I’m foreign. How do I get a CPF?

March 26, 2021

Written by Alessandro Orefice and Marie-Éve Abran. Translated by Sophie Foggin. 

What is a CPF?

The CPF (Registration of a Physical Person) is a document of registration of a citizen in the Brazil Tax Authority. It registers the contributors (physical nationals and foreigners with businesses in Brazil).

In theory, you don’t have to have it, but if you don’t have it you will not be able to carry out financial operations such as opening a bank account.

Therefore, foreign visitors without a CPF have real problems making purchases in Brazil, unlike what happens in other countries.

Versions of the CPF

The CPF document has gone through some transforations over the years since its introduction in 1969. At that point, the CPF was called a CIC (taxpayer identification card).

Today the CPF is a number generated by the Federal Revenue site. So, there is no longer a physical paper document, nor a PVC plastic card…


Current version of the CPF (number provided by internet)


2000 version of the CPF (plastic card)


80s/90s version of the CPF (paper)


CIC, a ‘CPF’ from the 70s (paper)


⚠ It is important to note that all of the versions mentioned above are active and valid.

How to get your CPF online?

Visit the Receita Federal website:

You can request a CPF, free of charge, directly from the Receita Federal website, whether you are resident in Brazil or if you are just travelling. Visit website.

>> Link to the online form <<

Alternatively, via e-mail from the Receita Federal:

This is only possible if you are a resident of the State of São Paulo

If you are a resident of the State of São Paulo, you can request your CPF, free of charge, via e-mail from the Receita Federal:

1) Send a message to the following e-mail address:

2) The message must contain the following information:
• Your full name
• The address where you live in São Paulo
• Your telephone number
• A brief description of your request, i.e. requesting a CPF

3) You must attach a (readable) copy of the following documents:
• A valid ID document such as a passport;
• A selfie holding your ID open on the photo page.

IMPORTANT: Applying via the website is faster and more reliable than applying via e-mail.

How to get a CPF in São Paulo?

A foreigner can apply for their CPF in the Receita Federal office, located within Shopping Light:

Address: Praça Ramos de Azevedo – Viaduto do Chá, centre of São Paulo, near the Anhangabaú metro station (red line).

Opening hours: 8am – 7.30pm

Fee: R$7.00 (if requested via Correios, Banco do Brasil or Caixa Econômica Federal)

Required Documents:

  • Valid ID document from the country of origin, RNE (national foreign person registration), Passport or an RNE protocol that contains your registered data.


Shopping Light – São Paulo Centre

How to get a CPF in Rio de Janeiro?

Foreigner registration should be done by the person themself directly at the Ministério da Fazenda:

Address: Av. Presidente Antônio Carlos 375, in the centre of Rio, near the Carioca metro station (lines 1 or 2).

Opening hours: 7am – 1pm and 1pm – 7pm.

Fee: R$7.00 (if requested via Correios, Banco do Brasil or Caixa Econômica Federal)

Required documents:

  • Valid ID document from the country of origin, an RNE (national foreign person registration) or a Passport, or an RNE protocol that contains your registered data.

Secretaria da Fazenda - Rio de Janeiro

Ministério da Fazenda – Rio de Janeiro centre

What is a sworn translation? (more...)

Sworn translation are made by people who are certified and accredited by the registry of commerce of each state. The applicants must pass highly demanding oral and written examinations for specific language pairs. They undergo background checks before receiving a registration number, which must be informed in the heading of every translation. If you need translate any of your official documents, please contact our translation services: aprenda2.org/translations

Find out more:

People who live in Brazil have a CPF as almost a second ID card to go with the RG (general register) which is the official identity card for Brazilian citizens. The use of the CPF stems from the fact that it is necessary to have a unique form of identification, because the RG number is not unique throughout the country. In other words, in Brazil it is possible that two different people may have the same RG number. This is because the RG is a national document, but controled by the state sphere. It is therefore possible that one same person could have 26 different RGs, as seen below in the Folha de São Paulo report.


Report from the ‘Folha de São Paulo’ showing that one person can have several RGs. Even though this seems pretty unbelievable, it’s totally legal!

According to some specialists, due to its decentralized and fragmented nature, the RG system is very vulnerable to fraud, making it easier for crimes to be comitted. In order to combat this problem, the RIC (civil identity registration) project was implemented, which aimed to combine the CPF, RG and TÍTULO DE ELEITOR (voting title). The RIC had an overlay of better security, because it had a chip to store data using cryptography, aside from working with the system of digital certification. The RIC was officially launched in 2010, but mysteriously the project was suspended without a restart date.

RIC - Registro de Identidade Civil. Projeto que ainda não saiu do papel

RIC – Civil Identity Registration. The project that was mysteriously suspended.

Recently, the government launched the “e-CPF”, an electronic document in the form of a digital certificate, that guarantees the authenticity and integrity of the communication between the people and the Secretary of the Income state (SRF). It works exactly like a digital version of the CPF, as it is linked to it. The e-CPF serves, among other purposes, as a form of handing in income declarations and other electronic documents by the use of electronic signatures. Aside from this, the use of the digital signature is spreading to exchange contracts and, in the future, other bank contracts.

Sources: Wikipedia, Receita Federal do Brasil

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