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How to Get Brazilian Citizenship by Marriage or Residence by Investment

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Picture this: a gateway to the rhythmic beats of samba, the rich, sprawling interior of the Amazon and an open invitation to roam across the lush landscapes of South America.

No, you’re not dreaming – this is a real opportunity that comes with Brazilian citizenship. The South American country is more than happy to roll out the welcome mat for foreigners eager to write their own Brazilian chapter. It’ll even offer tantalising incentives to become a part of this dynamic nation and become a Brazilian citizen.

A quick look at the latest findings in our Nomad Passport Index confirms that a Brazilian passport grants you visa-free access to 164 countries worldwide. This isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s a golden ticket.

So, whether you’re looking to explore the majestic Andes or bask on sunlit Caribbean beaches, Brazil’s passport is the key to those borderless adventures. It’s worth noting that onward travel to the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada will require a visa, but these minor hurdles on an otherwise smooth global journey.

Brazil doesn’t talk a good global citizenship game – it positively embraces the concept. It permits dual citizenship which means you can retain your original nationality, which should calm any fears you might have about forsaking your roots.

So, how does one become a Brazilian citizen? The process of naturalisation requires you to have been a resident of  Brazil for an uninterrupted period of 15 years immediately before applying.

But there are faster options: citizenship by marriage to a Brazilian national and investing in return for residency. Understanding these options, the procedures involved, and the requirements is crucial for anyone considering this life-changing move.

In essence, acquiring Brazilian citizenship will enrich your lifestyle and diversify your global footprint, effortlessly connecting you to the heart of South America and beyond.

Brazilian Citizenship by Marriage

Brazilian Citizenship by Marriage
Brazil makes acquiring Brazilian citizenship somewhat easier for those who are married to a Brazilian.

Brazil is a diverse melting pot that allows dual citizenship for naturalised spouses, including those who get citizenship by marriage. 

Assuming you and your Brazilian partner decide to tie the knot and get married, you can realistically take the first step towards Brazilian citizenship within one year. One to note on the point of marriage – while you can get married in the country, you should perhaps consider marrying outside Brazil. This could be easier in many ways since the country is notorious for its bureaucracy. 

If you get hitched elsewhere, it’s likely that the consulate of Brazil will still require a fee and will demand payment to process your paperwork. Once you file the required documents with your Brazilian consulate, you’ll receive a Certificate of Marriage Registration showing you and your spouse are now a Brazilian legal entity. Also, note that you’ll need to bring all the paperwork from your overseas marriage to Brazil. From there, you can engage in the application process and apply for a permanent residence visa.

Marriage to a Brazilian does not automatically confer citizenship; other legal requirements must also be met.

In almost all cases, you must officially apply for permanent residence in Brazil at a Federal Police station. This involves travelling to South America’s largest country to get things moving. Depending on whether you can communicate in the Portuguese language or not, you may need the help of a fixer or lawyer.

Given the extent of Brazilian bureaucracy, it is always better to have the support of someone who knows the system. In fact, it’s usually best to get professional help to navigate the process.

After one year of marriage to a Brazilian national and holding permanent residence, you can apply for citizenship by marriage. It is then possible to apply for naturalisation, which can take anywhere from 12 to 15 months. 

As with any second citizenship process, you’re at the mercy of the Brazilian government. A good lawyer can ensure there are as few delays as possible.

Experienced lawyers in Brazil will most likely use a fixer, or ‘despanchante’ in Portuguese, to file your paperwork. Many expats have sought fixers to help them with the citizenship-by-marriage process, but while there are plenty of good fixers, there are also those who could actually harm your cause.

As in many other countries, the small details matter when applying for Brazilian citizenship, and it is necessary to exercise caution and work with someone who knows the system inside out. 

Brazilian Residence by Investment

Brazilian Residence by Investment
Brazil has several investment options for seeking an investor visa.

The options for securing Brazilian residency by investment have expanded in recent years.

You can invest BRL$500,000 (nearly US$100,000) in an established company in Brazil. However, that amount can be reduced to BRL$150,000 (about US$30,000) if you create ten jobs for Brazilian locals.

It requires an investment of BRL$1,000,000 (nearly US$200,000) in real estate, which reduces to BRL$700,000 (around US$135,000) if it’s in the north or northeast region. An investment in real estate must be held for four years to ensure your residence permit is valid. However, unlike in other countries, the property can be rented out. 

Retirees with a minimum monthly pension income of BRL$6000 (about US$1200) can obtain a one-year temporary residency visa and apply for permanent residency after four years. An additional BRL$2000 (nearly US$400) in income is needed for each dependant. Those who don’t want to live in Brazil are only required to visit the country once every two years to maintain their permanent resident status.

So, if you don’t mind visiting once in a while, which, let’s face it, is not exactly a burden, then a Permanent Investor’s Visa may be perfect for you. Unlike naturalisation from marriage, the Permanent Visa for Investors requires the applicant to apply for a work permit authorisation through a government office.

The first step in obtaining a Permanent Investor’s Visa is to go to Brazil. You’ll want to ensure you bring all the correct documents, including a background check, passport, birth certificate copies, bank statements and other similar documents.

Once you’re on the ground, you’ll need to visit the appropriate government offices and prove to the Brazilian authorities that your investment can improve the country’s economic situation. This can mean anything from hiring a certain number of Brazilian employees to buying real estate in developing areas. 

Through the real estate option, you can apply for citizenship in as little as three years, but with a business investment, citizenship can be granted after four years. After putting in your time on the ground, you may apply for citizenship under what’s known as ‘common naturalisation’.

The government wants to see that you’ve actually been based in the country and that you meet their criteria. This includes speaking Portuguese, proving that you can support a family and demonstrating that you are of good standing and do not have a criminal record. 

Brazil does allow dual nationality, meaning you will not need to renounce your current citizenship if you don’t want to.

You shouldn’t need it, and we certainly hope you don’t, but Brazil also has the unique possibility of avoiding the extradition of its citizens to other countries while they are on Brazilian soil. Anecdotally, this is said to apply only to citizens born there.

Overall, a Brazilian passport is an excellent travel document with visa-free access to almost all of the Americas and Europe. While Brazil’s economy certainly suffered during and post-pandemic, it is rebounding, with Sao Paolo having one of the five best entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world.

The country is large enough to have global weight but not large or authoritarian enough to unduly bother its citizenry around the world. That attitude is far removed from the one normally on display from Brazil’s more prominent and powerful North American neighbour and definitely a good reason to consider the freedom-enhancing benefits of having a Plan B second citizenship.  

Brazilian Citizenship or Residence: FAQs

Can I apply for Brazilian citizenship after gaining residence?

Yes. You can apply for naturalisation after four years of uninterrupted permanent residence in Brazil and proving you have strong ties to the country. 

Can I apply for citizenship if I marry a Brazilian?

Yes. You can apply for citizenship if you have a Brazilian spouse, provided you have one year of uninterrupted residence in Brazil. 

Does Brazil recognise marriages conducted outside its territory?

Yes, it does. However, if your marriage was conducted outside Brazil, you’ll have to register the marriage certificate in the Brazilian consulate where the certificate was issued and pay the relevant fees.

Do I need to speak Portuguese to become a Brazilian citizen?

Unless you’re already from a Portuguese-speaking country, you must demonstrate proficiency in the language by passing a test. The best way is to immerse yourself in life there. 

Can I work in Brazil if I have permanent residence?

As a permanent resident of Brazil, you have the right to both live and work there indefinitely. If you acquired residence through marriage, the right to live and work depends on maintaining the marriage bond. 

Brazilian Passport Planning

Brazilian Passport Planning
Planning is an important part of becoming a Brazilian citizen or resident.

If you want an excellent second passport for travel purposes or just simply to enjoy all the benefits that Brazil has to offer, you may be willing to overlook Brazil’s bureaucracy and questionable political reputation.

Do you have a Brazilian spouse? In that case, Brazilian citizenship by marriage is still a good option to diversify your passport portfolio, while investing in Brazil could lead to the ownership of some amazing real estate and growing business opportunities.

Whichever route you decide to take, be sure to plan it properly by getting sound advice and working with people who know what they’re doing. At Nomad Capitalist, we have a worldwide network of lawyers, estate agents, accountants and tax and company formation specialists. All that expertise and real-world experience come together when we advise your holistic, bespoke action plan. Discover how we do things here.

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