an American citizen the road to marry a Brazilian can be
rugged and intimidating. In Brazil, religious wedding ceremonies are
not legally recognized. You need to present among other documents your
birth certificate and evidence that you are single. And remember that
your intent to marry is different from registering the actual marriage.
Rachell Lainhart Lira
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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).
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.
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.
the Civil Registry Office
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
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.
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
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.
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