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How to Have Your Documents Legalized for Use in Brazil


The Apostille is an essential certification required for foreign documents in Brazil. If you’re planning to purchase real estate in Brazil, ensuring your documents carry this stamp is paramount. The Apostille, a result of the Hague Apostille Convention, standardizes the process of verifying documents across borders. Brazil, as a participant in this convention, insists on this authentication for most external documents.

In the absence of this authentication, you might face hurdles during your property purchase. It acts as a universal acknowledgment, making foreign documents compatible with Brazil’s legal and bureaucratic system.

Sworn Translation

Once your documents are apostilled, the next step is translating them into Portuguese. This is not a mere translation; it needs to be executed by a sworn translator recognized by Brazilian institutions. Only these certified translations hold weight in formal Brazilian settings, ensuring that your documents maintain their integrity and significance.

It’s crucial to understand that regular translations won’t suffice. A certified sworn translator guarantees that the content aligns perfectly with the original, ensuring there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations, especially in legal matters.

Recording at the Registro de Títulos e Documentos

Foreign documents, once translated, need to be registered at the “Registro de Títulos e Documentos”. This registration reaffirms the document’s validity in Brazil. It’s a formal acknowledgment, ensuring all Brazilian governmental entities recognize your documents.

This step is more than just a formality. It provides a layer of protection and ensures that your foreign documents are on par with local ones. It acts as a bridge between international documentation practices and Brazil’s internal systems, simplifying subsequent procedures.

Validating Your Legalization Plan with the Closing Cartorio Before Getting Started

Before delving deep into the process, it’s wise to verify your legalization strategy with the closing cartorio. Different cartorios might have varying requirements or might interpret the rules differently. By consulting with them upfront, you can tailor your approach to meet specific needs, avoiding potential delays or complications.

Gaining this initial approval can streamline the later stages of your transaction. This proactive approach ensures that when it’s time for the actual closing, all your documents are in order and accepted without hiccups.

Why Your Birth Certificate is Needed

Your birth certificate plays a vital role when purchasing property in Brazil. Not only does it establish your identity, but it also provides necessary background information. Brazil places significant emphasis on this document, especially when it comes to international buyers.

However, merely presenting it won’t suffice. Like other foreign documents, your birth certificate will need to be apostilled, translated by a sworn translator, and then registered in Brazil. This multi-step process ensures that your identity is verified and accepted by Brazilian authorities.

Brazil’s Weird Attachment to the so-called “Marriage Regime”

Brazil has a unique way of dealing with marital assets and liabilities through what’s known as the “marriage regime”. When buying property, your marital status and the specifics of this regime can influence the transaction. It determines how assets are divided and can have implications for property ownership.

Understanding this aspect is crucial for foreign buyers. It’s not just about knowing your marital status but understanding how Brazil’s laws interpret and apply it in the context of property transactions.

The Need for Marriage Certificates (If You Are Married)

If you’re married and looking to buy property in Brazil, your marriage certificate becomes a pivotal document. It not only validates your marital status but also provides clarity on how property ownership and rights might be distributed.

Like other foreign documents, your marriage certificate will need the usual treatment: Apostille, sworn translation, and registration in Brazil. Ensuring this document is correctly processed is vital to avoid any future disputes or complications related to property ownership.

The Need for Both Marriage Certificate and Divorce Certificate (If You Are Divorced)

For those who have undergone divorce and are aiming to buy property in Brazil, both the marriage and divorce certificates are necessary. These documents together provide a clear picture of your marital history and any obligations or rights stemming from it.

As with other documents, both certificates need to be apostilled, translated by a sworn translator, and registered. It’s essential to keep in mind that any oversight or inaccuracy in handling these documents can lead to complexities later on, especially when it concerns property rights and ownership.

Passport Must Be Valid (And Some Cartorios Will Want It Sworn Translated)

Your passport, a primary identification document, needs to be valid throughout the transaction process. Some cartorios might also require a sworn translation of your passport. Even though it’s an internationally recognized document, ensuring it aligns with Brazil’s standards and requirements guarantees a smoother transaction process.

The emphasis on a valid passport can’t be understated. It’s not just about identification; it’s about ensuring every aspect of your background aligns with Brazil’s legal and bureaucratic requirements.

Regular Copies of Your Proof of Address Will Be Usually Accepted

While Brazil has stringent requirements for most foreign documents, when it comes to proof of address, a regular copy is typically accepted. This is one area where the process is somewhat relaxed. However, it’s still crucial to ensure that the address proof is current and reflects your actual place of residence.

Though it might seem like a minor detail, ensuring the accuracy and authenticity of your proof of address can prevent potential roadblocks during the transaction.

Other Documents May Be Asked, Thus the Importance of Getting the Cartorio’s Commitment

Each property transaction can be unique, and cartorios might sometimes request additional documents. These could vary based on the specifics of the property, the buyer’s background, or other factors. Therefore, securing a commitment from the cartorio about exactly which documents are required can save time and reduce uncertainties.

Being prepared and understanding the potential for additional requirements can help you navigate the process more efficiently. It’s always better to be over-prepared than to face unexpected delays.

Closing at the Tabelionato de Notas

The Tabelionato de Notas is where the property transaction is formalized. Here, the public deed of purchase and sale is drafted, and both parties officially confirm the transaction. For foreign buyers, ensuring all documents are in order and understood is essential, given the legal weight this step carries.

Closing at this official notary office guarantees the legitimacy of the transaction. It’s the culmination of all prior steps, solidifying your property purchase in Brazil.

Recording at the Registro de Imóveis

After the closing, the final step is to register the transaction at the Registro de Imóveis. This is where the change of ownership is officially recorded, making you the recognized owner of the property in Brazil. For foreign buyers, this step provides legal assurance and protection, ensuring the property is genuinely under their name.

The Registro de Imóveis provides an official record, accessible for any future reference. It’s the final stamp of approval, marking the successful conclusion of your property purchase journey in Brazil.

Way Too Much Room for Mistakes – Hire an Attorney

Given the intricate nature of legalizing foreign documents for property transactions in Brazil, there’s ample room for errors. A small oversight can lead to significant delays or even jeopardize the transaction. This is why many experts recommend hiring an attorney familiar with Brazil’s real estate laws and the nuances of dealing with foreign documents.

7 Fatal Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Property in Brazil

The Sworn Translation – Remember!

For foreign documents to be accepted in Brazilian registration offices they must be translated into Brazilian Portuguese by a Brazilian Sworn Translator. Important: a Brazilian sworn translator must be located in Brazil and registered with an official Commerce Board (Junta Comercial) in Brazil.

It is NOT the same thing as a “certified translation” and if you use a translation company outside Brazil there is a high probability that the translation that you will get from them will be USELESS. So, make sure you use a sworn translator located in Brazil and ask at least twice – by email to have it in writing – for the person or company to confirm that you will get a “sworn translation” (tradução juramentada) instead of a regular translation.

Document Legalization for Property Acquisition in Brazil?
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(214) 432-8100

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Where to Find Sworn Translators in Brazil

Most of our clients rely on The Translation Company‘s human translation services for their sworn translations into Brazilian Portuguese. The Translation Company Group offers accurate translation with the appropriate quality assurance standards.

The Commerce Board of the State of Sao Paulo has made available their database of approved and accredited sworn translators for search. This search system is in Brazilian Portuguese, but you can email the email addresses located and make sure they work with the language your documents are in. The sworn translators are organized under the foreign languages translated. For your convenience, here is the translation for the Portuguese names for the most common languages:

  1. Alemão: German
  2. Árabe: Arabic
  3. Chinês: Chinese
  4. Espanhol: Spanish
  5. Francês: French
  6. Inglês: English
  7. Italiano: Italian

For other languages, simply type the name of the language on Google Translate to obtain the name of the desired language in Portuguese. You can then visually inspect the list and find the respective section of sworn translators working with the language of your documents.

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How to Hire Sworn Translators in Brazil

How to Legalize Your Documents for Use in Brazil

Common Questions

1. What is the first step to legalizing my foreign documents for property purchase in Brazil?

The first step is to obtain an Apostille stamp on your documents, as mandated by the Hague Apostille Convention. This authentication ensures that your documents are accepted for international use in countries like Brazil, which are part of the convention.

2. Do I need my documents translated for Brazilian real estate transactions?

Yes. After securing the Apostille, your documents must be translated into Portuguese. It is essential to employ a sworn translator in Brazil for this task, as only translations from these certified professionals are legally valid for official procedures.

3. Where can I register my documents in Brazil?

You should register your translated foreign documents at the “Registro de Títulos e Documentos.” This registration process ensures that your documents are formally acknowledged by Brazilian authorities.

4. How do I ensure my legalization strategy meets the requirements?

Before initiating the legalization process, consult with the closing cartorio overseeing your real estate transaction. They can provide clarity on specific requirements, ensuring you adhere to all necessary guidelines.

5. Is my birth certificate necessary for property acquisition in Brazil?

Yes, Brazil requires your birth certificate for real estate transactions. This document not only verifies your identity but also provides crucial background information such as your parents names which are important for identification in Brazil. Like other foreign documents, it should be apostilled, translated by a sworn translator, and registered in Brazil.

6. How does Brazil’s “marriage regime” affect property transactions?

The “marriage regime” in Brazil delineates how marital assets and liabilities are handled. When purchasing property, your marital status and the specifics of this regime can influence the transaction by determining how assets are divided and the implications for property ownership.

7. Do I need to provide a marriage certificate if I’m married?

Yes, if you’re married and buying property in Brazil, your marriage certificate is vital. It clarifies your marital status and could influence property rights and distributions. Ensure that this document, like others, undergoes the necessary process: Apostille, sworn translation, and registration in Brazil.

8. If I’m divorced, what documents should I present?

If you’re divorced and aiming to purchase property in Brazil, you’ll typically need both your marriage and divorce certificates. Together, these documents give a comprehensive view of your marital history and any related rights or obligations.

9. Does my passport need to be valid during the entire transaction?

Yes, your passport, as a primary identification document, should remain valid throughout the property transaction process. Some cartorios might also request a sworn translation of your passport to ensure it meets Brazil’s requirements.

10. Is a regular copy of my proof of address accepted in Brazil?

In most cases, Brazil is relatively flexible regarding proof of address. Typically, a regular copy of your current address proof suffices, though it’s always essential to ensure accuracy and authenticity.

11. Can cartorios request additional documents during the process?

Yes, based on the specifics of the property or the buyer’s background, cartorios might sometimes ask for extra documents. Hence, it’s advisable to maintain open communication and ensure you’re prepared for any additional requirements.

12. Why is the Tabelionato de Notas important in the transaction?

The Tabelionato de Notas is where the public deed of purchase and sale is drafted, and the transaction gets formalized. Engaging with this notary office is crucial to ensure they will get the documents from you that they require for closing. 

13. What is the role of the Registro de Imóveis?

After the transaction closes, the change of ownership needs to be officially documented at the Registro de Imóveis. This registration is the final step, confirming you as the recognized property owner in Brazil. They may have different document requirements from the Tabelionato de Notas.

14. Why is hiring an attorney recommended for this process?

Given the intricate nature of legalizing foreign documents in Brazil, it’s easy to make errors or overlook steps. An attorney familiar with Brazilian real estate laws can guide you, ensuring each step is correctly followed, saving you time and potential complications.

15. Are digital or electronic documents accepted in Brazil?

Generally, original documents are preferred. However, with evolving technology, some cartorios may accept digital versions, but it’s best to verify in advance.

16. Do all countries require an Apostille for Brazil?

No, only countries that are signatories to the Hague Apostille Convention require an Apostille. If your country isn’t a participant, you might need a different form of authentication.

17. How long does the document legalization process typically take?

The duration can vary based on the number of documents, their origin, and specific cartorio requirements. However, with all documents ready and correctly processed, it might take a few weeks to a couple of months.

18. Are there fees associated with document legalization?

Yes, there are fees for various steps like obtaining an Apostille, sworn translations, and registrations. It’s recommended to budget for these expenses in advance.

19. Can I legalize my documents remotely or do I need to be in Brazil?

Some steps can be initiated remotely, especially those that must be done in your home country such as obtaining the apostilles. However, for certain processes, especially those requiring personal identification or signatures, your presence in Brazil might be necessary.

20. What happens if I skip a step or submit an incorrect document?

Omissions or errors can delay your property transaction, or worse, render it void. That’s why following each step accurately and consulting professionals when in doubt is imperative.

By arming yourself with this knowledge and seeking assistance when necessary, navigating the document legalization process for real estate acquisition in Brazil can be streamlined and effective.

Become a Pro in Brazil Real Estate!

To learn all about purchasing real estate in Brazil, check our How to Buy Properties in Brazil guide.

Learn about the advantages of buying real estate in Brazil in our Why Buying Real Estate in Brazil guide. Find opportunities and decide where to buy using our Know Where to Buy Real Estate in Brazil guide.

Sworn Translation in Brazil?
We Can Help You

[email protected]
(214) 432-8100

#1  Contact us to get a free quote, or
#2 Schedule a Consultation now.

This content is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal issues or decisions of any kind, the reader should retain and consult legal counsel. You should not act or rely on the information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisements.