My 2 cents on Permanent Visa by Marriage

I am sure there are tons of posts regarding this issue, so I will just go through my experience and hopefully it helps some of you.

I am a British citizen who moved to Brazil last October. Having decided to move closer to my girlfriend (now wife), I needed to get all the documents ready to go to Brazil, get married and apply for permanent visa process without having to return to London just to get a piece of document or other silly reasons.

I got my Birth Certificate, Passport (with enough years left until expiry), UK ACRO certificate, Proof of residence (I asked for a letter from the Registrar confirming that I was registered in my home address since 2007) legalised at the Brazilian embassy in London. Please check in advance with the cartorio that you would be registering the marriage, as it varies between different cartorios the documents they request. Also, you need to book an appointment at the embassy well in advance like 1-2 months before your departure as the dates are fully booked for many weeks.

Then arriving in Brazil, I initially got a 90-day tourist visa along with a piece of paper (they call Desembarkation Card) that you need to keep if you need to extend your visa for another 90 days.

Due to personal reasons I did not go about getting married directly upon arrival and I had to extend my visa for another 90 days. (Please skip this part if you don't plan to do this)

Extending visa was a little complicated. Firstly, you need to be aware that your tourist visa is 90 days not 3 months. I entered the country on 05 Oct, and went to Policia Federal on 3 January, which was in fact the last day possible for me to legally stay in the country. It is important to count days correctly to not get deported or pay fines for overstaying.

Policia Federal now counts your max allowed stay as 180 days in 1 year, where they count years starting from your first entry to Brazil. In my case, I first entered Brazil on 28/03/2010. Please pay special attention to this way of counting if you ever need to extend your visa for whatever reasons. So in my case the most recent year started on 28/03/2012, and thankfully I had enough days left to extend for another 90 days.

After this, and having translated all my legalised documents by an official translator, I went to the Cartorio to register the marriage. First time I went there with my girlfriend to apply. They asked for my documents to be registered in the system by another cartorio, as well as photocopies of all documents and other necessary documents at yet another cartorio (There are more than 1 type of cartorios in Brazil...)

We got these all ready and went to the first Cartorio after 3 days, along with 2 witnesses. They submitted the application for marriage, and advised that it will take about 20-25 days for the marriage to be allowed by the prosecutor. Please pay attention to this delay, as this may trouble your remaing days on your visa.

After about 20 days we finally got married (2 witnesses are needed again). Then we went to Policia Federal to submit the application for Permanent Visa. It is important to check with your PF as they will ask for a few documents. They accepted our documents and gave us a protocol number, which allows me to legally stay in Brazil, with rights to work until the Permanent visa is granted.

In summary, please remember:
- check your required documents with the cartorio you will get married in
- allow enough time to get all documents ready and legalised before departure
- allow enough days left before your tourist visa expires and be familiar with the counting days by PF
- it always helps to know a bit of Portuguese, so please make an effort to have at least basic Portuguese to be able to go through the above processes (your partner will help you with the most but occasionally they ask you questions that you will want to answer rather than having your partner translate everything for you)

Thanks for reading and any questions please feel free to let me know!
Hi brighthw,

Thanks so very much for sharing your experience with our members. I've answered questions hundreds of times on the subject, but I think with your one exceptionally accurate posting you will get the message across much better. You certainly will be of great help to all of our members thinking of marriage here in Brazil.

William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team

Several important points that brighthw points out in the posting:

1. There are 2 distinct types of cartórios in Brazil, for marriages one needs to apply at the "Cartório Civil das Pessoas Naturais". The other cartório (Cartório de notas) is for documents, land deeds, etc.

2. For foreigners planning to marry in Brazil this should ideally be arranged as soon as possible following arrival since there is a delay of 30 days or more in order to obtain permission to marry. Wedding banns must be published in the Diário Oficial da União and then permission is also published. It may well be necessary to extend the initial 90 day stay in order to get through the entire process.

3. Once the application for a Permanent Visa based on marriage, stable union or Brazilian child has been accepted this carries with it the AUTOMATIC legal right to remain in the country and to work until the process is completed. Some Federal Police employees are NOT police officers, but rather contracted civilian employees who are not aware of the laws. If you have any problems in obtaining the protocol and SINCRE which you will need in order to apply for a Carteira de Trabalho demand to speak to a Policia Federal Agent.

William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team

you stated " gave us a protocol number, which allows me to legally stay in Brazil, with rights to work until the Permanent visa is granted." are you sure you have rights to work?  Did you get CPF yet?  I tried to get my CPF and was told to wait until I had permancia (should be soon; they already came to my house for interview but I was traveling and did report that to PF)t

Just realized should have read wjwoodards post before replying.  Sorry about that and thanks wjwoodard for the clarification.

You can obtain a CPF with your passport and the visa protocol. You are "legally" no longer considered a tourist by virtue of the Permanent Visa application (com base em cônjuge/filho brasileiro) according to a recent decision of the Federal Court. You need a CPF, protocol (of the visa) and a copy of your SINCRE in order to obtain the Carteira de Trabalho. You can apply for the CPF at any post office, Caixa Econômica Federal or Receita Federal office.

William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team

Thanks so much William.  You are a wealth of information.  Upon my return from a visit to States Thursday, I will be working on that.  Best Regards, Teri

Hi Everybody,

I have just sent off an e-mail with a copy of the jurisprudence and my take on it to one of the most respected immigrations law firms in Brazil for clarification and to ask for some serious advice on exactly what a permanent visa applicant should do if the Federal Police refuse to provide a SINCRE immediately.

To me it is quite clear for a number of reasons:

1. The Judiciary is superior to the Federal Police, the Ministry of Justice or the Conselho Nacional de Imigração; so the decision of a Federal Judge supercedes any work practices or directives by the Federal Police in this case.

2. Decreto/Lei 6815, Art. 98 is clear that anyone who holds a Permanent Visa has the right to work in Brazil. The Judge's decision is that once you've applied for the visa, you are no longer considered a tourist and as such the right to work extends automatically to you.

3. The Judge goes on to state that impeding your right to work is an illegal practice, an abuse of power and against the Constitution.

Given the foregoing I see absolutely no basis upon which the Federal Police can refuse to provide any applicant with a copy of the SINCRE immediately, given that it takes all of about two seconds to print off.

As soon as I have the lawyer's advice as to how to procede should you have any difficulty obtaining a SINCRE I will post the information here.

William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team

I am proposing to my girlfriend in Brazil upon my return.  I have already used nearly 4 months of my allowed visa days for this year.  I will be returning to the US in one month from Europe and was planning on only staying there a month, getting things ready, and going back to hopefully get married and stay in Brazil. 

Since she doesn't know that I am proposing yet, it sounds like it may be a little more difficult.

I need to get my birth certificate verified by the Brazilian Embassy in the US, as well as have it translated into Portuguese, correct?  You also mentioned about proof of residency... Which is kind of difficult for me, as I don't exactly have a residency in the States, but all pertinent documents have been sent to my sister's house for the past three years.  Is the proof of residency absolutely necessary?  Or what can I use to prove this? 

I will only have two months in Brazil to get everything ready and make this happen, or I can't come back until November, so I need to get this right the first time.  In the US, we have a Fiance Visa, do they have something similar there? 

Thank you in advance for any advice you have for me!

I was only in Brazil for 4 months, on a tourist visa, and I had no problem getting a CPF....  Went to the post office, paid, went to the registering facility... all done within an hour and a half.

Perhaps you haven't read this thread thoroughly or any of the other posting on the marriage process in Brazil, but it is highly unlikely that you're going to have time to get through it all and get married with anything less than a full 90 day entitlement on your visa. In fact, many people have to extend their visas (not an option for you) in order to get it all done. Provided that ALL of your documents are in perfect order and that you do, in fact, have ALL the documents you require it's going to take 30 days just for the publication of the banns and publication of Permission to Marry (Habilitação de Casamento) in the Diário Oficial de União.

Your case is going to be even trickier since you're not only under the gun with a very tight and unrealistic timeline, but your girlfriend doesn't even know you plan on proposing. Seriously, don't you think she (and her family) are going to have something to say in the whole matter? Don't you think that mom is going to want to make arrangements for a day that her daughter is (supposedly) only ever going to experience once?

Please don't set your sights way to high, you're most likely going to be in for a big letdown here, just due to your schedule of things. I'd really recommend that you hold off on the marriage plans until you have at the very minimum a full 90 day stay and better still the ability to extend for a further 90 if possible. Obviously you have no knowledge whatsoever of exactly how bureaucratic even the smallest little thing is in this country. Not only that but the rules for Cartórios all vary from state to state (and it even seems Cartório to Cartório) so you can probably count on NOT having ALL the documents that the Cartório where you're thinking of getting married asking for something else, something you haven't already got and that's going to take time to arrange for. Just a word to the wise!

William James Woodward, Expat-blog Experts Team

Thank you very much for the heads up!  One of the things that I was reading was in reference to time....  A foreigner cannot be deported even if they are staying outside of their visa constraints, when a Brazilian wishes to marry a foreigner (As per the Brazilian Consulate's Website) You can apply for the marriage license, well after the time you are required to leave.  It comes to the rights of the Brazilian citizen.  We have discussed the topic to great lengths already, just not formally.  Her parents, though they would like it to be a big ceremony and so forth, neither of us, or our families have the extra money to do so, and after the issuance of the banns and the time period before the wedding, I am legal to stay, regardless of visa standing.  I am not worried about the time constraints on that note, especially as there is even a fee cap of R$850 for overstaying a tourist visa.  I have dealt with subtle bureaucratic procedures there, as I have already attained a CPF, as well as gone through the motions of the issuance of a work visa, with the Ministry of Work there.  And I'm sure you probably already know the mentality of the Brazilian women, and telling them, "Hey hunny, don't worry, I'll be back in 3-4 months," is usually to much to deal with for them.  We have been making the relationship work for 2 years on going back and forth, and it is amazingly stressful on the relationship.  I have read stories of it taking under 60 days from start to finish.

I was more so wondering, and now assuming it is not an option, if there is a specialized visa for marriage, as many other countries have a specific Fiance visa?  Which circumvents tourist day limits and allowances, and is usually issued for 90 days, such as the K-1 Visa in the US.

Hey Briansx4!

That's good to know that the Brazilian Consulate website states that a non-Brazilian citizen/foreigner cannot be deported due to an overstay of whatever visa they may have as long as a Brazilian citizen is intending to marry that foreigner, and that you can apply for a marriage license well after the time constraints of the visa, because this falls within the rights of that Brazilian citizen!

You don't know how many times I've personally mulled over exactly HOW that whole process would go for ME (being that the time-constraints would be especially stressful and even perhaps impossible to comply with being that I would have to get MY Birth Certificate issued AND validated by the Brazilian Consulate in CUBA, which will be a whole 'nother roll of bureaucratic and political red tape to deal with!), and I've also wondered exactly how MY partner would react to my telling her that I would have to LEAVE again before the marriage took place just because "time ran out" and we'd even be left to perhaps have to do a marriage by Proxy. None of those options (though I've considered them in MY OWN HEAD a million times and a million different ways) I already KNEW, without even as yet having MENTIONED them to her, would appeal to her AT ALL, NEVER MIND that the laws that make it all so stressful are HER country's and not even MINE...! But that's why I had to laugh when you said "And I'm sure you already know the mentality of the Brazilian women, and telling them 'Hey hunny, don't worry, I'll be back in 3-4 months,' is usually too much to deal with for them." Funny, I thought it was just MY Brazilian woman...! But apparently not. Which I'm glad, in a way.

Hi Briansx4,

You have obviously misinterpreted Decreto/Lei 6.815 Lei de Estrangeiro that regulates immigration in Brazil.

Art. 75 II (a) actually reads:

The alien shall not be expelled if;

married to a Brazilian, from which not divorced or separated judicially or de facto, given that the marriage was celebrated more than five (5) years previously, or ......

So as you can see, even in cases where foreigners are legally married in Brazil they can be expelled from the country during the first 5 years. While this is not a common practice, the law certainly does permit it.

There is no such protection in this legislation for someone who is either engaged to be married or has the "intention" to marry. This, in fact, would simply render the law useless and you can believe that Brazilian lawmakers, while perhaps a bit dull, they aren't stupid. They're not going to put that large a loophole in any law.

I really think that you've hit the nail right on the head with your own solution, the Marriage by Proxy (Casamento por Procuração), but you've got to still have the documents all in perfect order, which means legalized by the Consulate at home. Also you must be "legal" in the country at the time you submit the request for the Marriage by Proxy to the Cartório.

You're now in a rather difficult situation that probably even a lawyer here specializing in immigration law is not going to be able to help you much with. Time now is your worst enemy and it's fast running out.

The only hope that I can see for you is that if the Cartório has already accepted all your documents, the date has been scheduled and that you're just waiting it out, then yes there is a very good chance they're not going to ask to see your visa again on the day of the wedding or Marriage by Proxy, however they can. If you've got a date already set, then you could theoretically lay low until the marriage takes place. The act of marriage, visa validity or not, makes you "legal" in the country, although you would be in an irregular migratory situation under current legislation. That is of course provided that you are LEGALLY MARRIED here in Brazil. In such a case once married, you don't have to be in a regular situation to apply for the VIPER Permanent Visa, the Federal Police are obligated to accept the application regardless of your visa status following marriage or birth of a Brazilian child.

William James Woodward, Expat-blog Experts Team

Hi, William

I knew it all sounded too good to be true.

But I think it was I, actually, who brought up the Marriage by Proxy idea on this topic. While I personally would be more than willing to resolve the problem that way and THEN have a  "nice wedding with all the trimmings with friends, etc., there," I don't know how my partner would feel about that, like I said (though I know I'll find out soon enough) and I certainly don't know how Briansx4 feels about it. But I suppose we'll find out in his response.


Hi Dalia,

Hope all's well with you and your family.

Yes, some members have no idea about the crushing bureaucracy in this country and get the biggest and most unpleasant surprise of their lives when they actually find themselves right in the middle of it. Of course, that's usually when there is absolutely no way out of the quagmire they've gotten themselves into either.

I don't know if you speak Portuguese, but there is a Brazilian comedy troupe Porta dos Fundos (translation: Back Door) they are really funny. They have a skit on Youtube that is entitled "Burocracia" it is so funny and so true-to-life that it's frightening. If you do speak Portuguese watch it, you'll split your sides laughing. It's two friends who want to open a small business and they're dealing with all the documents, of course NOBODY ever tells you all of the things you need up front, you get fed bits of information which forces you to go back and start over every time, only to find out another bit of info, which of course necessitates still another visit. They finally take revenge on the public servant by submitting all the documents one-by-one in the end. It's a scream!

Well, Youtube used to have it, but it looks like the original version has been pulled (probably censored by the government for being too true). Anyway there are lots of clips from the original version in this compilation of clips.

Thank you so much for your kind wishes for my family, William! I mutually hope all's well with yours.

I was sorry to hear YouTube pulled the original version of that comedy troupe and I laughed when you reached the conclusion that it was probably censored by the Brazilian government themselves, and the REASON I laughed is because you're probably RIGHT! But I will check out the clips you gave me the link to anyway at my earliest chance. My capacity to UNDERSTAND the SPOKEN Portuguese is STILL not good (while the written form is hardly ever a problem) but I look forward to also using it maybe as a tool to LEARN (between the laughs).

Thanks again, my friend...!


wjwoodward wrote:

So as you can see, even in cases where foreigners are legally married in Brazil they can be expelled from the country during the first 5 years. While this is not a common practice, the law certainly does permit it.

Actually, acording to the supreme court, Sumula 1:

So the 5 years do not exist.

Just an update after more than 1 year - STILL WAITING on permanencia!!
Actually the Policia Federal in Palmas made a mistake and Brasilia returned the docs. It was sent again in August and only earlier this month my process is registered on the ministerio da justica system, saying aguardando analise.
Hopefully I am close to getting this permanencia before the WORLD CUP!