Let's talk about getting a Driver's License! Foreigners are allowed to drive for their first 180 days in Brazil using their driver's license from their home country. Then you need to get a Brazilian License. For the first 180 days of our Brazilian experience, there was no way in hell I wanted to get behind the wheel. Too crazy and scary. But then we got the Fusca, and well, it was time. But for various reasons (mainly see the 9 steps below), I didn't bother. But with the recent increase in blitzes, and my fear of being caught driving with out a license, it became clear that it was time to be legal.
I would say that the whole process takes about 12 hours (including waiting). It took me about 4 afternoons, but you could probably do it all in one day if you are really motivated and are a glutton for punishment.
Brazil has a system in place to recognize certain country's Driver's Licenses. If you are not American, you'll have to check to see if your country made this list. This is assuming you have all your official paperwork in order, and you have your signature on file at a Cartorio (notary), here are the easy 9 steps to follow.
a. RNE or SINCRE (sistema de cadastro e Reg. de Estrangeiro), from the Policia Federal. If you don't have the actual physical RNE card, you can show them your "protocolo" or "requerimento de entrada junto a polícia federal acompanhado do SINCRE."
c. Driver's License from your home country
d. Proof of your address in Minas Gerais. In my case, I had NOTHING (because everything is in my husband's CPF, and we are here on his visa. I was able to use a utility bill in his name and a copy of our Marriage Certificate.
e. Passport, with official something from Policia Federal. This is a little piece of paper that we got from the Policia Federal (maybe this is the SINCRE?). Matt likes to call it the "craft project" because they actually use scissors and a glue stick to piece it together.
f. 3x4 picture (color)
You can check the website, but I don't know if it is updated very often, and it also does not let you know which documents have to be notarized.
2. Get your Driver's License officially translated. In Belo Horizonte, you have to go to this address: Avenida do Contorno, 6166-Loja 9-CEP: 30110-042, between R. Alagoas and R. Pernambuco
Bring R$90 cash (though I paid less, but other people have told me they had to pay R$90), your original Driver's License and Passport, and photocopies of the picture page of your Passport and Driver's License (front and back). This step took about an hour.
3. Make copies of the following (from above): b, c, d, e
4. Visit your friendly local Cartorio. You'll need to get official, notarized copies (cópias autenticadas) of the following (from above): a, e.
5. Go to DETRAN. In Belo Horizonte, the address is Avenida João Pinheiro 417, Centro. Office hours are 8 am to 5 pm, but my experience was that it's not worth it to go around lunch because the one person that is trained to help foreigners takes a healthy 2 hour lunch. So go before noon, or after 2 pm. *** FIRST GO TO THE DESK TO MAKE SURE YOUR PAPERWORK IS CORRECT*** Don't go to the line. Don't go to get a number to wait. You have to find the desk. It's called something like an Orfetia, or orferia (fellow expat bloggers, help me out here). When you go in the main entrance, you'll see a bunch of windows with a sign "informação." There is a small door, that looks like it's for official personel only. Go in that door, and go almost to the end of the hall. The "office" you want to visit is on the right. There are no signs. If there is someone official looking, just tell them you need to get your paper work because you are a foreigner and you are getting your license. I neglected to do this first, and ended up spending an extra hour at DETRAN. After someone checks your paperwork, you then have to go to the Habilitação area. This is labeled. Tell them you are a foreigner getting your license. Take a number and wait. When your number is called, you give all your paperwork, they check it (again), and give you a boleto (bill) and the address for the clinic for your medical and psychological exam. Confirm they amount that you will have to pay at the clinic.
6. Pay the boleto at the bank. There are lots of banks on Avenida João Pinheiro. So the best thing is to go pay the boleto and get the correct amount of cash. At the time of writing this, my boleto was R$150, and the fee for the clinic was R$133,35.
7. Go to the clinic. At the time of writing this, the clinic was on Rua Domingo Viera in Santa Efigenia, about a 20 minute walk from DETRAN. The clinic used to be in Centro (wouldn't that have been convenient). You have to give them all your paperwork, and pay (cash only) and wait. Office hours are 8 am to 5 pm, but once you get to see the doctors, it takes about 45 minutes, so you have to arrive by 4 pm if you want to be seen. Come ready to wait. First is the psychological examination. You answer a bunch of questions first. Then they have various concentration tests they give. They can involve filling a paper with tic marks as fast as you can. My test involved shapes in various colors and pointing different directions, and trying to remember which was which. Then I got to pick little tiles in my favorite color and make a pyramid, and talk about which pyramid was the prettiest. Yes, really. Once it was determined that I was sound of mind, I got my eyes tested, was asked a few questions, and they tested my hand strength. I passed!
8. Go back to DETRAN. Go back to the Habilitação area. Take a number. Wait. Turn in your paperwork. The lady who takes your paperwork doesn't normally deal with foreigners, so she has to go find someone else who does. Wait. They double check the paperwork. Then go get some coffee. They come back and triple check the paperwork. Then I get a little piece of paper with a protocolo number, and I'm free to go.
9. Wait for your license to be delivered (by Correios). It is supposed to be delivered within 15 days.
In terms of the bureaucracy that foreigners have to deal with, getting a license is not so bad (it's all relative, of course). Mainly because once you do these steps, you actually get a license within a timely fashion. Good luck!