Getting Your Brazil Visa and Residency
Here is complete information on getting a visa and residency in Brazil, including; the types of visas available, residency process, and what is needed to apply for citizenship.
Brazil Tourist Visa
Brazil generally follows a policy of reciprocity—if Brazilians need a visa to visit your country, then you need one to visit Brazil.
To visit Brazil all U.S. or Canadian citizen need is a tourist visa, which is easily obtained. If you are a U.K. or Irish citizen, you don’t even need a tourist visa. Your passport and the immigration card you complete on your flight are sufficient to allow a 90-day stay, which can be extended for another 90 days.
Permanent Residency in Brazil
It’s worth considering whether you even need to become a resident. You don’t need to be a resident to own property in Brazil. And if your intent is, for example, simply to winter here, then you may not want to bother with residency at all.
There are several ways in which a foreigner may gain permanent residency in Brazil. However, it’s important to understand that when a foreigner is granted a “permanent” visa (visto permanente or visto definitivo), the visa doesn’t grant permanent resident status from the date of issue. Rather, a visto permanente should be thought of as a visa which sets you on the road toward permanent residency and citizenship.
Although there are several types of vistos permanentes, the likely options would be via either a retirement visa or an investment visa.
Brazil’s Retirement Visa
To qualify for a retirement visa, you or your spouse must be at least 60 years of age and be able to demonstrate a monthly pension or annuity income of at least 6,000 reais (US$1,700). That amount must be transferred into Brazil monthly.
To apply for a retirement visa, it’s best to contact the Brazilian consulate in your current home. These visas are issued for nine years, after which they must be renewed, although renewal is generally a formality. You can renew at the Ministry of Justice or at the nearest office of the Federal Police, which handles immigration matters in Brazil.
The retirement visa is attractive, as the monthly income requirement is within the reach of most retirees. Benefits of holding a retirement visa include:
- a national ID card, which in turns allows you to open a local bank account, among other things
- access to public services, such as the public health care safety net
- the right to work legally, should you wish
- the ability to leave and re-enter Brazil freely
Those 60 and over (pessoas de terceira idade), also have the right to ride city buses and metros free of charge and receive discounts of up to 50% on many entrance fees, such as movie tickets. Stores, banks, and other institutions generally provide a preferential line for seniors.
Brazil’s Investor Visa
Another avenue to permanent residency is via an investment visa. The intention of the investment visa is that foreigners open a business here, employing Brazilians. Accordingly, simply buying real estate does not meet the requirements. To apply for the investment visa you’ll need to create a business plan, which should include positions for at least two Brazilians, and submit it to the Federal Police. The investment visa is good for three years, and may be renewed thereafter by the Federal Police.
While the investment visa does afford legal residency, it isn’t an easy route. First, there is the investment itself, which was raised near the end of 2015 from 150,000 reals (about US$42,400) to 500,000 reals (about US$141,400). Besides making this initial investment and securing approval, you’ll have to conduct business in a country that isn’t all that business friendly. And if you decide to shut down your business, you may find that doing so isn’t that easy and entails substantial costs—and leaves you without a basis for residency. If you have a solid business venture which you’d like to pursue, great. But consider carefully before diving in simply to get residency. There may be other ways.
Permanent residency visas are available to those who marry a Brazilian citizen or person with permanent resident status in Brazil. Brazil also recognizes what are termed “stable unions.” Under the law these are treated like formal marriages and may apply to same-sex couples as well as traditional couples. Because requirements change and because what constitutes a “stable union” is a bit flexible, it’s best to consult with the Brazilian consulate servicing your geographic region.
For some who work in certain high-demand professions, work visas may provide a means to permanent residency.
Visa Application Process
To begin your visa application process, go to the Ministry of Exterior Relations website, which is in English. Select “Visa Request,” fill in the online application form, and then hit “send” to get your official registration number (termed a protocolo). Record your number, as you’ll need to refer to it later.
Citizenship in Brazil
You may apply for Brazilian citizenship after four years of legal residency. If you are married to a Brazilian citizen or have a Brazilian child, you may apply after only one year. Additional requirements include:
- You must have lived principally in Brazil during those four years
- You must be able to speak, read, and write Portuguese
- Any back taxes must be paid
- You’ll need to provide documentation that you are in good health
- You’ll need to provide evidence that you have no criminal record
Additional documentation may be required, such as a notarized copy of your passport, proof of continued source of income, etc., depending on the visa you’ve been residing on. Brazil permits dual citizenship, so you do not need to renounce your current citizenship.
As a Brazilian citizen, you’ll be eligible to vote. Actually, voting is mandatory for literate Brazilians aged 18 to 70. Additionally, you can obtain a second passport, which is always a valuable asset in today’s world, regardless of what passport you currently hold. Additionally, as a citizen you will no longer be subject to the few land ownership restrictions which Brazil imposes on foreigners.