The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
Churches, religious communities, associations, federations, and foundations must apply for registration as a religion with the registrar of religious corporate bodies through the Ministry of Justice. The sole registration requirement for religious groups is establishment in the country for at least 30 years or international recognition for at least 60 years. Registered religious groups receive benefits including full tax-exempt status; legal recognition of marriages and other rites; the right of chaplains to minister in prisons, hospitals, and military facilities; and recognition of religious holidays.
The law prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of religion and requires reasonable accommodation of employees’ religious practices. Employees are allowed to take leave on their Sabbath and religious holidays, even if these are not nationally observed holidays. The law allows each religious group to negotiate its own concordat-style agreement with the government.
The Catholic Church maintains a separate agreement with the government under the terms of a 1940 concordat with the Holy See, as amended in 2004 to comply with subsequent legislation. The concordat recognizes the juridical personality of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference and allows the Catholic Church to receive a percentage of the income tax voluntarily allocated by taxpayers to various institutions in their annual tax returns. A taxpayer may allocate a portion of his or her tax payment to any registered religious group. Chaplaincies for military services, prisons, and hospitals are state-funded positions open to all legally established religious groups.
Public secondary schools offer an optional survey course on world religions taught by lay teachers. Religious groups may offer optional religious training through schools, provided the course is taught by lay teachers and 10 or more students of the faith attend the class. Religious group representatives have the right to approve the course’s instructors. All schools, public and private, are required to accommodate the religious practices of students, including rescheduling tests if necessary.
In July the parliament unanimously passed a law naturalizing Jewish descendants of Sephardi Jews expelled from Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries.