National Driver’s License – CNH for Foreigners: Procedures and Peculiarities

Being able to drive a vehicle regularly in the country of visit or stay has been an important issue.
In Brazil, foreigners [1] or Brazilians who have obtained a foreign driver’s license are allowed to use the portfolio issued in their country of origin, provided they are in regular stay in Brazil. As a rule, the valid driver’s license must be accompanied by an identification document [2].
After the period of 180 days of stay in Brazil, it is mandatory to obtain CNH for foreigners, and it is necessary for the interested person to take the physical and mental exams, the psychological assessment and present the driver’s license of the country of origin and its translation.
CNH’s request must be made to the transit department, and in addition to the documents and examinations mentioned above, check the procedures of the place, since each unit may have a different document to be delivered or a form to be completed to make the request of the CNH for foreigners.

Some peculiarities identified in the process of obtaining CNH for foreigners

  • We observed that in the last cases treated by BR-Visa, the obtaining of CNH for Spanish citizens has taken from 3 to 6 months and other nationalities from 2 to 4 months;
  • Requirement of registration / consular declaration when the country of origin authorization is not valid. Some consulates do not issue declarations of this type, such as France, and it is necessary to request a document directly in the country, which makes the procedure even more costly and time-consuming;
  • In the units of the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Spanish license is retained and sent to the country of origin;
  • Foreigners without proof of address in their own name must present a declaration of residence signed by the owner of the property to confirm that it resides there, accompanied by a certified copy of the declarant’s identity document;
  • Portuguese citizens with equal rights do the procedure sometimes as foreigners, sometimes as Brazilians, apparently there is no standard defined by the Organ;
  • In the units outside the city of São Paulo, the medical and psychotechnical exams are indicated by the traffic department and the foreigner can not choose the clinic of better convenience. While in São Paulo one can do everything in approximately three hours, in other locations it is common for the applicant to return three, four times during the CNH emission process;
  • For citizens with qualification from another country (American with German qualification, for example) the traffic department used to request proof of residence of at least 6 months in the country where the document was issued. In recent months there has been no such request.

The differential of BR-Visa’s work

BR-Visa advises the foreigner in his trip to the biometric regularization and medical and psychotechnical examination, with the consultant’s accompaniment throughout the process. In some places it is not possible to perform the medical and psycho-technical examination on the same day. The removal of CNH abroad is also done by our consultants, with a customer’s power of attorney. However, some units do not allow the option of withdrawal by proxy, being necessary to go personally to the place of withdrawal of the CNH.

[1] Individuals from nationalities which are signatories to the Vienna Convention may use the driver’s license issued in their country of origin for a period of up to 180 days from the date of entry into Brazil.
[2] The valid CNH did not replace, nor supply, the document of regular stay that is only proven by the respective National Register of Foreigners-RNE.

For more information and clarification of questions about the driver’s license in Brazil contact us: [email protected]


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Especialista em Global Mobility