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Brazil Driving Rules and Tips

Brazil can be explored by driving but before doing so there are many things that you need to know. The more informed you are about the rules of the road, the less you will need to ask later, when you’re already there and before it’s probably too late. Keep in mind that prior planning prevents poor performance. Follow this advice and it’s unlikely you’ll make a wrong move:


In Brazil, it is obligatory to carry these documents with you at all times when you’re in your vehicle:

  • IDP and valid driver’s licence
  • Owner’s permission (if the vehicle doesn’t belong to the person driving it)
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Vehicle insurance documents, if renting a car

It is also advisable to have your passport in hand.

Age Restrictions

The age limitations that apply when driving in Brazil are as follows:

  • The minimum age for driving is 18 (eighteen)
  • Children under 10 (ten) must sit in the back
  • Children under 7.5 (seven and a half) have to be fitted in a car seat
  • Children that are too small to wear a seatbelt should be seated in the back

Driving Rules, Laws and Regulations

  • Driving is on the right-hand side of the road
  • Overtaking must be done on the left
  • Unless indicated, turning right at red lights is not permitted
  • Do not drive wearing flip flops
  • It is illegal to drive with your elbow hanging outside of the window
  • Right of way is given to vehicles on a roundabout
  • You must not run out of gas while driving
  • Continual yellow lines indicate that overtaking is prohibited
  • Broken lines indicate that overtaking is permitted in that place
  • A flashing yellow lights at traffic lights means that they are not working
  • Blocking an intersection and causing a traffic jam is illegal

Speed Limits and Fines

You should follow these general speed limits which are broken down into two categories:

  • 30km/hour (18mph) in residential/local streets
  • 60km/hour (40mph) in urban areas
  • 120km/hour (74mph) on open roads

Speed limits that vary to those above will be indicated by speed signs.

Marked radar traps and speed cameras are used in a lot of places to detect speed. If you are found to be breaking the speed limit you will be issued with a ticket and must pay the fine.

Drunk Driving

There is a zero-tolerance law in force in Brazil. The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.2g/100ml. This is a lot less than a small beer or small glass of wine.

Fines are issued depending on the amount of blood alcohol found in the driver’s system. A large amount will mean a larger fine, suspension and perhaps time imprisonment.

Police cannot force a person to be breathalysed but they can arrest them.


Safety when parking in some places in Brazil can be an issue therefore it is important to park securely and follow all the rules in force:

  • When parking on the street, you should not park facing traffic
  • It is illegal to block hospital or fire station routes

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