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Brazil: Foreign documents

Rafael BaleroniAmanda Sobreira Arêas

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, also known as the Apostille Convention, was enacted in Brazil on February 1 2016. It became valid before all signatory countries on August 14 2016.

In general, foreign public documents must comply with certain formalities before they have full legal effect in Brazil. Notarised foreign private documents are also subject to the same formalities given that a foreign public authority intervenes on them. Brazilian public authorities require foreign documents to be notarised for various legal purposes.

Before the Apostille Convention, foreign documents had to be legalised by the Brazilian consulate in the countries where the documents were executed. The procedure was commonly referred to as consularisation. The Apostille Convention now replaces the consularisation procedure as the way of legalising foreign documents. Documents that can be apostilled include: those issued by public agents vested with state jurisdiction; administrative documents; notary acts; and official statements inserted in private documents. Documents issued by diplomatic agents or consulates and administrative documents directly relating to commercial or customs transactions may not be apostilled.

In addition to being legalised, foreign documents may have to undergo additional procedures to produce full legal effect in Brazil. For example: they may need sworn translations into Portuguese and to be registered at the competent Brazilian registry of titles and deeds.

Some 112 countries are currently parties to the Apostille Convention. Except for China and Chile, Brazil's main business partners are signatories. This includes all European Union countries, the US and Argentina. France and Argentina were already parties to bilateral treaties with Brazil, in which the requirement for consularisation of certain documents from those countries was waived. There are also specific waivers of legalisation within the Mercosur.

Brazil's accession to the Apostille Convention will significantly reduce the time and costs involved in the process that certain documents needed to undergo to produce full legal effect in Brazil. This brings the country into line with the faster methods that have been used elsewhere for many decades.

Rafael Baleroni and Amanda Sobreira Areas

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