Brazil - Country Commercial Guide
Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2023-03-27


Brazil’s construction industry has faced major challenges over the last few years. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the far-reaching “Operation Car Wash” corruption scandal (Lava-Jato in Portuguese) between 2014 and 2021, implicated several of Brazil’s major construction companies, putting them at the center of police investigations and negatively impacting their ability to do business. This has created opportunities for international companies in the Brazilian market.

In March 2020, the market reached its lowest activity rate in four years. To counteract this, the government implemented several measures, including financial assistance from the Ministry of Finance and the national banking system with the goal of facilitating new credit lines for the construction sector. The measure helped retain over 1.2 million jobs and the construction of over 530,000 new residential units. This construction is helping meet growing demand in the real estate sector. According to the Brazilian Chamber of the Construction Industry (CBIC), 2021 was the best year ever for the real estate sector, in terms of the number of new buildings countrywide, and the growth expectation for 2022 is even higher.

The Brazilian government has programs that promote the development of a wide variety of infrastructure projects. In 2016, the government created the Investment Partnerships Program (Programa de Parcerias de Investimentos – PPI), which aims to increase private capital in infrastructure projects in Brazil. The purpose of the PPI is to expand and strengthen the relationship between the public and the private sectors through partnership contracts (including concessions, public-private partnerships, and the leasing of public assets).  Another federal project is the low-income housing project “Casa Verde e Amarela” (formerly known as “Minha Casa Minha Vida”), a program launched in 2009 that has undertaken the development of 6 million housing units in the last 10 years, with more than 4 million already complete.  Though the federal government budget sent to Congress in September 2022 forecasts only $15 million for the program in 2023, there is a good likelihood that this will be revised by a new administration, increasing it over the next few years. This will recreate business opportunities for U.S. companies in areas such as pre-fabricated homes, pre-molded products, drywall technologies, lighting, urban planning and others.

Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services

The U.S. Commercial Service recommends that U.S. firms with no physical presence in Brazil, partner with Brazilian firms before bidding directly on projects. Foreign architecture and engineering firms with international awards or a specialized niche have been the most successful at attracting partnerships with Brazilian firms and overcoming registration hurdles. Having a local office with the necessary licensing to do design work in Brazil is beneficial due to the hefty taxes levied by Brazil for importing services, including engineering and architecture services. 

U.S. firms looking to do business in Brazil should take a long-term approach, as starting a business in Brazil and obtaining the necessary approvals to do architectural work in the country can be a long and onerous process.

Additionally, in the short to medium term, the unfavorable exchange rate for Brazilian buyers could continue to be a limitation for the importation of U.S. goods and services.

Imports Requirements and Documentations

The general rule is that any foreign company can be a partner, investor or shareholder of a Brazilian company, making the Brazilian company a subsidiary of the foreign entity. The Brazilian company will then be fully governed by Brazilian law and will have the same rights and responsibilities as any other Brazilian company. 

Opening a branch of a foreign company in Brazil can be a complicated process. This requires a specific authorization from the Brazilian Ministry of Economy. A foreign company that wishes to install a local branch in Brazil will have to send a formal request to the ministry where the National Department of Trade Registration, known as DNRC, will evaluate the request. 

It is important to emphasize that all companies formed in Brazil need a physical address. A virtual address is not accepted as a fiscal address. For operations where there are several companies registered at the same office address, it is common to specify which room each company is registered to, as this makes each address unique for fiscal reporting purposes. 

Selling to the Government

In the case of engineering, architecture or construction services for government projects (mostly infrastructure projects), public tenders which are usually open to foreign companies are publicized. In April 2021, the GOB adopted a new Public Procurement Law which eases the participation of foreign bidders, though it is still recommended that any foreign firm looking to participate in a public tender have some form of local presence, however limited it may be.  International companies that do not have a presence in Brazil pursue opportunities primarily through their local commercial representatives, who participate in the bidding processes, provide aftersales services, and identify business opportunities.  State and municipal utilities regularly subcontract private Brazilian firms to perform specific projects, which often require international expertise and technologies.

Distribution & Sales Channels 

As in most other industry sectors, foreign service providers must either establish themselves in the country or have a local representative to be successful in Brazil, as explained above. 


Price is a critical factor in the purchase decisions, particularly in public bidding programs. According to the new Public Procurement Law, the winning bids in Brazil are chosen based on one of the three principles: lowest price, best technology or a combination of both.

Leading Sectors 

Leading sectors in the ACE industry include: 

  • Infrastructure Projects (ports, airports, railways, highways) 
  • Urban Planning 
  • Real Estate: new or retrofit 
  • Industrial: new or retrofitted plants 
  • Hospitality (new hotels, retrofit of existing hotels, transformation of residential buildings into hotels) 
  • Health Sectors (new hospitals and upgrades to existing hospitals) 
  • Education 
  • HVAC 
  • Furniture design 
  • Drywall technologies 
  • Prefabricated homes
  • Pre-molded products
  • Lighting (residential, commercial, industrial, urban) 
  • Sports venue design and equipment 
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) process 
  • Landscaping 
  • Dams decommissioning
  • Building Automation
  • Constructechs and Proptechs


In a country of over 200 million people spread over 27 states, there are numerous opportunities waiting to be explored by those eager to embrace new challenges and partner with creative and entrepreneurial Brazilians. With respect to the architecture, construction and engineering (ACE) sectors, green and sustainable businesses are gaining more attention. This includes legacy opportunities in several cities, such as large infrastructure projects. The government is seeking to increase U.S. private sector participation in infrastructure projects, with a d federal pipeline of projects in ports, airports, rail, and highways. There are also projects at the state and municipal levels, in areas such as sanitation. 

Brazilian clients prefer to work with firms that have certain expertise that is normally not available on the domestic market to justify the typically higher cost of hiring foreign firms. For example, an area that is booming in the ACE sector is construction technology, or Construtech as it is often called in Brazil. Startups are investing in areas such as field management, equipment and construction materials marketplaces, and applications in mobile and cloud technologies, robotics, and software for the construction industry. Also, startups related to real estate (Proptechs) are a growing market. As of September 2022, there are already over 950 Construtech and Proptech firms in Brazil.

It is recommended that new projects contain sustainable or “green” content, according to LEED, AQUA and other certification programs. According to the U.S. and the Brazilian Green Building Councils, Brazil ranked seventh in LEED registrations worldwide in 2021, with over 1.2 million square meters of certified buildings, trailing only the United States, China, Canada, India, South Korea, Spain and the U.A.E.

The U.S. Commercial Service in Brazil would be pleased to help U.S. ACE firms in fostering their exports of goods and services to Brazil, helping to identify business opportunities and potential commercial partners, through our services, described at .

Many U.S. firms successfully benefited from these services, including engineering companies specialized in stadiums and Olympic venues, architecture firms specialized in golf courts and architecture firms specialized in cultural venues such as museums.


  • The Brazilian Council for Architecture and Urbanism (CAU)
  • The Brazilian Association of Architecture Firms (ASBEA)
  • The Federal Council for Engineering and Agronomy (CONFEA)
  • The Brazilian Association of Architectural and Consulting Engineering Companies (SINAENCO)
  • The Brazilian Chamber of the Construction Industry (CBIC)
  • The Brazilian Association of Engineering Consultants (ABCE)
  • The Brazilian Green Building Council (GBC Brasil)
  • Ministry of Infrastructure – Concession projects

For further information about finding local partners or any additional information, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service Industry Specialist at