Juliana Mello

Juliana Mello

The Brazil Business


CPF for Dummies

Juliana Mello

Juliana Mello

The Brazil Business


In this article, we will explain everything about CPF, one of the most important Brazilian documents, used by several public and private organizations as a way to identify citizens.

What is CPF?

The Brazilian Taxpayer Registry (Cadastro de Pessoa Física), known as CPF, is a database administrated by the Federal Revenue, that stores information of its registered people. It is a document for Brazilians, foreigners that live in Brazil and foreigners that live abroad but have assets or business in Brazil.

Each individual person registered is identified with an unique and permanent number, that can be carried or not in a card. As the name says, CPF is only destined for individual persons, the equivalent document for juridical persons is the CNPJ.

Without CPF, one cannot open a bank account, get credit, apply for public jobs, open an entity, be up to date with taxes, purchase in determined stores, among other things.

Who is obliged to get a CPF?

CPF is mandatory to all individual person in any of the following situations:

  • Subject to annual income declaration for the Income Tax payment
  • Subject to inheritance
  • Independent professionals that are registered in any Brazilian Professional Practice Inspection Organs, such as CREA, CRM, OAB etc
  • Real estate agents or individual persons participating in real estate operations in Brazil
  • Account holders, financial operators and shareholders
  • Contributing and applying for benefits from the INSS
  • Living abroad (Brazilians or foreigners) with assets or rights subject to public registration in Brazil, such as real estate property, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, interest in corporations, bank accounts, capital or financial market investments in Brazil.

However, any person (Brazilian or foreigner, living in the country or not), even if not fitting the mandatory cases above, can ask for a CPF inscription. There is also no age limits to get CPF, even new-born people can apply to.

How to get a CPF

It is quite easy to apply for a CPF. You just have to fill up the inscription form in any of those places:

  • Any Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal or Correios agency. It is necessary to pay a BRL 5,70 fee, because a CPF card will be issued
  • Public associated agencies, no charged fees (no card will be issued)
  • Diplomatic representations abroad: no charged fees (no card will be issued)
  • Directly in the Federal Revenue in cases of: non-residents in Brazil, inscription of a deceased person or requirement from public administration organs regarding attendance incapacity to the places above (prisoners, hospitalized people)

Still, there is no way to apply for CPF exclusively on the internet. The applicant must go to one of the accredited units above, bearing the following documents:

1) Under the age of 16

  • Identity card or birth certificate
  • Identity document of the legally responsible person
  • If necessary, document that proves custody, guardianship or curatorship

2) Between the age of 16 and 18

  • Identity card or birth certificate
  • Voter ID card (optional)

3) Between the age of 18 and 70

  • Identity card or birth certificate
  • Voter ID card (mandatory);
  • Military discharge certificate

4) Deceased person

  • Document proving the need for inscription;
  • Death certificate;
  • Deceased person with assets to inventory: Documents of the deceased beneficiary/ies;
  • Deceased person with no assets to inventory: documents that prove parenthood with the deceased (brothers, parents, son)

5) Foreigners (resident or non-resident in Brazil)

  • Identity document (valid in the country of residence), RNE or passport;
  • Documents must be translated by a certified translator;
  • Fill up and present the form. Select your country at the end of the page

Once the inscription is done, the applicant can follow the status on the internet, at Receita Federal's website, using the attendance number provided during the application. Click on “Cidadão”, then “Consulta a andamento de pedido de CPF” and fill in the information requested. The number will be available in 48 hours after the inscription, except if the request was done at a Correios/Banco do Brasil agency. In this case, it can take an average of 15 days (when a card containing your name and CPF number will be delivered at your house).

People who apply for CPF in diplomatic representations abroad can sit and wait, because the process to get a CPF number this way usually takes months. If you made your inscription in other accredited units than Correios and Banco do Brasil, you will not receive a physical card with your name and CPF number, but you can print a registration status certificate from the Receita's website.

It is very important to keep your attendance code until you have your CPF number written down.

Identity theft

In case of CPF robbery, it is recommended to report the fact to the police. The CPF card has no picture or signature of its owner on it, so it can be easily used by someone else, pretending to be you. However, CPF is only valid if presented along an Identity Card or other official document with picture. But not all establishments are that careful.

People can purchase several things with your stolen CPF, open bank accounts and contract services in your name. In a phrase, your name can end up sinking in debts. Let us remind that sales people are more worried to sell than lose time checking documents out. Then you will have a hard time to prove that those debts are not yours, not to mention the money spent with lawyers.

How to re-issue the CPF

In case of losing or getting your CPF card robbed, you can get a duplicate of it. But yet, your registration number remains the same, you must check it. To get a new CPF card you must go to a Correios or Banco do Brasil agency, bearing the same documents you used the first time and pay the BRL 5,70 fee again. The new card will be delivered at your house within 15 days.

Canceling the CPF

It is not possible to cancel the CPF by yourself. This document will only be canceled by Receita Federal in cases of:

  • Obit (someone must present the Death Certificate, so Receita Federal can cancel the deceased's CPF)
  • Multiplicity of numbers: people with more than one CPF number must present an Identity document in order to cancel the irregular CPF numbers
  • Omission on presenting the Annual Statement of Income for two years in a row
  • Administrative and juridical decisions: for example, when the person gets robbed and someone else uses its CPF number

    The process to reestablish the validity of the CPF depends on the reason why the CPF was canceled in the first place.

Multiple CPF numbers

A lot of CPFs are canceled due to the existence of multiple numbers. As stated above, each person can have only one CPF number. If someone has more than one number, Receita Federal will cancel the CPF to avoid fraud. But yet, the whole CPF system in Brazil lacks better monitoring.

It is rather simple to get a “clean” CPF number or a CPF for fraudulent purposes. Making a new CPF inscription sometimes works out, as the attendants often miss checking if some people already have CPF. It is very easy to apply for CPF using the name of a deceased person too. Also, there are criminal gangs and hackers working to in fake CPF numbers to sell. And of course, robbed documents can be used for fraud too.

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