I traveled to Brazil January 2003 to go on a missionary trip with my boyfriend who is Brazilian and lives in Campo Grande, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. On January 12, the day we would be leaving for Goiânia on our 20-day mission trip, he asked me to marry him. Because of my visa issues we knew we needed to be married quickly and we started to research what was needed for us to get married as soon as we arrived back from the mission trip on February 2.
I have the standard tourist visa for Brazil, and my 180 days would be up April 2. So, my fiancé Everton went to the local Civil Registry Office to get the needed info. While he was there, I stayed at home calm thinking that the marriage process in Brazil would be very similar to the process in California where I'm from. Wow was I in for a big surprise!
He came back with a list of requirements and waiting periods, waiting periods we didn't have time to wait for. The marriage process in Brazil can be complicated and time consuming, a process that reads more like a nightmare. The instructions required that I have my birth certificate and passport authenticated and translated into Portuguese, and that I obtain from the United States consulate in Rio de Janeiro a permission certificate and a certificate proving that I'm single.
It was also required that my translator be certified competent to translate the English language into Portuguese. After doing this I had to get the documents authenticated at a separate office yet paying another fee. At the end, I had to give them the original of the document plus an additional copy that had been authenticated.
So the following day we went to the US consulate in Rio to get the needed documents. There we spent R$ 135.00 (US$ 45) for the certificates and another $30.00 (US$ 10) for the notarization. Here is what I found out. I hope this can make the process a little less painful for you and your bride or groom to be, than it was for me and my husband.
All individuals regardless of nationality, who desire to be married in Brazil, must comply with the Brazilian law. There are no provisions for American Diplomatic or Consular Officers to perform marriages in Brazil. In addition, marriages may not be performed at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.
In Brazil, a civil process is required in order to legalize the marriage. Religious ceremonies may also be performed, but they are not legally recognized. Religious ceremonies alone are not considered legally binding. Civil ceremonies may be performed at Civil Registry Offices (Registros Civis). Marriages are normally performed at the Civil Registry Office that has jurisdiction over the resident or the registration of the party. In addition to performing marriages, this office also contains all the required forms and pertinent procedural information necessary to be married in Brazil.
U.S. citizens intending to marry in Brazil should visit the Civil Registry Office where they live to obtain a list of the documents required for the marriage to be legally registered. If neither the groom nor the bride lives in Brazil, you may visit the Civil Registry Office closest to where you would like to get married.
The following information and document requirements will help guide you in the marriage process. Please make sure to obtain the most up to date information from the civil Registry Office since requirements, procedures, and costs are subject to change.
1. The minimum age for marriages is 18 years for men and 16 years for women.
2. Parental authorization, or that of a guardian, is required if the bride or groom is a minor (under 21 years old)
Registering Intention to Marry
In order to register your intention to marry, you and your fiancé(e) should go in person to the Civil Registry Office (Cartório de Registro Civil) accompanied by two witnesses. The witnesses should be at least 21 years old, have their Brazilian I.D. card and C.P.F. (Cadastro de Pessoa Física). All signatures must be certified by the "Registro de Notas". The following forms will also be necessary for registration as well as a fee of approximately R$ 72 (US$ 25).
Please note that registering your intent to marry is different from registering the actual marriage. You will be required to submit all original documents as well as another copy when registering your intent to marry. If the documents are in English, you should provide a translation by a sworn public translator. Please check with the appropriate Civil Registry Office for current fee information.
Forms Involving the Brazilian Consulate
a. Birth Certificate: U.S. birth certificates must be authenticated by a Brazilian Consulate in the U.S. and translated into Portuguese by a sworn public translator. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates do not provide translation services. However, they can provide a list of sworn public translators at their Website (www.consulado-americano-rio.org.br) you may also be required to have the translation authenticated by a local notary public (Tabelião).
b. Evidence of termination of prior marriage: (if applicable) If you are divorced or widowed, you may be required to present previous marriage, divorce or death certificates as applicable. If the documents are not from Brazil, they must be authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin and translated into Portuguese by a sworn public translator. The Supreme Tribunal Federal in Brasília must also legalize divorce decrees from countries other than Brazil. This procedure generally requires the assistance of a Brazilian attorney. A list of attorneys is available at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (www.consulado-americano-rio.org.br).
Forms Involving the U.S. Consulate
c. Evidence of single marital status: Generally the Civil Registry Office will accept evidence in the form of an affidavit sworn at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in which you declare your marital status as "single." The service fee is US$ 55 payable in cash and you must present your U.S. passport.
d. "Certidão de inscrição consular": This document is normally requested if your birth certificate does not show your parents' full names. You may request this document from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The document will state your full legal name, birth date, place of birth, and your parents' names. Please bring your U.S. passport and a recent photograph (2 by 2 inches). There is a fee of US$ 20 for this service.
Forms Involving the Civil Registry Office
e. Application form: To register intention to marry
f. U.S. Passport: Copy of your U.S. passport, including the biographical data page and any other pages containing information, certified by a Registry Office (Cartório).
g. Brazilian identity card: (if applicable) Photocopy of your Brazilian identity card if you are a temporary or permanent resident of Brazil, authenticated by a local notary public.
Note: If you are in Brazil on a permanent resident visa (Carteira de Residente Permanente) or as a temporary worker (Carteira de Temporário), some of the above documents may be waived.
Registering the Marriage
A second fee is required to register the marriage at the Civil Registry Office (Registro de Titulos e documentos.) This registration also takes place before you can get married. The fee is about R$18 (US$ 6) for each page of the documents listed above. Please check with the appropriate Civil Registry Office for current fee information.
Once the required documents have been filed and the fee paid, there is a waiting period of about 30 days before the marriage license is approved. At this point, the marriage license is valid for three months during which time you may legally get married.
Kim Rachell Lainhart Lira is a free lance writer and author of the anti-gang violence book for youth entitled Gang War. She has spent the last seven months in poor areas of Brazil as a Baptist missionary, and has traveled to Brazil at least once a year for the past 4 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org