Banking Options for foreigners in Brazil

Hey guys,

I'm planning on moving to Rio shortly and working for several months up to a year teaching English/German. What are my options for banking? From my understanding, it's totally illegal for someone without permanent residence to open a banking account so are there any other for citizens of a foreign country?


Hi cafecomleite91,

It's not illegal for foreigners to have a bank account here in Brazil, just nearly impossible since the banks just won't open an account for anyone who does not have a permanent visa.

The only other option for banking that is available is your debit card. If you open an HSBC bank account at home then you can use your debit card in any HSBC ATM here in Brazil to withdraw up to R$800 per day, any other bank you can only use your debit card at Banco do Brasil main branches in certain machines. Go for the HSBC...

As far as savings or checking... in your own name, forget it - it's not gonna happen.

William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team

Also to add, I have spoken with HSBC to clarify opening a HSBC in your home country, Canada for me, does not mean you have now free range for a HSBC account in Brazil.  Like William said, you can simply make withdrawals.  Which would be similar to what I understand if you have a debit card that works off the "Plus" network.  This is what I did why traveling Europe. 

Even if you had permanent residency, you would have to open up a completely new HSBC account in Brazil that would not be linked to your "Canadian" account.  You would have to make transfers between accounts, and for HSBC they have 3 levels of debit accounts.  The first Basic account requires no balance, but to transfer between Canada (home) and Brazil HSBC you would have to make a wire transfer at full price.  So there is no benefit, besides ATM withdrawals in Brazil, to open this basic account.  Next there is the 2nd level account which requires $25,000 CND minimum balance.  Here you get free Canadian to Brazil HSBC transfers.  Next there is the premier account which requires $100,000 CND balance, again you get free transfer. 

I spoke with TD locally, they seemed to think that there were sufficient "Plus" networks in Brazil, however I can't confirm how available they are compared to HSBC...can anyone speak to this???

The situation for VISA / PLUS seems to have improved significantly lately. Up to last year, I consistently had a difficult time finding a bank with PLUS ATMs that would reliably work for me to withdraw funds from my bank, which is TD. I reported this to TD and they suggested getting a VISA debit card, rather than the standard TD debit card, which I did. Not sure if this is what made the difference, but when I was in Brazil (Rio, Macae, Buzios) recently, every time I tried to use my VISA debit card in an ATM that was on the PLUS network, it worked. If I recall correctly, the banks were banco do brasil, Santander and Citi.