All the Papers a Gringo Needs to Live in Brazil

 All the Papers a Gringo 
  Needs to Live in Brazil

Like many things in
Brazil getting documents and checking accounts
will depend on the mood of the manager or the official you
are dealing with. It might sound weird but that’s the way things
work in Brazil. A nice and friendly conversation might make
things much easier and it could even make the impossible possible.
by: Volker

This document is a collection of information and experiences about how and
where to get documents, permissions or how to resolve bureaucratic subjects
and matters in Brazil as a foreigner.

This document does not
claim to be 100 percent right and perfect, but it represents personal experiences
and information that I have collected from various sources like Internet sites,
official handbills and exchange of experiences with other foreigners in Brazil.


Permanência Definitiva

There are four ways to
qualify for a permanent visa for Brazil:

to be a spouse of a Brazilian

to be the father of a child with Brazilian citizenship

to invest a minimum of US$ 200,000 in Brazil

to be retired with a minimum monthly income of US$ 2,000

The visa application can
be made in your country of residence via the local Brazilian Embassy or Consulates
or in Brazil via the Federal Police (Polícia Federal).

You will receive the visa
much faster if you apply in the country of your residence. Usually within
two or three months the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate will issue the visa
if you handed in all necessary documents and the application fee is paid.

Once the visa is stamped
into your passport you have 90 days to enter Brazil and get registered at
the local office of the Federal Police. More details about the necessary documents
and application fee you will find on the official homepage of the Brazilian
Embassy in your country of residence, (e.g. in the USA:

If you want to apply for
the visa in Brazil you have to file the application at the local office of
the Federal Police. The following documents are necessary for family reunion
/ marriage:

passport and Photocopy of all pages

wedding certificate

certificate of criminal records issued by the FBI or local Police (not older
than three months)

prove of residence in Brazil (usually done with a phone or electricity bill showing
your address in Brazil)

Application form (available at the Federal Police)

You have to present the
original and an authenticated Photocopy of all documents, which will remain
together with the application form at the Federal Police. All documents not
issued in Portuguese have to be translated by a sworn public translator recognized
by the Federal Police. If you do the translation in your country of residence,
the documents and translations have to be legalized by the responsible Brazilian
Consulate or Embassy.

When you successfully
handed all documents and paid the fee (about R$ 50 – US$ 16) you will receive
a receipt, the so-called protocolo. The protocolo shows the
number of your application (processo) and it’s also a kind of temporary
foreigner ID and visa. So, you should keep it together with your passport.

Now you have to wait for
the publication of your application. The decision will be published in the
Federal Government’s newspaper, the Diário Oficial da União
(DOU). This will take at least one year, usually more. I’ve waited
one year and two months and I’ve heard about cases in which people have waited
five to six years.

Probably the Federal Police
will not send you any information about the progress of your application.
So, you have to check from time to time the Diário Oficial or
call the office of the Federal Police to ask about the status of your application.

Also make sure that you
inform the Federal Police in case you travel abroad or within Brazil. This
is very important in case the Federal Police wants contact you. If you are
not at home or they can’t get in touch with you, they can cancel your application.

Once your application
is published, you have 90 days to claim your permanência at the
Federal Police. To claim the visa, you have to present the protocolo
and a copy of the DOU that published your visa. You can buy a copy
of the paper at the local office of the Imprensa Nacional or you buy just
an authenticated Photocopy of the page where your process is published.

By law, the permanent
visa (permanência definitiva) will expire if you leave Brazil
for more than two years. Usually there is no problem leaving Brazil for a
period of three months or even more. In case you should stay outside Brazil
for one year or more, you should check the status of your permanência
after your return, to avoid any problems in case the permanência
has been cancelled.

If you miss the deadline
(90 days) to claim your visa, the visa expires and you will have to make a
new application with all the paperwork, costs and loss of time.

There is an online version
of the DOU available in the Internet at:
or (Search in section 1-
Seção 1)

You can track the progress
of your application online at:


CIE – Cédula de Identidade de Estrangeiro

When you claim your published
visa at the Federal Police, they will fingerprint you for the foreigners ID
card (Cédula de Identidade de Estrangeiro – CIE). This will be your
legal ID document in Brazil and you don’t need to carry anymore your passport
with the visa. In Brazil you have the duty to carry always an ID with you.

After you have paid the
administration fee (about R$ 140 – US$ 45) for the CIE, you will receive again
a receipt (protocolo). This is your temporary ID card. It can take
up to 180 days until the CIE is produced because they are all made in Brasília.

Once the CIE is
ready to pick-up at the Federal Police, you will receive a notification by
mail. The CIE is valid for 10 years and has to be renewed then.

You can track the progress
of your CIE application online at:

CTPS – Carteira
de Trabalho e Previdência Social

The working permit (CTPS – Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social) will be issued
by the DRT (Delegacia Regional do Trabalho) located in every larger city.

It’s possible to apply
for the CTPS while still waiting for the visa, as long as the Federal Police
can provide the printout of the SINCRE (Sistema Nacional de Cadastramento
de Registro de Estrangeiros), Brazil’s registration system of foreigners who
live in the country.

Documents necessary to
apply for a CTPS for foreigners:

If you have a Residence/Permanent
(permanente) visa and your CIE you will need:

1.Application form

2. Photocopy of the CIE.

If you don’t have a CIE,
then you will need:

1. Application form

2. Photocopy of the protocolo from the application for the CIE

3. Photocopy of the printout of the SINCRE

4. Photocopy of the passport

If you have a Temporary
V (Temporário V) visa and the CIE, you will need:

1. Application form

2. Photocopy of the CIE

3. Photocopy of the working contract
4. Photocopy of
the passport

5. Publication in the DOU

If you have a Temporary
V (Temporário V) visa but not a CIE, you will need:

1. Application form
2. Photocopy of
the protocolo from the application for the CIE

3. Photocopy of your working contract

4. Photocopy of the passport

5. Publication in the DOU

If you have a Provisional
Registration (Registro Provisório) and your CIE you will need:

1. Application form

2. Photocopy of the CIE

Without the CIE, you’ll
have to get these papers:

1. Application form

2. Photocopy of the protocolo from the application for the CIE

3. Photocopy of the printout of the SINCRE

In addition, everyone
applying for a working permit will need two 3cm x 4cm color or black and white

The photocopy of the passport
must contain the main page with all personal details and also the page with
the visa and the stamp when you entered Brazil.

SINCRE’s printout is available
at the local office of the Polícia Federal.

When all documents have
been handed in successfully, the CTPS will be ready in 10 days. Validity,
according to the CIE, is usually 10 years.

CPF – Cadastro
de Pessoas Físicas

Necessary documents:

– Passport

– Proof of residence in Brazil (phone or electricity bill)

– Wedding or birth certificate

(It’s necessary to present
a document that contains the names of the parents)

No photocopy necessary.

You can apply for the
CPF at the local office of the Receita Federal or in agencies of the Banco
do Brasil or Caixa Economica Federal. Usually the CPF number will be created
immediately or within one or two working days. After one week you can check
your CPF number on the Internet site of the Receita Federal and within a few
weeks you will receive the CPF card by mail at your residence in Brazil.

It’s also possible to
apply for the CPF from your home country via the local Brazilian Embassy and
the Consulates. Just print out the application form available on the Internet: /CpfEstrangeiro/cpfingles.htm)
and hand in the application at the Brazilian Consulate, which is responsible
for your place of residence.

The CPF is very important
in the daily life in Brazil. It is very often used as a document of identification.
You will need a CPF to open a bank account, buy a TV, Video or DVD set, a
car, etc.

Once a CPF has been issued
to you, you have to do a tax declaration every year (except the year you’ve
received the CPF). There are two options of declaration:

de Imposto de Renda (If you earn R$ 12,696 – US$ 4, 095 per year or more)

de Isento de Impostos (If you don’t have income in Brazil or it’s less than
R$ 12,969 per year)

Both declarations can
be made via Internet on the homepage of the Receita Federal (
The Declaração de Imposto de Renda is usually done in March
and April and the Declaração de Isento de Impostos, in October
and November.

If you don’t do any of
these two declarations for two years the CPF will be cancelled. In fact the
CPF will turn "inactive", to re-activate the CPF you have to go
to the nearest office of the Receita Federal and justify why you did not do
the declaration. After paying a fee the CPF will be re-activated.

You can find more information
and detail about the CPF and other tax and duty related issues on this site:

CNH – Carteira
Nacional de Habilitação

Foreign driver’s licenses
can be used for up to six months in Brazil in combination with an official
translation into Portuguese stamped by the traffic authority DETRAN of the
state where you are living. In case you use an International driver’s license
it’s good to get an official translation into Portuguese of it and a stamp
from the DETRAN too, because usually the International driver’s license is
not in Portuguese.

If you stay more than
six months in Brazil you have to apply for a temporary driver’s license for
foreigners, valid for one year. In case you are still waiting for your ID
card, temporary driver’s license can be extended for another year. You have
to apply for the license at the office of the local state’s traffic authority

For the temporary driver’s
license for foreigners you need the following documents:

Passport (original + photocopy
of the page with the personal data)

Your national driver’s license (original + photocopy)

Official translation of your national driver’s license (original + photocopy)

Result of the medical exam (from a doctor indicated by the DETRAN)

Proof of residence in Brazil (original + photocopy of phone or electricity bill)

CPF (original + photocopy) if you already have one

You will receive a payment
form to pay the administration fee (about R$ 13 – US$ 4.20) in a bank indicated
by the DETRAN. After you have paid the fee you can hand in the documents.
If everything is correct they will issue immediately the temporary driver’s

Once you have the CIE
you can apply for a Brazilian driver’s license. You will need to present the
same documents as mentioned above and the fee will be about R$ 53 (US$ 17).
It is very important that you keep the result of the medical exam in a safe
place, because the exam is valid for five years.

The Brazilian driver’s
license will be valid according to the medical exam, (e.g. if you made the
medical exam in 2000 for a temporary driver’s license and it will be valid
until 2005. According to this, a Brazilian driver’s license issued in 2001
will also be valid until 2005.)

When the driver’s license
expires you have to make a new medical exam to apply for a new license valid
for another five years. The fee for the medical exam is about R$ 60 (US$ 19).
The new driver’s license will be issued within two weeks.

You can find the homepage
of the DETRAN responsible for your state of residence on this site:

Conta Bancária

To open a bank account
as a foreigner in Brazil is not easy. You need at least a CPF and a long-term
visa like a work-visa or a permanent-visa with CIE. For tourists it is impossible
to open a bank account in Brazil.

There are two different
types of bank accounts for natural persons (pessoas físicas):

Conta corrente
(usually for people with frequent income)

Conta de poupança (savings account)

The main differences are
that for the conta corrente you will need a regular income and many
banks ask for minimum income that will be deposited on the account each month,
usually between R$ 500 and R$ 700 (US$ 160 and US$ 225).

With a conta corrente
you will receive checks and a debit card to withdraw cash on the banks ATMs
or the Banco24horas ATMs and you can apply for a credit card as well.
If you just open a savings account, you will receive only a normal bankcard
to deposit and withdraw cash on the banks ATMs. No checks, no debit card and
no credit card.

ATMs are very popular
in Brazil. You will find them in every shopping center, in boxes on streets
in commercial areas of larger cities, in Universities and many public buildings.
ATMs are used to withdraw and deposit money, pay bills like phone, water,
electricity, cellular-phone, credit card or any other bill that has a bar code on

Via the ATM’s bar-code
reader you can also pay the so called boletos bancários which
are a kind of payment form often used on the Internet for e-commerce. Of course
you can check the status of your account on the ATM as well as transferring
money from your account to any other account within the same bank. Or you
can recharge your cell phone with new credits. In the agencies of many banks
there are also ATMs available to print your checks.

The bank fees and charges
for the service of the bank are different in each bank. Usually you pay a
monthly fee that includes a certain number of checks and account-statements.
If you print more checks or account statements during a month you have to
pay extra for this service.

Beside the service via
ATMs most banks nowadays offer Internet banking for clients, even for those
with a simple savings account. Usually you have to go to the agencies where
you opened the account to apply for the Internet service. Using Internet banking
you can do all the operations like a ATM offers, besides money-transfers to
accounts in other banks (e.g. Banco do Brasil to Itaú, etc.)

My personal experience
about opening a bank account is that you need a lot of patience because it
usually depends on the mood of the bank-manager if he will open the account
for you. Banks are interested in having clients with a regular income of a
certain minimum and many banks only open accounts for foreigners if they have
a permanent visa or a job in Brazil.

This way it’s necessary
to go to many banks until you find a bank or better a bank-manager who’s up
to open an account for you. If you are married with a Brazilian citizen, you
can try to open a joint account with your Brazilian spouse. This should be
easier than trying to get an account just for you.

Like many things in Brazil
you depend on the manager or the official you are dealing with. If he/she
likes you, if he’s in a good mood, if he/she had a good or a bad weekend besides
how the last match of his/her football team was. It might sound weird but
that’s the way things work in Brazil.

If you can manage to get
into a nice and friendly conversation with the manager or official it will
make things much easier and it also will make things possible that weren’t
possible in a different bank or with a different official. The best is to
find a common subject (soccer, sports, cars, children, etc.) to talk to the
manager/official before starting the subject you are "really" interested

Plano de Saúde

The public health system
(SUS – Sistema Único de Saúde) in Brazil has a lot of problems
like crowded public hospitals and medical service units (Postos de Saúde),
long waiting lines to be attended for exams and consultations even in cases
of emergency.

Therefore I would suggest
that you get a private health insurance, which covers all medical and dental
cases and emergencies partial or completely. Not covered by private insurances
are drugs and remedies, which have to be fully paid by the client. Depending
on your preferences you can choose from a variety of services which will be
covered by the insurance or not.

Many insurance companies,
banks and collectives offer different types of insurances. Also some hospitals
offer insurances. In this case, usually all exams and consultations have to
be done in that specific hospital. Other insurances offer you the opportunity
to choose the doctor, laboratory or hospital from a list of accredited professionals
and institutions.

You can include or exclude
treatments like dentist, specialists for skin or eye diseases as well as hospital
services, which will influence the monthly payment for the insurance.

Before closing a contract
with one of the providers of health insurance, you should contact the local
consumer defense organization (PROCON) to get more information about the reputation
and the quality of the company and the health insurance.

On this site you will
find the PROCON or similar organization nearest to your place of residence
in Brazil:


Brazilian Embassy in Washington

US Embassy in Brasília

Ministério da Justiça
– Visas (Permanência)
– Online check of your visa application

Polícia Federal
– Online check of CIE-application

Ministério do Trabalho
e Emprego
– Working permit (CTPS)

Receita Federal

– List of all traffic authorities

Portal do Consumidor –

Imprensa Oficial

DOU – Diário Oficial da União

Volker Ruthner, 36, was born in Germany. He married his Brazilian girlfriend
in August 2000. Since then he’s been living in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais,
where he works as a translator and German language teacher. Your comments
are welcome at

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