BUT WAIT THERE`S MORE!! Getting a Brazilian work visa Part II – Upon Arrival.

Just in case you thought you were done with things when you got your visa, fear not, you will have plenty of chances to interact with Brazilian bureaucracy once you get in-country as well. Two general notes: (a) From here on out the details and specifics are for São Paulo only, although I imagine the process is similar in other cities. (b) I’ve done my best to outline the process with as much detail as possible, but it seems that everyone that goes through it has a different experience, including the requirements at each step (there actually are multiple ways to get authorized). A lot depends on your own motivation, your level of Portuguese, how much help your company gives you, and the side of the bed that the bureaucrats you deal with woke up on that morning. As always, patience and persistence, then more patience, and more persistence.

To be officially authorized to work in Brazil you will need to get three (3) more documents: (1) an RNE number, (2) a CPF number, and a (3) a Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social (CTPS). Ordering & scheduling these can be a hassle, so start ASAP. Now it seems only a few people really go by the book here, but if you want to, I would allow at least 2 weeks if not more to get everything settled before starting work. Finally, your company will need to register you as an employee, and this will also require a couple of small extra steps.

1. Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (National Registry of Foreigners, RNE): When the lady at the Boston consulate told me I would have to “check-in” with the Polícia Federal, what she meant to say was “you will need an RNE number to work and there are a number of intermediate steps you need to go through to get one within 30 days after arrival in Brazil.”

a. Scheduling: First you need to schedule an appointment with the Polícia Federal. I recommend scheduling EARLY (8-9AM) because the place can get pretty clogged up during the day. How to schedule:

(i) Online: You can schedule (“agendar”) online at http://www.dpf.gov.br. Right now (November 2012) the links from the homepage are Estrangeiro > Requerer registo e emissão/renovação de Cédula de Identidade de Estrangeiro (#2) > clique aqui (under #1). Alternatively, you can try this link. The form on this page will only work with certain BROWSERS. Chrome does not work, but Firefox and Internet Explorer do seem to work, running on Windows 7. A work colleague of mine said that he tried with various browsers on a Mac and none worked. When you finish filling out the online form, you should get a .pdf page with a bar code that is the receipt for your appointment. Print it out.

(ii) In Person: If for any reason you can’t schedule online, the same work colleague told me that he went with all of his documentation to the Polícia Federal in person and they simply registered him there at the information desk (second desk, first floor. They’ll point you in the right direction when you check in at the security desk, which is required whenever you enter the building).

b. Location: R. Hugo D’Antola – 95, Lapa de Baixo, Sao Paulo, 05038-090, Brazil. Getting there is easiest by busses which leave you about a block away. The light rail (CPTM) station Lapa (R. John Harrison, 71 – Lapa, São Paulo 05074-080) is a bit further away. For bus directions use Google maps or SPTrans. Google “Sede Polícia Federal” in google images and you’ll see that the huge grey/blue building is easily recognizable.

c. What to Bring:

 i. Agendamento (your schedule receipt you printed out if you managed to register online. Not sure how this works if you scheduled in person).

ii. Formulário (Form): This is the receipt they gave you back at the embassy when you got your visa that has your photo on it.

iii. Two (2) 3x4cm photos. You can get these at a number of places including several small shops right by the Polícia Federal building.

iv. Passport

v. Authenticated (Notarized) copies of every page in your passport that has been stamped + the first page with your picture/info. This can be done at any notary around town. Ask where you can find one. Since I had maybe 10+ pages of stamps, this cost me ~$R43.

vi. Receipts of payment of two GRU (Guia de Recolhimento da União) taxes: GRU 140120 ($R 124,23) & GRU 140082 ($R 64,58).(1.) Do it yourself: There are 2 steps here. First you need a form that says you need to pay the taxes. They say that you can find these online, but I was unsuccessful. Apparently you can pay them online as well, or go to a bank and pay them. I couldn’t figure out how to do this, though granted I didn’t try too hard. (2.) Alternatively, go across the street from the front entrance to the building to the small shop just to the right of the little café and the guy will print out the first document for you for $R5. Then, go to the lady with a newsstand in the square between the bus stop on Av. Ermano Marchetti and the Polícia Federal building and she will pay the taxes online and give you the receipt for a $R10 service fee. This was much easier for me. There may also be other places nearby that offer the same or similar services.

d. The Appointment Itself: Fairly straightforward, but tedious. Just check in at the security desk and they’ll send you upstairs to a waiting area. There was a lady who would call out certain appointment times that are allowed to stand in line. Anyone with later appointments would have to wait until there time was called. Once you’re called the bureaucrats will hem and haw at their computer system for a while, occasionally calling over a colleague to check random figures as an excuse to gossip about the new girl and taking frequent breaks to go over an puzzle at the printer before realizing “Ah! I didn’t click the print button!” etc. Then they give you a number and you go back out to a slightly removed waiting area. When your number is called, go to Escritório #1 where they will take your fingerprints. At the end of it all, you should get your passport back with two pieces of grayish paper with a bunch of stamps and your RNE number. Whew!

2. Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas (Registry of Physical Persons, CPF): This is like a US Social Security number. It comes in handy for a number of things like getting a cell phone, and if you want you can provide it at stores to get a certain percentage of your purchases back at the end of the year (purchase in São Paulo state only). You don’t have to have a work visa to get one, and they can be useful for tourists as well. Again, there are a couple of options for the exact process. Some sources online talk about being able to get a CPF number directly from the Post Office (Correios) or consulate in your home country. This is just the process I went through.

a. Pay the tax: It’s only $R5.60 and can be paid at any Post Office. There is a Post Office Bank on the same floor as the Receita Federal. Keep your receipt.

b. Receita Federal (equivalent of the IRS): No need to schedule this one, but again, the earlier the better because it will get crowded. I heard horror stories of 4-hour waits from noon-5, although in my case the whole show only lasted about 30min.

i. Location: Shopping Light (pronounced Lye-tch – former headquarters of the first big electricity company in São Paulo), Rua Coronel Xavier de Toledo, 23 – República, São Paulo, 01048-100. 2nd andar (what in America would be the 3rd floor). Very close to Metro Station Anhangabaú on the red line.

ii. What to Bring:

1. Your receipt from the Post Office

2.  Passport with visa

iii. The Appointment itself: Simply hand over your passport to the lady at the front desk. Get your number. Wait your turn. Sit down with your bureaucrat and confirm your information when they ask. Voila! Apparently before they gave you a real card, but now they just give you a couple of printout pages with your number. They should also put a sticker on the receipt from the post office and give it back to you, so that just in case you lose the pages you can go online and print them out again (haven’t had to confirm in practice).

3. Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social (CTPS): This is a fun one because you’re not dealing with the federal police or the post office, but with our old friends at the Ministério de Trabalho e Emprego (MTE) again. Yay! The semi-helpful website for the subject is here.

a. Location: The official place is the regional superintendence of the MTE  (“sedes das Superintendências Regionais do Trabalho e Emprego”), in São Paulo located at Rua Martin Fontes, 109 near the República stop on the metro in the center. Now, there are other places where you can get it (at least two others), but I only know the address for one: Av. General Ataliba Leonel, 2764 close to metro Parada Inglesa.

b. Scheduling: The problem is each place has their own rules about scheduling and the number of people they see per day, so I can only speak with confidence on the former (Martin Fontes).

i. Martin Fontes: Up until a couple of weeks ago (now 3rd week of November, 2012), you used to be able to make an appointment here, but the slots filled up so fast that people were waiting months. So in their infinite wisdom they decided to change the system to first-come-first-serve without notifying anyone. They still have a long list of people with appointments, however, so they alternate between walk-ins and scheduled appointments. I got there around 7:45AM and left at 2:30PM (although I did leave and come back twice). Good luck!

ii. Ataliba Leonel: apparently the only accepts 20 people per day and most of the slots are occupied by people that professionally help others get through the process and somehow magically get to the front of the line ($?). Have to get their well before 8AM.

c. What to bring: On the website they ask for the originals plus normal (non-authenticated copies) of all of these. When in doubt if you’re missing a copy there’s a place that can do it quickly right out on the street by the building.

i. 2 of the 3x4cm fotos against a white background.

ii. Proof of Address: a gas bill, light bill, or bank statement with your name on it. If nothing is in your name try getting one of these from your host or someone you know and get them to write out a note confirming that you live there with their CPF number, the address, and your passport number. Have them sign it.

iii. CPF (I’ve been told that technically it’s not necessary, but I brought it and they asked for it)

iv. RNE

v. Passport (only copies of photo page, visa page, and page with stamp of federal police are necessary)

vi. The page from the Diário Oficial da União (DOU) where your visa authorization was written. You can get this from the DOU website by searching your name or your company’s name. I actually found it by just googling DOU and my name.

d. The Appointment Itself:

i. When I got to the building, there was a long line well before 8AM. Around 8, they let everyone in and give you a ticket with a number. Then you wait up on the first floor for them to call your number. In the morning there is only one person doing the CTPS procedure, so things go quite slow (20 min/#), but in the afternoon there are two and it speeds up. Still, took until 2PM for them to call me. The procedure is simple enough – hand over the documents and watch them click and stamp away. You’ll have to confirm your information, then they give you a receipt (protocólo) with a date in a few weeks at which point you will have to come back to pick up the actual CTPS.

e. Second Appointment Itself

i. Same place, same faces. Tell them you’re here for your Carteira but that you already have a “protocólo” or just show it to them. They’ll give you a number. You go to the same room and wait for them to call your name, at which point they hand it over and you’re set. Took about 30min for me, not nearly as bad as the first appointment.

​Final Steps

The last step, you’re so close to the end now! You’re company will need a few things from you to send in to an accountant to be able to pay the correct taxes etc.

  • CTPS (original)
  • RNE (copy)
  • CPF (copy)
  • Proof of address
  • Some sort of evidence of your level of schooling – I sent a printed out version of my diploma that I had scanned long ago.
  • Passport (copy)
  • A 3×4 photo (hopefully you have some left over from one of the previous steps)
  • EXAME MÉDICO ADMISSIONAL: This is just a receipt that you had an appointment with a doctor to get a super short medical exam. I found a place through a friend (called Ocupacional Saúde Medicina do Trabalho at Rua Coronel Xavier de Toledo, 121 near República metro), but several also pop up if you google maps “exame admissional” near São Paulo. At least at this place you don’t need an appointment and they [supposedly] attend people between 7AM-4PM
    • The appointment itself: I arrived at 8:10AM, and despite the phone guarantee, the doctor had not showed up yet. Luckily, there were only about 6 people in front of me waiting and once he did show up 15min later, the procedure went pretty quickly. You fill out a form pretty much like anytime at a new doctor’s office and then sit with the doctor in a cubicle for about 5min and answer some quick questions while he takes your blood pressure. No undressing, very basic. Pay the R$30.00, keep the receipt and you’re good to go!

​Once you’ve collected all of your tokens, put it all in an envelope and give it to whoever they tell you to at your company.

That’s it! Easy, right?


2 thoughts on “BUT WAIT THERE`S MORE!! Getting a Brazilian work visa Part II – Upon Arrival.

  1. I’m in awe of how complicated this is. I live in Brazil and will cling to my remote job in the USA with all my might. Congratulations on surviving this bureaucratic gauntlet.

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