If you’re planning on coming to Brazil, there’s no better way of visiting close cities and nearby touristic spots than renting your own car. But how exactly do the traffic laws work in the country, and are international licenses valid in Brazilian territory?
According to the country’s traffic code, international licenses are valid in Brazil for 180 days after arriving in the country. After that period, you’ll need to obtain a Brazilian Driver License and be updated on Brazilian traffic laws by applying at a local driving school.
In this post, we’re gonna full in on everything you need to know about driving in Brazil: traffic rules, speed limits, how you’ll be able to rent your own car (and the requirements to do so), and what’s the documentation necessary to be legally able to drive in the country.
Note: all values stated in this piece were based on the exchange rate of the day this article was written (USD 1.00 – BRL 5,63), so you may find discrepancies depending on how the exchange rate fluctuates.
General Guidelines For Driving in Brazil
Driving in Brazil sure ain’t an easy task. Aside from the fact that the country has registered 1 death caused by traffic accidents every 15 minutes in 2020, only 13% of all roads in Brazil are not properly paved. Depending on what travel plans you have, you’ll most likely find all types of roads while driving through the country, from the impeccable freeways in São Paulo to the rocky dirt roads in the Amazon region.
Still, whether you’re just looking to circulate around your destination or planning on a road trip throughout the country, you’ll most likely need the assistance of a vehicle. Here are a few details you need to know in regards to driving in the country:
Basic Driving Requirements in Brazil
In Brazil, aside from meeting all the traffic and signaling requirements (we’ll see more on that in the following topics), the foreigner who wishes to be able to legally drive in the country must have:
- 18 years of age or more
- a valid driver’s license
- proof of entry and legal permanence in Brazil (valid Visa)
- original driver’s license translated to Portuguese (not mandatory)
With that in hand, you’ll be able to safely drive in Brazil. In regards to your driver’s license, what will determine the necessity of issuing a local Brazilian license or not, is the time you’re planning on staying in the country, which brings us to the next topic:
Do I Need A New Driver’s License in Brazil?
As we mentioned, that actually depends on the period of time you’re planning on staying in the country. Although as a tourist you should have your valid passport with you at all times (just as a precaution), your original driver’s license issued by your home country is valid for 180 days after you arrive in Brazilian territory.
If you’re staying for a longer term, you’ll have to obtain a Brazilian driver’s license, acquired by applying at a local driving school.
Can I Use My Original Driver’s License in Brazil?
Yes, you can. If you’re staying in Brazil for 6 months or less, your international license is valid and accepted in the country for 180 days after landing in Brazil if accompanied by a valid passport.
Aside from your original driver’s document, it is definitely a good idea to obtain an Inter-American Driving Permit (IADP) or the equivalent of that document in your home country. This Permit carries a Portuguese translation in case the traffic police stop you. In the USA, this permit costs around USD 15.00 and can be obtained in your local DMV.
Getting an International Driving Permit is not something mandatory in Brazil, but since the majority of the Brazilian population doesn’t speak fluent English, it’s probably going to save you (and the cops) a lot of trouble understanding one another.
How To Obtain a Driver’s License In Brazil
If you’re planning on staying in Brazil for more than 6 months (180 days) and wish to remain to be able to legally drive around the country, you’ll need to obtain a Brazilian driver’s license, which can be done by applying at a certified driver’s school (autoescola as they’re known in the country). In order to apply, you’ll need the following documentation:
- proof of entry and legal permanence in Brazil (valid Visa)
- proof of address in the country
- a CPF number (the Brazilian equivalent of the social security number in the US)
You can find out with the local DETRAN (Brazil’s equivalent of the DMV) the nearest driving schools are certified. Employees at the driving school should be able to answer any questions you may have regarding the procedure of acquiring a license.
What Is considered Proof of Address (or Residency) in Brazil?
As the name is self-explanatory, Proof of Address is a document that verifies if an individual resides in that specific address, regardless of it being owned or rented.
Ideally, the proof of residence should be under your name. Still, since that’s not what always happens, Brazilian banks accept the document under the name of a third party once the relationship between the address owner and the person trying to open the account (or you in that case) can be verified.
The Brazilian law has no real saying in what may or may not be accepted as proof of residency, so it’s up to each company to make that decision. With that being said, the most common documents accepted as proof of residency in Brazil are:
- Water, electric, gas, TV, Internet, landline, or cell phone bills;
- Notarized rental contract
- Recent IRS declaration
- Paycheck issued by a public institution
- Credit card bill
- Property deed
- of Employment Contract
How do I obtain my Brazilian CPF Number?
This Brazilian document is your enrollment with the Brazilian IRS, making it possible for you to pay taxes, open a bank account, and make financial investments. You can apply for it by clicking here for the form. All additional steps will be sent directly to your e-mail, and you’ll be notified when to pick up your document.
Are Motorcycle Driving Licenses Different than Regular Licenses in Brazil?
Yes, driving licenses for motorcycles are in a different category than regular cars in Brazil. Any vehicle with two or three wheels are put under the “A” category according to the Brazilian Traffic Code (regular cars are category “B”), and if you wish to be licensed for both, you’ll need to take two different courses (at the same driving school).
Driving with the wrong driving license in Brazil is considered an infraction of extreme severity, and you could get penalized with a BRL 586,94 (USD 104.25) fine (we’ll see more on fines and tickets up ahead), as well as having the motorcycle apprehended until the owner shows up with the proper license and registration (in case you’re driving a bike that isn’t yours).
How To Pick the Best Drivers School (Autoescola) in Brazil
Although picking a driver’s school may seem like a simple task, there are a lot of things to consider while you’re browsing your options. First of all, Brazil is overflowing with driving schools all over the country, which makes the search a bit more extensive and competitive.
To help you make the best choice while picking your driver’s school in Brazil, here are some tips to guide you through the process:
Check if the School is Regulated
The first thing you need to do is check the regularization of the driving school. It is essential that it follows every criterion stated in Brazilian law so you won’t have unpleasant surprises along the way.
In order to be able to operate, the driving school must be recognized and have a business license issued by DETRAN (Brazil’s DMV). Although not every school obliges, this information should always be made available to the client, so if it isn’t, don’t be shy to request it to the DETRAN’s representative you’re dealing with.
Some driving schools have this information stated on their web portals, making it easier for you to check the document and see whether if the expiration date is still valid and if the school is up to date with its obligations and duties to DETRAN.
Another thing you should watch out for is the famous “jeitinho Brasileiro.” Brazilians are famous for always finding a way of cheating or bamboozling the law, so suspect if the school promises some kind of flexibility that is not predicted in the Brazilian law.
For example, you’re expected to take X amount of theoretical classes and practice lessons. If the school says you don’t have to fulfill the anticipated schedule by not showing up to the theoretical classes, be aware that it is breaking the law by circumventing the system.
So, in sum, demand seriousness on the school’s part; they must expect you to follow the program without any facilitation whatsoever. The Brazilian law predicts from 2 to 6 years of imprisonment to those who practice document forgery, aside from a pretty big fine.
Do A Research on the Schools Approval Index
Everyone who enrolls in a driving school expects to pass the final exam on their first try, right? While that may not be that simple of a task, the approval index depends on several factors, such as a good tutor and the student’s commitment.
But taking some time to dig up the intended school’s approval rate is also equally important. Suspect any driving schools with a low approval rate since this could indicate that there are issues with the instructor’s teaching methods.
This information should also be available at the DETRAN portal in the state you’re in. You can check the average results from the past few months and compare the driving schools of your interest to check which has the best scores.
Since the DETRANs portals differ from state to state (and most of them are only available in Brazilian Portuguese), here’s a step by step on how you’ll be able to check this info:
- enter the DETRAN portal from your location
- look for the “AUTOESCOLA” option
- click in “CONSULTAS”
- click on “PERFORMANCE DE AUTOESCOLA”
- select the city in which the driving school is located along with the district
After following these steps, the dirivng schools from the selected area will show up in a table along with their approval rates and index.
Don’t Make Your Choice Solely Based on Prices
It sure is nice to pay for something knowing that you’re making a good deal, but in this case, that doesn’t necessarily apply. The service provided cannot be compared like it’s a product on the shelf. While products may be the same in different stores, the quality of the work provided is not.
Suspect if you find driving schools with much lower rates than the average, or even those who offer you a dream deal that seems too good to be true (it usually isn’t). In Brazil, there’s a saying that goes “as vezes o barato sai caro,” which translates into “you get what you paid for,” and it couldn’t be more true in this situation.
Pay Attention to Deadlines and Scheduled Exams
One of the things I realized when I was getting my driver’s license is that I should have checked the school’s program before taking all my theoretical classes. After I finished all of them, I had to wait a considerable amount of time before I could start the practice lessons (over a month), and after that, another gap until I could take the final exam.
As a result, I had to schedule a few extra classes right before the exam since I was feeling insecure and afraid I had forgotten something. So the ideal scenario is to check the dates on which you’ll be taking classes and the final exam, so you can schedule your classes in a way you won’t have long-time gaps in between.
Look Up the School’s Practice Vehicles
Getting to know which vehicles the school uses in their practice lessons isn’t just a matter of vanity, but it directly affects the driver’s performance. Prioritize the schools that dispose of good and new vehicles to their students, providing higher chances of better driving performances.
Old or worn out vehicles can hinder your performance and consequently, your final score. The student may also feel psychologicly insecure because of that, making it underperform on the classes and/or in the final exam.
Aside from that, stay tuned to the availability of the intended vehicle for practice lessons, as other students are also able to book the car for their classes. Take a look at the vehicle’s schedule and plan your classes carefully.
Choose the Payment Method for your Classes Carefully
While you’re closing the deal with the driving school, they’ll usually hand you the values for each stage of the process individually and then calculate the total value of the package, sometimes offering a discount on top of that package.
In most times, it’s better to pay for each of the stages separately instead of purchasing the package, because according to the Brazilian Consumer’s Code, once you reach a consensus with the driving school and pays for the package, you no longer have the rights of claiming your money back in case something should happen.
For example, let’s say you’re an ex-pat living in Rio de Janeiro who was informed by your boss that you’d need to move to a different branch, this time in São Paulo. If you only paid for the first stage of the driving school (theoretical lessons), you’ll be able to transfer everything you’ve learned to a different school and take it from where you left off.
In sum, paying for each stage is much better and safer than paying for the full package, appealing as that idea can be.
Demand a Contract
As you’re closing the deal with the school, ask if they’ll be providing you with a contract as soon as you’ve come to an agreement on everything. Suspect if the school says they’ll hand you the contract at a later date, as that is not a regular practice.
Once you have the contract in your hands, take your time reading it carefully before signing. Also, demand a receipt of everything you’re paying for, as that will act as proof you are up to date with your payments.
How Much Does Obtaing a Drivers License in Brazil Costs?
Although the values can differ from region to region, here are the average prices if you’re interested in obtaing a Brazilian Drivers License:
|Medical Exam||BRL 170,00 / USD 30.00|
|Psychotechnical Exam||BRL 170,00 / USD 30.00|
|Enrollment||BRL 74,00 / USD 13.15|
|Theoretical Exam||BRL 74,00 / USD 13.15|
|Student License Issuance (LADV)||BRL 55,00 / USD 9.76|
|Practice Exam||BRL 74,00 / USD 13.15|
|Theoretical Lessons||BRL 300,00 / USD 53.28|
|Student Material||BRL 50,00 / USD 8.88|
|Theoretical Exam Scheduling||BRL 70,00 / USD 12.43|
|Practice Lessons||BRL 1000,00 / USD 177.60|
|Practice Test Scheduling||BRL 100,00 / USD 17.76|
|Car Rental for Practice Test||BRL 100,00 / USD 17.76|
|TOTAL||BRL 2.235,00 / USD 397.00|
What Are The Main Traffic Rules in Brazil?
Brazil has one of the most violent traffic systems in the world (we’ll see more on that up ahead), and the local traffic rules aim to make a shift in that panorama. According to WHO, Brazil ended up at the 5th spot in the organization’s 2017 list of most dangerous traffics around the world, behind countries such as the USA, India, China, and Russia.
To give you more accurate information in regard to traffic rules and laws in Brazil, I went to the Brazilian Traffic Code (CBT) and took some brief excerpts to illustrate the following topics better:
Basic Driving Rules and Conduct
England is probably the most notable example of this, but there are over 55 countries that are LHD, or in other words, you are required to drive on the left side of the road. For that reason, it’s important to know more about the basic conducts of each country, or in our case, Brazil. Here are some important excerpts from item 9 from the CBT regarding this matter:
“Item 29. The circulation of vehicles on land roads open for traffic must obey the following rules:
I – driving must be done on the right side of the road, with exceptions being allowed with the proper flagging;
II – the driver must keep a safe front and side distances from the remainder of vehicles, as well as from the road’s limits, considering, at the moment, the speed limits, the state of the road, the traffic, the vehicle’s condition and the condition of the weather;
III – when 2 or more vehicles in intersecting flows meet in a place with no traffic signs or flags, the preference of access depends on the following:
a – in the case only one of the traffic flows come from a highway, the preference is given to the vehicle circulating on it;
b – in case there’s a roundabout, the preference is given to the vehicle circulating on it;
c – in any other cases, preference is given to the vehicle on the right
IV – when a travel path holds many traffic lanes on the same flow, the right ones are dedicated to larger vehicles driving at a slower speed (when there’s no special lane for them), and the left one dedicated to overtaking maneuvers, and the vehicles on higher speed;
IX – the overtaking must be done through the left, obeying the signals and rules established by the Brazilian Traffic Code, except for when the vehicle to be overtaken is signaling its intentions of turning left.”
Maximum Speed Limits in Brazil
Still, under the same chapter in the CBT as the basic traffic rules, item 61 regulates the speed limits for each type of road. This information is very important when there’s no information on the road in regards to speed limits, so read it with extra care:
Item 61. The maximum allowed speed for the lane will be indicated by the road signals, obeying its technical features and traffic conditions. When there’s no regulatory signaling, the maximum speed limits will be:
I – on city roads:
a) 80 km/h or 50 m/h on express traffic lanes;
b) 60 km/h or 40 m/h on arterial roads;
c) 40 km/h or 25 m/h on collector roads;
d) 30 km/h or 20 m/h on local roads;
II – on country roads:
a) on dual-lane highways:
– 110 km/h or 70 m/h for cars, pickup trucks, and motorcycles;
– 90 km/h or 55 m/h for other types of vehicles;
b) on single-lane highways:
– 100 km/h or 60 m/h for cars, pickup trucks, and motorcycles
90 km/h or 55 m/h for other types of vehicles;
c) on the road: 60 km/h or 40 m/h
The traffic department or the entity that regulates the road can, through proper signalization, indicate higher or lower speed limits than those established in the aforementioned paragraph.
General Rules For Passersby
Even though you’re behind the wheel, it’s also important to be aware of the laws involving walkers and passersby. In 2019, 31.307 people died in car accidents, and car crashes in Brazil, which is one of the reasons why the country is amongst the top countries with the most deaths involving vehicles in the world.
Here’s what the Brazilian Traffic Code has to say about general rules for passersby:
“Item 69. To cross the traffic lane, the walker must take safety precautions, having under consideration, mainly, visibility, distance, and car speed, always using the crosswalk or special lanes design for passersby, according to the following:
I – where there’s no crosswalk or passageways, the crossing of the road must be done in a direction perpendicular to that of its axis;
II – to cross a signaled passageway for walkers or delimited by marks on the track:
a) where there is a spotlight for walkers, follow the lights indications;
b) where there is no spotlight for walkers, wait until the traffic light or the traffic agent stops the car flow;
III – on intersections and their vicinity, where there are no crosswalks, walkers must cross the lane following these norms:
a) must not cross without verifying it can be done without blocking car flow;
b) once the crossing is initiated, walkers must not circulate on it longer than they have to or stop in the middle of the road unnecessarily.
How The Fining System in Brazil Works:
It’s important to know how the fining system in Brazil works, so you get a better sense of what you can be penalized for and what happens if you do.
General Values for Fines in Brazil
There’s a saying in Brazil that goes “só se aprende quando dói no bolso”, which loosely translates into something in the lines of “people only learn when it affects their pockets”. And just so you don’t have to learn the hard way, here are the highlights in regards to fining in Brazil:
“Item 258. The infractions penalized with a fine are classified in four different categories, according to the level of severity:
I – an infraction of extreme severity, penalized with a fine of R$ 293,47 or USD 45.02;
II – an infraction of high severity, penalized with a fine worth of R$ 195,23 or USD 34.67;
IIi – an infraction of mild severity; penalized with a fine worth of R$130,16 or USD 23.11;
IV – an infraction of light severity, penalized with a fine worth of R$ 88,38 or USD 15.69.“
Fines X Habilitation Score
Every time the driver commits an infraction in Brazil, it adds to their score according to the Carteira Nacional de Habilitação (CNH), which is how the Brazilian driving license is called. Once the driver accumulates 20 points worth of infractions in a period of 12 months, its license will be suspended.
According to Item 259 on the Brazilian Traffic Code, here’s how the infractions affect your CNH score:
“Item 259. To every infraction committed, the following score will be attributed to the driver’s CNH:
I – extreme severity – seven points
II – high severity – five points
III – mild severity – four points
IV – light severity – three points.”
Infraction Severity Classification in Brazil
Every infraction has a classification according to the Brazilian Traffic Code. Here’s how they work:
The infraction that Brazilian drivers most perpetrate is speeding, which generated over 13 million fines from January to August 2019 alone. Here’s what the CBT has to say about this:
“Item 218. Driving at a higher speed than the one allowed, measured by a traffic instrument or equipment on highways, freeways, arterials, and other roads:
I – when the speed exceeds the maximum limit by up to 20%:
infraction – mild severity
penalty – ticket/fine
II – when the speed exceeds the maximum limit by over 20% and up to 50%:
infraction – high severity
penalty – ticket/fine
III – when the speed exceeds the maximum limit by over 50%:
infraction – extreme severity
penalty – ticket/fine”
Driving With No Seatbelt On
Driving with a seatbelt the of the utmost importance, something that is widely known but not always executed by Brazilian drivers. It is the second most common cause for fines and tickets in the country, and here’s what the Brazilian Traffic Code:
“Item 167. If the driver or passenger doesn’t wear a seatbelt:
infraction – high severity
penalty – ticket/fine
managing measure – vehicle retention until the transgressor puts the seatbelt on.”
Crossing A Red Light
This is another very common infraction in Brazil, especially in cities with a lack of policing where drivers cross the red light when they perceive any type of strange activity in the vicinity of their cars. Even so, here’s what item 208 from the Brazilian Traffic Code has to say about this:
“Item 208. Crossing the red light or mandatory stop sign:
infraction: extreme severity
penalty – ticket/fine”
Driving Without A License
If you reside in Brazil for over 180 days and your original driver’s license is expired, don’t waste time obtaining a Brazilian license. That is because driving without a valid license is a traffic infraction classified as an extreme severity, like the Brazilian Traffic Code instructs:
“Item 162. To drive a vehicle:
I – without having a valid Brazilian Driver’s License (Carteira Nacional de Habilitação – CNH); Permit to Drive or an Authorization to Drive a Moped:
infraction – extreme severity
penalty – ticket/fine (3 strikes)
managing measure – vehicle retention until the driver presents a valid license.”
Driving Under Influence
One of the infractions taken most seriously by Brazilians is DUI, or as it’s called in Brazil, Lei Seca. Approved in 2008, the Lei Seca made many restrictions regarding drinking and driving, which used to be very common in the country. Aside from prohibiting the selling of alcoholic beverages on highways, Lei Seca has harsh rules that will always end up with a ticket, or worse, put you in jail:
“Item 165. Driving under the influence of alcohol or any other psychoactive substance that induce dependency:
infraction – extreme severity
penalty – ticket/fine (10 strikes) and license suspended for 12 months
Managing measure – driver’s license retrieval and vehicle retention, as disposed on § 4 of item 270 on Bill 9.503, of September 23rd, 1997 – of the Brazilian Traffic Code.
Single Paragraph. In cases where there are more than one DUI episodes within the period of 12 months, the fine will be issued charging double the original amount.”
The Low Beam Law
This is a relatively new law, which was published in May 2016, altering Items 40 and 250 from the Brazilian Traffic Code in the following sense:
“Item 40. The use of headlights in a vehicle shall obey the following recommendations:
I – the driver must keep the headlights on low beams during the night time and the day in tunnels and roads with no proper public lighting.”
Infraction – mild severity
penalty – ticket/fine”
How Can I Rent A Car in Brazil?
Whether you’re looking to make short trips or just not depending on public transportation or Uber, car rentals can really come in handy. I rented a car for the first time back in 2014 on a trip to Minas Gerais, and I was amazed at how simple and easy it was (I thought it would be very bureaucratic for some reason).
To rent a car in Brazil, the minimum requirements are:
- to be at least 21 years old
- to have a valid Drivers License (International or local Brazilian License)
- to have a valid Passport
- to have your own credit card with limits available for security deposit lock
Tips On Renting a Car in Brazil
After my first car rental, whenever my friends suggested a road trip, we’d immediately consider if that particular trip was worth renting a car. Eventually, I was able to accumulate some tips on how to rent your vehicle in Brazil properly, so here’s what I could gather.
When Is A Good Idea to Rent Your Own Car?
Before we dive in on car rental 101 in Brazil, it’s important to think about whether renting a car is really the best pick for the purpose you’ll be using it for. Believe me, although cars are very convenient, they’re not always the best choice for a few different reasons.
In sum, people usually look into renting a car because of money, comfort, or both. For example, if you and 3 friends are taking a short trip from Rio de Janeiro to Petrópolis, the short distance and the fact you’ll be able to drive with no trouble within Petrópolis, renting a car can be super beneficial.
Aside from being convenient, the costs will most likely match or be slightly superior to what 4 people would spend on round bus tickets. In this particular case, the comfort and freedom you’ll get are worth every penny, right?
If you’re also planning on following an itinerary with various points of interest, or when the destination has poor or unsafe traffic and public transportation systems, rentals are also very welcome. For instance, traveling from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro’s Costa Verde (where Angra dos Reis is located) is much more manageable on 4 wheels than on a travel bus.
On the other hand, if you’re headed to a big city like São Paulo, for example, renting a car is not advised, as you’ll most likely spend a lot of time in the city’s crazy traffic. São Paulo’s public transportation system is also very efficient, which is a piece of key information to have before signing your rental contract.
Do Your Market Search Right
Once you decided for sure if you really need to rent a car, it’s time to start checking on the expenses it will involve. Aside from the rental fees, you’ll also need to consider money for gas, tolls, and parking lot, which can increase your expenses considerably.
So in order to make the best choice, take your time browsing through at least 3 different car rental companies in Brazil. That way, you’ll get a better sense of the average prices and be able to compare and decide which one fits you best.
To make your job a little easier, here are the best car rental companies in Brazil:
Language: English and others
Payment: if you’re paying in BRL, you can divide the payment into 10 installments. Otherwise, you can pay with your credit card at the car rental.
Cancelation Policy: free of charge if the payment is not made in advance using your credit card. If the payment was made in advance, a 5% fee will be charged based on the total value.
Average Prices: according to the general user reviews, prices are a little bit higher than other rental companies, but it already includes all coverages.
Payment: in USD or any other currency if using a credit card
Cancelation Policy: free of charge in most cases (except on the “Name Your Price” modality
Average Prices: cheaper than most rentals in general but doesn’t include any coverages.
Language: English and others
Payment: there are no advanced payments. You make your rent through the Expedia portal and pay the moment you take the car.
Cancelation Policy: free of charge up to 72 hours before the day you’re taking the car.
Average Prices: usually higher than the average, but there are always special sales on the website, so keep an eye out for those
Language: English and others
Payment: you can pay in advance or at the moment of the rental at the dealership
Cancelation Policy: Reservations and cancelations are free of charge
Average Prices: one of the best prices in the market, but no coverage included
Language: English and others
Payment: payment in advance
Cancelation Policy: cancelations and alterations free of charge up until 48 hours before the date you’re taking the car
Average Prices: very competitive, there are some interesting sales from now and then.
You can use the engines in each of the websites to get an estimate on how much you’ll be spending, and if you decide to make reservations online, you’ll most likely get a better deal than by renting it last minute at the dealership.
Save Money and Double the Fun
Traveling with friends always make for a much more entertaining trip, and in this case, it actually can make your expenses much cheaper than you expected. If you have at least one person to share the car rental price (and the time spent behind the wheel), you’ll already be paying half of what you would by traveling by yourself.
Another key factor that can greatly impact the cost of your rental is the car model you choose. The daily rates for certain cars are higher than others, and of course, some models use more gas than others, increasing your expenses considerably.
But as tempting as it is to rent the cheapest model the dealership has, you still want to make sure it fits your expectations. For example, if you’re headed to the mountain range. it’s no use renting a car that doesn’t do well on steep roads just because its daily rates were cheaper.
If you are to return the vehicle at the same place you got it from, that can also positively impact your budget, as special discounts are sometimes given when that’s the case. The number of days you’ll be renting the car is also something that can affect your total expenses (the more days you rent, the cheaper the daily rate can get).
Pay Close Attention to the Contract and Additional Fees
I’m pretty sure this goes without saying, but getting behind that wheel without any insurance is a big no-no. It’s important to learn everything you can in regards to your insurance, like how much you will have to shell out in case you need to use it, for example.
Aside from that, you’ll need to verify whether the insurance covers all potential drivers. For instance, some dealerships’ standard insurance policy only covers one person, which is the person who will sign the contract. If someone else is sharing the driver’s seat with you, it’s important to highlight that information while hiring the insurance.
Another crucial point you need to direct your attention to is the conditions in which you’ll be returning the car. As a rule, you’re expected to return the vehicle the same way you got it in terms of cleanliness. If the car is considerably dirty, consider having it washed before returning, as the washing fees usually way higher than the ones in regular car washes.
In regards to gas, the dealerships usually give out the cars with a full tank and expect you to return them the same way. If you happen to get a car with a lower gas level, return it the same way.
You’re Probably Going to Need a Credit Card
If you’re planning on making online reservations for your vehicle, you’ll most likely need a credit card to finish your application and pay the total sum of the lease. Aside from that, most dealers usually get in contact with the card company and have the payment you’re making pre-authorized.
This basically means that the dealership will be holding the value of the contract in your credit card as a guarantee in case something happens with the vehicle. If you return the vehicle in the same conditions you were given, the total sum will be reversed and you’ll be refunded.
Pay Close Attention At the Car Inspection
At the moment you’re given the car and when you return it, you’ll be going through a car inspection accompanied by a representative from the dealership. After the inspection, both ends sign a document listing all found defects and issues.
So pay close attention to every dent, scratch, crack or mark you see. Check the tires, the headlights, see exactly what works and what doesn’t, and make sure it is listed in the report. If anything out of the ordinary happens to the car, needless to say, you’ll be paying for it.
Last but not at least, check closely the car documentation once you receive it. I‘ve heard of people who received the documentation of a different car from the same dealership by mistake, so you might want to make sure you have the correct registration for your rented vehicle in case you encounter a police blitz.
Learn More About the Roads in Your Destination
While planning your trip, spare a little time to look more into the roads of the regions you’re scheduled to visit. Check the conditions of the roads you’ll be driving on, which ways of access you can use, the conditions of the freeways, and if there are any tolls along the way.
If you’re traveling during the rainy season, check how this affects the roads in terms of visibility and danger while on the road.
So, that was it for our complete guide for driving in Brazil! I hope we were able to clear most of your questions about driving in Brazil and provide you with some valuable pointers in case you’re applying for a license in the country!
While you’re here, I think we might interest you with these:
Traveling to Brazil with a DUI record: all you need to know – do you happen to have a DUI on your record and worries that might spoil your plans of driving in Brazil? We got just the info you’re looking for.
Moving To Brazil With My Pet: How To Take Them – no pets left behind, ever! Here’s everything you need to know about bringing your best friend to Brazil with you!
The Best 9 Roads For Riding In Brazil (and some extra info) – planning on the ultimate road trip in Brazil? Don’t go anywhere without reading this post!
Is it safe for tourists to drive in Brazil?
It is safe to drive around Brazil most of the time. Brazilians go to work and school by car, bus, subway, and train every day, but they’ve learned to pay attention to their surroundings. If you’re a bit anxious about it, just drive with the windows closed at night and avoid leaving the city’s tourist areas.
Can I Rent A Car in Brazil If I Have a DUI?
Yes, you can, but only after a determined period of time after the DUI was put on your record. Not only in Brazil but in most of the world, drivers who wish to rent a car need to present a valid Brazilian driver’s license and a clean driving record. You can find out more about DUI records and how Brazil deals with them by taking a look at our post regarding this matter right here.
Cover Photo: cars going through a tunnel in Rio de Janeiro | Credit: Dreamstime – Danflcreativo