Brazil - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.

Last published date: 2022-01-23

Business Customs

As with any other market, business travelers should be aware of several customs specific to Brazil when doing business in the country. When compared to the United States, the negotiating pace tends to be slower and is heavily based on personal contact. It is rare for important business deals to be concluded by telephone, e-mail, or letter. Many Brazilian executives do not react favorably to quick and infrequent visits by foreign sales representatives, or to changes in the negotiating team. They often prefer a continuous working relationship, ideally involving multiple visits/meetings with the same person or group of people. The Brazilian buyer is also usually interested in receiving after-sales service provided by the exporter.  

Persistent traffic issues in most major Brazilian business centers mean that sufficient time should be scheduled for transportation, as well as other possible delays. It is advisable to be punctual but to avoid showing signs of frustration or impatience with delays, some of which may be attributed to a less formal approach to time. 

During the first visit to a company, it is customary to give a gift, usually promotional items without great material value. Expensive gifts can be misunderstood as bribes and are not welcome. Be aware that business dress is often formal and conservative despite the apparent informality while conducting business.  

 Travel Advisory: 

Find more Brazil travel information at the U.S. Department of State and at the CIA’s World Factbook. 

Visa requirements

U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil for tourism or business purposes are exempt from visas by the government of Brazil. For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy. Travelers can also find out more about Brazilian consulates in the United States.   

If you are entering the country with a U.S. diplomatic or official passport you must apply for a Brazilian visa before entering Brazil. Your parent agency should have a designated person to help facilitate this process. Travelers must also apply for a Brazilian visa if they are traveling on a regular (tourist) passport for reasons other than tourism. Questions should be directed to the nearest Brazilian Consulate or Embassy outside of Brazil, or in Brazil, the consular division of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.  

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that visa adjudications are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should visit the U.S. Department of State Visa website or the U.S. Embassy in Brazil.   

Currency

Since 1994, the Brazilian currency has been the Real. Most shops only accept the local currency, at some touristic venues, hotels and some shops, other currencies, mostly U.S. dollars or Euros can be accepted. In any case, most of the foreign currencies can be exchanged or obtained at banks or approved foreign exchange shops.   

Most local credit and debit cards such as Mastercard, Visa, Cirrus and Maestro are widely accepted in most large cities, and at smaller tourist spots. American Express may not be so widely accepted. However, international visitors may have issues making purchases, so it is best to advise your bank of any upcoming travel to Brazil and to carry some local currency in case of emergency.    

ATMs are extremely common in Brazil, even in small cities. It might be hard, though, to find an ATM that take specific cards. Cirrus and PLUS networks tend to be easier to find. Most bank agencies in Brazil have ATMs, some inside and some outside. It’s more recommendable to use the indoor ATMs and to avoid using it in the evening due to potential crime. It is also advisable to monitor bank and credit card statements since PINs may be stolen at ATMs.  

To locate the nearest ATM, the main brands have locators, found at: VisaMastercard (includes Cirrus and Maestro) and American Express. Traveler’s checks are rarely accepted as a form of direct payment in Brazil. It can be cashed in exchange offices, some bank agencies, some travel agencies and hotels, but there may be heavy fees. It is not the most recommended way to exchange currency in Brazil.    

An alternative to credit cards and traveler’s checks is to use prepaid travel cards, which are accepted as debit cards and can be used at ATMs for withdrawals. Note: Some small stores, markets in some smaller cities may not accept card payments, so it is important to carry some cash.  

Telecommunications/Electronics:

Within metropolitan areas, the telecommunications system is robust and reliable.  The major cell phone service providers in Brazil are Vivo (Telefónica from Spain), TIM (Telecom Italia from Italy), Claro (América Móvil from Mexico), and Oi (Brazil). Cell phone penetration in Brazil is about 111 percent.  Wifi can be easily accessed in most hotels and restaurants in the major metropolitan areas. 82.7 percent of households in Brazil have access to internet.  

In Brazil, the type N socket and plug are standard, along with the type C plug but not socket. Most of the Brazilian states use 110-volt electricity, but some other states – mainly in the Northeast – use 220 volts. However, there is no standard voltage and within some states it may differ. Consult the electrical current information for Brazil before traveling.   

Transportation

Brazil has numerous international and domestic airports, and normally, American Airlines, Azul, Delta, Gol, Latam and United Airlines offer direct flights between Brazil and the United States.  However, during the COVID pandemic, flights and travel restrictions by both the United States and Brazil, have greatly reduced available flights.  The country’s taxi services run very well, though U.S. citizens are recommended, for safety reasons, to meet one at a taxi stand, to call a radio-dispatched taxi, or to request on an app instead of hailing a taxi on the street. Public transportation, such as busses and subways, are also available in metro areas but caution is advised. 

There are several mobile apps available to hire taxis and personal drivers for transportation inside metropolitan areas, using credit cards (including international), cash or PayPal as methods of payment.  

It is important to note that foreign visitors may face difficulties when using their international credit cards to pay for taxi and transportation services (Uber, 99Taxi) in mobile apps. It is recommended to have cash as an alternative in case any issue is encountered.  

Language

While the proficiency of English varies among people across the country, business meetings are often held in Portuguese, the national language. CS Brazil recommends an interpreter for a business visit, and we are happy to facilitate contracting one. Personal space standards in Brazil are different than those in the United States. You may find the environment more intimate space for speaking, touching and greetings and salutations.   

Despite the difference in personal space, it is better to act more formal rather than less during an initial meeting. Conversations may occur simultaneously with frequent interruptions, a sign of interest in the subject rather than of disrespect.  

Brazilians are very proud of their country, language and unique culture. To that end, it is better to refrain from making cultural references or comparisons to other countries and cultures in Latin America.   

Health

The US government does not pay medical bills and U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. Supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation is strongly recommended. If traveling with prescription medication, check to ensure the medication is legal in Brazil. Carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.   

The following diseases are prevalent:  

The most common mosquito and other animal, and insect-borne diseases, include Chagas, Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika, visceral leishmaniasis and Rabies. Other more common ailments include: 

· Traveler’s diarrhea  

· Tuberculosis  

· Schistosomiasis  

In recent years, outbreaks of these diseases have also been detected in certain areas of Brazil:  

   Yellow fever  

· Zika  

· Dengue  

· Measles  

· Polio  

Although Brazil has many elective/cosmetic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, the quality of care varies widely. If you plan to undergo surgery in Brazil, make sure that emergency medical facilities are available. Some “boutique” plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities but are not hospitals and are unable to handle emergencies. Several U.S. citizens have died while seeking medical care from non-traditional “healers” and practitioners. Ensure you have access to proper medical care if seeking such services. Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization.  

Though not required to enter Brazil, travelers wishing to be vaccinated should consider receiving yellow fever vaccine prior to travel to Brazil, as local supplies are limited. Please note: The yellow fever vaccine should be administered 10 days prior to travel in order for it to be effective. Also note: While yellow fever vaccine is not required to enter Brazil, some neighboring countries do require travelers with recent entries in Brazil to show proof of yellow fever vaccination or be denied entry. All travelers to the country are advised to carry documentation, such as a vaccination card, that they have been appropriately vaccinated for Yellow Fever. 

Find more health information for travelers, including COVID updates for Brazil, visit the CDC website

Local time, business hours, and holidays

Time in the country is noted using the 24-hour clock convention, i.e. 21:00 instead of 9:00 p.m. Brazil has four standard time zones: Brasilia (BRT), Amazon (AMT), Fernando de Noronha Archipelago (FNT), and Acre (ACT). Most visited cities by foreign tourists in the country are located in the Brasilia time zone, which is three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-3). The country used to observe daylight savings time, but in April 2019, President Bolsonaro signed a decree that Brazil would no longer observe daylight savings time.   

While office hours in Brazil are generally 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., decision-makers begin work later in the morning and stay later in the evening. The best times for calls with Brazilian executives are between 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. as well as 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., except for the city of Sao Paulo where appointments are common throughout most of the day. Business lunches often last from one to two hours.  

January, February and July are difficult months to schedule business meetings with high-level decision-makers. Schoolchildren are on vacation; hence many families choose this time to take their long vacations. Brazilians tend to go back to work after the Carnaval holiday, which usually takes place in late February or early March.  

See a list of all national holidays that the U.S. Mission in Brazil will observe for the calendar year of 2022 below:  

Date

Day

Holiday

January 1

Saturday

New Year’s Day (observed on December 31, 2021)

January 17

Monday

Martin Luther King, Jr. (U.S.)

January 20

Thursday

Saint Sebastian’s Day (B – Rio de Janeiro ONLY)

January 25

Tuesday

Sao Paulo Foundation Anniversary (B – Sao Paulo ONLY)

February 2

Wednesday

Our Lady of Navigators (B – Porto Alegre ONLY)

February 21

Monday

President’s Day (U.S.)

February 28

Monday

Carnival (B)

March 1

Tuesday

Carnival (B)

March 2

Wednesday

Ash Wednesday (B)

March 6

Sunday

Pernambuco Magna Day (B – Recife ONLY)

April 15

Friday

Good Friday (B)

April 17

Sunday

Easter (B)

April 21

Thursday

Martyrdom of Tiradentes (B)

Brasilia Foundation Day (B – Brasilia ONLY)

April 23

Saturday

Saint George’s Day (B – Rio de Janeiro ONLY)

May 01

Sunday

Labor Day (B)

May 30

Monday

Memorial Day (U.S.)

June 16

Thursday

Corpus Christi Day (B)

June 20

Monday

Juneteenth observed (U.S.)

June 24

Friday

Saint John’s Day (B – Recife ONLY)

July 4

Monday

Independence Day (U.S.)

July 9

Saturday

Sao Paulo State Day (B – Sao Paulo ONLY)

July 16

Saturday

Our Lady of Carmo (B – Recife ONLY)

August 15

Monday

Our Lady of the Assumption (B – Belo Horizonte ONLY)

September 5

Monday

Labor Day (U.S.)

September 7

Wednesday

Independence Day (B)

September 20

Tuesday

Rio Grande do Sul State Day (B – Porto Alegre ONLY)

October 10

Monday

Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day (U.S.)

October 12

Wednesday

Our Lady Aparecida (B)

November 2

Wednesday

All Souls Day (B)

November 11

Friday

Veterans Day (U.S.)

November 15

Tuesday

Proclamation of the Republic (B)

November 20

Sunday

Zumbi dos Palmares Day (B – Rio de Janeiro ONLY)

Black Awareness Day (B – Sao Paulo ONLY)

November 24

Thursday

Thanksgiving (U.S.)

November 30

Wednesday

Evangelical Day (B – Brasilia ONLY)

December 8

Thursday

Our Lady of Conception (B – Belo Horizonte and Recife ONLY)

December 26

Monday

Christmas Day observed (U.S./B)

 

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

For more information on the temporary admission of goods into Brazil, please access the Brazilian Department of Federal Revenue website.