Basics of banking in Brazil



The Brazilian currency is the Real; one real comprises 100 centavos. Always carry enough cash with you in Brazil as you never know when vendors and service providers may refuse to accept payment by card. Traveller’s cheques and currency can be cashed in at banks, exchange offices (Casa de Cambio) and some travel agencies and hotels. Note that exchange rates are good, but fees tend to be high. It is difficult to change money over the weekend and if you are travelling out of Brazil then change the Real to US dollars as the Real cannot be exchanged outside Brazil. You will need your passport to change money. There are no restrictions on bringing currency into the country, but any amount more than $10,000 must be declared.

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Opening an Account

Banking abroad can be a complicated process, but in Brazil, all foreigners need to open a bank account is a residence visa. However, it is necessary that you go in person to open an account though some banks offer the facility of provisionally opening accounts online. The documents necessary for opening an account are residence visa (minimum 12 months), proof of identity (passport of foreigners identity card called Cédula de Identidade para Estrangeiro - CIE), proof of domicile, proof of income (for opening a salary account) and National Tax ID number CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas) which  is also referred to as Cadastro Individual de Contribuintes (CIC).

If you receive income in Brazil, you could open a salary account (conta salário) which though similar to a current account attracts lower transaction fees. Other options are a current account (contacorrente) for everyday transactions or a savings account (conta de poupança) where you earn interest on your deposits.

Expats in Brazil will find that the country has two state-owned banks: Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco do Brasil.

There are also some private banks such as: 

Foreign banks:

However, the most common banks in Brazil include the Banco Bradesco Financiamentos, Caixa Econômica Federal, HSBC, Banco J Safra S/A and Banco Itaú. Bank interest rates are at 5.95% and normal banking hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

Money Transfers 

Money transfers in Brazil are quick but expensive. To perform an international bank transfer, you are required to be present in person at the bank to sign the foreign exchange contract that specifies conversion rates for the transfer. You will have to provide the name of the receiving bank, SWIFT code and IBAN number of the receiving bank and account number and the name of the account holder. The same procedure is applicable while receiving money from abroad. This should take 5-7 workdays.

If you would like to avail of a quicker service, then Western Union (via Banco do Brasil) or MoneyGram (via Banco do Itaú) can provide money transfers at a more expensive cost.

Credit Cards

When you open a current account in Brazil, you automatically receive a debit card (cartão de débito). Popular international credit and debit cards like MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus and Maestroare widely accepted. 

To obtain a credit card (cartão de crédito), one has to be 18 years of age and is required to and submit one's CPF, RG and proof of residence in the country and sufficient income. The minimum wage for an international credit card is around R$ 1.200 per month. Some banks, like Bradesco, also offer debit cards with a credit card function included in it.

Automated Teller Machines (ATM's)

ATM facilities are provided by almost all banks some of which accept foreign credit and debit cards. To use the facility look for a respective label at the cash point machine. A withdrawal amount per card per day R$ 1,000 is usually permitted. After 10 p.m,  you are permitted to withdraw only 500 R$. In case the withdrawal fails, take the bank receipt just in case your account is charged despite the fact that you do not receive money. As a safety measure always use cash points that are inside the building.


If you want more information, you can visit :

 Moving to Brazil


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Banking Guide