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Bank Accounts For Foreigners Without Legal Residency in Brazil

By Jose Santiago
July 11, 2012

Despite the fact that the Rules and Regulations of the Brazilian Central Bank never prohibited the opening of a regular checking account in Brazil by a non-resident, almost all banks never allowed such a thing. They have always required a copy of the Brazilian resident card, known as RNE (Registro Nacional de Estrangeiro).

This is a common misconception, as everybody thinks it is prohibited by law. However, the Brazilian Central Bank, which is the governmental agency that oversees all banks in Brazil always allowed banks to establish their own requirements in it comes to opening of a bank account.

On the other hand, banks had always been extremely bureaucratic and extra careful in opening accounts. Some banks, even today, require authenticated copies of ID, CPF, proof of residency and even income tax returns which are confidential and protected by law.

Nonetheless, nowadays we are seeing a change of heart. A few agencies in São Paulo are allowing non-resident foreigners to open bank accounts. The only requirement is a local address (to receive correspondence) and simple copies of a passport and a CPF number.

Now, almost everyone can have a regular checking account in Brazilian Reais, even those living illegally in the country can now open their own bank accounts and enjoy the benefits of having a check book, an ATM card, credit card, online access and etc.

Jose C. Santiago
Attorney at Law

DISCLOSURE: All information herein given is merely for elucidative purposes. It reflects current legislation, which can be modified in the future. In case of questions regarding a particular case/issue, always consult with your own attorney.

Readers comments:

In reference to your article about Brazilian bank accounts for foreigners... I am a legal resident, have RNE, CPF, the whole nine yards. My only sin was that I did not have a bill; rent, gas, electric, etc. in my name. It took me months for Itaú to open an account for me. Even after several meetings with bank personel, even showing them the legal paperwork from the Federal Govt. which accepted my address as is; in someone else's name. They just couldn't get past the fact that I didn't have anything in my name... only the most important documents... RNE and CPF. and I showed them my last US income taxes with my yearly earnings and told them that I wanted to begin receiving some of that money deposited in their bank. Finally I met with someone there and asked him, 'what difference is it where I live or have a bill in my name... here is Federal Govt proof that I exist. What if I tell you that I live under a bridge but I have a quarter of a million dollars I want to deposit in your bank?' They just couldn't think outside the box. It's almost like they didn't understand the concept of, here is a person with money who wants to deposit it in our bank... let's work with him! After about three months they finally opened the account. One day I was in the bank, saw the manager, thanked her persoanlly for the account, which I will use, however, I told her, she lost the bulk of my money which I deposited in another bank without a 'Federal Investigation' of my address.

-- Robert

I enjoyed reading the article on bank accounts for foreigners... this has been very challenging for me as I launch my business in Brazil.

"Nonetheless, nowadays we are seeing a change of heart. A few agencies in São Paulo are allowing non-resident foreigners to open bank accounts. The only requirement is a local address (to receive correspondence) and simple copies of a passport and a CPF number."

I was wondering if you knew which banks allow this? Identifying these banks are extremely important... any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

-- Ted

This article mentions 'some agencies in SP' - does that apply to Rio too? Are you able to tell me which Banks are involved? I've lived in Rio for 10 years and never been able to open a bank account, even though I own a property there.

-- Helen

Previous articles by Jose:
Brazil: New Changes to the Investment Visas
Brazil: The New Real Estate Rental Law
Brazil: The 2010 Income Tax Return Rule Changes
How to Get Divorced in Brazil
Brazil: Advantages and Disadvantages of Importing a Vehicle to Brazil
Changes to Investment Visa Law
How Foreign Individuals Can Invest in the Brazilian Stock Market
Non-Resident Bank Accounts for Foreigners in Brazil
Brazil: General Guidelines for Foreigners who Intend to Open a Brazilian Corporation
Brazil: Myths and Facts Regarding the Investment Visa Program
Brazil: The Importance of a Title Search When Buying Real Estate
Brazil: Restrictions for Foreigners When Buying Rural Properties
Brazil: Having a Child Abroad for US Citizens
Careful When Buying Pre-Construction Properties in Brazil!
Understanding Brazil: Sending Money Home from a Real Estate Deal
The Closing Process in Brazil
Permanent Visas in Brazil
Brazil: International Money Transfers
Brazil: Squatters Rights (Usucapião) - Be Aware!
Brazil: Annual Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number Valid
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 3
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 2
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 1
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 4
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 3
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 2
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 1
8 Reasons to Invest in Brazil‘s Real Estate
The Brazilian Resident Investor Program for Foreigners
Brazil: Annual Required Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number
Legal Aspects of Acquiring Real Estate in Brazil


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