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What is the Brazilian 'CPF' and when do I need it?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

The Brazilian Federal Revenue is responsible for the emission of the Individual Taxpayer Registration, also known as the ‘CPF’ (Cadastro de Pessoa Física).

Whether you are someone who has been to Brazil for business or pleasure, you have probably heard of the CPF, as every shop you go to will ask if you want to include your CPF on your receipt. For this reason, many foreigners wonder if they need to have a CPF when they are in Brazil; this is not always the case. In this article we will go through the situations in which it is necessary for you to have a CPF as a foreigner in Brazil.

The importance of discussing this is due to a new law in Brazil, Law No. 14.534 of 2023, that will come into force from 1st January 2024. With this new law, the CPF will become a sole document in Brazil, that is, it will be the main identification document of the Brazilian, and can also be used by foreigners, as a unique number to identify someone in the databases of Brazilian public services.

What ID documents are currently used in Brazil?

At the moment, the ‘RG’ (Registro Geral/Cédula de Identidade) is the main ID used in Brazil, but for fiscal purposes, the CPF is used more. The Government’s plan with the new law is to simplify documents by using only the CPF - for ID and fiscal purposes. In Brazil it is also common to use the ‘CNH’ (Carteira Nacional de Habilitação), which is a driver’s licence for ID purposes, as it includes the CPF and the RG.

When filing for Brazilian documents, is it necessary to have a CPF as a foreigner?

The CPF must appear on the following documents:

  • Birth certificate;

  • Wedding certificate;

  • Death certificate;

  • Worker Identification Number (NIT);

  • National Health Card (SUS);

  • Work and Social Security Card (CTPS);

  • Driver's License (CNH).

Is is necessary to have a CPF in order to do business or invest in Brazil?

Anyone, Brazilian or foreign, not residing in Brazil or residing in Brazil, who owns assets and rights subject to public registration in Brazil, are obliged to register for the CPF, including:

  • Properties;

  • Vehicles;

  • Vessels;

  • Aircraft;

  • Bank current accounts;

  • Financial market applications;

  • Capital market applications.

Who should register for a CPF?

Brazilians or foreigners who intend to carry out any of the acts listed above, or obtain any of the aforementioned documents, will be required to obtain the CPF and inform it at the time of the act.

I live abroad; how can I apply for the CPF?

Brazilians residing abroad can apply for a CPF or verify their registration status with the Brazilian Federal Revenue (Receita Federal) in an online process, without having to go to the Brazilian Consulate in the country in which they are based.

Watch a video about this topic:

In case of difficulties with the CPF application process, Mosaico Tax and Law will be able to help you. Schedule an appointment and find out more.

References and useful links:

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