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How To Open a Bank Account in Brazil in 2024 for Foreigners

Jarrod Suda

Guide

Byron Mühlberg

Reviewer

Apr 19, 2024
Advertiser disclosure

If you're planning to live or study in Brazil, having a local bank account will help you easily withdraw cash, send payments, receive paychecks, and handle other day-to-day banking needs. However, opening a bank account in Brazil requires specific documentation, like a CPF (Brazilian tax number).

In this article, we'll guide you through the process of opening a bank account in Brazil, including the necessary steps to obtain a CPF. We research and compare different options, including the Wise Multi-Currency Account, to find the one that best suits your needs.

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In short, here's our recommendation for opening an account in Brazil:

Without proof of residence: Opt for the Wise Account, which allows you to hold and manage 50+ multi-currency accounts, including Brazilian Real. You can easily make local transfers and withdraw $100/mo without fees in Brazil using your Wise card.

With CPF & proof of residence: Consider Nubank, a popular digital bank that offers a convenient online sign-up process and a smartphone app. You can access debit and credit cards, loans, and more, without the hassle of traditional banking.

Option 1 — Traditional Brazilian Banks

To open a bank account with a traditional bank in Brazil, you'll need to provide the following documents to a branch:

  1. CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas): This is your Brazilian tax number, similar to a Social Security Number in the United States;
  2. RG (Registro Geral): This is your Brazilian identification card;
  3. Proof of address: You'll need to provide a recent utility bill or other official document that confirms your address in Brazil;
  4. Visa: A permanent or temporary resident visa valid for at least 12 months is often required;
  5. Passport: You'll need to present a valid passport.

If you're a student:

  • Proof of registration: Present proof of enrollment at a Brazilian university.

How to Obtain a CPF

A CPF (Cadastro de Pessoa Física) is Brazil's personal tax identification number. Obtaining a CPF is relatively easy and does not require permanent residency.

Here's how to apply:

  1. Complete the government form for CPF registry (found here) and print it out;
  2. Take the form, along with your passport and proof of address, to a Caixa or Banco do Brasil bank branch or a post office, and pay the current fee of 5.70 reais (approximately US$1.60). You'll receive an official receipt;
  3. Submit all the paperwork and the receipt to the nearest Receita Federal office (Brazilian IRS);
  4. You should receive your CPF card by mail to the address you provided within two weeks.

Can I Open an Account in Brazil as a Foreigner?

Yes, foreigners can open bank accounts in Brazil, provided you have the necessary documents. Online bank accounts are the most convenient option, but if you visit a large bank branch in a major city, you may find staff who are familiar with the process of opening accounts for foreigners.

While not mandatory, having proof of income and employment can be very helpful. It may also be a good idea to have a Portuguese-speaking friend to assist you during the process.

Large Banks in Brazil

Here are some of the largest banks in Brazil and what services they are known for among customers:

Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil) is one of the oldest banks in Brazil, with an extensive branch network across the country, providing accessibility to customers in both urban and rural areas. It is a reliable bank but often criticized for bureaucratic processes and slow customer service.

Itaú Unibanco is the largest private bank in Brazil, offering digital banking services and technology-driven solutions for customer convenience. It has a strong reputation for financial stability and reliability.

Bradesco (Banco Bradesco) is a strong private brand regarded as a customer-friendly bank known for its community presence. It has a wide network of branches and ATMs across the country.

Caixa Econômica Federal (Caixa) is a government-owned bank with a focus on providing banking services to low and middle-income individuals, including housing loans, social assistance programs, and savings accounts. It is often criticized for bureaucratic processes and long wait times.

Option 2: Neobanks

Nubank, the most popular neobank in Brazil, offers a high-tech, fee-free banking experience. You can open a Nubank account directly through their smartphone app.

The requirements to open an account are:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a resident of Brazil;
  • Have a compatible smartphone (Android 4.4+ or iOS 10+);
  • Have a CPF.

Nubank Account Features

Nubank is the largest neobank in Brazil for good reason, as it offers a no-hassle online experience:

  • No annual or maintenance fees;
  • Automatic income higher than traditional savings accounts;
  • Free and unlimited transfers to any bank;
  • A debit card for purchases and ATM withdrawals;
  • Bill payment capabilities for utilities and online purchases.

Option 3: Wise Multi-Currency Account

For digital nomads, expats, tourists, or students in Brazil who want to avoid the bureaucracy of traditional banks, the Wise Multi-Currency Account is a great alternative that charges zero monthly fees.

Wise is an electronic money institution that lets you hold balances in Brazilian Real and exchange them to over 50 other currencies at the real mid-market rate. The Wise card allows you to withdraw up to $100 per month from ATMs without fees. The account also enables you to send money to Brazilian bank accounts directly through the app.

You will just need to show proof of residence in the EU/EEA, US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand to sign up.

Wise Multi-Currency Account

Complete Day-to-Day Finances in Brazil With Wise

One important thing to note about Wise is that while it allows you to hold and manage Brazilian Real, it does not provide you with a personal Brazilian bank account number. This means that receiving local payments, such as a paycheck or domestic transfer from a business, may not be as straightforward as with a traditional Brazilian bank account.

However, the sender can still transfer money to Wise's designated account in Brazil, and Wise will then pass the funds to your account at little to no cost. To do so in the app, click the (Add Money) button and request to add Brazilian real via a Brazilian local bank transfer.

The main difference between this and a Brazilian bank account is that you won't have a personal account number for yourself. Despite this limitation, a Wise account can still allow you to function effectively in Brazilian society.

Alternatively, you can easily receive Brazilian Real transfers from other friends who also have Wise accounts, and these transfers are completely free. Additionally, Wise provides you with 12 account numbers in various currencies, including USD, CAD, GBP, and EUR, which you can use to accept payments from around the world.

If you receive money from abroad and need a reliable platform for day-to-day spending, cash withdrawals, and transfers, then we highly recommend Wise as a user-friendly solution with no monthly fees.

For more information or to sign up for an account, visit the Wise website or read our in-depth Wise Account review.

Sending Money to Your Brazilian Bank Account

After opening a bank account in Brazil, you'll need to transfer money into it, which can be costly if it's not in Brazilian real. You can do this by:

  1. Direct Bank Transfer: Sending a wire transfer directly through your main bank at your home country (not recommended).
  2. Money Transfer Specialist: Using an international money transfer specialist for a better deal with better exchange rates.

Compare to Find a Better Deal Than Big Banks

Traditional banks can be expensive for international transfers due to extra middlemen (from the SWIFT network) and high wire fees.

By analysing tens of thousands of searches on Monito's comparison engine over the course of 2023 and 2024, we found that, on average, Remitly, Global66, and Wise were the best option for smaller-to-medium amounts to Brazil. Foreign exchange brokers like Currency Solutions were the cheapest for larger sums sent to Brazil.

To find out which service will offer you the best deal in real-time, run a search on our comparison engine below:

Make your money go further when sending money to Brazil:

FAQ About How to Open a Bank Account in Brazil

Non-Resident Bank Accounts in Brazil vs Other Countries

Many countries allow non-residents to open a bank account within their legal jurisdictions, but exactly what kind of requirements non-residents face can differ drastically from country to country and even bank to bank. See the list below to get a better idea of this:

Country

Which non-residents can open an account?

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Parties with close ties, expats, immigrants, investors, students

🇮🇪 Ireland

Any interested party

🇩🇪 Germany

Parties with close ties

🇫🇷 France

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇮🇹 Italy

Parties with close ties, Investors

🇨🇭 Switzerland

Investors only

🇪🇸 Spain

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇵🇹 Portugal

Parties with close ties, investors, expats, students

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Parties with close ties, investors

🇩🇰 Denmark

Parties with close ties, investors

🇳🇴 Norway

Parties with close ties, investors

🇸🇪 Sweden

Parties with close ties, investors

🇦🇹 Austria

Parties with close ties, investors

🇬🇷 Greece

Parties with close ties, investors

🇭🇺 Hungary

Any interested party

🇱🇺 Luxembourg

Parties with close ties, investors

🇱🇮 Liechtenstein

Investors only

🇬🇮 Gibraltar

Investors only

🇮🇲 Isle of Man

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

🇯🇪 Jersey

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

🇨🇾 Cyprus

Any interested party

Last updated: 19/04/2024

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