Exporting to Brazil

Breaking into Brazilian markets presents huge potential for UK businesses due to its scope for economic growth.

In fact, 400 of the 500 largest companies in the world operate in Brazil. Brazil’s GDP has experienced average growth of 3.4% over a 4-year period.

Part of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), Brazil is predicted, by 2050, to be one of the world’s most dominant global economies.

Brazil Fact File

  • Currency: Brazilian Real
  • Capital City: Brasilia
  • Official Language: Portuguese
  • Central Bank: Central Bank of Brazil (Banco Central do Brasil)
  • Population: 209.5 million
  • GDP (nominal): $1.534 trillion


The practicalities of exporting to Brazil are extensive, and there are many challenges presented for UK businesses. The key points to remember with exporting, and doing business with Brazil, is the need for perseverance, persistence and time.

English language is not spoken very widely in Brazil, which could present the need for Portuguese business negotiation. Brazilian business customs are vastly different to many western countries – they much prefer deals done in person, with the onus being on the human relationship developed between the individuals making a business deal. 

The tax system is complex, as well as the business customs, complicated labour legislation, and the languages and cultures of such a huge country. This guide shows you the facts about exporting to Brazil from the UK.

Top UK exports to Brazil:

  • Vehicles and machinery
  • Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics
  • Beverages

Top Business Opportunities in Brazil for UK Businesses

  • Aerospace Industry
  • Automotive
  • Creative Industries
  • Education & Healthcare
  • Energy & Low Carbon Alternatives
  • Transport & Sports Infrastructure
  • Maritime & Naval Industries

Import Taxation for Goods sent to Brazil

The Brazilian tax system is complex, and comprises a set of different taxes that will be applied to items imported. Taxes will vary in percentage depending on the area into which goods will be sent to in Brazil.

There are four types of tax you’ll need to be familiar with when exporting to Brazil:

  • Import Tax – shortened to ‘II’ (Imposto sobre a Importação).
  • IPI (Imposto Sobre Produtos Industrializados) – taken post customs-clearance.
  • Social Contribution PIS and COFINS – federal contribution (Contribution for the Financing of Social Security)
  • ICMS (value added sales tax): dependent on destination state. The general rate for São Paulo is 18%.

Prohibited Items

Along with TNT’s list of banned items, the following are items specifically prohibited in Brazil:

  • Antiques
  • Asbestos
  • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and related paraphernalia
  • Currency
  • Firearms and parts
  • Gambling artefacts
  • Ivory
  • Liquid nitrogen packages, e.g. for transporting non-hazardous liquids
  • Military equipment
  • Milk and milk products from China
  • Playing cards
  • Precious & semi-precious stones and minerals, precious metals
  • Wild animals & plants

There are restricted items that you can view in more detail here.

Formal Imports

Alcoholic beverages, jewellery, medical & dental equipment, specific foodstuffs tobacco & related products, and x-ray machines can only be sent as Formal Imports to legal entities and not to individuals.

You’ll need to send personal letters, post cards, and telegrams through the Post Office (Correios).

The Documentation

  1. Essential: Brazilian CPF Number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física): Tax ID is mandatory for all goods shipments.
  2. Original Commercial Invoice must accompany all shipments– NOT the Pro-Forma.
  3. The waybill needs to be in English, include importer’s account number, receiver’s complete details.
  4. The quantity/variety of the content cannot reveal its commercial purpose. Provide a detailed description of contents – e.g. not simply ‘samples/gifts/spare parts’ – or shipments will be returned to origin.
  5. E-commerce (online purchasing) items need to include the freight in the Commercial Invoice, even if sent as a DTP (Duties Taxes Paid) shipment.

Using a shipping service, such as ours at TNT, will streamline your export to Brazil. We will take care of all the various complications, making the transaction much easier for you, and minimising any concerns you may have about the process.