Performing Background Checks in Brazil

Nick Fishman

We just published a great article on EmployeeScreen University by Robert Jones, Director of Operations at Socrates Ltd. which analyzes the prevalence of employment screening in Brazil and the intricacies and nuances of performing background checks in country.

Here’s a sneak peek at how this international background check is performed:

Performing Background Checks in Brazil

Brazil has one of the world’s fastest growing and dynamic countries.  The country will host the 2014 Soccer World Cup and in 2016 the Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro. By 2016 Brazil is projected to have overtaken France to become the fifth largest economy in the world (Source Brazilian National Bank for Economic Development (BNDES)).  The country was largely unaffected by the recent global financial crisis and continues to increase its influence on the world stage.

It is therefore understandable that in recent years there has been a significant increase in requests for background checks with a Brazilian component and the good news is that it is usually possible to perform screening inquiries with reasonable efficiency and efficacy.

Identifying Particulars

Let’s first look at how to establish unique identifying particulars:

1. A date of birth is a key identifier in Brazil. Dates are expressed as day/month/year.

2. Brazil is at times a confusing bureaucracy. For example, each citizen is required to have a Registro Geral (general registry) number, known as a RG number. Although this number appears on an official Brazilian ID card, The RG number is issued at the state level and also by a number of other bodies (such as the armed forces). Therefore, it is not only possible, but also legal, for an individual to have multiple RG numbers. Legal residents of Brazil, who are not citizens, are issued with a Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (national register of foreigners) number, known as a RNE number. Because the federal police manage this registry at the federal level it is an unique identifier. However, for screening purposes, like the RG, it does not have much value.

3. Anyone that wishes to open a Brazilian bank account, purchase property, buy or lease a car or a cell phone, work for a company or otherwise participate in the local economy must apply for and receive a Cadastro de Pessoa Física(Individual Taxpayer’s number), known as a CPF number. It is worth noting that there is no residency or citizenship requirement for the issuance of a CPF number. This number is, for practical purposes, the only unique government issued document that can be relied upon during the identification process.

4. Brazilians speak Portuguese and a significant percentage of the population is of Portuguese heritage. Women normally adopt part of their husband’s last name upon marriage and children usually take the last name of both father and mother. Thus the child of Maria Silva and José Santos could be Lucas Silva Santos.  However, the child of Lucas Silva Santos would most likely take the grandfather’s name (Santos) and drop the grandmother’s name (Silva). That said, there is not definitive formula, which makes it important to have the mother’s name as well as an individual’s full name as a step in the identification process.

Identity theft is not unheard of in Brazil, but with a full name, mother’s name, CPF and date of birth, identification can be considered definitive.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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