Employee proof-of-Lease for foreign companies operating in Brazil

House and Apartment lease contracts in Brazil are not required by our civil law system to be of written form and often occur in verbis between tenants and landlords. Even though verbal agreements have seen some decline over the last two decades, in part due to the difficulty to solve or settle conflicts in a court of law, it is still a very much common practice. Foreign companies who hire natives and foreign nationals residing in Brazil sometimes recruit them from different states than the ones they operate in and its observable that most of these companies, at some point in their existence, have a policy to reimburse their worker’s relocation costs and rental fees, some do it as part of their contract benefits and some go as far as hiring third parties that handle the relocation process of their newly-hired for them.

If your company has such a need as to incidentally pay or refund monthly residential leases and your employee in question has not pursued a signed term, they may still request the landlord/landlady to e-mail the appropriate branch of within your firm, as to provide official identification documents (if they’re willing to) and confirmation of the terms of lease in the mail body. In a court of law, the e-mail¹ and a proof of payment provided by your employee should be enough to enforce any of your company’s rights, if not prove other’s responsibility in the event you suffer fraud by means of your reimbursement procedure.

Understanding Brazilian Housing Rentals

In Brazil, apartments and houses for non-commercial purposes are usually payed in a month by month basis, with an agreed upon minimal permanence period (in Portuguese: ‘estadia mínima’), which triggers a pre-accorded fine upon the tenant should they choose to terminate the contract earlier than agreed.

Chances are your company has a preferred ID that is requested from all employees before they are hired, and that you also request their priors record from State and Federal Police Departments, a practice also common among Brazilian companies, therefore not liable to generate any discomfort.

In the eventuality that their landlord/lady does not possess the type of ID your Legal/HR departments are accustomed to requesting from your employees, here is a primer on common Official IDs that are valid throughout the entire Brazilian territory² and thus in every jurisdiction:

Picture of an official example of the Carteira Nacional de Habilitação, Brazil’s driver license equivalent, probably published by DENATRAN, found on Wikipedia.

Carteira Nacional de Habilitação, commonly referred to as CNH, carteira de motorista, carta de direção, habilitação. This is the Brazilian driver’s license. It is issued³ by a citizen’s State’s Department of Transit which is always a branch of that State’s Civil Police Department (Brazilian States each have two State-Police Departments). Keep in mind only the current driver’s license model is valid as an ID. The older model might still have issues in circulation: they contain less information and no picture, making them easy to spot from a current one, and are invalid as ID.

Picture of a blank Certificado de Dispensa de Incorporação, signed by a Lieutenant-Delegate of a certain military unit, with no thumbprint and no 4x4 picture, from Wikipedia.

Certificado de Dispensa de Incorporação or CDI is Brazil’s Military Service Exemption Certificate, for lack of a better term. It is commonly referred as certificado de dispensa and is a document that certifies the holder has enlisted, either at their local military division, or at any of the three Armed Forces and has been dismissed from incorporation into military service. If the citizen is a male, the enlistment is always mandatory at their legal majority acquisition year (under pain of losing their political rights: right to vote and to be elected, right to hold public office, access to other modalities of government employment and right to attend college, among others) and their exemption was given either in virtue of excesso de contingente (excess military contingent) or of their individual characteristics, which may include but are not limited to: being the sole income-provider for their family, having physical limitations or being enrolled in college.

Picture of a Brazilian Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social hand-held in the air, from Wikipedia.

Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social or CTPS is commonly referred to as carteira de trabalho and is a worker-employee relations annotation document which serves the function of registering a worker’s contract with their employer: changes to their salary, their work-contract terms and extended medical leaves, leaves of absence, vacations, among other things. If you have employees in already established operations, either native or foreign (in permanent residence), chances are your HR and your Legal branches are well familiarized with this worker’s ledger kind of document. There are many interesting legal curiosities to be said of this document but I’ll leave them for another opportunity. The Worker’s Ledger is valid as an ID in all of the national territory.

Picture of a blank Carteira de Identidade of the adhesive-sealed variant, from Wikipedia.

Carteira de Identidade, formerly RG (Registro Geral) is usually just referred to as identidade or documento de identidade. There’s no mistery to this one, it is a civil identification issued by the Public Security branch of a State’s Civil Police Department. It holds a person’s thumb-print, a 4x4 picture of their face, their name, their parent’s name, the city they were born in, their social security number, their birth date, their signature, an issue date and some official numbers and signatures. This has the perk of being valid in all of the national territory and in all of MERCOSUL’s territory, giving a Brazilian free-entry to all the Latin-american countries that have signed the full membership agreement to that International Trade and Customs Unification Treaty, without the need for a Passport (so long as the picture on it is recent, as in not from when they were a child or lacking features of aging which preclude immediate identification with the naked eye).

Presentation of Brazilian Documents

The first two of the above pictured documents present themselves as a two-sided folder (the CNH and the CDI). The worker’s ledger is very much like a regular Passport, though shorter in height and wider in width. The civil ID can vary from State to State but some general rules apply, and can either be presented under a plastic adhesive, sealed from access or as a regular paper bill, however, adhesive-sealing it on top of the official non-sealed issue is not allowed, and those issues come with the capital markings “PROIBIDO PLASTIFICAR”, as in ‘plastification prohibited’, in order to prevent forgery.

The upcoming RIC, which is set to replace the RG for all Brazilians up until 2020, will be discussed in a future article:

Legal Terminology Of The Residential-lease Contracts

Brazilian Law and Legal Doctrine have it set that rental-of-housing contracts are referred to as Aluguel de Imóveis (I’ll add some references at some point in time) and the term encompasses some non-housing contracts as well, individualized by context or with an additional adjective.

Attorneys and Judges commonly refer to the rental of a residential unit (apartment) or a house as Aluguel, rendering the vocable lease to being used mostly when meaning arrendamento or concessão, which are very particular terms in jurisprudence and doctrine, usually reserved for more specific contracts — more on those on a different primer.

In a contract of aluguel, the rent-offering party (landlord) is named the locador, a word that comes from Latin locare (as in Latin locator, locatoris). If it were translated into English, I believe it would become a cognate to the locator that you currently use and that Oxford and Longman dictionaries list as nothing but a location pin-pointing device. The renter or renting party is named the locatário, from Latin past participle locat (as from locatum) plus the very common Portuguese suffix -ário.

It is also worth noting that the word leasing has been imported to Brazil and is utilized both judicially and commercially to represent the actual Brazilian equivalents to leaseback, financial leasing and operational leasing. When not in its imported form the umbrella term used in Portuguese to encompass all of the leasing variants is Arrendamento Mercantil. You can easily notice how the terms fluctuate from Real Property to Personal Property areas of law.


¹: Having a digital certification service attached to your company e-mail-service will help reduce legal expertise costs should the other party claim the e-mail(s) are illegitimate. More on that in a future primer.

²: Such documents usually bear the following mark in capital letters: “ESTE DOCUMENTO TEM VALIDADE EM TODO O TERRITÓRIO NACIONAL”, though not always.

³: In Brazil the current legal term for ‘issued’ is cognate to the English word ‘emitted’: emitido/emitida. The vocable issued has broader translations into the Portuguese language such as publicado, expedido and provido among others, hence the verb emitir, to emit, is what is legally used in several places.

Ivan Flecha is a student enrolled in Escola Superior Dom Helder Câmara’s Bachelor of Law course.

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