Settlement, Residence and Citizenship for Expats in Brazil

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2014

Brazil is a successfully integrated multicultural society that has welcomed immigrants from many parts of the world. With the Brazilian economy currently expanding and its great potential being realised, immigrants are arriving in increasing numbers. In fact, in the last decade or so, the number of expats resident in Brazil has risen exponentially, and there are now more than 1.5 million foreigners living in the country.

If you hold any type of visa that is valid for more than 90 days, you are required to register your presence with the federal police within 30 days of your arrival. During the registration process, the police will take your fingerprints and issue you with a foreigner’s identity card (Cédula de Identidade de Estrangeiro or CIE), which bears a unique registration number (an RNE). It is recommended that you always carry your CIE card with you.


Once you have a CIE card, you are entitled to stay in Brazil for as long as your visa is valid. To stay in Brazil indefinitely, you will need to obtain a permanent visa. There are two ways in which you can do this; firstly, by applying from an embassy in your home country. The conditions under which such permanent visas are issued are quite strict. They may be issued to the retired, entrepreneurs, research specialists and spouses or other family members of Brazilian citizens. (For more information on the latter, see ‘Family Members and Marriage’.)

So, for example, if you are aged over 50 and want to retire in Brazil as an expat, one condition of obtaining a permanent visa is to open a bank account with a Brazilian bank and transfer a minimum of US$2,000 into it. Similarly, Portuguese-speaking entrepreneurs who are prepared to invest a minimum of US$50,000 in Brazil may be able to obtain a five-year permanent visa. The visa will then be renewed after this period if the businessperson has created at least ten new jobs for Brazilians.

The other method of obtaining a permanent visa is to have been residing in Brazil on a temporary visa (such as a temporary work visa), then have had it renewed once. Thirty days before the expiry of the renewed temporary visa, you can apply for a permanent visa.

Additionally, you will need a tax identification card in order to function properly in Brazil and, if you are working, a work permit. When applying for all these documents, it is important to apply in plenty of time, as Brazilian bureaucracy is a slow process.


As is the case with most other countries, if you were born in Brazil or have a Brazilian parent, you are considered Brazilian. For example, if you have a Brazilian spouse or child, you can apply for citizenship after one year of residence.

All other prospective citizens will need to undergo naturalisation before they can apply for Brazilian citizenship. The maximum period of residence in Brazil to be eligible to apply for citizenship by means of naturalisation is 15 years. This is an extraordinary length of time – more than double that of many other countries.

However, if you have adequate ability in Portuguese and can prove that you have the means to support yourself and your family, this amount may be reduced to four years. Furthermore, if you are a citizen of a Portuguese-speaking country, you need only reside in Brazil for a period of one year before applying. Note that dual citizenship is permitted in Brazil, provided the other country in question permits the same.