The public safety situation in Brazil requires the adoption of some security measures to avoid being a victim of assault and robbery, especially in the biggest cities. In case of facing any risk, call 190 (toll-free number for emergencies) or head to the nearest police station.
On a general basis, we recommend that you should always be attentive and avoid risky situations. If you are a victim of assault, do not resist and always hand over any item being demanded from you.
Types of Police in Brazil
Brazil has many types of police authorities. It is important that you understand each one so you know who to refer to if you need assistance. Be aware that most of the State and Municipal services speak only Portuguese.
Federal Police (Polícia Federal)
In addition to overseeing national borders and migration issues, the Federal Police is responsible for investigating crimes that affect the country as a whole (white collar crimes, crimes against the financial system etc.).
- Asylum claim (Protocolo Provisório)
- Issuance of documentation of foreign citizens (Carteira/ RNE, Permanência, Naturalização)
Civil Police (Polícia Civil)
They mainly investigate crimes that occur within a state. Sometimes they might not wear uniforms.
- File a police report if you have been the victim of a crime (in Portuguese “BO: Boletim de Ocorrência or RO: Registro de Ocorrência”)
- Request a criminal record check in the Brazilian system.
Military Police (Polícia Militar)
They have the duty to patrol and prevent crimes. They can also arrest people and supervise the traffic. They wear uniforms that vary colors and shape in each state.
- Toll-Free Emergency Hotline: Call 190 for emergencies related to the occurrence of crimes (theft, robbery, aggressions and other emergencies)
Municipal Guard (Guarda Municipal / Guarda Civil Metropolitana)
Municipal authority that deals with the public safety at urban centres. They have the main function to protect goods, services and facilities, supporting the other kinds of police. They wear uniforms that vary color and shape depending on the city.
- If nearby, you can seek assistance of a Municipal Guard if you are in an urgent security situation.
Women’s Police Station (Delegacia da Mulher)
Police stations specialized in recording and investigating crimes of violence against women. They also make referrals to forensic exams. Some cities have Women’s Reference Centers with hosting, psychological and social support, and legal counseling to women in situations of violence. You can call the free-toll 24/7 hotline (dial: 180) to find assistance or consult the list of relevant institutions on the website of the Secretariat of Policies for Women (Government of Brazil).
For more information on reference centers to specific populations in Brazil, such as women, children, LGBT and elderly, please refer to this page.
Robbery, Theft or Loss of Documents
In order to file a police report (“BO: Boletim de Ocorrência / RO: Registro de Ocorrência”), you can:
- Go to the website of the Policia Civil of your state
- Go to the nearest Polícia Civil Station
- Call the Military Police emergency number (190)
- Seek assistance of a Municipal Guard