Getting Your Driver License in São Paulo State

4 min

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If you are a foreigner who already has your driver’s license from your home country (and if your home country is one of Brazil’s approved license transfer countries), these are the tips for how to transfer over your driver’s license in the state of São Paulo.

Since I had to go 3 times, I learned a bit about the system. (The first time I went, the agency was on strike — surprise! — with no reports about it on the news or anything.)
On my third (successful) visit, the employee told me that it’s hard to do the foreigner process on the computer so the employees will do everything in their power to find an excuse not to do it. That’s her theory as to why the lady on my second visit told me that I had to get my translation “fixed” (she is apparently a government certified translator?). If the employee tries to give you a hard time, ask her if you can try with someone else or talk to a manager (if you can maintain your patience).

1. You have to go on the DETRAN website and schedule an appointment (agendamento).  Not all cities have the ability to do this for foreign driver license transfer, so the agendamento site will show you the offices you’re allowed to go to based on your address. (This page also gives the list of the approved countries.) At least at my local office, they don’t respect the times very well so it’s better to schedule an earlier time, because if you schedule a later time, you’ll wait longer (since the line of people slowly builds up). I had a 2 pm appointment once and I had to wait like 2 hours, just to be turned away (see below). I made the next one at 9 am and I only waited about 30 minutes for the first part.

2. Follow the rules from the website (it seems that they’ve recently changed it because it’s so much better!!!!).  The link to the website is here:

As you can see on the list, you need to bring:
-the proof of your schedule appointment (the paper that you print out when you do your “agendamento”- your original driver license from your home country (it cannot be expired!)
– a certified, cartório copy of your driver license
-your original RNE-a certified, cartório copy of your RNE-your original passport
-a certified, cartório copy of the relevant parts of your passport-your original CPF
-a certified, cartório copy of your CPF- an original bill in your name that’s no more than 3 months old as proof of address
– a certified, cartório copy of that bill
-your original tradução juramentada of the driver license
– a certified copy of that tradução juramentada
NOTE: If the translator did not stamp his/her state translator ID number on the translation, look it up online before you go and print out the government page. (I had this problem)

driving liense ib brazil

NOTE: Your home country license has to have some kind of “date issued” or “first date of having a driver license” on it, not just an expiration date. If it doesn’t have a date like that, you need some kind of documentation from your home country saying when you legally started to drive there. Good freakin’ luck.

If they accept all your documents (if!!!), you’ll take your picture that day, so make sure you do your hair before you go. 🙂 They’ll also take your fingerprints. Then they give you a list of things you need to do (which I’ve also outlined for you below).

3. You have to get a “medical exam” at a place that DETRAN approves of. I believe they gave me the address. At least the place where I had to go didn’t take appointments, so I  just had to go in the morning and wait in line. (I think the whole process took me about 2 hours that day.) Oh, and you have to pay for this exam in cash. I think it was 60 or 70 reais. I remember that DETRAN told me one amount but it had gone up like 12 reais so I had to go to the bank and withdraw more money. Oh, and take any DETRAN paperwork that you have with you to this appointment.

The doctor just asks you dumb questions and then makes you do some simple eye tests. Then he signs a paper that gives you permission to do the “exame psicotécnico“.

While still at the doctor’s office, you take your signed paper from the doctor (and proof of payment) to a registrar/receptionist who confirms all of your DETRAN paperwork and then gives you a paper that has the name and address of the place where you have to do your “exame psicotécnico”. You have to call that place to schedule the appointment.

4. When you go to the exame psicotécnico, you again have to bring all of your DETRAN / exame médico paperwork. I didn’t take it all with me the first time and I had to reschedule. (GRAHHHH!)

The exam is horrifyingly simplistic; you have to do things like draw lines on a piece of paper that are all the same size for 30 seconds. You have to look at a list of circles, triangles, and squares, and circle all of the triangles. Seriously.
Then they correct your test and give you another paper to show that you’re approved. (I think the whole thing took about 90 minutes.)
I don’t remember how/when I paid for the exame psicotécnico. It was either at the moment that I was approved at the doctor’s office, or it was at the exame psicotécnico office. But it was about R$80.

5.  Then you have to pay a fee to process your driver’s license. This fee is called “Emissão de CNH – Registro de Transferência”.  I think you can only pay it at Banco do Brasil, even though the site says differently. (At least I tried to pay it at my bank, Santander, and they said I couldn’t.)  If you look at the new website (link here again), it says you can even pay it via online banking now. Good luck.

I waited in line at Banco do Brasil and paid in cash. I think it was about R$70. You have to have your RNE and CPF with you when you pay this bill so they can put your info on a receipt. They give you this receipt. Keep it and get a certified copy of it.

6. You take the paperwork and proof of being approved everywhere back to DETRAN, along with your receipt and certified copy of the receipt from step 5.  You don’t have to schedule an appointment this time. You just turn in your paperwork, and then they give you a little paper saying “you can pick up your driver license on the following day” and they write a date.
7. On that date or after, you go back and pick up your license! No driver test! No driving schools!

The process is completely asinine but also not that bad compared to the marriage / permanent residency process.  Stop driving illegally and get it done!! 😀

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