Last updated: January 28, 2018 at 15:59 pm
The Brazilian CPF for Foreigners
The Brazilians would say “CFP para estrangeiros,” which translates to “CPF for foreigners.” The CPF in Brazil is something like the Guyanese TIN number.
I don’t know what the policy is for the other countries, but for the two years that I’ve lived on the border between Guyana and Brazil, I’ve learned that Brazil makes it possible for Guyanese to obtain a CPF “for foreigners”.
To obtain a CPF for foreigners, you do not need to be a citizen of the country or even have a work permit. However, you have to have an address in the one of the bordering cities: Bonfim or Normadia.
Please note that Guyanese are permitted to take up residence in Bomfim or Normadia without requiring any registration or even documents. To go past Normandia however, a travel visa is needed. This visa may grant a 3 to 90 days stay. For overstaying or going further than Normandia without a visa is a chargeable offence.
Getting a Brazilian work visa is absolutely hard. They would push you around from one office to next until you get dizzy going around in circles. When my friend Junior mentioned that anyone could get a CPF easily in Brazil, I had some serious doubts. Perhaps he didn’t know what he was talking about. In my experience, Brazil makes everything so hard!
I didn’t act on it. But after two years of living on the border between the two countries, some things get repeated. I decided to investigate. I went to the Policia Federal in Bonfim and inquired. They told me I had to go to the Post Office or, in Portuguese, “Correos” in the center of Bonfim. I rode my bicycle across the five miles stretch of road to the Correos in the center of Bonfim and enquired about the CPF for foreigners. They told me I needed to bring my passport and a proof of address such as light or phone bill for any address in Bonfim. This “proof of address” is called a “comprovante” in Portuguese. In fact, it didn’t have to bear my name; but whose name it bore on it had to be willing to attest that yes, indeed I lived at that residence.
The authorities were very flexible on this matter. In fact, I was told that you don’t need to be actually living at the address, but once you’re a Guyanese, the person whose house it is must be willing to attest that you are allowed residence there.
I approached a businessman named Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln owns a supermarket in Bonfim and I often bought large quantities of goods from him. Mr. Lincoln willingly assisted me with one of his lightbills as proof of address. I took it to the Post Office in Bonfim. They asked for my passport and the official there started to enter data on the computer. They asked for my mother’s name. I gave it to them.
After the official finished, he printed out a slip of paper and handed to me. The charge was 5.75 Reals. He told me to take that slip to the “Receita Federal” in Bonfim – just near the border with Guyana.
Blazing the trail, I quickly pedaled across the five miles or so to the Receita Federal and approached the man there. He told me a frustrating thing. They had received orders just that day (7th of August 2015) not to issue anymore CPF for foreigners. This was frustrating news. He gave me a number for the Receita Federal in Boa Vista and advised me to call first to see if they would issue the CPF. “But I already signed up! I already paid!” I exclaimed. “I’m sorry,” the man said. “There is nothing I can do. This is the order we received today. If you had come yesterday, it would have been possible.”
I didn’t even say thanks. With a solemn look on my face, and a heavy heart, I walked out of the office. What next? I thought. Another not-so-royal push around from the Brazilian authorities?
I rode all the way back to the Post Office in the center of Bonfim. Hot and sweaty, I entered the office and explained the situation to the man. I asked him to call those guys and tell them to issue the CPF. But he insisted there was nothing he could do. This was not in his power. Further, he said his phone was down.
Once again, I didn’t even say “thank you.” I just dropped a brochure I was reading back into its place on the desk and walked out. That day, if nothing, I had a good workout. I pedaled back all the way to Lethem, hot and exhausted and arrived just in time for work at 5 pm.
I hated going to Boa Vista for this kind of business. It was very likely to be a dead end. However, on the 14th of August, 2015, I took the big bus from Bonfim to Boa Vista. Coming off at the bus terminal, I took a taxi for 20 reals to the Receita Federal in Boa Vista.
Upon entering I was given a “password”. It read “CF: 31”. I sat down and looked at the TV screen above. About five minutes after, the bell rang and “CF: 31: Table 1” appeared on the screen. I moved to table one. After I explained myself, the woman there took my passport and the slip of paper and entered some data onto the computer. With a few clicks of the mouse, the printer rolled out a sheet of paper. She handed it to me. The paper contained my CPF. That was it.
I guess that made my day. It was pretty straightforward – quite contrary to my expectation. Now, being the owner of Brazilian CPF, I can now open a bank account in Brazil. I’ll do that next Monday hopefully and let my readers know how it goes.
Update: Turns out opening a bank account isn’t that straightforward. I was turned down by the bank in Bonfim, and told to make a try in Boa Vista. About two years later, I’ll be going to Boa Vista to open a bank account. I’ll let you know how that goes.