This post is about how to get a marriage license in Brazil. If you already have one and want info on how to apply for permanence, see this post.
As of May 5, 2011, same-sex couples could legally convert their stable unions into marriage licenses in Brazil. Even though it was legalized, many couples struggled at first to obtain the marriage license because some judges were still not upholding the law as they should have. When Michele and I went to apply for a marriage license at the cartório (notary’s office) in Dec 2011, we were encouraged to first get a stable union which could then be converted into a marriage license because it was more likely to be approved than applying directly for the marriage license. We were originally going to apply for my permanence in Brazil based on our stable union but the Polícia Federal required documents of two years or more (joint bank accounts, joint lease, joint signing on a house or car, etc.), which we didn’t have. After applying to convert our stable union into a marriage license , we were informed that we were the first female couple in Rio to do so. Our marriage license took 5 months to be approved while opposite-sex couples can usually get one in 2 weeks to a month and a half. It was a tough process for us because we didn’t really have anyone to show us how to wade through the bureaucratic confusion.
This post is to help explain the process whether you are applying directly for a marriage license or converting from a stable union. As of May 14, 2013, same-sex couples can apply directly for a marriage license (yay!!!) instead of first obtaining a stable union and then converting it. While all the required documents below also apply to opposite-sex couples, I have added a few extra tips for same-sex couples. I have also included the approximate prices of these docs, how you go about getting them and how long each is expected to take. Keep in mind, the following documents and requirements are for Rio de Janeiro but most likely are similar in other states. NOTE: I do not claim to know everything, I can only tell you about my own experience in hopes of saving you a lot of stress and time delays. IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS AND THE INFORMATION BELOW IS NOT ACCURATE, PLEASE LET ME KNOW SO I CAN UPDATE IT AND HELP EVERYONE ELSE OUT! THANKS!
DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO OBTAIN A MARRIAGE LICENSE
1) First, go to your nearest cartório and ask for the list of current documents required for marriage between a Brazilian and Estrangeiro. The administrative fees they charge when you turn in your documents are approx. R$224.89 for the cartorio + R$55.50 for the cerimony.
2) CERTIDÃO DE NASCIMENTO (birth certificate) and PASSAPORTE (passport) with CÓPIAS AUTENTICADAS (authenticated copies). Foreigner: your birth certificate will need to be an original. Your partner will also need to present their original. If your partner doesn’t have an original, they can “tirar uma segunda via” (get a second copy basically) which can usually be obtained the same day if they make an appointment at the location where their original was issued.
*authenticated copies can be done at most cartórios. You take in the doc, say you want it authenticated and it costs R$5.40 per page.
We were required to have both the birth certificate and passport translated by a certified/sworn translator (we use Litero Traduções because they are pretty fast, about a day, and easy to work with). This costs about R$55 each document. Shop around, you might be able to find something cheaper. Just send them a scan of your documents so they can get started on it right away, you pay when you pick them up. After this, you have to have them both registered in Centro. In order to register your passport and birth certificate you must go to a special cartório called a Cartório de Registros de Titulos e Documentos. There are many of these all over but we found that only one (their main headquarters) is the place where you can actually register your docs. It is located at: Rua do Carmo, 57 in Centro, Tel: 3852-6641. The cost of each one is approx. R$160.
*one incredibly annoying thing we came across when turning in documents to the cartório is that they keep your original birth certificate (of the foreigner). Their excuse is that your birth certificate is no longer valid because it represents you as a single person and you are exchanging it it for a document that states you are married. I tried to fight with them over it but to no avail. And they wouldn’t accept an authenticated copy, it had to be the original.
3) IDENTIDADE ou carteira profissional ou carteira nacional de habilitação from your partner. So basically your partner’s Brazilian I.D. with an authenticated copy. Your I.D. will be your passport which was already taken care of in step 2.
4) Your CPF and your partner’s CPF with authenticated copies. Don’t have a CPF yet? This link shows you how to get one. Can usually get on the same day.
5) COMPROVANTE DE RESIDENCIA-Proof of residence. This is usually a lease agreement with your name on it. If you live with your partner and your name is not on the lease, no problem. Have your partner write a declaration stating you live with them and bring the lease (or a bill) with an authenticated copy. They may require this document to have a “firma reconhecida”. The firma reconhecida is when you register your signature in a cartório (about R$20) and each time you need to have your signature recognized on a document, you go to the same cartório and they stamp your doc saying it’s actually your signature.
6) Two TESTAMUNHAS-witnesses over the age of 18 to sign your application forms. They will need to sign the form and have their signatures recognized at a cartorio as well. They will also need an authenticated copy of their CPF and one of their I.D.
7) DECLARAÇÃO CONSULAR DE SOLTEIRA-A declaration from your consulate saying you are in fact, single. When you go, they should know what this is. For the U.S. consulate, you can get the document the same day and it costs R$100. Bring a few 3×4 photos. While you are at it, I would also get the INSCRIÇÃO CONSULAR document too. This is basically the SAME EXACT thing but has a little different wording, saying you are in fact a citizen of your own country and you will most likely need it when you go to the Polícia Federal to apply for permanence (we did). They charge you another R$100 for this but you probably need it eventually, save yourself the second trip.
8) The application form from the cartório with all of your personal information filled out with witness signatures as well as your own.
9) If you are converting your stable union to a marriage license, don’t forget your authenticated copy of this as well.
Turn in your docs and try to forget it for a while. They say the documents are usually approved in 45-60 days. Being that we are in Brazil, that means when you hit 45 days, start calling everyday until they tell you it is ready 🙂 Once your documents have been processed, you have 90 days to set a date. Return on that date to sign your docs in front of a judge with your witnesses.
And that is basically what you need to apply for a marriage license. Don’t forget to stop by your local cartório first to check on current document requirements. For some of you, it may seem that I included a lot of extra info you don’t need but for those couples who have to jump through ALL the hoops like we did, the information is hopefully helpful.
Things may have changed since we did this process so when you go to the cartório to get the current list of documents, ask important questions like:
-Do my passport and birth certificate NEED to be registered? If they don’t really, you can save a lot of money.
-When they print out your info, make sure you are listed as Cônjuge 1 and Cônjuge 2 (spouse) instead of noivo and noiva (bride and groom). Some cartórios haven’t had any same-sex couples come through yet and literally haven’t changed the documents to accommodate.