CPF means Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas (“Natural Person Registration”) and it’s like a version of the Social Security Number for North Americans. It is a 11-digit number which works as a record kept by the Brazilian Federal Revenue Service. You need this document if you’re planning to open a bank account, buy real estate, vehicle, or make capital market investments.
If you’re planning on staying in Brazil for a period of time longer than a month, maybe it’s good to get a CPF number because it’s also easier and quicker to do some other things as well. For example, you can buy bus and plane tickets using your passport number, but you may need to do it in person, as most websites require a CPF number to buy them online. Same thing happens if you try to buy football and theater tickets, among other things. If you have a CPF, it’s also easier to register a local phone number on your SIM card.
You don’t need to be Brazilian to get a CPF number; every foreigner can legally get one as well. The process is easy and you don’t need to go through lots of bureaucracy to get yours.
How to get your CPF?
The easiest way to get your CPF is going to the Receita Federal building. The Receita Federal building is located on Rua Barão da Torre, 296 – Ipanema. A building with a blue fence. When entering the building, take the stairs to the first floor and go stand in line in front of the counter. You will get a ticket saying around what time they will help you to get your CPF. Then you just wait till your appointment. Depending on the amount of people waiting this can take a few hours, but you van take the risk to leave and come back at the time on your ticket.
When it’s your turn the process is easy and fast. You should bring a copy of your passport and the original one to show them. The Receita Federal is open on weekdays from 9AM until 3PM. However, we advise you strongly to go at 9AM. This is because there is only a certain amount of CPF’s they give out on a day. When you go later, they might tell you they ran out of CPF’s and to come back the next day.
You can also request your CPF online, but the process is a bit complicated and the Receita Federal website can be too confusing. If you want to give it a shot, visit http://idg.receita.fazenda.gov.br/information/.