Identity headaches in Brazil

I had an appointment at the federal police office in Lapa recently. It’s the big building in São Paulo where foreigners need to sort out their papers and Brazilians get their passports…

I was due to collect my RNE – my permanent ID number that effectively gives me an identity in Brazil. I have a social security number already, which has allowed me to at least open a bank account and get a phone contract, but the RNE is needed for anything more complex.

When I went to collect it they told me they can’t issue it because none of my papers show my mother’s name. My passport, driving licence, marriage certificate, birth certificate… nothing shows the name of my mother. I offered to write it down for them, but they wanted some kind of proof – not just trust in me that I would give them the correct name.

I had to leave empty-handed. None of my documents show the name of my parents, so I wondered what I could do. Eventually I found that the British Consulate General issues certificates of identity, which seemed like the answer so I paid them a visit today.

They refused to give me an identity certificate because I could not prove the name of my mother… but they did at least show me how I can make a request for a new birth certificate to be sent from the UK with my parent’s names on it.

So I now need to apply for a new birth certificate, so I can then get some consular ID, so I can then get my RNE, so I can then get my Brazilian driver’s licence… each document appears to be waiting for another one to be approved.

Welcome to Brazil, where a passport and original birth certificate are entirely useless if you can’t tell someone the name of your mother!
Brazil Presidential Election in London

8 responses to “Identity headaches in Brazil

  1. I feel you man- still waiting for my RNE. The term “Kafkaesque Nightmare” come to mind. I now have piece of paper called a protocol that is supposed to suffice for the real card, but that is still in process after 8 months! Write me if you need any help, I live in SP too (

  2. Welcome to Brazil. I think it’s funny how many skilled brazilians I know are struggling to get out of the country, while many foreigners are struggling with the bureaucracy to get in. Sorry to laugh at your tragedy, but that’s so funny in a Brazil’s (the movie, no the country) sort of way.

    BTW, I work at the Nokia Siemens Networks office, a block away from the PF office you mentioned. Feel free to contact if you need any help.

  3. I have been waiting for my RNE card on and off for 20 years. I have two children born in Brazil. I sued the PF and won. Still no card. My (latest) protocol is 8 years old. When I travel internationally, it is amusing to see the reaction of the immigration folks when I arrive in Brazil. When asked why I don’t have a card, I just stare, and say: good question. They stamp my passport and wave me through.

  4. Hi there Mark,
    i would like to thank you for all the informative posts on your blog describing your day to day struggles with governmental issues.

    i am an Egyptian who used to live in Kuwait and now am going to live in Sao Paulo. would like to know if you have any advice regarding the documentation and issuing an ID and driving licences

    • Hi, it’s very involved. You will need a CPF first, then your RNE… I believe you cannot even apply for the driving license before getting an RNE, which is your foreigner registration. The Policia Federal in Lapa have a lot of information on their website, but much of it is not complete – I have wasted time going there will all the documents they suggest, only to find that more are needed, yet are not mentioned on the website!! Get in touch when you are closer to coming over!

  5. Hi Mark
    I will be in sao paulo in 10 days
    I am gona get a birth certificate that has my parents name and transelate it in pourtoges .
    Should i get any other documents prepared ?

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