Brazilian identity card

Brazilian identity card

The identity card — diversely named in Portuguese cédula de identidade (identity bill) cartão/carteira de identidade (identity card) or "RG" (from Registro Geral, General Registry), depending on the state — is the national official identity document in Brazil. It contains the name, the birthdate, the names of the parents, the signature and the thumbprint of the bearer.



Identity cards are issued by the state governments, but can be used nationwide. It is interesting to note that there is no legal restriction to having more than one identity card, provided that each is issued by a different state.

The documents required for the issue of an identity card depend on whether the person is single or married. For single persons, it is the birth certificate (the original one or a certified copy), for those married, it is the marriage certificate. If the person wants, the CPF can be printed on it too.


Until the late 1980s, most identity cards were typed on stationery and the photos were simply glued. New IDs are electronically printed, sometimes with scanned photograph.

Legal Status

The possession of an identity card is needed for nearly all acts of civil life: getting a driver's licence, opening a bank account, buying or selling real estate, financing debts, applying for a job, giving testimony in court, entering some public buildings, etc. The police may ask to see the identity card of anyone arrested or searched. Failiure to present an identity card is not an offense but the person searched or arrested may be escorted to the police department for criminal identification (a search of the eletronic police records based on the person's data) if one fails to present civil identification. Because of its widespread need it is practically compulsory (though it is not legally so).

Several other documents can be accepted instead of the identity card, including (but not limited to) one's driver's licence, passport, the professional identity card issued by the official governing council of one's profession (e.g. the bar association identity card issued for lawyers, the physician's identity card issued by the medical board, and similar documents issued by the governing bodies of other professions such as documents specific to engineers, dentists, archictects, etc), the military identity card, the civil servant identity card, one's worker registry, etc.

All the documents that are accepted in lieu of one's state-issued identity card make reference to the General Registration number of one's state issued identity card. Thus, in order to have a passport, a professional ID, a driver's licence or any other kind of "substitute" ID issued, one needs to be first a bearer of the standard state-issued ID; only once one is registered in the standard General Registry can one have a document that serves as "substitute" ID issued, although one can be registered in the General Registry of any of the states of the Federation.


There is a national standard, but each state can include minor differences (usually numbering scheme, font, printed seal and background pattern. The standard is green, officially 102×68 mm[1]. It used to come laminated in plastic, which made it slightly larger than the ISO/IEC 7810 ID-2 standard of 105×74 mm, resulting in a tight fit in most wallets. Currently it no longer is laminated and, in fact, laminating newer cards is forbidden, because these have information printed on the inside that can be read by machines, bearers may protect their ID's by storing it in a small plastic case, received along with the card.



  • Registration number (can have verification digits or letters) and each state can design its own system
  • Issue date
  • Full name of the bearer
  • Parents' names (the father above, the mother below)
  • Birth place (location, state)
  • Birth date
  • Base document:

CN: Birth Certificate (Certidão de Nascimento) CC: Marriage Certificate (Certidão de Casamento)

  • CPF number


  • State Coat of Arms
  • The full name of state
  • The name of state office that issued the document
  • A 3x4cm photograph
  • Thumbprint
  • Signature or an observation cancelling it (for illiterate persons)


Since 1938 foreigners living in Brazil are also required to have their special identity cards called National Foreign Registry (Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros). The IDs are red or pink and issued by the Federal Police.


Federal Law 9454/1997 determined the merging of the state-level registration systems into a future unified registry. This will likely necessitate migrating the RG numbers into a new RIC (Registro de Identidade Civil, Civilian Identity Registry) numbering system. The Brazilian Federal Police proposed a new ID card standard to go with the changes. The new card has security features to deter counterfeiting and will probably have an embedded chip, following the form factor of common smartcards an RFIDs[2].


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