Buying and Selling a Used Car in Brazil

How to buy or sell a used car in Brazil...

Used vehicles for sale direct from the owner are advertised in the classified section of major newspapers, such as Folha de São Paulo, and in specialized journals at newsstands. Ask for a jornal do carro usado.

They may also be advertised on websites such as:

Required documents

Two documents are needed to transfer ownership of a vehicle:

  1. A Vehicle License Document (Certificado de Licenciamento do Veiculo - CRLV).
  2. A Vehicle Registration Document (Certificado de Registro do Veiculo - CRV).

The CRV registration document details the current registered owner and their address, the vehicle make, model, color and engine capacity. This document also contains a detachable Transfer Document (Documento de Transferencia) in two parts. 
Note: the CRV should never be kept in the car.

The CRLV license is kept in the vehicle at all times and proves that all taxes (IPVA) are paid and up-to-date. It also proves that there are no outstanding fines for speeding or parking.

The buyer and the seller both date and countersign the two separate parts of the CRV's transfer document and keep their part. The buyer's signature will need to be authenticated (reconhecer firma) at a cartorio. There is also a space on the transfer document to note the price of the car.

The seller keeps the CRLV license document; a new CRLV in the name of the buyer will arrive through the post after they have completed the steps below. The seller's CRLV is then no longer valid.

The seller's obligations

The seller must submit their proof of transfer document to their local National Transport Department (DETRAN) within thirty days. This must be done in person and cannot be sent by post. Failure to do so will result in the seller being responsible for any offenses committed by the new owner.

The buyer's obligations

The buyer or the person authorized to act on the buyer's behalf, for example a relative or despachante (administrative facilitator), must do the following:

  • Visit a branch of Bradesco, Itau, BBV, Banco Real, Sudameris or Nossa Caixa (There is a branch of Nossa Caixa on the ground floor of the Mirim building at the Sao Paulo DETRAN) and present the transfer document
  • Pay any outstanding penalties, fines, and road taxes such as DPVAT and IPVA
  • Pay an administrative fee. The bank issues the buyer a receipt (the Autenticação Digital). This is evidence that there are no outstanding charges relating to the vehicle

The buyer takes this document to the Seção de Prontuário section of the local DETRAN office, with the following documents:

  • CRV (with the document of transfer completed, dated and signed)
  • Individual taxpayer’s number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física - CPF), or foreigner's identity number (Registro National De Estrangeiro - RNE) or driving license
  • Proof of address (utility bill)
  • The buyer is given a form to fill in and return to the official on duty

The transfer process is now complete, and a new registration document is mailed to the new owner's registered address.

Failure to complete the process within thirty days will result in a five point penalty on the buyer's driving license and a fine.

Tips for Buyers

As there is no roadworthiness certificate in Brazil, when buying vehicles privately, the owner should check carefully for defects and see that all components are functioning properly, or ask a mechanic to check the car. Although the vehicle may be fully licensed and documented, there may still be mechanical defects, which would result in penalties if the authorities find them in a spot check.

The buyer should check carefully that the engine and chassis numbers listed on the registration document match the numbers on the plates on the vehicle and that they are clearly legible. If not, this may be evidence of illegal practice such as cloning.

  • Chassis numbers are called decalque do chassi
  • Engine numbers are called decalque do motor

A buyer can check for outstanding fines or penalties on a vehicle they are considering buying. This is essential, as payment of unpaid fines is the responsibility of the new owner, in order to legally register the vehicle.

Registration/number plates are associated with the vehicle, not the vehicle's owner. The plates stay with the car unless it is moved (through a change of ownership or owner moves) to another municipality or state, or if it was a taxi (taxis have red plates) and is sold for use as a private vehicle (privately owned cars have gray plates). If the number plates need to be changed, application must be made at the local DETRAN office.

Buyers of used cars in São Paulo should check that the vehicle emissions test has been carried out and that the seller can provide the appropriate certificate if applicable.