One of the most recurring questions we receive from our readers is related to sending and receiving gifts via the Brazilian postal service, known as Correios. Here we have the ultimate guide to answer all these questions.
Brazilians love to give and receive gifts but sometimes a gesture of appreciation may end up giving an undesirable headache to the recipient of the gift in Brazil, as they find themselves in a situation where they have to pay a large sum to receive a gift that they were not even expecting.
Although Correios has been awarded with prizes year after year as one of the most reliable institutions in Brazil, we have received several hundred messages from angered foreigners who have posted gifts to Brazil, and heard weeks later that the recipient was required to pay taxes in order to retrieve their gifts. Besides import taxes, they are sometimes also charged handling fees and storage costs for their parcels. Others complain that the recipient never got the parcel at all, or that it took several months for the gifts to get to the recipient.
Firstly, it is important to stress that imported goods to Brazil are taxable, even if declared as gifts. Therefore if you have previously sent a parcel to Brazil which was not taxed, you should interpret this as an exception, not as a rule. The Brazilian Federal Revenue Service, known as Receita Federal, oversees all the incoming parcels and collects systematically some samples for inspection, which explains why some are taxed, and other ones are not.
Which cases are exempt of taxes?
As a rule of thumb, parcels sent from a private individual abroad to another private individual in Brazil with items that have a total value below USD 50 are exempt from paying taxes. If the gifts are sent from a company or to a company, the recipient is taxable. It is important to be accurate when you are declaring the value of the goods, as stating false information is considered a crime, and if the fiscalisation retains your package for verification you will find yourself in trouble.
Never try the excuse that the product is used in order to decrease the declared value, as this will not stick and you might be caught by the fiscalisation. In these cases the agent may set the value they consider to be the local market price for the product or similar, which may even be higher than the actual value of the goods. You will also risk having taxes calculated on the price of a new product even if goods are actually used, as the agent will not evaluate its condition.
As said previously, you may be able to receive packages with declared amounts which are slightly higher than USD 50 without the payment of taxes but this is an exception, not a rule.
What do I do when my package is already charged taxes?
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do after your parcel is taxed other than asking for your recipient to pay for it, or else the parcel may, in best case, be returned to you. There is little use trying to talk to Correios or Receita Federal about it, as little will be done to solve it. We know this is upsetting, but that is how the local regulation works and there is very little that can be done.
If your parcel was sent through an express courier like Fedex, DHL, UPS, TNT or alike, the package will be charged regardless of the declared amount, so be prepared to pay the taxes. These express services will calculate the taxes for all packages that arrive into the country in order to clear them quickly and fulfill delivery times. You may contact your courier to verify if there is an option for the sender to carry all local taxes.
Our best advice is to avoid sending gifts that are worth more than USD 50, and if possible try to use the regular postal service, not the express.
Contacting Correios or Receita Federal
If you still need to talk to Correios, you can try to reach them on the following phone numbers:
- 3003 0100 for capitals and metropolitan regions
- 0800 725 7282 for other cities in Brazil
- 0800 725 0100 for suggestion and complaints
To reach Receita Federal is far more difficult as they do not provide phone numbers or addresses for their offices where you can solve these issues in person. The communication with Receita Federal is often intermediated by the courier or postal service, and therefore to have direct access to them is virtually impossible. However, you can try to formalise a complaint via the Finance Ministry Ombudsman, which also handles issues related to Receita Federal. The Ombudsman contacts are:
- Phone number 0800 702 1111, Monday through Friday from 8AM to 8PM
- Completing the form online on the Finance Ministry Ombudsman website
Note that these telephone numbers may not be working if you are calling from a number outside Brazil, and they do not provide specialised service in English.
What if I want to send gifts above USD 50?
For parcels up to USD 500, the custom clearance procedures are relatively simple and handled by Correios. Correios will perform the calculation of taxes and you will have to pay them upon retrieval of the package at the post office.The local postal office will send the recipient a telegram or a notice with information and instructions on how to pick up the parcel and pay the taxes. The taxes will be payed through a simplified taxation invoice, or Nota Tributação Simplificada, known for the acronym NTS. Most post office agencies only accept the payment in cash.
Parcels with items above USD 500 and up to USD 3 000 can no longer benefit from the simplified scheme described above. Usually the best way to ship these kind of parcels via Correios is to agree with the recipient to use the modality “Importa Fácil” by Correios. However, Importa Fácil will require the issuance of a commercial invoice and a simplified import declaration, known as DSI, along with a simplified import license, LSI. To issue these documents you will be charged handling fees of BRL 290 in addition to the shipping costs and taxes. The recipient must also be registered on the Importa Fácil systems and that they follow a few procedures outlined on the Correios website.
What fees will the recipient have to pay if the gift is taxed?
If the gift is imported via Correios, either using NTS or Importa Fácil, the taxes will be 60% of the customs value plus ICMS if applicable. The ICMS will apply depending on the state where the parcel is delivered, so you may need to check that with the recipient. Customs value is calculated as a sum of value of goods, shipping and insurance.
If the parcel has a declared value of less than USD 500, Correios will add a handling fee of BRL 12 plus storage fees if the parcel is not picked up within the specified date on the notice or telegram.
For cases when the gift is imported via Importa Fácil a boleto with all taxes will be generated and will be sent by e-mail to the recipient.
Wrongfully taxed gifts
If you are not intimidated by all this bureaucracy and still believe that the parcel you shipped or received was wrongfully taxed, it is possible to file a complaint at the post office agency where the parcel is stored before you make the payment of the taxes and retrieve it.
The procedure requires that you complete forms which can be found here, and that you email several documents to the Federal Revenue Service and to the Postal Service. The e-mail addresses and further instructions must be obtained at the local postal office. There is no set time frame for the analysis process to be completed, and you may be requested to send additional documents to backup your complaint.
Note that there is no guarantee that your complaint will be accepted and during this process daily storage fees charged by the postal office will incur. In case your complaint is denied, you will end up having to pay for late fees related to importing taxes, as the due date will remain unchanged.