The CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas) is a very useful identity number in Brazil if you stay for a medium term. It will allow you to use certain services such as banks, transportation and to get discounts for certain activities. You will often be asked for it in Brazil just to activate a Brazilian sim card, which is called a “Chip” here. There are several ways to get a CPF, for me the easiest is to go physically to the Correios and then to the Receita Federal.
First, you have to go to a Correios, which is the post office in Brazil. At the counter, you have to present your passport and pay R$7 in cash (be careful, card payments are not allowed). You will be asked for your full name and a proof of address here in Rio. If you do not have an address in your name, a signed note from the owner is sufficient to prove your address. You will receive a ticket with a barcode that you will need for the second step.
Next, you need to go to the Receita Federal, there is one in Ipanema, near the Idiomas Rio school. The CPF service opens from 9am to 11am. You will be asked to show your passport, the barcode receipt, and your proof of address. You will then need to fill out a form with your personal information. Within 3 to 7 days, you will receive your CPF number by email. And that’s it!