Marriage in Brazil

Marriage in Brazil
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Updated 2022-03-23 13:36

Brazil can be a romantic country, and you may want to marry here. Perhaps you even want to remain in Brazil afterward. But if you choose to get married in Brazil, you'll need to follow the steps outlined under Brazilian law carefully.

Formalities

Getting married in Brazil can be a bit complicated, so be sure that you understand the steps at the outset. You should also understand that Brazilian law prevails throughout the process. You can't simply be married at a foreign consulate or embassy here.

A religious ceremony alone doesn't constitute a legally binding marriage. A civil process is also required. So plan accordingly for two ceremonies if you want the religious ceremony to be the main one.

To get married in Brazil, the man must be at least 18 years old and the woman must be at least 16 years old. If one or both parties are minors (meaning under the age of 21), you can get married, so long as you have the consent of your parents or legal guardians/representatives.

Marriage isn't allowed for those who are siblings or closely related to one another. You also can't get married if your previous marriage hasn't been annulled or ended yet.

What's interesting is some countries allow you to have a power of attorney (procuração) stand in for you if you're unable to attend. However, make sure you check with your own country first, as you don't want to go through the whole process, only to realize they don't recognize marriage by proxy.

Gathering all necessary documents

As in any country, you need to gather some legal documents first before you get married. That way, the government can confirm you're who you say you are and that you're legally single before this marriage.

If you're a foreigner, then here are the documents you need to have ready when you register your intent to marry:

  • Original passport or your Foreigner's Identity Card (Cédula de Identidade para Estrangeiro (CIE); this will have your Registro National De Estrangeiro (RNE), which is your identification number as a foreigner)
  • Original birth certificate (certified by a Brazilian Consulate in the country that issued your birth certificate)
  • Declaration of Civil Status (issued by the local consulate or embassy)

Do note that the Declaration of Civil Status is only valid for 90 days, so plan your marriage process accordingly.

If one of you happens to be a Brazilian national, then the documents you need to provide will be slightly different. They include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Original identity document
  • Taxpayer's card (Cadastro de Pessoa Fisica (CPF))
  • Proof of current address
  • Proof of date and location of parents' births

In addition, if one or both of you have been married before, then you'll need to provide an additional document: a copy of the final divorce decree. In the case of widows, you'll need to provide your deceased spouse's death certificate.

If your documents aren't in Portuguese, they may need to be translated. Do note that you can't just have any Brazilian speaker translate these documents for you. They must be translated by a sworn professional.

Documents not issued in Brazil also have to be apostilled. This actually needs to be done before any translations services are used, so make sure you get apostilles first. If your documents were issued abroad, then they must be apostilled there before being translated by a sworn translator in Brazil. So for example, if you ordered your birth certificate from the United States, it needs to be apostilled there first before being sent over. It can't be apostilled in Brazil.

Also, make sure you have certified copies of each document. The registry will need those to keep on file. You can get certified photocopies of your papers by going to a Notary public or an official at the Brazilian Consulate.

Registering your intent to marry

You must register your intention to marry before you can actually do so. To register, you and your fiance(e) should go to a Civil Registry Office (Cartório de Regístro Civil) and complete the application. Take all of the documents above that we've listed for you.

You must also be accompanied by two witnesses who are at least 21 years old. They should bring identification, such as their Brazilian ID cards or their CPFs.

A fee (currently 72 reals, or R$72) must be paid for you to register your intent to marry.

Once this is done, the local newspaper will then publish a notice of your intended marriage, with both of your legal names listed in the announcement. Your addresses and parents' names will also be in the paper.

Registering your marriage

You'll also need to register the marriage; this isn't the same as registering the intent to marry, but a separate step. This registration also takes place before you can get married. You'll need to pay another fee of approximately R$18 per page of documentation required (which are listed above). The exact fee will depend on which registry office you go to.

Following registration of the marriage and paying the fees, a marriage license will be issued; this may take up to 30 days. For this reason, we highly recommend you register your intent to marry at least a month before your set wedding date. After the license is issued, it'll be valid for three months. You may legally marry during this period.

Same-sex marriages have been legally recognized in Brazil since May 2013.

Having a Brazilian wedding

Congratulations! You've registered your intent to marry and have also registered your marriage. Now that the paperwork's out of the way, it's time to plan your wedding.

Of course, you can always have a wedding that reflects your culture and/or country of origin. But if you want to get married like a Brazilian, then here's a general idea of what you should do and what guests will expect.

If you're concerned about your personal style coming through, don't worry. Nowadays, Brazilians don't really care as much about tradition. So you'll see lots of brides and grooms who incorporate unique elements into their weddings so their personalities shine through!

Instead of it being just 1 day, weddings are usually a weekend affair. On Friday, the bride will spend time with her family, relaxing and being pampered at the spa. Then, the ceremony itself is held on Saturday afternoon. The reason why the wedding is so early is because Brazilians like to have an all-night reception.

Typically, the nuptial ceremony takes around 1 hour. During this time, you'll do readings, say your vows, exchange rings, and sign the marriage certificate.

Because most Brazilians are Catholic, weddings are often held in Catholic churches. But don't let that hold you back from booking a venue that's elsewhere, including the beach. Brazilians won't mind at all!

You can put together a wedding registry where your guests can purchase you wedding gifts for your new life together. Otherwise, it's customary for wedding guests to bring either a housewarming gift or a monetary present.

If you're having bridesmaid and groomsmen, you won't have to worry too much about them having matching outfits. You can always do that, but in Brazil, the padrinhos and madrinhas (the equivalents of groomsmen and bridesmaids) will traditionally wear different-colored outfits since it's considered bad luck to match!

After the all-night reception after the ceremony, some couples host an all-day wedding party the day after on Sunday. If you plan on doing this, it can be worth renting out a venue that'll accommodate all these activities, especially if you're inviting a lot of guests. On this note, it's common for couples to invite 100 or more guests, so feel free to invite everyone you know!

You should also make sure to have a sweets table at your reception. Most weddings in Brazil will have this dedicated table with at least 10 different kinds of candies so guests can definitely satisfy their sweet tooth.

In addition, at your reception, expect your guests to lift both you and your spouse up in chairs and to lift the bride's skirt too! The groom's tie is also cut into small pieces and “auctioned” off. The cash is then supposed to be used for the honeymoon.

Benefits of marriage

Once legally married, you may apply for permanent residence in Brazil. Among other rights, having permanent residence grants you the right to legally work in Brazil. However, you'll lose this status if you leave the Brazilian territory for more than two consecutive years or divorce.

In addition, once you have permanent residence, you can get naturalized later on (after four years of permanent residency). And from there, you can get dual citizenship, as Brazil allows for this. However, you must be able to communicate in Portuguese, have no criminal record (in both Brazil and your country of origin), and some other prerequisites before you can become a citizen.

Important:

Marrying solely to obtain permanent residence is discouraged. The Federal Police can and do conduct interviews to verify the authenticity of marriages.

Recognition of marriage abroad

Marriages in Brazil are recognized abroad. Countries that subscribe to the Hague Convention of 1961 (which includes the US) recognize foreign documents, such as a Brazilian marriage license, which bears the appropriate apostilles. Apostilles for Brazilian public documents can be obtained at any public notary office (cartório).

Divorce

In the event of divorce, Brazilian law will apply. You can get divorced even if you're not in the country. The person who's out of country may get served subpoenas through a letter rogatory.

According to regulations, in general, the spouse is entitled to 50% of the couple's property. The divorce itself isn't very expensive; it'll cost around R$500 or less.

To get divorced, there are no prerequisites. In some countries, they might require you to be formally separated for a year prior to divorcing, but this isn't the case in Brazil. Also, you don't need any reason to divorce; you can simply say you had irreconcilable differences and that'll be good enough. As a result, there won't be a need to have a fault analysis done on either party.

If you'd like to get divorced amicably and with as little trouble as possible, this can be done if you don't have children. You'll simply have to go to a notary's office (cartório) and bring an attorney with you. You can then proceed to fill out the divorce papers here, which takes not only less time, but also money.

However, if the divorce is messy and/or you have minor children in the picture, you won't be able to get divorced through a notary's office. Instead, you'll have to get divorced through the judiciary court. The public prosecutors (Ministério Público) will help resolve issues and the judge will rule on your divorce. In court, issues like child custody and child support, as well as division of assets will be resolved.

Needless to say, if you have a somewhat amicable and consensual divorce, it'll go a lot faster than with tumultuous ones, especially if your ex is being vindictive. Also, if you have out-of-country assets, such as a shared home in your country of origin, this will complicated things as well if you didn't have a prenuptial agreement.

Civil Union and Divorce

In Brazil, a couple who cohabitate may be deemed to be in a stable civil union, which from a legal standpoint is essentially a de facto marriage, even if the process for marrying outlined above wasn't followed.

There isn't a clear and definitive legal definition of what constitutes a stable civil union; it's up to the judge to ascertain the couple's status. However, only one year of living together and joint property or a joint bank account may be sufficient for the relationship to be deemed a stable union.

Then, in the event of separation, a partner may be considered a spouse and therefore, they're entitled to a property settlement. Accordingly, exercise caution in living together with a partner in Brazil if you don't intend to marry them or be considered in a civil union.

Useful links:

US Embassy and Consulates in Brazil

Australian Embassy Brazil

Civil Registration (Note: A 24-hour civil registry service is available. For additional information, you may send an email to [email protected])

Apostille basic

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