The CPF number

Posted on October 18, 2011 by brian No Comments

I am excited getting ready to go back to Rio and film some more videos for you all. We’ve got some exciting interviews coming up and some exciting bug news. Entao fica aqui! (So stay here!)

Today we will explore the number one thing you must have if you want to invest in Rio, your CPF number. Have a look.

The CPF Number

by Brian Morrison

 So you have decided to invest in Brazil? The first thing you will need is your CPF number. But what is a CPF number?

The Cadastro de Pessoas Fisicas (CPF) number is one of the 4 most important documents for anyone living in Brazil. The other three would be your national ID card, voter registration card (voting is obligatory in Brazil as we will discuss in the future), and the Military Service Certificate, if you have served in the military.

Strictly translated it stands for the Register of Physical Persons. The CPF number is issued by the Receita Federal, or Federal Revenue agency. Similar to the Social Security Number in the United States, Brazilians and resident aliens who pay taxes or take part in commerce that produces tax revenue must have a CPF number. You must have a CPF number if you want to get a driver’s license, buy or sell real estate, open a bank account, take out a loan, apply for a job, get a cell phone or open any other type of account, get a passport or get a credit card. Without a CPF card it is almost impossible to lead a normal life in Brazil. Your CPF number is permanent, like the social security number, and thus you don’t need to necessarily have the card with you.

The CPF number is used to track transactions and estimate income taxes. Your CPF number can be revoked for failure to pay income taxes or file an income tax declaration.

The CPF number is also your credit history in a number. While in the US credit reporting is essentially a private industry, in Brazil it is a government function. If you enter into a credit agreement with a credit card company or even a cell phone company, and don’t pay your bill, the creditor will report you to the government entity tasked with holding the histories of failed CPF transactions. The government will then report your bad credit history to any agency who inquires as to your credit worthiness. Unlike the US, where credit history is scored from bad to worse, one bad mark on your CPF number will be a major hindrance to any transaction where a CPF number is required.

So how does one obtain a CPF number? Anyone wishing to take part in Brazilian economic activity can apply for and receive a CPF number. It is, however, a cumbersome process for foreigners and cannot be accomplished if you are staying for less than a month. Unless, of course, you are a frequent visitor with a friend or associate who is Brazilian that can assist you. The foreign applicant must have a passport and a proof of address, such as a utilities bill. This is why an extended stay, friend, or associate is required.  You must obtain an application from Banco do Brasil or on the Receita Federal website at Yes, the site is in Portuguese as is the form.

The process for foreigners to obtain a CPF number is different than for Brazilians. Unlike Brazilians, foreigners must wait for an invitation to be mailed to their listed address for an interview at the Ministry da Fazenda. (Ministry of the Estate) This invitation can take anywhere from 15 days to a month to arrive. Hence, not something a one time, short term visitor would be able to do. The interview should last about 30 minutes, but expect to be there all day. The interviewer will enter pertinent data about the applicant into the federal data base and will be given a temporary CPF document. In about another 15 days the permanent card should arrive in the mail. Again, this is where your friend or associate comes in.

Once you have your CPF number you are good to go. Protect your CPF number like any other identity. In the future we will explore other financial processes such as obtaining a bank account, obtaining credit, or the CPNJ number, the registration number for businesses.

If you would like to further explore the subject of CPF number, or would like assistance in obtaining a CPF number, drop us a line at




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