How to Get a CPF Number in Brazil – Cadastro de Pessoa Física

CPF I get asked this question a lot: “How do I get a CPF number and why can’t I get anything done in Brazil without it?”.  Today I will explain exactly what it is and 3 easy steps to get one right away, even if you are a tourist in Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese!

Note: make sure and check my Free video series out if you are looking for useful information to start a life in Brazil.

A CPF number is called a Cadastro de Pessoa Física or translated “Registration of a Physical Person” and is the Receita Federal’s (The Brazilian Tax Authority) way of keeping information about a person in a centralized database.

You could compare it in many ways to how the American Social Security Number is used except that it is required to make pretty much any purchases beyond basic items.  Here are a few things to give you an idea what you need a CPF for:

  • To buy a dresser
  • To buy an air conditioner
  • To buy a house
  • To buy airline tickets
  • To open a bank account
  • To buy a car
  • To get a cell phone
  • To have an online membership

So in essence, you will need a CPF for everything and to be honest, it is not as hard as you would think to get one.  You can get a temporary or permanent CPF depending on if you are:

  • A tourist in Brazil (1 day)
  • A resident in Brazil (1 or more days)
  • A non-domiciled tourist*

*To get one as a non-domiciled tourist, you will have to do it through your local Brazilian consulate, which is more time consuming and very expensive compared to getting one in Brazil.  Here is a link on how to do that.

Be aware that as a tourist, you can get either a temporary one for just your immediate visit or a permanent one if your stay allows.  A permanent one will allow you to buy and maintain real estate etc.

Update: have been told that many from our community haven’t been successful in doing this, this could be due to them fazing out plastic cards and giving everyone CPF print outs on the spot.

Step 1: Filling out a CPF Application

Whether you are applying for a temporary CPF number as a tourist in Brazil, permanent CPF number as resident in Brazil or a non-domiciled tourist, you will have to fill out the online form and print it out – these are the same exact steps for all three scenarios.

It is ALL 100% in Portuguese (not fair for tourists!) making it pretty annoying if you don’t speak the language.  Therefore I feel your pain and will spell out the step-by-step instructions for filling it out and translate the different fields for you in this video.

UPDATE: if you can get around Portuguese or get help, you can do this all at either the post office or Banco do Brasil instead!

Before you watch the video though, click on this link for the Foreign CPF Application so that you can do it together with me.

(Click here to watch How to Fill Out a CPF Application – Cadastro de Pessoa Física on YouTube)

Not so bad huh?  After you have printed this piece of paper, you are ready for the next step in the process (skip to step 3 if you are only applying for a temporary CPF).

Step 2: Paying the Fee

If you chose to get a permanent CPF, you will need to bring this printed piece of paper with you to either the bank or post office.  I would personally recommend doing it at your local post office as they are easy to find and the lines are a lot shorter.

Update: as mentioned above, you can do it all at the post office.

Make sure as well that you have a proof of a physical mailing address (or borrow one) so that they can send you your card!  Make sure that you have the mailing address printed somewhere (utility bill etc) if not, you can request a proof of residence from your land lord and get it notarized at a “Cartorio” (notary public) that has his/her signature on file.  Note: you will not need a proof of residence to get a CPF, only a mailing address.

Once you have found your local branch, you are ready to go down and pay your fee.  I will go over how to do that now.

UPDATE: I was kindly warned by a reader against getting it done at Banco do Brasil – they gave him a 6 hour runaround whereas the post office only took him 5 minutes – thanks for the heads up!

Finding a Post Office Near You

The post office is known as “Correios” and you will need to pay at one of their branches.

And of course, the website is only available in Portuguese, so here is a little video on how to find your local branch.

(Click here to watch Finding a Correios Brazilian Post Office on YouTube)

Once you have found your local post office location and copied the address down, proceed to the next step (skip the “Finding a Bank Near You” part if you chose to do it via the post office).

Finding a Bank Near You

It must be done at Banco do Brasil and to find your local branch will require that you navigate in Portuguese.  So I created another little video for you to help you out.

Here is the link to the Banco do Brasil website.

(Click here to watch Finding a Banco do Brasil Bank in Brazil on YouTube)

After you have found your branch and copied the location, proceed to the next step of paying the fee.

When in the Bank or at the Post Office

There are a few important things you need to know once you are at the bank or post office:

  1. They don’t usually speak English
  2. They may not have done it for a foreigner before
  3. They don’t always know what they are talking about

Here is what you do:

  1. Approach and say “Preciso pagar por meu CPF” (I need to pay for my CPF)
  2. Give her/him the piece of paper you printed from step 1 (or just the relevant information they ask for if you decided not to fill out the paper online)
  3. Give her/him another piece of paper with your mailing address on it (this can even be temporary), a telephone number and your father and mother’s full names (a Brazilian thing).
  4. Give her/him $R5.80 in cash.
  5. You will receive a long receipt with a sticker on it – keep this in a safe place

Proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Finishing up at the Receita Federal (Tax Authority)

Once you have printed your application from step one and paid your fee from step 2 (step 2 is not applicable if you are getting a temporary CPF – it is free), you are then ready to finish up the process.

I will separate the instructions based on whether you are getting a temporary CPF or permanent CPF.

Finding your local Receita Federal (Tax Authority)

Since the Receita Federal’s website is all in Portuguese, I made you one more little video on how to locate your nearest one:

(Click here to watch Finding a Receita Federal Location – Brazilian Tax Authority on YouTube)

Write down the location address and proceed to the one of two instructions below.

A. Temporary CPF

If you chose to get a temporary CPF, here are the steps you need to take to get it at the Receita Federal.

  1. Take a number*
  2. Wait until they call upon you and approach the desk.
  3. Tell them in Portuguese “Eu preciso obter um CPF Temporario de tourista” (if they tell you to pay a fee, then they understood incorrectly, it is immediate and free for the temporary one).
  4. Present the printed form and your passport (no translation of passport needed!).
  5. Wait for them to do their job…
  6. They will then print out a temporary CPF on the spot and you will now have your CPF number!

*A good trick: the lines are usually huge and you could wait a couple of hours easily, so if you have a child or can loan someone’s, there is a law that requires that you get a special number and skip the line.  We did this and were attended to within a matter of minutes!

This number on the paper will be the one you utilize and present every time someone asks for it.

B. Permanent CPF

If you chose to get a permanent CPF, here are the steps in order to attain one once at the Receita Federal:

  1. Take a number*
  2. Wait until you get called upon and approach the desk.
  3. Tell them in Portuguese “Eu preciso obter um CPF”.
  4. They will ask you if you paid the fee etc
  5. Present them with the printed piece of paper, address it will be sent to, passport and receipt from either the bank or post office for fee payment.
  6. Wait for them to do their job….
  7. They will then present you with a piece of paper containing the CPF card on it as a printout – this is your CPF card!
  8. Proceed to a “papelaria”(paper store) to get the printout “plastificado”(laminated)

 *A good trick: the lines are usually huge and you could wait a couple of hours easily, so if you have a child or can loan someone’s, there is a law that requires that you get a special number and skip the line.  We did this and were attended to within a matter of minutes!

Note: it is no longer required to maintain your CPF number yearly – once you get it, you have it for life.

Final Note

My intention with this little “how to” was to demystify knowledge around what a CPF is and how to obtain one.  I myself thought that it was a hassle when I had to get one with very unclear information – and that was despite the fact that I spoke Portuguese!

Please make sure and share this to anyone you know that is planning on travel to or live in Brazil, as they will be looking for this information.

All the best – valeu!

Kevin

P.S. if you are looking for more specific information about moving to Brazil including FAQ, check out my free video series!

  • Haemmerli Thomas

    What not to do: Go and try at a small post office for your cpf. So I went Saturday to a big one, armed with my Spanish. They told me they can’t do it, and after lot of insisting they explained I should come back Monday. They all recogniced me, I greeted them as old lost friends and twenty Minutes later I had the payment done. Thanks to Kevin, this post is very helpfull.

    • David

      Exactly the same for me. They can only do it on weekdays. Went back yesterday (Monday) and after waiting 30 minutes for my number to be called, spent about 15 minutes entering the data (for 3 people). I am off to the Receita Federal today. I have had about a dozen Portuguese lessons and far from proficient, but it was painless compared to many of the other adventures in Brazilian bureaucracy. Getting a pre-paid sim card for my phone took twice as long.

      • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

        Pre-paid sim cards can be a pill for sure… Did you end up going directly to a operator’s store or just get one from a “banco do jornal”?

        • toktok

          HM, I just bought a prepaid sim at a news kiosk. Then with the passport ready, and the hotel address. called the number for activating it. They didn’t need a CPF, but kept asking if I really was in RIO, and where I came from. It’s was activated after a couple of hours.

          • http://www.kip.ru pdidenko

            Wow. It seems things are getting better, folks?..

  • Dan

    Thank you Kevin for the very helpful post! I just wanted to share my experience and how it diverged at times from the (wonderful) advice given here. I speak fluent Portuguese so when a few things came up I was able to grill them as politely as I could. Everything at the post office went great, when I finally found the Receita Federal (in Brasilia) and it was my turn, I asked them about the temporary CPF, and she said it doesn’t exist. I insisted a bit and she asked three superiors, who all said it doesn’t exist. My question here is, can I only get the temporary one from my own country? If not, is there anything on the government website that a foreigner could bring and show them to prove that it’s a real thing? I definitely lost the four to one argument with no other proof :)

    Second, I asked them about having to maintain the permanent CPF every year and they said I don’t have to do anything, although I’m guessing they just don’t realize that they’re maintaining theirs when they file taxes?? Lastly, they printed out a sheet of paper right then and there, and told me to cut it out, fold it, and get it laminated (plastificar = laminate): I was surprised to find out that that was my official CPF card! (I think it’s hilarious that I cut out and laminated my own offical government document!). So there was no waiting for the card in the mail. Hope this info helps, and hoping to hear back from you Kevin about some of those differences I ran into. Thanks again!

    • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      My pleasure Dan!

      Yeah, they have been making some changes recently to the CPF scenario.

      They have actually fazed out the plastic cards and give you a print out to laminate as you mentioned – I need to update the guide.

      Another thing they just fazed out is the need to maintaine the CPF each year. So you no longer have to keep it active or file anything – it will last you a lifetime. Need to update the guide there too ;)

      Wonder what went on about the temporary CPF though – could they have decided to faze that out too? I’ll have to look into it.

      Thanks for your feedback!

      • http://www.kip.ru pdidenko

        Hi Kevin! I’m going to Brazil next week, so I want to apply for temp CPF. Thanks for a link to online form where I was able to fill out the CPF application. The only thing I want to stress your attention on is that the the present time there’s another form to do that (as far as I can see) – please visit http://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/PessoaFisica/Cpf/CadastroPF.htm and try to click on “Inscrição CPF Internet” and this will get you to a similar, but different form. Do you know if the form you pointed out before is still valid or it’s better to fill out a different (new) form? Thanks!

        • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

          Hey! Hmm, they are always changing the forms and rules so thanks!

          Always better with a new form but maybe it would be just worth it to go down to the Post office and do everything there without the form?

      • http://www.kip.ru pdidenko

        I’m also curious about if it’s true or not that there’s no such a thing as temporary CPF anymore – it would be great if you can bring any light ;-) Thanks!

  • Lukas

    Is the address on the application the address in Brazil or the one back home? Do they actually mail you the documents, or is it all do-it-yourself for tourist CPFs?

    • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      The one in Brazil. There are no longer any documents mailed to you, you get the “card”(paper) on the spot once you have completed the payment and application.

  • Michel Bruggeman

    Great post Kevin. I obtained my CPF in 2006 in exactly the same way, too easy, surprisingly.
    Shouldn’t you update this post for the e-CPF now though? ;-) It’s as easy, I obtained the e-CNPJ for my company, the process should be very similar.
    Abraço do Campeche ;-) Michel

    • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      Thanks Michel!

      I will check the e-CPF system out and update this post accordingly (just did a CPF for someone and no-one told me about it, strange!).

      Abração!
      Kevin

  • Svole

    I’m gonna visit brazil in September for three weeks. It’s just three weeks but I want to have a temp. CPF to buy a data sim card for my Mifi connector. I’m Dutch, from The Netherlands. I can’t find my country in the drop downlist on the first page :s. I think it should called Holanda in Portuguese. Thanks in advance.

    • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      You’re right, I don’t see it either! Just choose “a designar” at the bottom then ;)

      • Svole

        Thanks Kevin,

        I made a mistake it’s called Paises Baixos

  • Svole

    I’m going to Brazil in September for three weeks. I used your ‘manual’ to get a temporary CPF. I used my home address in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I read somewhere that you need to use a address in brazil, I can use my hostel address. Can I change this address, or do I need to fill in a new form? Thanks in advance.

    • http://www.liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      Yes, this is correct. You can just use whatever address you are staying at. They used to send you a CPF card to that address but not any more, now it’s just a formality.

      You can fill out a new form at the Brazilian post office if need be.

  • Mariano Gutiérrez

    Hi Kevin, I just called the Brazilian consulate in Montevideo, where I’m from and they said there is no such thing as the temporary CPF for tourists.
    Do you know if this can be obtained online?

  • Vanessa Madel

    So, I wouldn’t recommend going to Banco de Chile unless you have proof of your residency….i.e…gas bill or some kind of bill in your name. I went and paid the fee..no big deal but then they wouldn’t give me the long yellow receipt you need to take to Receita bc I didn’t have proof of residency. After going to Receita they sent me to the post office (correios) to pay the fee again and get the yellow receipt I needed. pain in the ass…but it was painless at the post office. they just asked for the info you mentioned. so my advice is to go straight to Correios instead of Banco de Chile! Thanks for the great info though!

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  • David Owen

    Thanks for this post Kevin, it was a big help. I did the process today in Floripa and it was a total breeze. I think I was lucky and hit the post office and the Receita Federal at the right times. The entire process took me less than 30 minutes! 10 minutes at the post office in Lagoa. They filled out the form for me at the teller. Then a 15 minute drive to the Receita Federal, now located near the ponte and mercado central downtown. I was in and out of the R.F. in 5 minutes with a CPF! Took a book expecting a few hour wait, but I was the only person in there.

  • Erik

    Brilliant guide, thanks Kevin! Two tips from my side:
    1) Don’t wear a tank top. I got bounced from the tax office and had to get my jacket :)
    2) If a post office is nearby, you might wanna pay directly, even if you only want a temporary one. They didn’t know about any free CPF in Boa Viagem (Recife), and my Portuguese is not good enough to discuss, yet. So I walked to the post office at Extra Supermercado, paid 5.70R$ (the process took me 5mins), and went back to get my CPF. Just my 2 reais.
    Cheers, Erik

  • Chris

    Hi, I have lost the piece of paper with my CPF on it. I know what my number is but have been told I need the paper to open a bank account. Is it possible to find this online to reprint it? Thanks for any help.

  • Stephen Timm

    Hi everyone, in Sao Paulo (the city) when you visit the Receita Federal to complete the process you need to bring either your RNE, RNE protocol number or if you don’t have these you need to have the page of your passport containing your data and photograph translated by a judicial translator and this costs at least R$46 in Sao Paulo at the moment.

  • Guest
  • http://www.ennser.com Alan Ennser
  • Ryan

    how long does the temporary CPF last? I see that it prompts me to select the day I will be leaving the country. Is that the day my CPF ends?

    • Alex

      Apparently it does not have an expiry date … it’s yours to keep unless you ask to have yours decommissioned (which requires another application process)

  • Jelgua

    I found out that not all Receita Federal offices are processing new CPFs. In Sao Paulo it is only at three locactions: CAC CPF Ramos de Azevedo on Rua Coronel Xavier de Toledo, 23, (the Shopping Light Shopping mall); CAC Santo Amaro on Rua Padre Jose de Anchieta, 76, Santo Amaro; CAC Poupatempo Itaquera on Avenida do Contorno, 60, Ala Azul – B, Itaquera. The one at the Shopping Light shopping mall is on the second floor, where there is also a post office, making this location a one-stop-shop for getting the CPF. Give yourself about an hour.

    • Prashant

      What a legend! Shopping Light mall was 5 mins walk from Anhangabaú station. Took me about 20 mins at the post office, only because there were lots of people and less than 10 mins at Receita Federal! There is also a Policia Federal on the third floor of the same mall if anyone needs to register with them (in my case, a working holiday visa form)

  • Navraj Adhikari

    Hello

  • Alex

    Thanks for the guide! I did mine overseas so as to avoid headache … so it is possible however it will take about 1 1/2 – 2 months to get the CPF

    Hope this helps

  • Charles Brooks

    There’s a new box at the bottom of the form “Data de saída do país (DD/MM/AAAA)”. I want a permanent CPF, should I leave this blank? (My visa is a 90 day work visa, temporary III, which will be extended later on)

  • Hujode@hotmail.com

    My address that I has used to get my CPF has changed. Do I need to request an other CPF with my current address?

  • Rob Wells

    Hello thank you for this post I got my CPF yesterday.
    followed this page to the T. went to the post office and showed her the printed peace of paper also showed her on paper Preciso pagar por meu CPF she was confused with my passport so I gave her my marriage certificate that I got a month ago as I married an Brasilian so it’s in Portuguese she was happy then and gave the passport back lol filled out the form again on her pc no clue why then paid R$5.70 she gave me receipt. then went to the other place waited one hour and half my number was called sat down she looked at my passport, marriage certificate & my receipt then typed some stuff on her pc and printed out my CPF happy days this was done in Belo Horizonte left my house at 13:30 at 16:00 was walking out of a building with my CPF only really took that long cos my house was one and half hours away I also recommend having google translate app installed on your phone also download the language pack so you can use offline.
    many thanks