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Understanding CPF and CNPJ (Tax Identification Numbers) in BrazilThinking of investing in Brazil? Then get used to two abbreviations that you will hear right from the start. Investors in Brazil must have federal tax identification numbers – CPF and CNPJ. The difference between the CPF number and the CNPJ number is easy to remember. The CPF is for individuals. The CNPJ is for companies.

However, this basic distinction is often misunderstood when non-resident individuals and companies seek to do business in Brazil. Here is a brief overview of the CPF and CNPJ numbers.

Understanding the CPF for Individuals

The CPF identifies individual taxpayers when dealing with the Brazilian Federal Revenue Bureau (the IRS equivalent in Brazil). CPF stands for Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas or Natural Persons Register. It is the virtual equivalent of the social security number in the United States.

Having a CPF is mandatory for all Brazilian citizens who seek to apply for a job, open a bank account, apply for a loan, obtain a driver’s license, or purchase or sell real estate. It is also mandatory for Brazilian citizens who live abroad if they own property or other assets in Brazil.

The CPF is not used only by Brazilian citizens. Because it is a taxpayer identification number, it is required for foreign investors who intend to open a business or enter into financial transactions, such as purchasing real estate. However, merely having a CPF does not make the foreign investor a resident of Brazil and does not create local tax liability beyond the tax on taxable income earned in Brazil.

Understanding the CNPJ for Businesses

The CPNJ identifies companies when dealing with the Brazilian Federal Revenue Bureau or Receita Federal. CNPJ stands for Cadastro Nacional da Pessoa Jurídica or the National Registry of Legal Entities. It is the virtual equivalent of an employer identification number in the United States.



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I've heard from the Lonely Planet Brazil travel guide that cities like Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo are crime ridden cities. Based on your experiences (if you have been to Brazil), what can you say about this issue? How do you survive those bad hangovers criminals give you? Any suggestions? Thanks!

I've heard from the Lonely Planet Brazil travel guide that cities like Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo are crime ridden cities. Based on your experiences (if you have been to Brazil), what can you say about this issue? How do you survive those bad hangovers criminals give you? Any suggestions? Thanks!




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