Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


7 Main Reasons Why Goods Get Stuck In Brazilian Customs

Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Regulations in force by Brazilian Customs may result in some goods getting stuck at custom when exporting to Brazil. In this article, we will take a look at the 7 main reasons why goods get stuck at Brazilian customs.

The primary reason why goods happen to get stuck at Brazilian Customs tends to be a lack of communication between the exporter and the importer. When these two parties communicate well, it is most likely that the goods exported to Brazil will not get stuck and thus will be cleared without complications. As some imported goods may require special procedures and documentation, it is the responsibility of the importer to inform the exporter about them, consequently diminishing the chances of getting goods stuck at Customs.

1. Proper documentation

The main reason why goods get stuck at Brazilian Customs is the lack of proper documentation that needs to be presented whenever goods need to be cleared. For example, if any of the following information that was provided on the invoice regarding the imported goods is different to what the imported goods really are, these goods will get stuck at customs:

  • Name of importer
  • Invoice number
  • Place and date of dispatch
  • Quantity shipped
  • Full description of all items including brand, serial and part number
  • Unit price in USD
  • Total price
  • Harmonized System code for each invoiced item
  • Gross & Net Weight
  • Total FOB Value
  • Total Freight Charge
  • Total Value

But, beyond these minor problems, the importer needs to be authorized by the Brazilian government in order to perform international trade and handle all the necessary documentation to the customs authorities. In order to be authorized by the Brazilian government to perform international trade, the importer must have a Radar license. In addition to this, the importer must also prepare the following documentation:

2. Anvisa

Anvisa, the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency, is responsible for overseeing the import of medicines, food, health products, cosmetics and other such goods in Brazil. Anvisa directly affects these imports and exports, as each has to meet their requirements. Since products that may affect the health of their user are subject to Anvisa monitoring, they must be analysed by Anvisa even before they enter Brazilian territory. This analysis occurs in three steps:

  • When it is required by the importer
  • Before the embarking of the goods
  • In the moment of the customs clearance

The import of raw material products, semi-elaborated, in bulk or finished forms are also subject to an Import License and to an Autorização Prévia Favorável de Embarque, which is Portuguese for Previous Embarking Authorization, before the goods reach Brazilian customs for clearance. The importing company must forward to Anvisa an application for shipment authorization, by completing a Request for Authorization of Lading Abroad to release the shipment.

In all of the stages of the import of the products mentioned above, Anvisa can deny the import of such products, unless the product is already registered at Anvisa. It is not uncommon to see health products and cosmetics get stuck at Brazilian customs because they failed to fulfill Anvisa’s requirements regarding these goods.


The Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento, which is Portuguese for Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, MAPA, is the regulating agency responsible for overseeing the import of goods of animal and vegetable origin. As is the case for health products or cosmetics imports, the import of such goods is subject to an Import Licensing that is required to clear the goods at Brazilian customs.

The company importing goods of animal and vegetable origin must be registered with MAPA. To register it is necessary to present the following documents to the SIF, the Federal Inspection Service:

  • Copy of the Articles of Association
  • Copy of CNPJ Card
  • Registration of Company Form
  • Importer Declaration of Suitable Conditions for Product Storage

It is also the responsibility of SIF agents to oversee whether the import of goods of animal and vegetable origin were legal. These agents pay special attention to whether sanitary requirements were respected, since they could compromise the Brazilian sectors dealing with animals and vegetables.

Also subject to MAPA inspection is the packaging or pallets that came with the goods. When transporting goods in wooden boxes for example, a Fumigation Certificate or Heat Treatment Certificate will be required.

4. Inmetro

Inmetro requires that some products, which can be found in this article, be certified in order to be commercialized in Brazil, and the same regulations are imposed on imported goods. In this case, the product must either be certified by:

  • A foreign regulatory agency that is acknowledged by Inmetro
  • Inmetro, upon arriving in Brazil

For all products that are subject to Compulsory Certification by Inmetro, a special license is needed in order to import them. For all cases present in Regulation Number 354 by Inmetro, a Declaração de Liberação para Importação de Produtos, Portuguese for Declaration of Release for Import of Products, is to be requested from Inmetro.

5. Tax Auditor of the Brazilian Federal Revenue

The Receita Federal do Brasil, which is the Brazilian Federal Revenue, is responsible for enforcing customs regulations. For this purpose, the Tax Auditor of the Brazilian Federal Revenue is also allowed to oversee the import of any goods to Brazil and thus can seize any goods if they understand that there is something wrong with the way the goods were dealt with, especially in the landing process, even if the documents presented by the importer were in order.

6. Goods that are forbidden to be imported to Brazil

The following goods will get stuck at Brazilian customs because their import is forbidden:

  • Cigarettes and drinks made in Brazil, but commercialized exclusively abroad
  • Cigarettes that are not commercialized in their country of origin
  • Toys and replicas of firearms, unless it is to integrate the collection of a person authorized by the Brazilian Army
  • Wildlife species without a license and technical advice issued by the Ministry of the Environment
  • Products marked with fake, altered or imitated marks, or a false indication of origin
  • Goods which production has infringed copyright law
  • Products containing genetically modified organisms
  • Pesticides, their components and related products
  • Offending merchandise to morals, good customs, health or public order
  • Narcotics or illegal substances
  • Refurbished goods
  • Any kind of trash

7. Other authorizing agencies

The following agencies also have authority to get specific items stopped at Brazilian customs:

  • National Commission of Nuclear Energy, CNEN, for radioactive materials and other emitting equipment
  • National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, CNPQ, for goods destined for technological and scientific research
  • Department of Foreign Trade Operations, DECEX, for goods subject to trade protection and to fiscalization of price, weight, measures, classification and type
  • Department of Federal Police, DPF, for chemicals that may be intended for the preparation of illicit narcotics, psychotropic substances or cause physical or psychological dependence
  • Brazilian Army, for firearms and war equipment
  • Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, IBAMA, for live animals and products thereof and certain types of wood
  • Ministry of Science and Technology, MCT, goods that can be used in the manufacture of missiles and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
  • Superintendence of the Manaus Free Trade Zone, SUFRAMA, for goods that were imported due to the tax benefits of the Manaus Free Trade Zone

Loss of Cargo

Goods stuck at Brazilian customs have a maximum deadline to be cleared, otherwise the goods can be either seized by the Federal Revenue and then auctioned or destroyed. There are different deadlines for what is called Pena de Perdimento, Portuguese for Loss of Cargo, to happen:

  • 90 days after landing, if the customs clearance process was not initiated
  • 60 days from the date of suspension of the customs clearance process, by act or omission of the importer or their representative
  • 60 days from the date of notification of the owner of the goods from shipwrecks and other accidents
  • 45 days provided that the traveller does not start its customs clearance process of goods not regarded as luggage
We would like to thank the customs and bonded warehouse specialist, Avelino Oliveira for the background information to this article.