Obtaining a Brazil Driver's License (CNH) in Sao Paulo

Here is my experience in getting a Brazilian driver's license (CNH) in Sao Paulo. Hopefully this will be helpful to those getting their CNH for the first time

Website with requirements:

https://www.detran.sp.gov.br/wps/portal … ignatarios

First Appointment

Request an appointment online, which you need to apply, at:

https://www.poupatempo.sp.gov.br/wps/po … cos-de-cnh

The appointment options sometimes look slim or non-existent at certain locations, but I searched every day to get the day and time I wanted.  The appointments seem to open up 2-3 weeks in advance, but the appointments fill up fast.

Tip: Suggest checking every day early in the morning 2-3 weeks before you want an appointment

Website for appointments: https://www.poupatempo.sp.gov.br/wps/po … n/homeTaOn

Select Agendamento, login with your GOV.BR credentials (or register), then CNH 1 via

Document to bring to all appointments at Detran

  • Foreign drivers license (original and copy)
  • Translation of above, be sure to have it signed with a wet (original) signature. They would not accept the digital signature on the translation for me
  • CPF Proof

        Website to downloaded this:

https://servicos.receita.fazenda.gov.br … ublica.asp

  • Original CRNM card and copy of both sides
  • Proof of address (electric bill, lease, etc). They seem to want originals, but I was able just to print two bills (electric and internet) in color
  • Proof of Payment of the fee for the first CNH. This can be made at a lottery office or bank. Most locations also accept Brazilian debit cards

        Note: I paid mine at a lottery office, but in the last appointment, even with the receipt, they said they could not find my payment and I would have to pay again.    

        I paid with a debit card after asking them to look again and them not finding the payment. Be sure the office accepts debit cards though as only some offices accept debit cards.

The first appointment was registering, waiting 5 minutes, then 15 minutes with first agent, then sat down again for 5 minutes to be called again for biometrics and then 10 minutes to take biometrics (photo + fingerprints). 45 minutes in total.

Medical and Psychotechnical Exams

They assigned me for the medical and psychotechnical exams.  I was only offered appointments on three different days and then a few times on those days, and told there was no other options.  The medical was next week and psychotechnical exam three weeks later, both in different offices When I inquired, they told me if I wanted different dates later than assigned, I had to call the medical or psychotechnical office directly, but that I could not choose another medical or psychotechnical office than the one they assigned. I rescheduled both, but note the new days and times did not appear on the Detran site, but that was not a problem.

Both appointments were very far from the Detran office and in opposite ends of the city, at least 30-45 minutes via Uber from my house. I guess they wanted to be sure I got a tour of the city while going to/from each appointment.

Medical Exam

A few notes on the medical exam:

Only accepted cash. Also, amount is odd, R$133.06, and they expected exact amounts. They had trouble with change and had to go get change.  Note that the office I went to did not accept PIX or debit cards. 

I called and changed appointment date for a future date. They told me I could only call one week in advance of the appointment date, which I did and they had an appointment for the next week (not wide open availability, but I was able to find one that worked)

Registered and they took one fingerprint to confirm my identity and required my CRNM card as identification.

The tests were straightforward: vision, blood pressure, basic movements (raising arms, balancing, squatting down, etc), weight, and then listened to heart and breathing.

Vision needs to be at least 20/40 for car license. Surprised to see that two people ahead of me failed the vision test (and they were upset)

Overall time from check-in to final paperwork: 40 minutes. Everyone in the office was pleasant and they provided a report showing I passed the medical test at the end.

Psychotechnical Exams

Required one fingerprint and CRNM card as identification. Arrived at the office on-time and the while process took less than 60 minutes. The exam for me was answering 40 questions showing differences amount pictures, then a timed exam of drawing straight lines.

I would suggest that you watch some of the Youtube videos on the exams. None were that difficult, but there was one drawing as many straight lines as possible in one minute periods that I could not figure out the purpose of.

Google EXAME PSICOTÉCNICO DETRAN 2023 and you'll find a number of videos. Be sure to watch one of the videos on drawing the straight lines, otherwise you may be baffled on what to do (and you still will be afterwards on understanding the point of that exercise).

Second Detran Visit

Once I completed the medical and psychotechnical exams and passed, I needed to visit Detran again with all the paperwork again. I made an appointment in advance at the site noted earlier assuming that I would pass both exams.

This visit took about 75 minutes. They verified all of the documents again, added stamps to the documents with the agent signing them and then at the end, taking them to the Detran manager to sign off on as a second person. The one thing I was asked for during the interview was what category I was applying for, which was a Class/Category B for cars. I also had to fill that out a form stating that and that I had an equivalent license. They then scanned each of the documents, using the originals. As these were reviewed the first time, there were not any issues.

After all the documents were verified, signed off on and scanned in, the agent told me I would receive my CNH in about 30 days, with the online version available in about 15 days.

Tip: You need an appointment in advance again and you must go to the same Detran office where you started the process. No other Detran office in Sao Paulo can access your records. I made the mistake of making an appointment at another office and they could not help me, so needed to start over.

Third Detran Visit

I did not receive my CNH so after 45 days when back to the office to inquire, bringing all of my documents and receipts from prior visits. I did not have an appointment, so all they were willing to do was walk me over to the machine to make an appointment.

Fourth Detran Visit

A couple weeks later, with my appointment, I came back to Detran and they could not figure out what was wrong, so they scanned all of the documents in again and submitted them again. Once again, they told me I should expect my CNH in about 30 days in the mail, and if any problems, make an appointment and come back again.

Received my CNH!

Fortunately, about 25 days later, I received my official CNH!

Tip: Be super patient, as this process can be quite frustrating at times, but ultimately you will get your CNH.

I stay in Brazil for 6 months per year. Do I need a Brazilian drivers license?

08/28/23  I stay in Brazil for 6 months per year. Do I need a Brazilian drivers license?

Good evening.  According to the relevant regulation, CONTRAN n° 933/2022, you can drive on your foreign license for up to 180 days.  You must have these documents with you when driving:

  • your foreign license, valid for the entire visit;
  • your International or Inter-American Driving Permit;
  • Your ID/passport;
  • Documentation of your date of arrival in Brazil.

According to your profile, you're Canadian, so ask the CAA whether they recommend the International or Inter-American document.

The details of the regulation (in Portuguese) appear here:


On the AAA website it states you need an Inter-American Driving permit and that the International driving permit is not valid in Brazil?

08/29/23 On the AAA website it states you need an Inter-American Driving permit and that the International driving permit is not valid in Brazil?

That used to be true and when I came I got the Inter-American just to be on the safe side, but in fact the two documents are virtually identical, and the current Brazilian regulation is ambiguous. 

I stay in Brazil for 6 months per year. Do I need a Brazilian drivers license?

I was in RIO a few months ago playing tourist as I live in Sao Jose Do Rio Preto, in the state of SP, about 7 hours north. I own two cars, and two apartments in Brazil, although, I am never actually in Brazil for more than about 3 months at a time as I still live and work in the USA. I've been coming to, and living part-time in Brazil for about 15 years. I had both my CPF and CRNM cards with me, along with my US Class A CDL to drive any vehicle combination in the USA. While driving through RIO at about midnight, I was stopped at what they call a "Comando Stop" on the highway near the bridge, The PF blocked the highway and were pulling cars in at random for inspection. I was one of the lucky ones to be pulled in.

While it seems to be common knowledge among us that no Brazilian driver's license is required unless you are in Brazil for more than 180 days, the PF didn't seem to share that same knowledge, it was ugly and getting uglier by the moment. Since I had my CRNM with me, I did not have my US passport, my mistake. The PF at my Comando Stop was very insistent that the law states 90-days, not 180, and since I did not have my US passport to show my date of entry, I was screwed on the actual number of days. (Not having my passport with me meant I did not have an entry stamp to show when I entered the country, again, my mistake, and it was ugly.) I believe, although I will never really know, they were not happy about my having my CRNM and driving on a US Driver's License. They had no interest in seeing copies of my trip itinerary or airline tickets, both of which were readily available on my phone. It seems they thrive on intimidation and scare tactics, and it was working quite well, I thought I was headed to Carandiru, no joke. They had me out of my car surrounded by about five officers for well over an hour, which they seemed to really be enjoying, I was nervous.

This only ended when I was able to call and have a friend get into my apartment and take a cellphone photo of my US passport entry stamp. I truly do not know what the end result would have been that night without this. All I can say now is that I promise to stay out of RIO whenever possible. I also now carry a copy of my passport, with my entry stamp clearly shown, and I carry a copy of the Brazilian licensing law with me, everywhere, on my person and a copy in each car.

Excellent information. Thanks

@abthree Thanks as always for this updated information.  I am in and out of Brazil enough and I do carry my passport always with entry stamps so I have been able to avoid getting a Brazilian license.  Also we are leaving Brazil next year.  My husband got pulled over twice since we have been here and the police did not ask for drivers license either time.  They just wanted to see the car papers.   The second time was at Carnaval so possibly they were only interested in alcohol related violations. 

@rraypo What an unpleasant situation.  Glad you were able to get it resolved but that would have left a very bad taste in my mouth!

This is an extremely useful post. I am going through the procedure right now! I submitted all my documents on June 13, 2023. Unfortunately, I still don't have my license but I recently went back to the Poupatempo. They couldn't figure out what was wrong so they took some documents again.

But now that I've read your post, I might try going back there to just keep submitting documents. VERY frustrating!