Information for Overseas Companies and Visitors in Brazil

Remittance of profits from Brazil

Remittance of Profits
Repatriation of Capital
Taxation Incentives
Consumer Protection
Restrictions on Foreign Companies
General Information on Brazil and Sao Paulo

There are normally no quantitative limitations to the remittance of profits or dividends resulting from capital investments registered with the Central Bank of Brazil, although distribution will be subject to 15% income tax. Relevant Brazilian legislation recognizes the right of the Brazilian government to restrict remittance of foreign currency during severe balance of payments crises.

Reinvestments of profits

Profits that are reinvested can be considered as foreign capital if the Central Bank of Brazil is notified.

Repatriation of foreign capital from Brazil

Repatriation of foreign capital invested in Brazil is not conditional on time limits or amounts, provided that they are consistent with the company's financial status, and are not subject to income tax. Foreign capital may be repatriated to its country of origin at any time without authorization. Returns in excess of the registered amount will be considered capital gains for the foreign investor, and thus subject to income tax. Profits reinvested in corporate capital increases are not subject to income tax. They may be added to the total capital registered with Central Bank/Foreign Capital Division (FIRCE). Foreign capital invested under the privatization plan must stay in Brazil for 6 years.


Corporate income tax The Federal constitution of 1988 established a new taxation system. The system is very complex and includes at least 50 types of taxes. Corporate income tax is levied at a rate of 15% on each year's taxable profit. The income surcharge is assessed at 10%. Branches of foreign companies in Brazil pay tax at a standard of 15% and the above mentioned additional rate. A holding company is subject to the taxation system applicable to corporations mentioned above.

Income tax is payable only on direct income earned by the holding company. Taxable income for corporate income tax purposes comprises gross receipts less the deductible cost of sales and operating expenses, allowable provisions, exempt income, and relief for losses brought forward. Income tax on dividends paid to resident or nonresident shareholders is payable at a rate of 15% unless a double tax treaty provides otherwise.

Tax on the circulation of merchandise and transportation and communication services (ICMS) The state level tax ICMS, similar to the value added tax in other countries, is levied on all circulation of merchandise and transportation. Each state fixes its own ICMS rates, and they range from 18% to 25% for luxury goods.

Municipal taxes A municipal service tax (ISS) is levied on business entities rendering services, the rates usually ranging from 0.5% to 10% of gross income. Municipalities also levy a real estate transfer tax of 0.5% to 2% on transfers of real estate.

Taxation related to trading

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Taxation of Individuals

To be updated shortly, if you require this information, please e-mail your request.

Incentives for foreign investors

There are local, state and federal incentive programs that aim to promote the growth of foreign investments made in Brazil and several situations in which a company or its stockholders can obtain incentives from government agencies. Exemptions or deferrals of indirect property taxes are commonly used on state and municipal levels in order to attract investors. The incentives include encouragement of development of the northeastern and Amazon regions, incentives for exporters, investments in research, automation and new machinery and equipment. Although an international investor usually has equal access to the incentives, there are some federal incentive programs, that are not available for non-Brazilian entities.

Antitrust law

The antitrust legislation grants powers to the Economic Defense Administrative Council (CADE), the agency in charge of prosecuting antitrust violations under administrative law. Another government agency, the Commercial Law Secretariat (SDE), will aid CADE in an investigative role. The antitrust legislation defines violations of the law in 24 different situations, including tying arrangements, boycotts and price fixing. A company or a group of companies is presumed to hold a dominant position when it controls 20 percent of its market. Merger and acquisition contracts which may limit or harm competition must be submitted to CADE for appreciation.

Consumer protection

Brazil does not have the consumer rights groups with which business in most developed countries have to contend. Although legal provisions exist which govern the responsibilities of manufacturers and retailers regarding the safety of their products, for many years there was no body of law in existence which dealt with consumers' rights. The situation has slowly been changing, and since the consumer protection code was approved in 1990, some cases concerning consumer protection have already been on trial.

Restrictions on Foreign Investment

Participation of foreign capital in the following activities is prohibited: - The development of electric and atomic power - The exploration and production of petroleum - Cabotage and the shipping of merchandise - The ownership of newspapers, magazines and other publications, and of television and radio networks - The ownership of property in rural areas and of business at international borders - The fishing industry - Post office and telegraph services - Airlines with domestic flight concessions - The aerospace industry Participation of foreign capital in financial institutions and insurance companies is limited to minority holdings. Source: Instucâo normativa No 58, 13.6.1997Of. No 214/96


The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 includes a number of labour rights and benefits available for employees. Labor relations are governed by the Consolidated Labor Laws and numerous complementary laws and regulations. All workers are required to hold work cards on which terms of their employment contract must be recorded. The legislation establishes a maximum working week of 44 hours. The minimum wage in September 2002 (1US$= 3.8BR) is around USD 110 per month, but the wages for skilled and multilingual employees may be significantly higher.

Even though labour unions have become politically stronger, the percentage of workers who are members of these unions remains quite low compared to average in Europe. The most powerful labour unions are Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) and Central General dos Trabalhadores (CGT).

Visas and work permits

While foreign visitors may enter Brazil without a visa, Brazilian law requires a temporary (business) visa if they plan to transact business. "Business" would include signing legal documents, engaging in financial or commercial transactions, and working or engaging in research. Tourists can stay in Brazil up to 90 days without a visa. A temporary business visa is valid for 90 days and can be prolonged. A permanent visa is, in practice, very hard to obtain. It may take as long as a year to get one but generally the applicant can stay in Brazil during the process.. After one has received a permanent visa only a letter to the ministry of labour is needed in order to get a work permit. Salary can not be paid by a Brazilian company before an employee has a work permit. Certain visitors must register with the Federal Police within 30 days of arriving in Brazil.

Getting around

Because of the long distances, Brazil has well-developed flight and bus connections between major cities. Scheduled airline fares within Brazil are inexpensive compared to those in Western Europe because of the rate of exchange at time of writing (US$1= BR$3.8). For foreign visitors it is possible to buy a Brazil 'airpass' combined with the cross-Atlantic flight, this allows an unlimited 'number' of flights within Brazil. Flights between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo leave every 15 minutes from conveniently located downtown airports.

There are very few railway passenger services in Brazil. Instead, all major cities are linked by frequent and modern buses. For example during peak hours there are departures every 15 minutes between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Traveling by bus is cheap but usually time-consuming compared to flying. Meter taxis, identified by roof lights, are plentiful in urban areas. It is not necessary to tip.

A Modern and efficient underground rails system 'Metro' operates in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, a fast and inexpensive way to travel within these cities. Even though rental cars are available, especially at airports, they can be costly compared to other forms of transportation. Driving is not recommended for a newcomer.

Business Hours

While office hours in Brazil are generally from 8:30 am. to 5:30 pm., most shops in Brazil are open from 9 am to 6:30 or 7 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. Shopping Malls are open on weekdays until 10 pm. Banks are open from 10 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday.

Business Culture

The significance of personal contacts is remarkable when doing business in Brazil. It is said that business is done between people instead of companies. Quality is also considered important, and companies with ISO 9000 certification are highly respected. Doing business with a company which is present in Brazil is considered more reliable than buying from an agent or representative. This is mainly due to experiences of better availability of components and spare parts when a supplier is present in the country.

Dress Code

Dress code varies from area to area. Business wear is typically quite formal.

Money and Credit Cards

The US dollar is by far the most recognized foreign currency in Brazil. The exchange offices (Cambios in Portuguese) have the best exchange rates or just withdraw cash from ATM machines which are generally available within the lobby of banks. Traveller's cheques are not as widely accepted as cash at exchange desks. International credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa) are widely accepted.


The same caution as in any major cities in the world should be exercised. In terms of personal safety, valuables like watches, jewellery, cameras and credit cards should not be kept visible in public places. Most offices in Brazil have private security guards controlling access to offices and plants.


According to the Brazilian law, an identification document should always be carried along. However, a paper copy of a passport is often a sufficient proof of identity.


All the major international hotel chains are well represented in the biggest cities. For a longer-term accommodation, apartments with hotel services or service flats are more comfortable because of cooking facilities and separate bedrooms. It is also possible to rent a furnished apartment. Standards of service are very high. There are a number of areas in Sao Paulo that we would suggest that you stay. Moema is great, lots of hotels, restaurants bars and shopping. Convenient for getting downtown. If you want to stay downtown, there are some nice places but unfortunately some of the areas that are exciting and fun places to be during the day are either empty at night or unpleasant.

Food and Eating out

Eating out is one of the great attractions of visiting Brazil, endless variety and excellent quality. Choose from Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Vegetarian and Oriental cuisines. Brazils Churrascarias or BBQ restaurants are a meat eaters paradise. A fixed price includes a salad buffet, side dishes with a selection of meats and cuts brought to your table. 'Quilos' offer a wide selection of meats, vegetable dishes and salads. Payment is 'per kilo' so you can choose how much or how little you want. Excellent for vegetarians.

The national dish is called Feijoada and is served on Wednesdays and Saturdays. An excellent place to sample a wide variety of Brazilian foods is the Hilton Hotel in central Sao Paulo.

Brazilians drink a lot of strong, black coffee with a lot of sugar in it. The coffee is normally served from small cups. A typical appetizer in Brazil is Caipirinha. It consists of sugar-cane spirit mixed with fresh lime and sugar. The local soda, Guaraná, can be recommended as a tasty refresher.

Lunch is normally served between 11 am and 3 pm. Business negotiations are often held at restaurants and they usually last a long time. Tipping is not necessary as a 10% service charge will be added to the bill.


In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro the voltage is 110V or 220V, 60 Hz. Salvador and Manaus have 110V supply. Brasília, Recife and a number of other cities have 220 V supply. It is necessary to have an adapter in order to use European electric equipment because of the different plug. Besides the adapter a transformer can also be bought at local stores.

São Paulo

São Paulo is the largest city in South America and will soon be one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. The city's growing population is continually bolstered by people from all over Brazil who come to São Paulo seeking business and employment opportunities. São Paulo accounts for nearly a half of Brazil's industrial output and absorbs nearly three-quarters of foreign investment. As a result, Paulistas, as residents of the city are known, are very different from their more mellow compatriots in Rio de Janeiro.

Arriving at Sao Paulos International Airport

For international clients arriving at Guarulhos if we know your flight number and arrival details we can either collect you or arrange for a taxi to be waiting for you. The only shuttles are for the hotels near the airport and unless the hotel knows you are coming you may have to wait. If you are using a local hotel, less than US$5 will get you there. Use to check the exchange rate.

Not speaking Portuguese can make arriving in Sao Paulo a daunting prospect. Outside the terminal, there is a well organised taxi post, the staff wear clearly marked uniforms "TAXI" so if you have the name of your hotel written down show it and ask to have the price written for you. The price is dependent on the distance but a guide price is between BR40 and BR60. Today (May 2003) that is between US$15 and $20.

There are cash machines near the exit to withdraw local currency. Along the wall opposite the exit there are "Cambios" where you can change your dollars, euros or other major currency.

You will see a number of porters in white uniforms with "STECK" on the back. These helpful gentlemen will take your bags and get you a taxi.