Citizenship through naturalization

Published on October 17, 2021

Applying for citizenship is the most complex and delicate step for anyone who wishes to legally live in Brazil. It’s important to comprehend that the concession of Brazilian citizenship to a foreigner means that the applicant will have right not only to his/her original nationality but also to the Brazilian one, being it temporary or permanent. The law regarding the mutual gathering of Brazilian and original citizenship depends on the laws of the home country.

Jus soli & jus sanguinis

Brazilian nationality law is based on both the principles of jus soli and jus sanguinis.

Jus soli (right of soil) is the legal principle that a person's nationality at birth is determined by the place of birth (i.e. the territory of a given state). Jus sanguinis (right of blood) is the legal principle that, at birth, an individual acquires the nationality of his/her natural parent/s.

The jus soli principle is applicable in Brazil, like in many other South, Central and North American countries. That means that every child who is born within Brazilian national territory can apply to Brazilian citizenship regardless of their parents’ nationality.

However, Brazil also recognizes jus sanguinis. This way, a person born abroad is a Brazilian national if one of the parents is Brazilian and:

– The Brazilian parent was abroad in official service;

– The child is registered at the Brazilian consulate;

– The child comes to live in Brazil and chooses, after reaching 18 years old, the Brazilian nationality.

Types of Brazilian naturalization

Brazil does not grant brazilian nationality by investment, nationality by marriage or citizenship by marriage, other legal requirements must be met. According to the Brazilian Law of Immigration, foreigners from non-Portuguese speaking countries can obtain the Brazilian nationality in four ways.

Ordinary naturalization

Ordinary Brazilian naturalization is granted to foreigners who wish to naturalize themselves, and who meet the following requirements:

– Have civil capacity, according to Brazilian law;

– Have residency in national territory for at least 4 years. (This term may be reduced to one year if the applicant has a Brazilian child, has a spouse or Brazilian partner and is not separated at the time of grant, has provided or is able to provide relevant service to Brazil, or is recommended for his professional, scientific or artistic capacity);

– Adequate ability to communicate in Portuguese, considering the conditions of naturalization;

– No prior criminal conviction or rehabilitation, in accordance with the law.

Extraordinary naturalization

Extraordinary naturalization will be granted to the person of any nationality set in Brazil for more than 15 uninterrupted years and without criminal conviction, provided that the Brazilian nationality is requested.

Special naturalization

Special Brazilian naturalization is granted to the person who has been the spouse or partner, for more than five years, to a member of the Brazilian Foreign Service or a person in the service of the Brazilian State abroad; Or is or has been employed on a diplomatic mission or in a consular post in Brazil for more than ten uninterrupted years.

Provisional naturalization

Provisional naturalization may be granted to the child or adolescent migrant who has established residence in national territory before completing ten years of age, and should be required through his legal representative. This type of naturalization can become definitive though an express application within two years after achieving the age of maturity.

How to apply

The application for a Brazilian citizenship is complex and you have to pass through several government organizations, such as the Federal Police, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Migration and the National Secretary of Justice.

The application is initially addressed to the Ministry of Justice, and it must be submitted at one of the Federal Police offices. The Federal Police will process the request of naturalization and will forward it to the Department of Migration for analysis. If there is any discrepancy in the documentation presented, the applicant will be notified to submit new documents within 30 days, extendable upon justified request.

If the application for naturalization is accepted, the Department of Migration will issue a reasoned opinion and will forward it to the National Secretary of Justice for a final decision.

The application's result will be published in the Official Federal Gazette. After it, the naturalized person will have the right to pick up their first national identity card at a Detran office.

Loss of nationality

The loss of naturalization can occur due to conviction of any act that is considered harmful to the national interest.

The risk of generating the situation of statelessness will be taken into account before the loss of nationality becomes effective. The Brazilian that has lost nationality, once ceased the cause, could re-apply or have the act that declared the loss revoked, as defined by the competent authority of the executive power.

Benefits of Brazilian nationality

Although the Brazilian Constitution guarantees equality before the law, ensuring the same civil rights to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country, the Constitution also makes some exceptions, thereby restricting some rights. Only after acquiring the Brazilian nationality, a foreigner will have the right to:

– Buy rural property of any size;

– Perform research and mine mineral resources;

– Explore Brazilian hydropower;

– Own a journalistic and broadcasting company after ten years of becoming a Brazilian national;

– Priority in the adoption of children or adolescents;

– Become a citizen, have political rights (vote, become a candidate, etc.);

– Work as a Brazilian public servant;

– Remain in Brazil if committed a crime elsewhere (no extradition), except for crimes committed prior to the Brazilian nationality or drug trafficking.

Get free access to travel deals, tips and exclusive discounts!