Contracts fulfilled in Brazil do not necessarily need to be written in Portuguese, but the measure is highly recommended in some cases. This article will show what is necessary to validate an agreement made in a foreign language.
Agreements between Brazil and foreign countries became more common in the past decade, mainly due to Brazil's economic growth and the fortification of international relationships. Thus, the number of contracts and documents between these parts have also increased. There is no official standard for contracts fulfilled in Brazil, but there are some requirements to make an agreement legal and valid in the country.
First and foremost, according to the Brazilian Law, any contract involving the government or any of its bodies must be written and signed in Portuguese. This is valid for permissions, bids, certifications and agreements signed by companies or individuals.
Private Contracts in a Foreign Language
A private contract does not necessarily need to be written in the local language. This goes for agreements between companies, papers proving the hiring of a certain service and even internal documents signed for the hiring of employees.
The Brazilian Civil Code states that documents, titles and papers written in a foreign language may be registered untranslated, in their original form. This occurs more often when seeking the conservation of the original version.
However, in some cases, in order to produce any legal effects in the country, all of the documents must at least have an approved copy written in Portuguese. This measure is stated in articles registered in the Civil Code, the Federal Law, and also the Code of Civil Procedure. In other words, the translation is not mandatory, but will be needed depending on the case. If a contract is taken to court, for example, a translated copy will be demanded.
It is important to highlight that, in Brazil, some occasions, like the registration of a company, for example, may require sworn translations, made by a Tradutor Público e Intérprete Comercial, or TPIC. In other cases, only a simple translation might be required, as seen when presenting documents for public institutions like Anatel and Anvisa.
Information, Recommendations and Exceptions
Choosing to make a copy of a contract in Portuguese is recommended in several cases, but it is not always needed. The list below cover different situations, and might be useful when deciding whether to make a translation or not.
- When divergences are detected between a foreign contract and its translated copy, both documents will be taken in consideration. This commonly happens when two parties are in a commercial dispute. However, in some cases taken to court or involving governmental bodies, for example, only the Portuguese version might be accepted.
- If a contract was originally written or fulfilled in more than two countries, it is recommended that its content be translated to all the needed languages.
- Some documents do not have to be necessarily translated. Many agreements between Brazil and other countries, like the nations that take part on Mercosul, for example, might be kept in the original language. Also, in most cases, checks and receipts do not have to be in Portuguese.
- Some foreign documents demand a formal registration. To do so, they must be approved by consular authorities in their origin before being accepted in Brazil.
This article was reviewed and updated after the contribution from Adler Martins, lawyer specialized in International Law.