How to get a Cohabitation and Permanent Visa in Brazil: a step-by-step guide

Couple holding hands in Brazil

Could you be Brazil’s next união estável? Photo by Marina Aguiar (Flickr Creative Commons)

In love with a Brazilian? Thinking about moving to Brazil to be with them, but you’re not ready for marriage? Read on! Here’s a guest post by our reader Bernardo, who has just been through the process himself!

We do not chose who we love, and there is no right moment. And, so it happens, many people find their other half in Brazil, forcing them to reconsider their plans and look for ways to make their new relationship work. Fortunately, Brazil allows foreigners to apply and receive a permanent visa if they are married to, or living in cohabitation with a Brazilian citizen (of the same or opposite sex). 

If you want to live in Brazil and you’re open to declaring cohabitation with your love, then listen up – this two-part guide is for you. An important observation before we begin – this whole process of declaring cohabitation and applying for permanent visa has to be filed and processed before your tourist visa expires. It will be best to start planning before your arrival in Brazil, as you will need some docs from your homeland while applying for the permanent visa. However, it can also be done on Brazilian soil, as long as your visa is valid, and we will see that in part two. 

Let’s begin by looking at the Brazilian definition for Cohabitation, or União Estável in Portuguese, i.e. Stable union: “Cohabitation is the union between two people in an open, continuous and lasting coexistence in order to found a family, in which they apply the duties of loyalty, care, respect, custody, maintenance and education of their children.” (Source: União estável, 15° Tabelionato de Notas do Rio de Janeiro). 

It is important to mention some aspects regarding this status, as they appear in the new Brazilian Civil Code (Law no. 10,406 of January 10, 2002): 

1. The state of cohabitation applies to both same and opposite sex couple, (the Supreme Court recognized same-sex relationships on 05.05.2011, ADPF No. 132 and ADI No. 4277). 

2. There is no minimum duration of living together. 

3. Couples living in cohabitation do not have to actually live in the same house (they may have several residences), but they will be considered living in cohabitations if there are other elements that prove their relationship (e.g. testimonies, existence of children, etc.). 

4. Married individuals can change their status to living in cohabitation as long as they are separated de facto from their ex-spouses (art. 1.723, § 1º). 

5. Almost all laws regarding family matters apply to couples living in cohabitation and in that sense, the new code made it very similar to civil marriage. (Source: “União de facto“, Wikipedia and União estável, 15° Tabelionato de Notas do Rio de Janeiro). 

So what is the difference between Cohabitation and civil marriage, and why not opt for the latter? It can range from personal and emotional reasons (marriage, after all, should be special) and to say the truth, declaring cohabitation is a much simpler process (and in Brazil, you will want to avoid any unneeded bureaucracy). It should also be noted, that even though some places already allow you to fill in that you live in cohabitation, legally, your marital status remains single. 

Cohabitation: how to do it quickly, effectively and cheaply

Signing the deed:

1. In order to declare your relationship you will need to sign a Declaratory public deed (Escritura pública declaratória) in a Register office (Google “Ofício de notas” and find the nearest to you). Take note: 

a. At least in the state of Rio de Janeiro (and I suppose it is like that in all other states too), each register office is operated by a different owner (a sort of franchise) and therefore the documents they demand to be able to sign the deed DIFFER. 

b. For that reason, you should ask your Brazilian boyfriend/girlfriend, or do it yourself if fluent in Portuguese, to make a phone call first and ask what documents you need to bring (and which ones need to be photocopied and authenticated). Also, how much will signing the deed cost? (It should be between R$ 250-350, depending on state and office.) Also, which payment methods are accepted? (Normally money or check). Also ask if you can schedule an appointment with the registrar to sign the deed. 

c. Take heed of the above – I though requirements were the same across all offices. I followed one’s instructions, translated my passport with a public translator and had it registered in a different register office (known as Cartório de títulos e documentos). This whole story ended up costing R$ 470 + a lot of running around town, and you can only imagine the frustration of discovering later on that the office we actually signed the deed in, did not need this registration at all! 

Required documents: 

1. . Your CPF

2.  Your passport, with your entry card you received when entering Brazil

3. Your boyfriend/girlfriend’s CPF

4. Your boyfriend/girlfriend’s Identity card/driver’s license 

5. Two testimonies of age with their CPF and Identity cards. 

6. You will probably need to make copies of some of these documents – most likely passport and identity cards – and then authenticate them. Based on the answer of the register office, make a photocopy of them ahead of time (they never have that service there) and authenticate them (that you can do at the office just before entering to sign the deed). Authentication is done by showing the clerk the original next to the photocopy, each page costing R$ 6.25 (price current in Rio de Janeiro, 2015)

Another tip – a CPF card is not authenticable document, so don’t bother getting that done – save your pennies. 

If you do not speak Portuguese well enough to understand the procedures, you will need to hire a public interpreter (Tradutor juramentado). Do not automatically hire the one they offer you at the register office as they may charge you up to R$ 500 an hour. Look for an autonomous one on the internet, as they might charge a sum closer to R$ 150 an hour. In case you do need an interpreter, it will be wise make sure you have an appointment (and even drop off the documents a few days earlier, to shorten procedures), as you do not want to pay the interpreter to wait in line with you.  

Once at the register office: 

1. Arrive and ask to sign a public deed to declare cohabitation (if you do not have a scheduled appointment). 

2. Give in the documents as required. 

3. You and your testimonies will be asked about your marital status, profession and time of cohabitation. 

4. Then you will be read the deed and will be asked to sign it. 

5. Your testimonies will then have to sign it. 

6. You will then pay for the deed. 

Congrats! You are officially recognized as a cohabiting couple in Brazil! If you follow these steps, it should be fairly easy and smooth. Up ahead is the more challenging bit – applying for the permanent visa with the federal police. But worry not, in the next article we will cover in further detail the best way to go about it. 

Boa sorte! 


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