not recognised to be incompatible with the principles of the International public order of the Portuguese State.


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