Brazil has a number of requirements and specific procedures for import operations that may confound even Brazilians. In this article, we will present you with a complete guide to Brazilian Import operations.
In order to perform any foreign trade operation, the importer/exporter must first be registered with Secex through Siscomex. But, before being able to access Siscomex, the importer/exporter will need a Radar license - a license granted by the Receita Federal do Brasil, which is the Brazilian Federal Revenue, different from the Import License, that is issued by Siscomex. There are two different types of Radar licenses:
- Radar Pessoa Jurídica
- Radar Pessoa Física
The maximum time for the Brazilian Federal Revenue to analyse and grant or decline a request for a Radar License is 10 working days.
Radar Pessoa Jurídica
Radar Pessoa Jurídica is a Radar license exclusively for legal entities that are willing to engage in foreign trade operations. It is up to the judgement of the Brazilian Federal Revenue to decide which type of Radar Pessoa Jurídica it will grant to a legal entity. The Federal Revenue grants the Radar Pessoa Jurídica to legal entities according to the analysed financial capacity of each of them.
The Brazilian Federal Revenue defines the financial capacity of a legal entity through an analysis made every six months. The estimate of financial capacity may be reviewed at any time by the Brazilian Federal Revenue. It may be done upon application for a Radar Pessoa Jurídica, based on the information available on its database or upon request through the provision of additional information by the interested parties.
There are three different types of Radar Pessoa Jurídica.
The Limited Radar, which is valid for legal entities with a financial capacity of less than USD 150.000.
The Unlimited Radar, which is valid for legal entities with a financial capacity of more than USD 150.000.
The Express Radar, which is valid for the following entities:
- Legal entity formed as a joint-stock company, with shares traded on the stock market or over the counter market, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries
- Legal entity authorized to use the Despacho Aduaneiro Expresso, which is Portuguese for Express Customs Clearance
- Publicly owned company or mixed capital company
- Entities of direct public administration, autarchies and public foundations, autonomous public agencies, international organizations and other extraterritorial institutions
- Legal entity that intends to operate exclusively in export operations
A legal entity that applies for a Radar Pessoa Jurídica and is given a Limited Radar license has the right to appeal to the decision, if it is able to prove its financial capacity is sufficient to award it an Unlimited Radar license. The Federal Revenue will then analyse the additional documentation and decide whether to grant or refuse approval of the Unlimited Radar. The process for further analysis of financial capacity also has a maximum time of 10 working days.
The legal entity possessing a Limited Radar license is able to request a review of the accurate estimate made in the fiscal analysis if the entity wants to qualify for an Unlimited Radar modality. For such a process to occur, the legal entity must provide documentation proving that its financial capacity exceeds the one that was previously estimated.
All legal entities performing only export operations can qualify for the Express Radar license, without need of fiscal analysis that would otherwise be demanded if the entity also performed import operations.
Radar Pessoa Física
Radar Pessoa Física is a special license that is granted to individuals that intend to perform foreign trade operations in the following cases:
- For professional activities - if the importer/exporter is a farmer, an artisan or similar
- For personal collections
- For own use and consumption
Normally, all Brazilian imports require a Radar License, in order to be tracked by the Federal Revenue. However, the Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos, which is Portuguese for Brazilian Post Company offers a different type of import, that does not require any Radar License. It is the Importa Fácil.
Importa Fácil can be used by both individuals and legal entities, but with different specifications. For example, while the Importa Fácil for legal entities is only for goods with amounts up to USD 3.000, the Importa Fácil for individuals is only available for amounts between USD 500 and USD 3.000. Furthermore, the Importa Fácil for individuals does not accept the import of goods for commercial purposes.
It is important to mention that the Brazilian Post Company is not allowed to perform any import of goods that require special authorization from the consenting agencies described further below, except for the Importa Fácil Ciência which is exclusive for scientific and technological researchers registered at CNPq, the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development.
For the imported goods to be accepted by the Brazilian Post Company, it is necessary that the exporter posts the goods under the Express Mail Service modality. A list of all the countries where the Express Mail Service modality is available can be viewed on the EMS website.
The taxable value of products imported with the Importa Fácil method is the sum of the values of the goods imported, plus the shipping cost, plus any postal insurance.
Siscomex stands for Sistema Integrado de Comércio Exterior, which is Portuguese for Foreign Trade Integrated System. It is a computerized system available via this link, and responsible for integrating information on foreign trade operations such as:
- Follow up
Siscomex allows users to promptly keep up to date with cargo entering and exiting Brazil, since intervening agencies that may take part in any foreign trade operation are able to, at various stages of the operation, control and interfere in the process of the operation. Through Siscomex itself, the importer/exporter can exchange information with all intervening agencies for authorization and supervision.
In short, Siscomex stands out due to the following benefits it offers:
- Standardization of codes and nomenclatures
- Increase in the number of service points
- Elimination of parallel systems of data collection
- Simplification and standardization of documents
- Significant decrease in the volume of requested documents
- Speeding up the collection and processing of information
- Reduction of administrative costs for all involved in the operation
- Use of data in the preparation of foreign trade statistics
Entities and individuals involved in Siscomex
There are two different types of government agencies intervening in Siscomex: the managing parties and the consenting parties. The intervening government agencies responsible for administration, maintenance and improvement of Siscomex are:
- Receita Federal do Brasil, which is the Brazilian Federal Revenue, responsible for the tax and customs sectors
- Secex, which is the Foreign Trade Secretariat, responsible for the administrative area
- Bacen, the Central Bank of Brazil, responsible for foreign currency exchange control
The consenting agencies responsible for the authorization of the process of import/export of controlled goods are:
- ANCINE - National Agency of Cinema - consenting to the import of cinematographic films
- ANEEL - National Agency of Electricity - consenting to the import of electricity
- ANP - National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels - consenting to the import of petroleum and its derivatives, as well as natural gas and biofuels
- ANVISA - National Health Surveillance Agency - consenting to the import of medication, food, cosmetics, sanitary products, health products, health equipment, human organs, cigarettes and other smokeable products
- CNEN - National Commission of Nuclear Energy - consenting to the import of radioactive materials and equipment
- CNPq - National Council of Scientific and Technological Development - consenting to the import of goods destined for scientific and technological research
- DECEX - Department of Foreign Trade Operations - consenting to the import of products subject to trade protection, tariff quotas, drawback operations, goods subject to compulsory certification by INMETRO and goods subject to the supervision of price, weight, measure, classification, quality and type
- DNPM - National Department of Mineral Production - consenting to the import of asbestos and diamonds
- DPF - Department of Federal Police - consenting to the import of chemical products that may be destined for the illicit production of drugs, narcotics or that may render its user physically or psychologically dependant
- EBCT - Brazilian Mail and Telegraph Company - consenting to the import of machines for franking mail and machines for the sale of postage stamps
- Brazilian army consenting to the import of firearms, ammunitions, explosives and other war materials
- IBAMA - Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources - consenting to the import of live animals - except for domestic ones - derivatives of wild animals, certain types of wood, residues and wastes, certain chemicals, tires and certain vehicles and materials that may cause harm to the ozone layer
- INMETRO - National Institute of Metrology Standardization and Industrial Quality - consenting to the import of goods subject to products that use gas and subject to energy efficiency labelling
- MAPA - Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply - consenting to the import of animals and its products, vegetables and its products, pesticides, wines, drinks and other agricultural inputs
- MCT - Ministry of Science and Technology - consenting to the import of sensitive goods that is, materials that can be used in the making of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles
- SUFRAMA - Manaus Free Trade Zone Superintendence - consenting to the import of goods subject to the tax benefits of the Manaus Free Trade Zone
The following entities are users of Siscomex:
- Secretaria da Receita Federal do Brasil, which is Portuguese for Brazilian Federal Revenue
- Secretaria de Comércio, SECEX, which is Portuguese for Foreign Trade Secretariat
- Bacen acting in the foreign currency exchange control
- Importers, exporters and their representatives
- Depository, responsible for bonded warehouses, trustee of cargo under customs control
- Freight forwarder on international routes or transporter between bonded warehouses
The following people are allowed to be accredited to operate in Siscomex as representatives of the legal entity or individual, in the exercise of activities related to the customs clearance:
- Customs broker
- Director or employee of the represented legal entity
- Employee of an affiliate or subsidiary of the represented legal entity
- Employee or specifically designated public server - in cases of a public administration entity, autarchy and public foundation, autonomous public agency, international organization and other extraterritorial institutions
Types of documentation issued by Siscomex
Due to certain characteristics of the goods, the importer may be required to meet several requirements prior to shipment. Usually Brazilian imports are exempt from import licensing. However, for some specific goods or transactions, Brazil determines that these imports will have their licenses automatically or non-automatically granted. Imports that require an Import License, be it automatic or not, depend on the examination of documentation by one of the consenting agencies mentioned above, which may or may not grant the non-automatic license.
It is important to highlight that the Radar License and the Import License are not the same. The first one enables its owner to gain access to Siscomex and then be able to participate in foreign trade operations, being a registry of the entity at the Federal Revenue. The Import License is a document required for the import of specific goods.
Necessary documents for all imports
The following documents are required for all types of imports, being it exempt from specific licensing or not. All documents can be requested from Siscomex.
The Declaração de Importação, Portuguese for Import Declaration, is the basic document for the import clearance, completed by the importer through Siscomex, before the moment the goods clear. The import declaration is required for all import processes and comprises the complete set of information regarding commercial details, currency exchange rates and taxes which are needed by the managing agencies of Siscomex to analyse the import of products.
The Declaração Simplificada de Importação, Portuguese for Simplified Import Declaration, was specifically designed to simplify import operations, provided that the total price of the imported goods does not surpass USD 3.000. The Simplified Import Declaration may also be used to declare donations, temporary admission of goods in Brazil and unaccompanied baggage.
The Extrato da Declaração de Importação, Portuguese for Import Declaration Excerpt, is a printable document issued by Siscomex and is often requested for any customs clearance process. The Import Declaration Excerpt contains all the information available in the Import Declaration or in the Simplified Declaration License.
The Comprovante de Importação, Portuguese for Proof of Import, is a document issued after the customs officers have checked all the information on Siscomex and on the documentation related to the Import process. This item promotes the effective nationalization of goods into Brazil, being the last stage of the customs clearance process.
Additional documentation for imports requiring automatic or non-automatic import license
The Licença de Importação, Portuguese for Import License, is a document that contains information about the goods that will be imported and the import operation in general, as well as the following information:
- Name of importer
- Name of exporter
- Country of origin
- Place of unloading and clearance of goods
- Manufacturer of the goods
- Tax classification
- Quantity and net weight
- Detailed description of goods
- Unit and total price
- Payment method
- Type of taxation
As with the Simplified Import Declaration, the Licença Simplificada de Importação - Portuguese for Simplified Import License - is a document specifically designed to simplify import operations, provided that the total amount of the imported goods does not surpass USD 3.000.
The Extrato da Licença de Importação, Portuguese for Import License Excerpt is a printable document issued by Siscomex and is often requested for any customs clearance process. The Import License Excerpt contains all the information available in the Import License or in the Simplified Import License.
Necessary procedures when importing to Brazil
Before any company can ship any products to Brazil, it will need to contact a company in Brazil that will be the legal importer of the goods and which should hold all the necessary documentation on import products.
First of all, in order to perform foreign trade operations, all importers in Brazil must first be registered with Secex through Siscomex. As seen before, in order to access the Siscomex system, the Brazilian importer will need a Radar license.
After the negotiation for the import process is completed, if the goods require any authorization from one of the consenting agencies mentioned above, the importer should request an Import License or Simplified Import License from Siscomex. It is only after the Import License is granted that the goods can be loaded and shipped to Brazil.
Anytime after the goods have been shipped and before their customs clearance, the person in charge of the import process is required to complete the Import Declaration or Simplified Import Declaration of the products with Siscomex. Also, at the customs clearance, the Excerpt of the Import Declaration and, if necessary, the Excerpt of the Import License should be presented to the customs agent. In turn, the customs agent will hand the importer the Proof of Import, promoting the effective nationalization of goods into Brazil, being the last stage of the customs clearance process.
If the foreign documentation necessary for clearing the goods at customs is not in Portuguese or in English the importer should provide a sworn translated version of it.
The import of goods can not be released until the importer issues a remittance to the exporter. It is only with the remittance in hand that the exporter should issue a commercial invoice and an export order. The full payment of the goods must be cleared out of Brazil through the Brazilian Central bank in order to avoid problems during the customs clearance of the goods into Brazil.
It is important to note that Brazilian banks work with IBAN, the International Bank Account Number, codes which are most commonly used in America and Europe. Chinese banks use BIC/SWIFT codes for international transfers.
Taxation of goods
As for the taxation of each product, it is necessary to say that Brazil, together with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguayadopt the Mercosul Common Nomenclature, the NCM, which is based on the international method of product classification, the Harmonized System. The classification of goods under the NCM code defines which taxes and rates are due.
Generally speaking, the following taxes will apply when importing any goods to Brazil:
For more detail about tax rates and classifications according the NCM system, please have a look at our Tax Index.
Customs clearance in Brazil
Before the goods arrive in Brazil, the importer will have to pay the liable taxes to the Federal Revenue, including Import Duty, IPI, PIS, COFINS and ICMS. With the confirmation of payment to the Federal Revenue and all the other documents that the importer amassed during the process, the customs clearance may be realized.