If your parents came from Brazil or if you were born on Brazilian soil, you might be eligible for Brazilian dual citizenship. If your ancestors were Brazilian or if you would like to live in Brazil, there are also ways you can become a citizen of Brazil.
Whether you are interested in citizenship because of your heritage or other reasons, this article will introduce you to the basics of Brazilian citizenship so you can get started.
Dual Citizenship, Citizenship, and Nationality
“Dual citizenship” simply means holding citizenship in two countries at the same time. When applying for dual citizenship, you are simply applying for citizenship in a second country, and every country may have slightly different rules for who is eligible.
In this article, the terms citizenship and nationality are used as synonyms. In other situations, that may not be the case, and those terms can have different meanings.
Brazilian Nationality by Birth
As in most other countries in North, Central, and South America, Brazil adopts jus soli1 as a founding concept of its nationality laws. This concept means that being born in Brazilian territory is the easiest way to become a Brazilian citizen, regardless of whether your parents are citizens (unless your parents are in Brazil in service of their own country, as foreigners).2
But what if you weren’t born in Brazil?
According to the Brazil constitution, children born abroad of Brazilian citizens are legally viewed as if they were born in Brazil, as far as citizenship eligibility is concerned. This concept is called jus sanguinis, or citizenship by blood. Unlike for other countries that practice jus sanguinis, you can’t apply for Brazilian citizenship by simply presenting a line of descent to any Brazilian ancestor. Brazilian nationality by blood is acquired by parentage, either directly through a Brazilian father or a Brazilian mother or both.
Persons able to claim citizenship by birth still need to register for citizenship, even though they are automatically eligible at birth.3 If your parents are Brazilian citizens, you can apply for citizenship at any time by registering your birth certificate (even as an adult). To register, the person or one of the parents can go to a vital records office (a public office or a private office that provides public service) or a consulate outside of Brazil.
Note: If a child is under 16 years of age, registration for citizenship must be done by a legal representatives (parent or guardian). If a child is between 16 and 18 years of age, he or she must apply together with a legal representative. Read here for more on requirements for minors.
Because this type of eligibility relies on parentage, you most likely won’t need to do genealogical research when applying for Brazil citizenship (as you might for Italian citizenship and other nationalities).
What happens if you don’t have Brazilian parentage?
Brazilian Citizenship by Naturalization
If you have a love for Brazil or want to return to the land of your ancestors and become a Brazilian citizen, it is possible!
In this case, you can obtain Brazilian citizenship by naturalization.4 To be eligible, you need to fulfill certain requirements, such as living in the Brazilian national territory for a minimum of 4 years. The number of years, however, can be reduced if you fit certain circumstances, such as if you are married to a Brazilian citizen, have Brazilian children, have provided relevant service to Brazil, or are recommended for your professional ability.5
You can find a list of requirements that will help you make plans for your own naturalization here.
Learn more about your ancestors for free on FamilySearch.org!
- Article 12 of the Brazil Federal Constitution (page 17)
- List of Brazilian Embassies and Consulates. Find your country’s Brazilian consulate, its contact information, and online resources.
- The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, Article 12.
- The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, I.a.
- The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, I.b–c.
- The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, article 12, II.
- The acquisition of Brazilian nationality by naturalization is currently regulated by Law 1345 of May 24, 2017 and by Decree 9199 of November 20, 2017.
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