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Citizenship | Brazil |

Brazil Background Information Historical Development Political development Foreign population Ethnic origin Citizenship Emigration Irregular migration Refuge and asylum Conclusion References


Sabina Stelzig

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Brazilian citizenship is regulated by the 1988 constitution (Article 12). It is obtained through birth on Brazilian soil (ius soli) regardless of the parents' citizenship.

A person also, however, acquires a right to Brazilian citizenship through descent from Brazilian parents (ius sanguinis) provided that the person moves to Brazil, applies for citizenship and has reached the age of legal majority (regulated by Constitutional Amendment No. 54 of 2007).

The constitution also allows for naturalisation, whereby citizenship can be acquired according to the principles of "residence" or "marriage". For naturalisation without marriage a person has to have lived in Brazil continuously for four years and have no previous convictions. The person must also have the ability to speak and write Portuguese, a permanent residence and sufficient resources to support themself and their family.

In order to protect the rights of its emigrant citizens, in 1996 Brazil introduced dual citizenship. The initiative to amend the law originated from the government and may be regarded as a reaction to the rapidly increasing number of Brazilian emigrants. Especially after immigration laws were tightened in the USA at the start of the 1990s, thereby making circular migration more difficult, the Brazilian government wanted to make it easier for emigrants to maintain formal ties with their country of origin. Extraterritorial rights such as the right to vote outside the country provide a further instrument in this regard.



  1. For nationals of Portuguese-speaking countries the period is reduced to one year. Reduced periods of residence also apply to persons with Brazilian relatives, those in special professions, in the service of the state or who own certain goods.

  2. Based on the 1965 law and the 1988 constitution. See Escobar (2007).

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