Asylum Seekers and refugees can open bank accounts, as the provisional protocol and the National Migration Registration Card/RNE are valid documents in the country. This right is expressly guaranteed by the Migration Law, No. 13445/2017: “Art. 4 – The migrant shall be guaranteed in the national territory, on an equal basis with the nationals, the inviolability of the right to life, liberty, equality, security and property, and shall be ensured: of bank account (…).”
The complete documentation required also includes the presentation of CPF and a Declaration or Proof of Residence (e.g.electricity bill of your house).
Note: If you do not possess a declaration of residence, ask the property owner to testify that you live in that specific location.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Central Bank and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security have launched the Financial Information Booklet for Migrants and Refugees to help migrants and refugees understand how the National Financial System works and become banked. The booklet is being distributed in places where there is a large flow of migrants and refugees, initially in Portuguese and Spanish versions. Later there will be French and Arabic versions. This booklet is already published in digital format and you can access it here: Financial Information Booklet for Migrants and Refugees (portuguese).
I am an asylum seeker and I was denied to open a bank account. What can I do?
As an asylum seeker, you have a valid document to open a bank account, the provisional protocol. However, some banks are not aware of the provisional protocol and thus do not accept it as a valid document. If you experience this difficulty, contact a Federal Public Defender’s Office (DPU), or one of UNHCR Civil Society partners.
The bank is charging me many additional fees. Is there a way not to pay those fees?
Banks usually charge their customers a fee for opening and maintaining a bank account. However, according to the Brazilian Law (Resolution 3.919/2010), banks are obliged to offer current accounts without charging any fees, aimed at offering basic banking services. More information about this option is available from bank branches.
How can I send money abroad?
In Brazil, there are several banks, specialized companies and currency exchange bureaus offering the service of sending money to other countries. Most of those companies will accept, besides a valid passport, both the National Migration Registration Card/RNE and the Provisional Protocol. The fees charged can change a lot depending on the amount you wish to send and the company you are using. We advise you to search well before choosing the company.
Banking agencies specializing in the care of refugees in São Paulo
In São Paulo, there are three Banco do Brasil agencies specialized in refugee care:
- Agência Centro
- Address: Rua São Bento, 483
- Phone: (11) 4003-3001 (dial 0018 when asked for the number of the agency)
- Agência Catedral da Sé
- Address: Praça Doutor João Mendes, 31
- Phone: (11) 4003-3001 (dial 4223 when asked for the number of the agency)
- Agência Matriz
- Address: Rua Quinze de Novembro, 111
- Phone: (11) 4003-6501 (dial 6501 when asked for the number of the agency)