What Is a CPF in Brazil, and How Do You Get One?

Moving to Brazil has become a popular choice among digital nomads, retirees, global employees, and foreign investors. No matter their reasons for moving, once they arrive, most will need a Brazilian CPF.

If you want to own property or assets in Brazil, invest or work there, you’ll need to register for a CPF, which is an individual identification number.

The CPF in Brazil identifies taxpayers, but it’s becoming more than that. Nowadays, it is the primary identification of any Brazilian national, foreigner, resident, or non-resident who wishes to conduct any kind of business in the country.

Read on to learn about the process to apply for a CPF in Brazil.

What is the Brazilian CPF?

The Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas (CPF)—which is Portuguese for “Natural Persons Register”—started as a registry maintained by the Receita Federal do Brasil (or Brazilian Federal Revenue Services) to maintain a record of resident taxpayers and foreign investors.

Today, the CPF in Brazil is an 11-digit number that functions as the primary identification number for any Brazilian national or any foreigner who wishes to conduct any kind of business or own assets in the country.

So every natural person who was born in Brazil, is a resident of Brazil, or wishes to conduct business as an individual (or a company) in Brazil will need to have a CPF issued with the Receita Federal do Brasil.

Simply speaking, it is a legal registration of any Brazilian national or foreign employee in the country. It works similar to the Social Security number in the United States and looks like XXX.XXX.XXX-XX.

Is there any difference between the CPF and CNPJ?

CPF Brazil: aerial view of a city by the sea

Yes, there is a difference between the Brazilian CPF and the CNPJ. The CPF is for natural persons, or individual human beings.

However, the Cadastro Nacional de Pessoa Jurídica (CNPJ)—which is Portuguese for “National Registry of Juridical Persons”—is meant to identify companies, NGOs, political parties, societies, foundations, churches, or any other legal entities that can’t be categorized as an individual.

The CNPJ is a 13-character unique identification number that recognizes businesses and other types of juridical arrangements within the Receita Federal do Brasil.

For an individual to open or control a company, they must have a valid Brazilian CPF first and then can apply for a CNPJ.

Why do I need a CPF?

The main function of the CPF in Brazil is to identify natural persons within the Receita Federal do Brasil. This means, the CPF registers a person living in or doing any business in Brazil.

You will need a CPF ID number in case you:

  • Want to open a bank account in Brazil
  • Want to open or be part of a business in Brazil
  • Intend to move to Brazil
  • Would like to join the Brazilian Army
  • Need to get your Brazilian voter’s card
  • Are looking to get credit in the future
  • Want to receive money in Brazil from abroad
  • Want to buy a car
  • Want to invest in real estate or buy a house

What documents do I need to get my CPF?

CPF Brazil: woman holding her work card

You need the following documents to get a Brazilian CPF number.

  • For Brazilian nationals: You’ll need a Brazilian ID card or birth certificate. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 69, you’ll also need your military draft certificate or your voter’s card.
  • For foreign residents: You’ll need your Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (RNE), which is Portuguese for “Foreign National Registry,” or your Carteira Nacional de Estrangeiro (CIE), which is your foreigner ID card.
  • For non-residents: You’ll need a passport and a certified translation of your ID documents.

According to gov.br, other required documents also include a signed registration form, a selfie holding your identification documents, and proof of parents’ names and ages (for minors).

How to get a Brazilian CPF

Entrepreneur using a laptop

The process of getting a CPF depends on whether you’re a resident or non-resident of Brazil.

How to get a CPF as Brazilian citizen or resident

Whether you’re a Brazilian citizen or resident, you may get a CPF number online in a few steps:

  • Step 1: Go to the Subscribe to CPF page on the Receita Federal website. The page is in Portuguese, but you can use your browser’s translation feature to view it in another language, such as English.
  • Step 2: Click on the “Start” button. This will bring you to the online registration form.
  • Step 3: Fill out the form with your information, and click “Submit.”
  • Step 4: If a Service Protocol is issued, you will need to provide additional documentation. Gather your necessary documents and submit them for review either via email or in-person.

How to get a CPF as a non-resident

You can get a CPF as a non-resident, even from your home country, and you’ll need to if you plan to conduct business in Brazil or own assets there (such as real estate or investments).

Previously, foreigners were required to go to a physical location of the Receita Federal to get the CPF number. (And you can still visit a Brazilian Consular Office by appointment if you wish.)

But during the Coronavirus pandemic, in an effort to maintain social distancing, the Brazilian government provided an online option to speed up the process. While the social distancing requirements have now been lifted in most places, the online process is still functional, making it easier for anyone to apply for a CPF number from the comfort of their homes.

Here are the steps you can take:

  • Step 1: Go to the Foreign CPF Enrollment form.
  • Step 2: Fill out the form with your information, and click “Submit.”
  • Step 3: If a Service Protocol is issued, that means you will need to provide additional documentation. Gather your necessary documents and submit them for review either via email or in-person.

My CPF is suspended. How do I fix it if I’m abroad?

When your Brazilian CPF is suspended and you need to fix it, you can visit the Brazilian Consulate in your region/country and request it in person.

This service is available for Brazilian nationals, foreigners, and non-residents alike.

How can I check the status of a CPF number for Brazil?

To check the current status of your Brazilian CPF, follow the steps below:

  • Step 1: Go to Receita Federal website and fill in the information requested—your CPF number and date of birth;
  • Step 2: Resolve the captcha and click “Consultar,” or “Consult” if you’re viewing the page in English
  • Step 3: The current status of your CPF will be displayed. Here is a list of each status and its meaning:
    • REGULAR: This means that the CPF is in good standing.
    • PENDENTE DE REGULARIZAÇÃO: The taxpayer has not delivered one or more of their tax returns in the last five years.
    • SUSPENSA: The taxpayer’s information is incorrect or incomplete.
    • CANCELADA: The taxpayer’s CPF has been canceled due to duplicity or an administrative/judicial decision.
    • TITULAR FALECIDO: This is used when the taxpayer is deceased.
    • NULA: This means some form of fraud has been detected, and the CPF has been voided.

Sending money to Brazil

Man holding some Brazilian dollars