Monday, February 28, 2011

Banking in Brazil

You've all heard the rumours.  Bureaucracy in Brazil is a nightmare, everything takes 10x longer to complete than other places, everything is disorganized and inconsistent and you just end up wanting to kill yourself (or someone around you) before the whole thing is done.

Oh, did I say rumour? I meant the absolute god-awful truth. 

So, yet another experience trying integrate myself into Brazil has been opening a bank account.  I've actually gone a whole year without one, which wasn't so bad because I was squatting at my in-laws.  I didn't have a lot of 'money-management' to worry about.  Living on cash made me feel like a millionaire and when it was gone, I just couldn't do any more things! 

Now, I need to up the responsibility factor.  That and it's so much easier for students to be able to pay for their classes by making deposits directly into my account.  I've heard that opening a bank account requires a lot of information ie. Your CPF, your Brazilian ID, a proof of income (if you want a chequing account), a proof of address (that can ONLY be a a fixed telephone line or a gas bill), your first-born son, a skin sample and a pap test done by one of their official Bank Doctors.  (Ok those last 3 I made up but I swear to God it would be easier to give my first-born child if it would just get me a damn bank card already!)

So I head on into a Bradesco (because that's where my husband banks).  Well, the first trip in, I ended up waiting for 2 hours and falling asleep before being wakened by my husband to say that we had to go because I had to get back to work.  Alright, I could chalk it up to a bout of bad luck that time. 

Next time, I go alone with my cpf, ID, and my cell phone bill (which is all I have in my name with my address).  I walk up to the guy sitting behind a desk at the front of the bank and I ask him to open an account.  He asks me if I would like Life Insurance with that but I'm really just looking for the most basic thing ya got. 
I showed him my cell phone bill and asked him if it would be enough to use that instead of a fixed telephone line and was so happy because he assured me that yes! It would be totally fine. 

So I go in, ready for the second marathon wait.  Surprisingly, the bank is empty, but that of course doesn't mean that people are being serviced any faster.  In fact, I asked a lady sitting at the accounts desk if I could sit down and asked me to só aguarda while she continued her ti ti ti with all the co-workers around her.  Cool, no problem.  I'm opening an account!  Nothing could go wrong today!

So after about an hour, that same lady decides to do some work and calls me over.  I sit down, give her the speech... I'm not from here but I have all the docs.  I confidently hand over my info and she takes a quick look over.  Then she says,

"Oh, you can't use this cell phone bill.  It has to be a fixed bill"
Me: Blank Stare.
Her: "Yeah, you need to come back with a fixed phone or gas bill."
Me:  "But I just asked that guy at the front of the bank if this bill would be ok and he said yes..."
Her:  "What guy?"
Me:  "That guy right there!  At the front of the bank!"
Her:  "Oh that guy?  That guy doesn't work at the bank."
Me:  Blank Stare.
Me:  "That guy wearing the Bradesco shirt, sitting at the desk, giving out information doesn't work for the bank?
Her:  "No."
Me:  "Well, maybe you should tell him to stop giving out random information???"
Her:  "Mm hmm"

Gah!  So, I left in a fury almost giving up on banking altogether.  At least after that I gave up on Bradesco. 

I decided the next week that I would try Itaú. 

I took Ro with me for sanity.  We took all the documents (learning that we needed to bring a bill in his name plus our marriage certificate to prove we live together).  Everyone was super nice in Itaú.  Really helpful.  It was our turn.  Everything was going swimmingly.  Until my CPF didn't work. 

Something about the system not reading it, something something I am going crazy.  I leave in another fury of frustration. 

I go back again today.  The Fourth Time.  I am bitter.  I am expecting problems.  I encounter more problems!
The first one is that my ID card and my CPF have diff names.  Namely, my ID doesn't have my maiden name and my CPF does.  Somehow Awesome Bank Guy overrides that.  Next.  Our bill doesn't have our CEP on it (type of postal/zip code).  Somehow Awesome Bank Guy overrides that.  I don't know what stars aligned today because despite all of the new problems of today ... I GOT MY BANK CARD!  For that, Awesome Bank Guy gets Danielle's Caught Being Good Award.

I am now a happy, satisfied customer of Itaú.  Anyone who wants to give me money, can!  Isn't that great?! 

As a final afterthought, I love how I now enter into these situations expecting problems and when I DON'T, I think it's the most awesome service experience ever.  I've been so conditioned here. 


  1. For future reference - a bill in your husband's name (Light for example) + a copy of your marriage certificate = proof of address for you.

    Works like a charm every time.

    I got an account at BdB last week after a year and a half of using an account and debit card in my husband's name. It took about an hour and the light bill + wedding cert. worked yet again.

  2. Oh, blessings upon you and your new found relationship with Itau. We hate Itau. But that's just because we've had the horrible experiences that you had at Bradesco at Itau. This post reminds me of lots of experiences I've had (the falling asleep waiting, bringing significant other for moral support, expecting things to go horribly, and so on...) Ah, the joys!

  3. Nice. One year after being here i tried to get an account too, at Caixa because we want to use my income as savings for buying land. waited two hours as usual, then was told i couldn't have it because they needed my physical RNE, which, of course, i still don't have. the guy tried really really hard to just use my number, but he couldnt. sigh. i just use my husbands account when i get paid for photo shoots and classes, i have a card with my name on it. we've been at Itau for a while, but now are moving to HSBC because we dont have a choice, employers choose your bank and he just got a new job so. but i guess we are keeping both....either way, HSBC might be easier for me because i can open an HSBC in the US and use the accounts together. I use Bank of America because i have to pay school loans, and im not paying them from a foreign account. so. GAD I HATE BANKS! and money while im at it ;)

  4. Wow, seriously. I hate Brazilian Bureaucracy with all my heart, but hey!, I was born Brazilian and I learned to deal. For that Bradesco lady saying no to your cell phone bill I'd just sit there and make her accept it, whatever she says. And in those cases even a personal letter would do, proof of address enough for me, been there, done that. You gotta insist. I'd even yell if needed be (not polite, I know, but it does work sometimes). Hope it never happens to you again, but if does, as I'm sure will, insist, tell them it's all you've gotten, all you have and they have to accept it. And they will.

  5. Hahahahaha Pavlov would totally agree with you! Congrats!


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