Opening a Brazilian Bank Account

Understand what is required to open a bank account in Brazil...

There are a number of different types of bank account available in Brazil:

Current accounts (conta corrente) usually entitle the account holder to a check book and/or debit card. These accounts are normally non-interest-bearing.

Savings accounts (conta de poupança) pay monthly interest on average daily balances for the month. This rate is currently 0.5 percent over the basic reference rate (Taxa Referencial - TR). Interest earned on these accounts is tax-free.

Today, many banks combine these two accounts into an investment account (conta de investimento). Deposits are automatically routed to the savings account, and transferred to the current account to cover checks, debit card payments and cash withdrawals. These accounts are also used for investments in funds, with all investments and redemptions transiting through the account.

Overdrafts (check especial) in Brazil are normally by arrangement and subject to the proper credit analysis by the bank. Usually, on opening an account, the bank may make such a credit line available. Interest rates on such facilities are very high.

A cheaper alternative is the personal loan (empréstimo pessoal), repayable in up to 24 or 36 installments, depending on the bank. Competition is strong and rates vary from bank to bank.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a retail bank account, the following documents are required:

  • A valid identity document. In the case of a foreigner resident in Brazil, this will mean their foreigner's identity card (Cédula de Identidade para Estrangeiro - CIE) which contains the Registro National De Estrangeiro (RNE)
  • Individual Taxpayer’s number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física - CPF, also referred to as Cadastro Individual de Contribuintes - CIC)
  • Proof of domicile (such as a utility bill in the name of the person opening the account)

To obtain the CPF, it is necessary to fill out the application form at any Post Office, branch of Banco do Brasil or branch of the Caixa Econômica Federal and present the documentation required (usually the original or a certified copy of the RNE). There is a small fee. The applicant will receive a counterfoil with a code number. Thereafter, the applicant will be notified to appear at a unit of the Federal Revenue Service and present their documents and the counterfoil in order to obtain their definitive CPF.

In addition, banks may ask for proof of earnings/income, where a salary payment account (conta salário) is to be opened. In this case, a valid payslip is enough. The latter is commonly referred to in São Paulo as contra-check or hollerith, but local variations of the name exist around Brazil. A conta salário only differs from a normal current account in that the holder of the account may be entitled to a wider range of benefits, for example lower fees on banking transactions.

The bank may also request and verify personal and/or employer references, including valid telephone numbers. Additional information requested may include credit card and/or store card numbers and/or income tax declaration, at the bank’s discretion.

Some banks currently allow accounts to be provisionally opened online, with subsequent presentation of the necessary documentation at the branch of choice.

Information supplied by Liam Gallagher, LAG Traduções e Serviços de Consultoria Ltda Tel: (11) 5561 0836 / (11) 9248 4609 e-mail l Website