WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, September 12th, the Chamber of Deputies approved a Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) that puts an end to the automatic loss of Brazilian nationality for individuals who voluntarily acquire another nationality through naturalization. This change applies to those who have lived in a foreign country for several years.
Dubbed the “Expatriates’ PEC,” this legislation also permits the reacquisition of Brazilian nationality for those who willingly renounce it, with a simple request, without the need for a new application process. The PEC, originating from the Senate, is now on its way to being promulgated.
Under the new rules, the loss of Brazilian nationality will be restricted to two scenarios: when a citizen explicitly requests it – as long as this does not render them stateless, meaning they have no nationality recognized by any other country – or when a judicial sentence is passed due to fraud in the naturalization process or an attack against the constitutional order and democratic state.
Deputy Bia Kicis (PL-DF), who served as the rapporteur for the PEC in the special committee, estimates that approximately 4 million people will benefit from this measure.
Current Provisions in the Constitution
The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 currently stipulates that natural-born Brazilians who acquire another nationality can potentially lose their Brazilian citizenship, irrespective of whether they have committed crimes abroad or have been convicted for activities detrimental to national interests.
However, it’s important to note that the loss of nationality is not automatic. To trigger this process for natural-born Brazilians, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice must initiate proceedings. This occurs infrequently, partly due to the lack of an information-sharing system with consular authorities from other countries.
Existing Exceptions for Dual Nationality
Up until now, only two legal exceptions have allowed Brazilians to hold more than one nationality: when they have an original right through blood ties with parents or ancestors, or when the acquisition of citizenship is required for Brazilians residing in a foreign country as a condition for their stay or for exercising civil rights in that foreign nation, such as the right to work.
For instance, Germany does not require foreigners who want to work or live within its territory to undergo naturalization, although some civil rights are exclusive to German citizens.
In Brazil, the eligibility for certain public offices, such as President and Vice President of the Republic, Armed Forces officers, or diplomatic career civil servants, is limited to natural-born Brazilians—those born in Brazil or registered abroad as the children of Brazilian parents.