Obtaining a CPF as a Foreigner: Your Essential First Step in Brazil

When planning an extended stay in Brazil, obtaining a CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas) is one of the most crucial steps you should take upon arrival. This individual taxpayer registry identification number, issued by the Brazilian government, is indispensable for both daily activities and more significant financial transactions. Here’s why having a CPF can greatly benefit your experience in Brazil, and how you can go about obtaining one.

What is a CPF?

The CPF is a unique number that identifies taxpayers in Brazil. While it primarily serves tax-related purposes, it’s also used for a wide array of non-tax-related activities, making it an essential document for anyone living in Brazil, even temporarily.


Why is the CPF Important?

  1. Registering a SIM Card: If you want to use a mobile phone in Brazil, you will need a CPF to register your SIM card. Without it, you won’t be able to obtain a local phone number.

  2. Opening a Bank Account: Whether you are receiving payments, transferring money, or simply managing your finances, a Brazilian bank account is indispensable. To open one, you must have a CPF.

  3. Signing Contracts: From renting an apartment to subscribing to services like internet and utilities, a CPF is required to sign contracts and agreements.

  4. Buying Property: If you’re considering purchasing real estate in Brazil, a CPF is mandatory. It is used in the legal documentation process to ensure the transaction is registered correctly.

  5. Investing in a Company: For those looking to invest in Brazilian businesses, whether starting a new venture or buying shares in an existing company, a CPF is essential for legal and tax purposes.

  6. Online Shopping and E-Commerce: Many Brazilian e-commerce websites require a CPF to complete purchases. It’s used to track transactions and ensure tax compliance.


How to Obtain a CPF

Obtaining a CPF as a foreigner is a straightforward process, and it doesn’t cost any fee from the government to register. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Visit a Receita Federal website and fill up the CPF for foreigner form: The Receita Federal is the Brazilian tax authority responsible for issuing CPFs. You can visit their website and fill up the form for CPF Application as a foreigner.

  2. Brazilian Consulate: Once you have your Receita Federal form up and ready, time to setup your CPF appointment at the Consulate of your home country. Each Brazilian Consulate has their own workflow, so it is important to check the website for the specific Consulate you will apply. 

  3. Required Documents: You will need your passport, proof of  and possibly a proof of residence (even if it’s from your home country). Some offices might ask for additional documents, so it’s best to check the requirements in advance.

  4. Fill Out the Form: At the Receita Federal office or consulate, you’ll fill out a registration form. The process is typically quick and straightforward.

  5. Receive Your CPF Number: Once your application is processed, you will receive your CPF number. This number is all you need to start enjoying the benefits it provides.

Myths and Truths About the CPF

  • Myth: You Have to Declare Taxes in Brazil Just Because You Have a CPF

    • Truth: Having a CPF does not automatically make you liable for taxes in Brazil. You are only required to file taxes if you earn income in Brazil or meet other specific criteria that obligate you to file a tax return.
  • Myth: It Costs Money to Obtain a CPF

    • Truth: There is no fee charged by the government to issue a CPF. However, if you use a third-party service to help with the process, they may charge a fee for their assistance.



Obtaining a CPF should be the very first step of a long trip to Brazil. It simplifies your stay and enables you to access essential services and engage in a wide range of activities. From registering a SIM card and hiring an Internet company,  to investing in a business, a CPF is your gateway to fully experiencing life in Brazil. Don’t let myths and misconceptions hold you back—getting your CPF is a simple, free, and highly beneficial process that will enhance your Brazilian adventure.

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