Published on September 12, 2021
The Individual Taxpayer Registration, known as the Cadastro Pessoa Física (CPF), is the registration of foreigners in the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal). This document facilitates the taxable life of the carrier, allowing the payment of taxes, the opening of bank accounts and the realization of financial investments. Another need for the CPF for foreigners is the acquisition of assets or real estate property in Brazil, or to become an administrator of a company.
Why it is needed so often
People living in Brazil have a CPF almost as a second identity card to complement the RG (general registration), which is the official identity card of the Brazilian citizen. The use of the CPF was born from the need to have a unique identification, since the RG number is not unique in all national territory. That is, in Brazil it is possible to have two equal RG numbers for different people. This is because the RG is a national document, but controlled at the state level. Therefore it's possible that one person has 26 different RGs.
For being decentralized and fragmented, the RG system is very vulnerable to fraud, facilitating the practice of crimes. To attack this problem the CPF is a very widely requested document above any other form of identification. Usually, and particularly in more bureaucratic cases, more information is requested along with the CPF, such as your passport, birth cirtificate and/or proof of address.
Request in person
Ask for the CPF in a nearby post office (Correios) and take the following documents; your passport, proof of address (such as a energy bill, or your hostel or Airbnb address), and a Brazilian telephone number (if you don't have one, use one of a friend). You pay a small fee at the counter, after which you take proof of payment.
With your proof of payment you go to a nearby Receita Federal office. They will fill in the previously requested data again, and you will ultimately receive an printed version of your CPF identification. You can have it plastified at a print shop to conserve the paper and carry it as an ID.
Foreigners (residents in Brazil or in transit in the country) can request a CPF for free directly on the Federal Revenue website.
Note that the requested documentation might vary from the in-person application. It is also possible to request a CPF via E-mail but it usually takes more time to process.
Request from abroad
To request a CPF from your home country you will have to navigate to the Brazilian consulate website. Each country has a set of steps you need to follow, but it is usually the same process. Here you see an example of what the consulate website would look like, in this case for London.
Information provided by the consulate for CPF registration:
Registering for the Individual Taxpayer Registry (CPF) is mandatory for Brazilian or foreign nationals of any age who own or would like to own assets and rights in Brazil which are subject to public registration, including real estate, vehicles, vessels, aircrafts, equity interests / stock shares, bank accounts or financial / capital market investments. The CPF number is issued only once (unique and definitive), and it is not possible to register twice. The CPF number will be generated upon registration and recorded on the receipt provided to the applicant. The number must be kept in a safe place or memorised, as "CPF cards" are no longer issued. Due to tax privacy regulations, those who have lost / forgotten their CPF number must retrieve it directly at one of the units of the Federal Revenue ("Receita Federal") in Brazil, as this matter cannot be solved at the Consulate. If necessary, the request can be done by proxy by a representative of the person concerned. Further clarifications can be obtained by e-mail: CPF.firstname.lastname@example.org.