There are some foreigners who come to Brazil and must pass through the whole process of taking a driver's license before being allowed to drive in the country. In this article you will learn what to do if you're one of these foreigners.
Brazilian driver's license is called Carteira Nacional de Habilitação, or simply CNH. Brazilians and foreigners who are 18 years or older can get their CNH.
Brazil is one of the Vienna Convention's signatory countries and, therefore, it is possible for some foreigners to drive in Brazil for a period of up to 180 days using their original driver's licenses or the International Driver's License. However, not all countries signed this treaty, so there are also foreigners who can't drive in Brazil without a Brazilian driver's license. It depends on the foreigner's license country of origin is a signatory of the treaty or not.
Validating a Driver's License in Brazil
To have your driver's license validated in Brazil, it is necessary to take these documents to the nearest Detran:
- original and photocopy of the license, which cannot be expired
- original and photocopy of the immigration entry and exit card
- translation of the driver's license by a public sworn translator or by the country of origin consulate
- original and copy (only for verification) ofproof of residence issued within the past three months before the request date. Basicallyanythingwith your name and address like the electricity, telephone or gas bill, a bank statement, the IPTUproperty tax receipt, etc.
All the documentation must be presented in the Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro, the department of Detran responsible for foreigners.
Foreigners originating from countries which are signatories of the Vienna Convention have to register at the system and then be submitted to the physical and psychological examination. They aren't subjected to the theoretical and practice tests before having the CHN issued.
Getting a CNH
Only foreigners who are going to drive in Brazil and aren't from signatory nations of the Vienna Convention, or come from countries that don't have reciprocity treaties with Brazil, must pass through the whole process of taking a CNH to be allowed to drive. The first step is to choose a driving school and start your process there. Then you must take the following documents to the Detran of the state where you are established:
- original and copy of the RG or RNE
- original and copy of the CPF
- original and copy of proof of residence
- two 3x4 pictures.
This process must be followed by the foreigners who come from countries which are not signatory of the Vienna Convention. They will have to register in a driving school, which will be the responsible for guiding them through the process of getting the CNH. Firstly, the driving school sends the students to a place where they will be submitted to a medical test and a psychological behavior/logic exam.
If approved, the applicant is then asked to go to a Centro de Formação de Condutores, known as CFC, where you have the theoretical lessons. You will have 9 lessons, usually in 9 business days in a row or during the weekends. After you finished the lessons, you will have a theoretical test. It's very common to see driving schools having agreements not only with the places that perform medical and psychological tests, but also with the CFCs.
The theoretical test is composed by 30 multiple choicequestions. The first task is to take a dictation, just to prove that the applicants aren't illiterate. If you are not approved in the theoretical test, you will have to pay for a second test and do it again, until you pass.
If you are approved in the theoretical test, you can start the driving lessons in the driving school. When finishing all of the practical lessons, you will be submitted to a practical test. If you pass the test, Detran will issue a temporary permission which must be used for 12 months. If, by the end of this time, there are no serious or extremely serious infraction in your driving record, the CNH will be issued.
If you are not approved in the practical test, you will have the chance to have more practical lessons, if you pay for them. Then it is necessary to schedule another test – and pay for it as well. This process theoretically should be done as many times as necessary, until the person passes the test. However, there is a scheme in some driving schools in which the applicant pay an extra amount of money, called "quebra", and are automatically approved in the test. This scheme is, of course, illegal.
It is necessary to pay to the driving school an amount equivalent to the whole process, which can vary from BRL 800 to BRL 1500 depending on the place you are getting the driver's license. Medical and psychological exams also demand money – around BRL 130 –, and you usually pay in the places where the exams will be made. Rescheduling the theoretical and practical tests also demand more costs, in an average of BRL 150 and BRL 250, respectively. This is only a general idea of the prices, which can vary a lot more from one driving school to the other.
The prices for scheduling a second – third, forth... as many as necessary – tests, in case of not passing, whether it is the theoretical or the practical, varies according to the driving school. Even the “quebra” is different: some are much more expensive than others.
The process of getting a CNH requires time, since it can take from three months to a whole year. It also requires money, considering that there are fees that must be paid in Detran, as well as the whole process in the driving school, including the theoretical and practical tests, and the medical and psychological tests. Don't even get everything started if you can't spend much money or don't have a lot of time for all the lessons, tests and bureaucracy.
List of Vienna's Convention Signatory Countries
People from the following countries – which are all signatories of the Vienna Convention – don't have to make the whole process; in these cases, it is only necessary to make the medical and psychological tests.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of Macedonia
Republic of South Africa
São Tomé and Príncipe
United States of America
PID – Permissão Internacional para Dirigir
Following the requirements established in the Vienna's Convention, Brazil created in 2006 a new model of PID, the Permissão Internacional para Dirigir. Known worldwide as IDP or International Driver's Permit, it can be used in more than a hundred countries, and for foreigners who want to drive in Brazil, it is recommended to have one.
There are two types of International Driver's Permits: IDP 1949 Convention, which is accepted in most countries, and IDP 1926 Convention, which is required in only for countries: Brazil, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia. The foreigner's IDP must be issued in the person's country of origin.