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Buying & Selling a Car

car-jokeIn line with Brazil’s general environmental and energy saving awareness there are many state-of-the-art cars on the market which use alternative energies such as hybrid, natural gas, liquid gas (LPG) or ethanol. These alternative fuels are easy to find at most garages throughout the country. Brazil is self-sufficient in petroleum, and is a world leader in the use of alternative fuels.

Most cars are bought or sold through registered dealers; the private used car market is not as widespread as in many other countries.

Buying a Car from a Dealer

Cars can be expensive and imported vehicles especially so due to import taxes. Cars manufactured in Brazil are more reasonably priced. The car market is large and most major manufactures such as Ford, Chevrolet, Fiat and Renault have factories in Brazil (mostly in the Sao Paulo and Parana regions, but also in the North East in Bahia) and dealerships throughout the country. There are import specialist dealerships such as BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar in larger cities.

A car dealer (loja de carro) may sell new (carro novo) and used cars (carro usado). A wide range of credit options is available in most dealerships. To qualify the buyer must provide their CPF number, foreigner’s identity number (RNE), as well as proof of address and income.

After purchase, the dealer will arrange suitable insurance and register the vehicle on the buyer’s behalf.

Buying Privately

Used vehicles for sale direct from the owner are advertised in the classified section of major newspapers and in specialised journals at newsstands.

Buying and Selling a Used Car in Brazil

Two documents are needed to transfer ownership of a vehicle:

  1. A Vehicle Licence Document (Certificado de Licenciamento do Veiculo – CRLV)
  2. A Vehicle Registration Document (Certificado de Registro do Veiculo – CRV)

The CRV registration document details the current registered owner and their address, the vehicle make, model, colour and engine capacity. This document also contains a detachable Transfer Document (Documento de Transferencia) in two parts.
Note: the CRV should never be kept in the car.

The CRLV licence is kept in the vehicle at all times and proves that all taxes (IPVA) are paid and up-to-date. It also proves that there are no outstanding fines for speeding or parking.

The buyer and the seller both date and counter sign the two separate parts of the CRV’s transfer document and keep their part. The buyer’s signature will need to be authenticated (reconhecer firma) at a cartorio. There is also a space on the transfer document to note the price of the car.

The seller keeps the CRLV licence document; a new CRLV in the name of the buyer will arrive through the post after they have completed the steps below. The seller’s CRLV is then no longer valid.

The seller’s obligations

The seller must submit their proof of transfer document to their local National Transport Department (DETRAN), within thirty days. This must be done in person and cannot be sent by post. Failure to do so will result in the seller being responsible for any offences committed by the new owner.

The buyer’s obligations

The buyer, or the person authorised to act on the buyer’s behalf, for example a relative or despachante (administrative facilitator) must do the following:

The buyer takes this document to the Secao de Prontuario section of the local DETRAN office with the following documents:

The transfer process is now complete and a new registration document is mailed to the new owner’s registered address.

Failure to complete the process within thirty days will result in a five point penalty on the buyer’s driving licence and a fine.

Tips for Buyers

As there is no roadworthiness certificate in Brazil, when buying vehicles privately, the owner should check carefully for defects and see that all components are functioning properly, or ask a mechanic to check the car. Although the vehicle may be fully licensed and documented there may still be mechanical defects which would result in penalties if the authorities find them in a spot check.

The buyer should check carefully that the engine and chassis numbers listed on the registration document match the numbers on the plates on the vehicle and that they are clearly legible. If not, this may be evidence of illegal practice such as cloning.

A buyer can check for outstanding fines or penalties on a vehicle they are considering buying. This is essential as payment of unpaid fines is the responsibility of the new owner in order to legally register the vehicle.

To check a vehicle: Click here and enter the registration number and the CPF number of the registered owner

Registration/number plates are associated with the vehicle, not the vehicle’s owner. The plates stay with the car unless it is moved (through a change of ownership or owner moves) to another municipality or state, or if it was a taxi (taxis have red plates) and is sold for use as a private vehicle (privately owned cars have grey plates). If the number plates need to be changed, application must be made at the local DETRAN office.

Buyers of used cars in Sao Paulo should check that the vehicle emissions test has been carried out and that the seller can provide the appropriate certificate if applicable.


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