Driving in Brazil is an important aspect to mind, considering that the country's public transport lacks capacity and effectiveness. Understand the process to validate your original driver's license in Brazil.
Brazil lacks railways, but has highways all over the country. While in only some cities you can find a subway system, roads connect Brazilian cities from North to South and East to West. Knowing how to drive and having a driver's license in the country is essential to avoid being dependent on buses in order to go from one place to another.
Having a Brazilian driver's license is also necessary to be able to drive motorized vehicles as a job in Brazil. In this case, it's important to check if your driver's license is compatible with the Brazilian categories of classification (A, B, C, D or E).
Brazilian Driver's License for Foreigners
The Brazilian driver's license is known as Carteira Nacional de Habilitação or simply CNH, and is obligatory for the ones who want to drive in the country. The minimum age required to get a CNH is 18 years old.
In Brazil, foreigners who already have a driver's license from their countries of origin and are 18 years or older can drive using their original document for up to 180 days. For this, they have to carry not only their licenses, but also their passports or any other document that proves their date of entry in the country. After the 180 days, foreigners must have their own CNH issued to have permission to drive in Brazil.
Before getting the CNH, foreigners must check if their licenses are from one of the over a hundred countries which are signatories of the Vienna Convention or that meet the principle of reciprocity. There is a list available with the names of countries in the Detran's websites of each state, such as here.
In the cases when the driver's license original country is not a signatory of the Vienna Convention and doesn't meet the principle of reciprocity, the foreigner must be approved in the driving test made by Detran.
Renewing the Driver's License in Brazil
To have your driver's license validate in Brazil, it is necessary to take these documents to the nearest Detran:
- original and copy of the original country's driver's license, which must be within the period of validity
- original and copy of the document that proves the entry and stay in the country
- translation of the driver's license by a public sworn translator or by the country of origin consulate
- original and copy (only for checking) of the proof of residence issued within three months before the request date. It can be light, telephone os gas bills, a bank statement, IPTU etc.
All the documentation must be presented in the Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro, the sector of Detran where the services for foreigners are made.
Getting a CNH
If the foreigners are in Brazil for more than 180 days, they must take the CNH to be allowed to drive. The first step is to chose 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 a proof of residence (light, telephone or bank bill, or any other which contains the foreigner's name and is recent)
- two pictures 3x4.
The foreigners will have to register at a driving school, which will be the responsible for guiding them through the entire process of getting their CNH. First, the driving school sends the students to a place where they will be submitted to physical, psychological and mental tests. If approved, the students are then orientated to go to a Centro de Formação de Condutores, known as CFC, which is the place where you have lessons. After you finished the lessons, you will have a theory test. It's very common to see that driving schools have agreements not only with the places where the physical, psychological and mental tests occur, but also with the CFCs.
If you are not approved in the theory test, you will have to pay for a second test and do it again, until you pass. If you are approved, you can start the driving lessons at the driving school. When finishing all of the practical lessons, you will be submitted to a practical test. Passing the test, there will be a provisional permission issued 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 it requires, until the person passes in the test. However, there is a scheme in some driving schools in which the students pays an extra amount of money called "quebra" and are automatically approved in the test. This scheme is, of course, illegal.
The process of getting a CNH requires time, since it can take from at least three months to a whole year. It also requires money, considering that there are fees that must be paid to Detran, as well as the whole process in the driving school, including the theory and practical tests, and the physical, psychological and mental tests. Don't get everything started if you can't spend too much money or don't have a lot of time for all the lessons, tests and bureaucracy.
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.