A guide to Brazilian CPF numbers

A guide to Brazilian CPF numbers

If you’re sending money to someone in Brazil, you’ll need their CPF number or code. Continue reading to discover what CPFs are and what they look like, how to validate them and why you’ll need one to transfer funds to Brazil. 

What is a CPF number?

CPF stands for ‘Cadastro de Pessoa Física‘ and means Individual Registration Number in English. Like National Insurance numbers in the UK and INSEE codes in France, all taxpayers in Brazil need to have a CPF number. If you’re sending money to someone in Brazil, you’ll usually need their CPF number. 

Why do I need my recipient’s CPF?

Legally, you’ll need to enter your recipient’s CPF number when sending money to Brazil. Firstly, the CPF number ensures that your money goes to the correct person. Secondly, it helps to prevent fraud such as money laundering by making all remittances to Brazil traceable. You’ll also need your recipient’s:

  • Full name.
  • Address
  • Bank account number.
  • Bank account type (checking or saving) and branch code.
  • SWIFT-BIC number if you’re sending money via SWIFT transfer.

CPF number example

All CPF numbers or codes are 11 digits long. They are assigned by the Brazilian Federal Revenue Bureau and are usually shown in the format below.  

123.456. 789-??

Sending money to Brazil? Read our guide to remittances in Brazil beforehand. Learn how to send large amounts of money, get the best exchange rates and pay the lowest fees.

How to check a CPF number

With so many digits to enter when sending money overseas, mistakes are easy to make. Luckily there’s a CPF validator on the Brazilian Ministry of Economy website (in Portuguese) to help out. If you don’t speak the local language, then try this CPF checker instead. 

CPFs for Foreigners

Most Brazilians get their CPF number in Brazil. Foreign citizens, however, can get their CPF either at a Brazilian consulate or through a power of attorney.

A CPF is a must for foreigners wanting to: 

  • Buy property or start a business in Brazil. 
  • Work or live in Brazil.

Getting a CPF will allow a foreign citizen to access public services. Bear in mind, however, obtaining a CPF means you’ll have to submit a tax return every year.

If you decide to stop working in Brazil, you must file a “final tax return”. You’ll need this to end your taxable activities in the country.

What is a CNPJ number?

A CNPJ number is essentially a CPF number for businesses instead of individuals. Short for Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas, it means ‘National Register of Legal Entities’ in English. Therefore, all companies established in Brazil (domestic and foreign) need a CNPJ number before they can start trading. 

Unlike a CPF code, CNPJ numbers are 14 digits long. 

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