It was virtually impossible to find imported products in Brazil before 1990. The Brazilian government made use of protectionist measures and extremely high taxes to discourage importing of goods.
This picture however changed when ex-president Fernando Collor de Mello broke the importing barrier by reducing the average importing taxes and abolishing many limiting quotes.
Although it became easier to import products, there are still other challenges that companies will face when bringing their goods into Brazil. Besides of meeting prohibitions on the import of certain items such as used clothings, cars and machinery, importers have to deal with complex cascading taxes and charges that increase significantly the cost of importing products into the country. In most cases taxes (both federal and state) and other charges will add about 100% to the importing cost, depending on what type of product and which state is the final destination for the import.
How to start importing
All importers must be registered at Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX) through a system named Sistema integrado de comércio exterior (Siscomex). This system registers, monitors and controls international trades with Brazil. You will be able access to Siscomex from banks, broker agencies or terminals on foreign trading related governmental agencies. It is also possible to access the system from your office if you obtain a password at Federal Revenue Secretariat.
You will be registered at Siscomex as importer or exporter at Registro de Exportadores e Importadores (REI) the first time you are importing goods. The next step is to obtain an importing license if your product requires one. There are two types of license:
- Automatic license: Automatic Licenses are granted to most imports into Brazil.
- Non-automatic license: These are necessary for products that require approval from other ministries or agencies, such as:
- National Petroleum Agency (ANP)
- Brazilian Institute of Environment (IBAMA)
- Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT)
The list of products that require non-automatic licenses can be found here.
It is important to make sure you have the necessary license before you ship the goods, as some items are not allowed to enter the country without the documentation in place. Unfortunately, if your product is under a non-automatic license regime, it may take several months before you receive your license.
RTS - Simplified taxation regime
If you you are planning to import your products using the regular mail service or couriers, you may benefit from a simplified taxation regime when your import has a value under USD 3000. RTS however doesn't apply for alcoholic beverages, tobacco and smoking related products.
The fixed import tax is 60% of product value declared in the commercial invoice plus the freight and freight insurance costs if these are not included in the value of the goods. The procedure to pay the tax will depend on the carrier you choose:
If the goods worth less than USD 500, taxes (import tax and ICMS) are paid at the post office when you are picking up the goods. For goods that worth above USD 500 and below USD 3000, you must register the import at Siscomex to obtain a Declaração Simplificada de Importação (DSI). In addition to ICMS (VAT) you will be required to pay BRL 150 for customs clearance.
Courier will calculate and pay the necessary taxes directly to the Federal Revenue Secretariat, and the addressee will be charged later.