Establishing a permanent presence in Brazil

Direct and indirect investment

There are both direct and indirect investment options in Brazil. Direct investments are those made through a newly created corporate entity or by acquiring equity participation in existing Brazilian companies. Equity participation includes:

  • currency investments

  • investment by conversion of foreign credits

  • investment by importation of goods without exchange cover

Indirect investments are those made by foreign investors in the financial and securities markets where there is no requirement to establish or acquire participation in a Brazilian company.


Foreign branches

To set up a branch in Brazil a foreign company must submit an application to the Brazilian government, which must be approved by a Presidential decree. A certificate of the decree will then be published in the Official Gazette, and a copy registered at the appropriate commercial registry. The branch can only start its activities when all the formalities have been completed. The foreign company must also empower a representative (who need not be Brazilian, but must be resident in Brazil) to act on its behalf.

Due to these complex and time-consuming requirements, you will probably only want to set up foreign branches in Brazil if this is required by law (e.g. for financial institutions and insurance companies). The UK Trade & Investment team in Brazil can provide further advice on this subject.


Limited liability companies

As a rule, foreign firms who choose to set up a Brazilian company can set up either as a limited liability company (the most common corporate entity) or as a corporation.

A Brazilian company is legally defined as one which is incorporated according to Brazilian law and has its head office in Brazil.



The registered capital of corporations is divided into shares. Corporations can be capitalised either by private or public subscription. Open capital corporations offer public subscriptions by offering their shares to the public through the stock market. Closed capital corporations offer theirs privately to existing shareholders.

If you are considering setting up or forming a company in Brazil, it is recommended that proper legal advice is sought. UK Trade & Investment teams can supply a list of law firms in the UK and in Brazil with appropriate expertise. The British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brazil can also offer advice and help on a wide spectrum of business related issues.

If you decide to establish a permanent presence in Brazil, then the following steps are essential:

  • Carry out thorough research and due diligence checks

  • Seek good-quality independent legal and professional advice

  • Allocate sufficient time and money to do this properly

  • Research local market conditions

  • Investigate any restrictions that may apply to your investment

  • Acquaint yourself with the relevant legal requirements and regulations

  • Identify the potential risks and plan for them

  • Get to grips with anything that might impact on your investment.

REMEMBER: Forewarned is forearmed!

There is a great deal of good free information available on investing in Brazil. See the useful resources section at the end of this guide for details.


Joint ventures

In Brazil, a joint venture is – as the name suggests – an organisation jointly owned by a Brazilian and a foreign partner, and was for a long time the only option available for foreign investment in Brazil. In some sectors, a joint venture is still the only permitted route for establishing a permanent presence.

Joining forces with a Brazilian partner can be beneficial if you wish to sell direct to the Brazilian domestic market. You will be able to take advantage of the Brazilian partner’s contacts and local knowledge, while they in turn benefit from technology transfer or your company’s expertise in other areas. However, the major concern with joint ventures is finding a partner with whom you can work.

Many joint ventures fail where, for example, due regard has not been given to the importance which Brazilians attach to personal relationships in business. It is often better to select a joint venture partner who complements you rather than a potential competitor. Plan for your exit from a joint venture from the outset – it is rare that joint ventures are permanent, and it is better to have a “pre-nuptial agreement” than a messy divorce. If you do decide to go down this route, it is essential that you carry out thorough due diligence checks on your potential partner.

While no specific Brazilian law governs joint ventures, they are usually classified under two types – contractual joint ventures and corporate joint ventures. Under a contractual joint venture, it is not necessary to set up a Brazilian company. This type of joint venture is a co-operation mechanism between the parties whereby the profit or loss distribution, and the relative management, can be freely stipulated. Under a corporate joint venture, a Brazilian company will be incorporated under the limited liability or corporation format.

Although there is no specific law in Brazil relating to joint ventures, the laws on mergers and acquisitions should be taken into account when establishing a corporate joint venture.


Finding a customer or partner

Once you have identified where you would like to start and the best market-entry option for your company, the next step is to find potential customers or partners. The following are effective ways of finding potential customers, partners, agents or distributors:

  • Commission a UK Trade & Investment Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) workplan for a tailor-made list of potential customers/ partners. A programme of meetings with these potential customers/partners can also be arranged for you when you visit Brazil. This is a very cost-effective way of using locally based, experienced UK Trade & Investment staff to identify potential partners on your behalf.

  • Attend trade shows and exhibitions. Numerous trade shows and exhibitions take place in Brazil throughout the year and these can be an excellent way to meet potential customers face-to-face.

  • Take part in a trade mission. UK Trade & Investment supports a number of trade missions to Brazil, run by accredited organisations such as trade associations and local chambers of commerce. Travel grants may be available to eligible participating companies.

  • If your company is small or medium sized and Brazil is a new market for you, then you may be eligible for financial support to visit the country under UK Trade & Investment’s market visit support scheme.

In addition, the approaches below are suitable for companies who want to export to Brazil:

  • Make an approach via the relevant trade association in Brazil. The members themselves will often be the most appropriate partner for your product or service in Brazil, and many Brazilian companies who are well established in their home market are looking for new and innovative products to complement their range. You can ask for a list of trade associations when commissioning an OMIS workplan.

  • Advertise in professional newspapers, magazines and journals. This can be beneficial for high-tech companies with leading-edge products, but less effective for companies without a technical background.

  • Hold a technical seminar or product introduction meeting in Brazil to attract potential customers. UK Trade & Investment can help you organise product promotion events and identify the audience you need to target as part of their chargeable services.

  • Alternatively, you may wish to involve a local consultancy or public relations firm to assist you.

For more information on how UK Trade & Investment can help you to do business in Brazil, speak to your local UK Trade & Investment team on +44 (0)20 7215 8000 or visit:



Trade shows, exhibitions and advertising are good ways to attract potential customers. You will need to ensure that your sales literature is effective both in English and Brazilian-Portuguese and consider whether advertising is appropriate.

We recommend that you involve a Brazilian specialist consultancy who can develop an appropriate marketing strategy for your product and the areas of Brazil it will be sold in.

You may need to adapt your product to meet Brazilian preferences or requirements to be able to sell it. Ignoring local regulations, tastes and cultural preferences is a recipe for failure – it’s hard to sell a right-hand drive car in a left-hand drive country! The Business Etiquette, Language and Culture section in this guide highlights some aspects of Brazilian culture you should be aware of when promoting your product.


The advertising industry is advanced in Brazil and considered one of the best in the world. Therefore, UK companies wishing to advertise to the general public should engage the services of a local advertising agency to ensure their messages are both localised and sophisticated. Given the rise in internet usage, it is strongly recommended that companies localise their websites to reflect Brazilian interests. Where a “flag” system is used, the Brazilian flag should be displayed (rather than the Portuguese flag) to indicate the Brazilian-Portuguese language.

You may also consider using UK Trade & Investment’s Export Marketing Research Scheme. This aims to encourage UK companies to use export marketing research in the development of a market-entry strategy for their overseas markets. It also helps companies to undertake or commission marketing research based on sound methods. In addition to advising companies how to use export marketing research effectively, financial support towards the costs of undertaking approved projects is also provided.

The Export Marketing Research Scheme is administered by the British Chambers of Commerce on behalf of UK Trade & Investment. For more detailed information, please contact:

The British Chambers of Commerce
Tel: +44 (0)24 7669 4484



In order to create a favourable impression of your company and your product in Brazil, it is essential to have a name that Brazilian consumers can remember. If a product name cannot be remembered, it is unlikely that many people will buy it.

It is not advisable to have a Portuguese translation of your company name. English names are very well accepted by Brazilians. However, it is advisable to spend some time on getting this right. The name is, after all, the first thing your potential customers will see.


Due diligence

Due diligence is a security measure that companies often choose to undertake in order to check the viability of potential new business before contracts are signed. Due diligence is strongly advisable, particularly in connection with the acquisition of a shareholding interest either in a limited liability company or a corporation, and in the acquisition of all quotas of a limited liability company or shares of a corporation.

For practical purposes, it is recommended that due diligence covers all accounting, tax and legal issues concerning a particular business enterprise. Special attention should be given to ongoing, or threatened, commercial and tax claims at administrative and judicial level.

Wherever the purchase of property is involved, a review of the Real Estate Registry status is crucial to establish that the seller has valid title, and that the property is free and unencumbered.

Once you have made contact with a Brazilian company, it is likely that your day-to-day telephone and email communications will be in English with one of their English-speaking members of staff. If you do not think the standard of English in the Brazilian company is up to scratch, you might wish to ask for parallel Portuguese texts and get them translated; this could be a valuable investment. An important part of setting up arrangements in Brazil is to ensure that communication issues are covered in detail. Most failures occur in business relationships because of fractured communications and mutual misunderstandings.

In any case, both parties should agree in writing the language of official documents. This is to avoid endless disputes about meaning and definition between two versions of the same contract. In the event of a dispute, a judge will want to know whether the English or the Portuguese version is the official one.

If Brazil is likely to become a significant part of your business, you should consider hiring a Portuguese-speaking member of staff. You may also wish to take up the challenge of learning Portuguese yourself – even having a basic level of communication will create a positive impression and will have the added benefit of making your trips to Brazil more enjoyable. However, even if you do attain a reasonable level of fluency, an interpreter – or a Portuguese-speaking member of staff – will be essential in business meetings.

Some tips to remember:

  • Brazilians communicate with a blunt cultural style. However, this is often determined by the level of a relationship, i.e. the warmer it is, the blunter it gets.

  • Brazilians place a lot of emphasis on non-verbal gestures to enhance their point.

  • Communication is generally very polite. However, Brazilians’ conversations can be held at breakneck speed, with plenty of animation, frequent interruptions and lots of physical contact.

  • Brazilians like depth, background and context. You should consider offering more information than you normally would.


Intellectual property rights

Brazil is a signatory to the main intellectual property treaties and is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Its legal provisions are therefore generally consistent with international standards.

In principle, Brazil has a sound intellectual property rights and patent system that does not discriminate unduly against foreign companies. However, the effectiveness and impartiality of enforcement is variable and any legal processes will be both protracted and costly.

A new Trademark and Patent agreement law was enacted in Brazil in 1996 which follows international standards and general guidelines established by TRIPS (the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). This has encouraged substantial investment in the country, both in the construction of new manufacturing facilities and in research and development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

For companies whose business involves intellectual property, there are issues of piracy to consider, particularly for goods such as books, CDs, textiles, cosmetics and spare parts. While the Brazilian Government has made some progress on intellectual property rights legislation and implementation, there is scope for further progress.


Further contacts

The UK Intellectual Property Office is the Government body responsible for the national framework of intellectual property rights in the UK, comprising patent, designs, trademarks and copyright.

If you are thinking about trading internationally, then you should consider registering your intellectual property rights abroad. For more details on intellectual property abroad, please visit the UK Intellectual Property Office web page: 

Further information is also available from the Brazilian Intellectual Property Office:

Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial (INPI)
Praça Mauá nº 7 – Centro
Rio de Janeiro – RJ

Tel: +55 (21) 2139 3000
Fax: +55 (21) 2263 2539
Website: (English-language option available)

UKTI IPO contact: Sheila Alves ( based at the British Embassy Brasilia. (See Resources section for full Embassy contact details)


Certification, standards and documentation

It is very important that you comply with all aspects of Brazilian regulations on documentation. The necessity of this cannot be overemphasised as this is a source of frequent difficulties between supplier and buyer. A good partner and/or freight forwarder with a local office in Brazil can provide invaluable advice on documentation.

A commercial invoice and bill of lading/air waybill are required, as are sanitary certificates for the shipment of certain goods. These documents must show the import licence number issued by SECEX (the Brazilian Foreign Trade Secretariat). The commercial invoice should be completed by the supplier in the country of origin and show full details of the goods.

Export StampThe general documentation requirements for Brazil are:

  • Customs Import Declaration

  • Simplified Import Declaration

  • Declaration of Customs Value

  • Import Licence

  • Commercial Invoice

  • Pro Forma Invoice

  • Air Waybill

  • Bill of Lading

  • Certificate of Origin

  • Packing List

Some goods may be subject to additional documentation, such as sanitary certificates, licences, permits and certificates of free sale. Further details can be found on the EU market access database:


Import Certificates

The number and date of issue of the import certificate must be shown on the commercial invoice immediately following the declaration of the merchandise (i.e. the description and value of the consignment).


Certificates of Origin

Satisfactory proof of origin of the merchandise must be provided by the exporter to the importer for submission to Brazilian customs. Usually the original plus four copies of the invoices are given to the British or Brazilian Chamber of Commerce for certification. The original plus three copies appropriately certified will then be returned to the exporter.

SITTER-aligned documentation is available for Brazil. SITTER is a special certified invoice overlay which enables the required declaration to be produced electronically on a computer screen template, on the lower quarter of the export invoice (ref 380-1).


Certificates of Free Sale

A Certificate of Free Sale can be required to show that goods are available for retail sale, that they comply with EU regulations and are suitable for use by EU consumers. For more details, please telephone:

  • BIS (Business Innovation & Skills) (+44 (0) 20 7215 5000) – cosmetics, chemicals, detergents and cleaners, and disinfectants

  • Defra (+44 (0) 8459 335577) – food, drinks, additives, disinfectants, pesticides, animal medicines, milk and dairy products, pet food and animal feeding, fertilisers, sugar and sugar products, protein crops, tea, coffee, cocoa, herbs, spices, tobacco flavouring and wines

  • Department of Health (+44 (0) 20 7972 2927) – medical equipment

  • Medical Controls Agency (+44 (0) 20 7084 2000) – medicinal products

  • Health and Safety Executive (+44 (0) 845 345 0055) – pesticide products

  • Forestry Commission (+44 (0)131 314 6549/6120) – phytosanitary certificates for products or packaging material made out of or containing wood


Second-hand goods

Applications for import licences for second-hand goods must be accompanied by a technical report issued by SGS United Kingdom Ltd, ( or another such company appointed by the Brazilian Embassy in London, evaluating the condition of the equipment. The import will also have to meet further criteria determined by the individual nature of the consignment.


Export Licences

Export controls apply to goods upon which the UK Government has placed export licensing requirements. Typically, export controls relate to goods that may be used in some way for military applications, goods of national heritage (e.g. works of art), and certain chemicals used in the production of controlled drugs.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) (+44 (0) 20 7215 5000) is the first point of contact for information on export controls. The telephone number provides advice on many issues, including how to establish whether or not specific goods need an export licence, the different types of export licences, how to complete export licence application forms and how long they take to process. The telephone number is also the point of contact for Export Control Organisation publications and licence application forms. If you think your goods may be applied to military purposes, you are advised to phone the helpline or visit:

If you think your goods may be of importance to national heritage, you are advised to contact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport: (+44 (0)20 7273 8265/8266/8269/8267).

For chemicals that are used in the production of drugs, contact the Home Office (+44 (0)20 7035 0445).

If the above departments consider your products to be sensitive, you will need to apply for an export licence before you can take them out of the UK.


Duties and taxes

It is important to know what import duties a product will attract when it lands in Brazil. High duties may make an export too expensive for the Brazilian market. In addition to import duties, taxes such as COF (the Social Security tax), STT (the State Tax of 17 or 18%), PIS, ICMS (VAT) and IPI are levied against products’ duty-paid value.

We recommend the European Commission’s Market Access Database as a useful resource to research how much it will cost to import your product:

The Market Access Database is a free tool designed to assist exporters:

  • it provides information on trade barriers which may affect you in overseas markets;

  • the Applied Tariff Database section allows users to enter a Harmonised System code or product description to obtain a tariff rate and details of taxes applicable, enabling you to calculate a landed cost;

  • the Exporters’ Guide to Import Formalities database (searchable by Harmonised System code or by product), gives an overview of import procedures and documents, as well as any general and specific requirements for a product;

  • the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Database facilitates the identification of sanitary and phytosanitary export problems with any non-EU country.

The Market Access Database can only be accessed through an internet service provider that is based in the EU.

For more information about duties and taxes, please contact KPMG in Brazil.


Tariff Harmonised System Code

The Harmonised System (HS) code is an international method of classifying products for export purposes. This classification is used by customs officials around the world to determine the duties, taxes and regulations that apply to the product. To obtain a HS code, you should contact HM Revenue & Customs, Tel: + 44 (0)1702 366077.

Although it is advisable to insert the details of the HS code of the product to be exported to Brazil on the Invoice and Certificate of Origin where required, only the first four digits of the HS code should be inserted, as these are common for every country in the world under the HS rule.

The importer must consult the Brazilian import tariff for the rest of the tariff code number to satisfy the Brazilian customs authorities at the time of import of the consignment. The full tariff code required by the Brazilian customs authority may differ significantly from that ascertained by the exporter from the Market Access Database. Although the Market Access Database can be used for reference purposes, it is the prime responsibility of the importer to make their own import declaration to customs, and thus use their own national tariff for this purpose.


Commercial samples and temporary imports

Regulations governing the import of samples are complicated, and samples should not be sent to Brazil except by prior arrangement. Some samples may require previous authorisation from specific government departments in Brazil, such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. Samples cannot be sent if the product is forbidden.

Commercial travellers can import small quantities of samples of no commercial value in their baggage without payment of duty. You may take in samples of value on a duty-free basis subject to the posting of a bond to Brazilian customs at the point of entry into the country, to cover payment of any duties and taxes payable if the samples are not re-exported.

Samples imported under these arrangements must be listed. Two copies of the list, signed by the traveller’s company, are required to be kept by the traveller when they arrive in Brazil, for submission to customs at the point of arrival if required. If the samples are to be distributed to potential customers, proper records should be kept concerning how many samples were given away and their value. All other items retained by the traveller should be noted and recorded for the purposes of exit from the country.



Brazil now has very strict legislation for the import of certain products, especially in the food and health sectors. Some products need to be registered with the Health Inspection Agency before they are allowed to enter the country, and this process can be expensive, complicated and time consuming.

Local help and expertise are necessary and UK Trade & Investment’s teams in Brazil can provide further assistance. See the Resources section at the end of this guide for details.


Labelling and packaging

Imported products can be sold in Brazil in their original packaging provided a label is attached, giving the following information in Brazilian Portuguese:

  • a description of the product

  • the weight (metric) according to local standards

  • the composition of the product

  • its validity (sell-by date or expiry)

  • the country of origin

  • the name and address of the importer

  • any special warning on risks to health or security

Usually this label is placed on the product in Brazil by the importer. Special labelling regulations apply to imported pharmaceutical specialities, antiseptics, disinfectants, cosmetics, beauty and hygienic preparations, alcoholic beverages and foodstuffs.

The Brazilian government requires the pre-approval of all animal product labels. This is usually the responsibility of the exporter, through his agent or representative, or importer. For a UK company to become an approved supplier of foodstuffs, their local importer has to prepare a Brazilian Portuguese translation of the company’s labelling and submit it, along with the required questionnaire, to the Brazilian Department of Animal Origin Products (DIPOA).

The UK company will need to supply the following information:

  • name of the product

  • ingredients and country of origin

  • special storage instructions (where necessary)

  • net weight (in metric units)

  • date of production (must be identified on master carton)

  • expiration date (shelf life, established by the manufacturer)

When an instruction manual accompanies any specific product it must also be in Brazilian Portuguese. Label approval can be accomplished through the importer or specialist consulting firms in Brazil. UK Trade & Investment’s team in Brazil can supply appropriate contact details.


Certificate of Quality

All products imported into Brazil also require a Certificate of Quality, which must be supplied in order for the Brazilian importer to obtain the necessary import licence.

British manufactured goods will require certificates issued by the British Standards Institution:

Foreign-made goods will require certificates supplied by the appropriate standards organisation in the original country of manufacture.

The Brazilian Standards Organisation is INMETRO (National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality:

The UK National Physical Laboratory maintains detailed information on international aspects of standards, accreditation and measurement infrastructure, including specific facts and figures for a number of countries. The information should help exporters and investors form a view of a country’s underpinning technological infrastructure. For more details contact:

The National Physical Laboratory
Tel: +44 (0)20 8977 3222


Details of shipment

For the purposes of import clearance, all invoices, packing lists and shipping documents should contain the clearest information possible concerning the consignment being shipped, with specific details of the description of the goods and quantities thereof. Under the new World Customs Organisation freight security initiatives, the phrases “Said to Contain” and “Freight of all Kinds” are no longer acceptable and must be avoided.

It is also wise to plan ahead when making marine shipments to Brazil. Journey times can be several weeks, and there are not many shipping lines making direct sailings to Brazil. Check details of sailings through your local freight forwarder or through Lloyd’s Loading List, as well as obtaining competitive quotes for freight rates. Remember, the higher the freight cost, the more import duty the Brazilian importer will have to pay. The Import Landed Cost comprises Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF).


Foreign exchange

The Brazilian currency is the Real, and it is quoted on all the main foreign exchange markets. Check each week on the exchange rate in newspapers such as the Financial Times. There is also a branch of Brazil’s main bank, the Banco do Brasil, in the City of London, and they can assist with foreign exchange matters where required. Transactions with Brazil can also be negotiated in US dollars.


Technical help for exporters

This service is provided by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to give information and advice on compliance with overseas statutory and other technical requirements. BSI produces a wide range of publications and provides a special updating service of information in some product fields.

It can:

  • supply detailed information on foreign regulations

  • identify, supply and assist in the interpretation of foreign standards and approval procedures

  • research and give consultation on technical requirements for a specific product

  • provide translations of foreign standards, items of legislation and codes of practice

Fees vary according to the amount of work involved.

For specific enquiries, contact BSI on:

Tel: +44 (0)20 8996 9001
Fax: +44 (0)20 8996 7001


Source - UKTI


comments powered by Disqus

Contact Form