By Elza Maria Bastos da Cunha Costa
The so called união estvel” (Stable Union) designates a relationship where people are living as if married, and in the majority of situations with the objective of having a family. This type of relationship theoretically conveys the same rights to the couple as if they had a civil wedding, but in practice it doesn’t quite work this way.

Let’s look at the example of a foreigner that wants to have a Permanent Visa in Brazil, based on a Stable Union, but without having a civil wedding.

The basic difference is that when the visa application is made on this basis it’s necessary to contract a lawyer that will start the judicial process to prove the validity of the relationship, and after this ask for the visa. This process can take a lot of time and money, and doesn’t have guaranteed success.

Already with a Civil Marriage this process is markedly different, because the proof of the relationship is immediately gained via the Marriage Certificate.

Another important detail is that with the Civil Marriage you can opt for a prenuptial contract, and a decision on how the couple’s goods are shared, or not shared. With a Stable Union there is no choice, and the sharing of goods is based on the default “Comunhão Parcial de Bens” (Partial Sharing of Goods), that is goods prior to the marriage are deemed to belong to the individual, and goods accrued during the relationship are deemed to be shared. For this reason a divorce/separation with those who are in a Civil Marriage can be a lot more straightforward than those who need to document existence of a relationship.

According to Dr. Erika Baracchini (, an Immigration Lawyer, it’s very difficult to get the Permanent Visa based on a Stable Union. This also includes those who are applying due to being in a same sex relationship.

According to the law (Artigo 8 da Lei Federal 9.278 de 10 de maio de 1996) it’s possible to convert a Stable Union into a Civil Marriage, with only a declaration of intention from the candidates; that they don’t have any legal impediment to the marriage. After this conversion the couple receive a Civil Marriage Certificate that is viewed identically under Brazilian law as a certificate obtained through a normal Civil Marriage.

So as above, and based on the various issues involved in a Stable Union, when requiring a Permanent Visa it’s a much better option to apply on the basis of a Civil Marriage.

(Translated and edited by Mark Taylor)

Readers comments:

It isn’t true that the Stable Union visa is hard to get. It was easy and cheap to do it on our own, with proof that we had cohabited several years. Proof was simple: declarations at a cartorio that we had been living in a Stable Union. In adition we had a Canadian Govt. Declaration that we signed in Canada stating we were in a Common Law relationship, that has the same status under Canadian Law as marriage.

Criminal Record Clearance Certificate from Canada, Divorce Certificate, Policia Federal Clearance Certificate in Brazil, proof of medical insurance coverage, legal statement of sponsorship from my wife, and BINGO!… I recieved my Permanent Visa in 7 months from starting the process without the help of a lawyer or court rulings.

No need for Lawyers in this process at all.

— Richard

Elza Maria Bastos da Cunha Costa is the owner of Casamento Civil, a company that helps both foreigners and Brazilians with the civil marriage process.

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