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New CPF Requirement for Inbound Parcels to Brazil

Date: August, 2015 --

Be advised that Customs in Brazil has started requiring inbound parcels bear a “CPF” before they can be cleared, including parcels arriving through Correios.

 CPF stands for the Cadastro de Pessoa Fisica (Brazilian Taxpayer Registry). This is a database maintained by the Federal Revenue, i.e., tax department. Every Brazilian, foreign resident in Brazil and/or foreign owner of assets in Brazil must obtain a CPF. When registering, you receive a permanent number which is unique to you, like a US Social Security number. This is used in nearly every commercial transaction one conducts in the country. 

In short, the average customer in Brazil buying something in the US from Amazon (or anyone else for that matter) will not receive his or her delivery unless the CPF is present on the parcel and duties, often very substantial, are paid.

In the past, parcels arriving through the post, or tendered to the post by private couriers, went to the final delivery post office, the customer was contacted to come to pay the duties and the parcel was then collected. So, why this new CPF requirement? We understand that the authorities, in dire need of more revenue, decided that a more stringent tax collection discipline was required. Hence, no parcel leaves Customs or Correios without a CPF on it and taxes paid. 

Many in the industry have become concerned at the prospect of thousands of parcels from foreign websites being piled up in Brazilian Customs or Correios. Indeed, the International Department of the Brazilian Post has disclosed that, indeed, parcels must contain the CPF before being presented to Customs. The new system will receive parcel-specific data from couriers, private postal operators and posts which will be provided to Customs for clearance. 

Brazilian Post is currently urging its trading partner posts to observe an enhanced parcel-specific standard that includes the CPF. This could resolve the problem, but it is a lengthy process to accomplish. Institutions responsible for standards, and their modification, are extremely cautious and thus obtaining modifications can take substantial amounts of time. Imagine how long it will take the USPS to begin to insist on CPF’s on Brazil-bound parcels, and then how long it will take American businesses to do so. But those fulfilling eCommerce or other parcels into Brazil better do so, and quick. 

To avoid as much trouble as possible, as soon as possible, the industry should do its best to convince shippers to collect the CPF on the website’s order form. 

Where the parcel contains the CPF, it will pass through Customs for delivery in normal course. Where it does not, a system is being created to notify the addressee and request the needed CPF through a new dedicated website.

Part of this process to connect CPFs with parcels is ID Correios.  ID Correios is a web authentication tool; all customers who interact with Correios must register in this system, which can verify the existence of the CPF claimed, or possibly provide one if it is missing. This system thus engages the addressee in the process. Of course, first-time online buyers might not be in the system, and any system is capable of breaking down. 

Mr. Mello Mattos, Head of the International Department of Correios put it succinctly:  “In conclusion, from the new system onwards we have to provide to Customs the CPF, before submitting the item to them or alternatively, before releasing the item from  our warehouse for final delivery.” Meaning that Correios is now squarely in the de facto position of tax collector.

It is a universal truism that despite the best efforts of participants in a process, things will go wrong. Correios’ system will be stressed with parcels lacking a CPF and whose addressees either cannot be located or who are not in the ID Correios system. Any country’s system would be stressed with this.

How many will be returned, and how many will disappear? Who knows? Our friends at the Global Address Data Association have been trying to find out the volume of “gone-missing” parcels in the international system for years now, and no one in the posts, any post, will talk about neither over coffee nor Caipirinha, let alone on the record.  

If your company does business with Brazilian consumers, it will definitely be advisable to collect the CPF on check-out and provide it on the package. Make it easy for the customers and they’ll be back. This may require some little re-engineering of your data collection protocols. Data Services, Inc. will be following up with Correios and USPS to determine the appropriate location of the CPF on the parcel, as this implicates data capture and hygiene. Rest assured we are ready to help you keep that data up-to-date and correct, and keeping those customers returning.