Driving in Brazil

Driving in Brazil
Updated 2022-03-25 11:13

If you‘re moving to Brazil for a short time, then you can use your national driving license. However, if you plan to settle in Brazil (meaning you'll live there for over six months), and especially, if you plan to own a car, you may want to obtain a Brazilian license, which entails several steps.

Obtaining a Brazilian driving license

As a practical matter, if you'll be staying in Brazil for a short time (under six months), your valid driving license from your home country should be sufficient. However, you may wish to obtain an International Driver's License (IDP), which is issued by the traffic department (DETRAN) of each state. This permit should cost about $15 (USD) and can be obtained before you leave home.

If you plan on staying in Brazil, and especially if you'll own and regularly operate a car, you'll want to obtain a Brazilian driver's license, which involves a fair amount of bureaucracy.

First, you must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a Brazilian driver's license. You must register with the federal police and with the transport service (DETRAN) to obtain an application form, which you have to complete before your appointment. The documents required are your original registration as an expatriate or a police certificate and a copy, a copy of your Cadastro Pessoa Física (CPF) (which you can apply for at any post office in Brazil), proof of address, and passport-sized photographs.

Also, you might be required to pass a psychological and a medical examination. Next, you must attend at least 45 hours of theoretical classes, which will prepare you for the examination. The examination consists of 30 questions, from which you must score at least 21 correct answers. Then, and only if you've completed a minimum of 25 hours of driving practice, you can take the driving test.

Good to know:

Some driving schools may offer to handle the procedures for obtaining the license on your behalf.

Renting a Car in Brazil

In general, all you'll need to rent a car in Brazil is a valid driving license from your home country, your passport, and a major credit card or debit card with a chip. The companies will also want you to have your license for at least two years.

In addition, you'll need to be at least 21 years old. Note, however, that most companies require you to be at least 25. If not, expect some restrictions, like smaller vehicle rentals and/or higher surcharges if you're between 21 and 25.

Good to know:

Automatic transmissions are fairly rare in Brazil, although they're becoming more and more popular. If you can't drive a manual transmission, you may encounter problems. Check the level of gas when renting and be sure that it's documented. Often, tanks aren't full when you receive the car.


You aren't authorized to drive a motorcycle in Brazil if you don't have a Brazilian driver's license.

Traffic Code

The speed limit in Brazil is 30 to 50 km/h on most urban roads, but you can drive up to 60 km/h in rural areas and 120 km/h on the highway. Pay attention to the trucks, which sometimes drive aggressively.

Under no circumstances should you drive if you've been drinking. Brazil's Lei Seca (Dry Law) is extremely strict. If police detect any amount of alcohol on your breath, you could land in prison.

Watch for automated radar points and quickly reduce your speed when you see one to avoid a fine.

Useful link:

Department of Transportation Brazil

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