Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


How To Start A Supermarket In Brazil

Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


As the bureaucratic process of starting any business in Brazil is quite complicated, it is to be expected that starting a supermarket might not be the easiest task either. In this article we will explain how to start a supermarket in Brazil.

Different classifications for supermarkets in Brazil

The denomination given to supermarkets depends on the size of its sales area. The three different classifications of supermarkets in Brazil are:

  • Minimarket/grocery store - sales area smaller than 300m²
  • Supermarket - sales area between 300m² and 5.000m²
  • Hypermarket - sales area larger than 5.000m²

It is also worth noting that all supermarkets in Brazil are shops that predominantly sell food products. Although, hypermarkets and supermarkets are known to offer a variety of different products such as household items, cleaning products and clothing.

Company registration in Brazil

It is important to mention that a supermarket is a company, and thus must be duly registered as such.

Registering with the state’s Board of Trade

Any person - or partners, if it´s a liability company - wanting to establish a company in Brazil must first register the company’s activities with the Junta Comercial, which is Portuguese for Board of Trade in the state in which the company will establish itself. In order to do this, the following documents and procedures must be followed:

  • Verify that the company’s name is not already in use, since two companies with the same name cannot exist in the same state
  • DARF, Documento de Arrecadação da Receita Federal which is Portuguese for Collection Document of the Federal Revenue, is a payment slip used to pay fees to the Federal Revenue. The code that should be used is 6621, which is for the registration of a business
  • Capa de processo, which is a document that requires that the Board of Trade files the act
  • Ficha de Cadastro Nacional, the National Registration Form, informing the identification of the company (name, location, legal nature), equity and economic activities
  • Articles of association also known as Estatuto Social da Empresa
  • If the company is a micro or small business, the owner must present a Declaração de Enquadramento, stating that the business fits the definition of a micro or small business
  • Notarized copy of identification document and CPF of the owner or of the partners. In case there is a legal entity that is a partner in the new business, a notarized copy of the CNPJ must also be provided
  • Copy of proof of residence of the holder or of the partners
  • Declaração de Desimpedimento dos sócios, a statement informing that any partner is not convicted or is under effects of conviction, to become an administrator of a company

When the registration of the company is completed by the state’s Board of Trade, a NIRE, Company Registration Identification Number, is issued.

Registering for a CNPJ

After receiving the NIRE, you need to register the company as a taxpayer, which means getting a CNPJ.

By means of an agreement between the Federal Revenue Service and most states’ Board of Trade, the process for applying or changing a CNPJ can be done through most state’s Board of Trade, which can accelerate the process. A network - REDESIM, National Network for Simplification of Registration and Legalization of Business - has been established to simplify the process.

To start the process, the applicant, who is responsible for the legal entity, must download software called PGD to generate the required forms from the Federal Revenue Service’s website. It is necessary to complete the DBE, Basic Entry Form. Once this is complete, the applicant must download the software application named ReceitaNet, available here.

Through ReceitaNet, the DBE, along with the Ficha Cadastral de Pessoa Jurídica which is Portuguese for Registration Form for Corporate Entities, are sent to the state’s Board of Trade. The Board of Trade will check all the documentation and once verification is complete they will send it to the Federal Revenue Service office where the CNPJ number will be issued.

Applying for a Business License

With a registered CNPJ number, the applicant must then contact the municipality or state government to obtain a Licença de Funcionamento, Portuguese for Business License. This license allows the operation of commercial activities. This is done at the Treasury Department in each state. The necessary documentation for obtaining a business license is:

  • Prior consultation of address made by the local authority, since each municipality has different laws concerning where specific activities can be carried out
  • Application for a business license
  • Statement of responsibility
  • Articles of association registered with the Board of Trade
  • CNPJ card
  • Documento de Arrecadação Avulso, DAR, a document, similar to the DARF, for the payment of administrative fees to the government

Registry on the INSS

After receiving the Business License, the company is able to start trading. Regardless of whether the company employs people, it is required to register with the INSS, The Brazilian Social Security institution. Despite being just the initial partners, the company must be registered with Social Security and pay the corresponding taxes. Thus, the company representative must contact a Social Security Agency to request the registration of the company and the people responsible for it. The deadline for registration is 30 days from when trading commenced.

Authorization to print invoices

The company must apply for authorization to print invoices and authentication of tax books. This is done at the local administration of each city. Companies that perform activities relating to industry and commerce should contact the Department of Treasury of each state.

Further information on how to register for this authorization can be found in this article.

Fire security measures

All facilities must be compliant with the fire department requirements regarding prevention, adoption of security measures and fire fighting actions. Each state has its own firefighters’ department responsible for supervising all companies.

Sanitary License

Although there are no specific legislation regulating supermarkets in Brazil, it is necessary to pay attention to some sanitary requirements.

As supermarkets are shops that predominantly sell food products, a Alvará Sanitário, which is Portuguese for Sanitary License, is required in order for a supermarket to operate legally.

Brazilian law states that a Sanitary License is required for all industrial or commercial premises where food is:

  • Manufactured
  • Prepared
  • Processed
  • Packed
  • Transported
  • Sold
  • Deposited

Brazilian law also states that the sale of cleaning products is only permitted in the same building as the sale of food if both goods are displayed in separate locations and if the premises are inspected by an agent from the official sanitary authority.

In Brazil, sanitary laws are enforced by ANVISA - the National Health Surveillance Agency - at federal level, through SNVS, the National System of Health Surveillance. But, the inspection of premises that manage food is done at a state level, through Centro de Vigilância Sanitária de São Paulo, which is Portuguese for Health Surveillance Center of São Paulo, for the state of São Paulo for example.

Necessary documentation to obtain a Sanitary License

The following documents are required in order to obtain a Sanitary License for legal entities and individuals:

  • Requerimento de Inspeção Sanitária, which is Portuguese for Application for Sanitary Inspection
  • Copy of Articles of Association
  • Copy of CNPJ - for legal entities - or copy of RG and CPF - for individuals

Also, special attention is required in cases where the supermarket might sell medicine. Selling medicine is a specially regulated activity, please check our article about how to open a drugstore in Brazil.

Additional licenses

As supermarkets offer various products and whose commerce is regulated by the government, some additional licenses may be required.

For instance, ANVISA, regulates the trade of various products that may cause harm to human health, including sanitizing products and cosmetics.

For all companies wanting to trade with the products mentioned above, an Operation License or Autorização de Funcionamento, is required. The documents necessary for applying for the Operation License are:

  • Original and copy of Formulário de Petição de Autorização, which is Portuguese for Application Form for Authorization, downloaded via this link
  • Payment slip, proving that the company paid the fees for issuance of the Operating License
  • Copy of Articles of Association, clarifying the reason why the regulated activities will be conducted
  • CNPJ number
  • List containing the addresses of all branches, warehouses and representatives
  • List of products that the company intends to sell
  • Termo de Responsabilidade Técnica, which is Portuguese for Technical Responsibility Term, issued by the Health Surveillance department of the municipality
  • Relatório de Inspeção - Portuguese for Inspection Report - with conclusive technical opinion, also issued by the Health Surveillance Organ from the municipality is required.

In addition to those already mentioned, the following documents are to be presented in cases where the supermarket wants to sell sanitizing products:

  • A declaration containing the following information: company name; name of legal representative; name and registration number of responsible technician at the Regional Council
  • Organization chart
  • Copy of the Sanitary License

The Application Form for Authorization is to be submitted online, via ANVISA’s online registration system, available via this link. The supermarket can only start trading the regulated products after the Authorization has been issued by ANVISA.