Brazil is the largest South American country, population around 214 million, and by GDP is the 12th largest world economy, with a large manufacturing industry. Brazil attracts nearly three million visitors annually, to its vibrant culture, famous beaches, tropical climate, food and music. To visit for holidays, culture, to see friends and family, business purposes and sporting activities, many countries’ nationals need not apply for a visa and can stay for up to 90 days, extendable to a maximum of 180 days a year.
Companies who are setting up an entity in Brazil and onboarding staff face big issues involving work visas and permits, which most countries’ nationals require when brought in from abroad. Exceptions include nationals of Mercosur agreement countries who can enter, stay, and work for two years with just their national ID. Trying to oversee expansion into a new territory, maybe thousands of miles away as well as running a successful business at home, can be problematic, time consuming and frustrating.
Few companies have the resources when it comes to work documentation and many turn to experts such as Bradford Jacobs who provide the know-how to sidestep these issues. Through our Employer of Record (EOR) platforms, we ensure all your employees comply with work permit and Visa regulations. We recruit your employees in Argentina through our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) networks without the need for Visas or permits, putting into action our local knowledge of the region along with our 20 years of global experience. The result? Your company is up and running within days rather than weeks or even months.
The different types of Visas and Work Permits for Brazil
Many countries’ nationals can visit Brazil for up to 180 days in a 12-month period for a holiday, cultural, sporting or business purposes without a visa
Those who do not qualify for the visa waiver, can apply for the Visitor (aka Visit) Visa.
People looking for work also have the opportunity to locate there – with the correct paperwork. Others, wanting to invest also have a route into the economy. However, finding a job in Brazil is not easy for such reasons as the ability to speak Portuguese, having qualifications and work experience for the highly-skilled jobs which can be found in IT, finance and engineering sectors. Also, most positions are offered to the local workforce first.
One way of entering the job market is with an Intra-company Transfer allowing companies to relocate their staff. Finding employment before leaving the home country is also recommended, as the process for work documentation can be lengthy and it is the employer that applies for the work visa and acts as a sponsor.
Government Departments responsible for immigration are:
Ministry of Labour (MTE) with the General Coordination of Immigration (CGIg) dealing with requests for work permits for expatriates
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) grants visas. Consulates and embassies abroad issues visas.
Ministry of Justice (MJ) coordinates migration
National Immigration Council (CNIg) are policy makers for different ministries
Federal Police (PF) control border safety and immigrant registration
Documentation to Work in Brazil from outside the country
Work Visa, giving permission for employees with a job offer or contract to enter and work in Brazil
Work Authorisation (aka Permit) which the employer applies for from the General Immigration Coordination (CGIg), an agency of the Ministry of Labour. This is a pre-approval permit for the Work Visa
‘Prior Residence Permit for Work Purposes’ is applied for before the Work Visa, by the employee at embassies and consulates overseas and are generally for up to two years, allowing employees to stay and work. The employer supplies relevant documentation to the (CGIg), and the consulate is notified when approved. A pre-requisite for the Work Visa
CRNM i.e., National Migration Registry Card is required as the new national ID for foreigners who have a Temporary Visa / Residence Permit. It includes the Brazilian ID or the Tax ID (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas) CPF number
A CPF Number is needed for buying most things in Brazil, from a phone to airline tickets. Employees can apply online or at a Brazilian Embassy or Consulate overseas when applying for the visa. It may need to be in the system when registering and applying for the CRNM with the Federal Police.
Different types of Visas
There are two types of Visas in Brazil:
Short term – for people staying for up to 90 days – A Temporary Visa is required if foreigners need a longer stay.
Visitor Visa (VIVI). In 2017 and 2018, there were changes made to the visa system (and in July 2022 updates) giving a more simplified system including:
Holidays, visits to friends and cultural trips (previous Tourist Visa).
Business trips e.g., conferences, interviews, networking, negotiating contracts, investigating business opportunities (previous Business Visa).
Consultancy and auditing.
Artistic and sporting activities.
Long term – for those wanting to stay, live or work longer than 90 days.
Temporary Visas. These depend on visit’s purpose and duration and enables living and working in the country. Types of visas include:
Teaching or Academic research (VITEM I)
Study (VITEM IV)
Work Visa V (VITEM-V) includes those with an employment contract with a legally registeredcompany/entity in Brazil; also, those providing Technical Support.
Investment Visa (VITEM IX) which includes Intra-company transferees in managerial, executive or directors’ positions and foreigners who invest in a Brazilian entity
Artistic and Athletic Events (VITEM XII)
Digital Nomad Visa (VITEM XIV) launched in 2018 for foreigners to live and work for 12 months, which can be extended for a further year. Applicants require earnings of US$1500 (€1,470) per month (from sources abroad) or US$18,000 (€17,650) in the bank, have valid medical insurance for length of stay with no criminal record.
Note: There are also VIVI or VITEM Visas covering medical treatment; religious purposes; athletes, volunteering and family reunion
The Main Work Visa for Brazil is the VITEM V for
Employees who have found a job and received an employment contract.
Technical support or assistance (which can be fast tracked for processing). Or technology transfer of services under a contract or agreement between foreign companies and Brazilian entities
Important: The VITEM V is received from an embassy or consulate in country of residence. If people looking for a job enter Brazil on a Visitor Visa (VIVI), this cannot be changed or upgraded to be able to work; they must leave the country and reapply for the correct visa.
There are a few exceptions with regards to Work Visas and permits for members of the Mercosur
Agreement who can enter, stay, and work for two years with just their national ID.
How to apply for Visas and Work Permits?
It is important to understand which authorities are responsible for which documentation and what paperwork is required by the employer and employee. Also, what documents need attesting to, translating and legalising. There are also quotas for local hires versus foreigners, payroll percentages and salary restrictions.
Here we cover the requirements for foreign employees who already have a job with a sponsoring employer, to work for registered companies. The work visa, residence and work authorisation (permit) are generally a joint effort between employer and employee, as is the paperwork supplied.
There is lot to consider when expanding into Brazil, employing staff, obtaining the necessary legal documentation while keeping up with changes to rules and regulations. That is why Bradford Jacobs with our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) platforms can tackle recruitment and immigration and work compliance and then our Employer of Record (EOR) specialists handle everything else from payroll to paycheck … while offering other options.
Government Departments responsible for immigration are:
Ministry of Labour (MTE) with the General Coordination of Immigration (CGIg) dealing with requests for Work Permits and Prior Residence Permits for work purposes for expatriates
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) grants visas. Consulates and embassies abroad issues visas
Ministry of Justice (MJ) coordinates migration
National Immigration Council (CNIg) is a body of policy makers for various ministries
Federal Police (PF) controlling border safety and registration of foreigners
Documentation to work in Brazil
Temporary Work Visa (VITEM V) to enter and work in Brazil
Prior Residence Permit for Work Purposes to live and work there which is ratified by the Federal Police
Work Authorisation (Permit) is the pre-approval permission to work for the sponsoring and eligible employer
The above are required by all employees outside Brazil who have had a job offer and employment contract.
Process and paperwork required
The employer starts the process for the Temporary Work Visa by submitting documentation and an application for Work Authorisation – work permit, to the General Immigration Coordination (CGIg), an agency of the Ministry of Labour.
All documents should have been translated as required and notarised/legalised:
Employment contract which has been approved by Ministry of Justice and Public Security
Application: For work authorisation (permit) as approval to hire a foreigner
Candidate form including all relevant details of the employee
Curriculum Vitae of employee detailing professional work experience for the position
Employee’s qualification certificates needed for job position alongside work experience
Legal documents of sponsoring company e.g., business license, Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas (CNPJ); Inscrição Estadual (IE) plus any others requested by the CGIg
Letter of explanation for hiring a foreigner
Copy of employee’s valid passport
After the authorisation for the Work Permit (pre-approval for work visa) has been received by the embassy or consulate, below are typical documents needed to continue the Work Visa process by the employee in home country including the Prior Residence Permit application, also required as part of the Work Visa.
An appointment with the embassy or consulate to present all the documents has to be made online at: When the consular officer has all documents, the fees are paid, which vary depending on applicant’s country of residence either with cash or bank transfer.
Valid passport at time of application. If passport expires before traveling and a new passport is received, both passports should be taken. Passport with six months validity at time of travel
Application form (RER) completed online with passport and photograph (3cms x 4cms) also uploaded. A copy printed out to take to the embassy with other documents as proof of submission
Receipt received online for submission of application form, with original photograph
Police report showing clean criminal record which should be notarised and translated, if necessary, into English, Spanish or Portuguese
Birth certificate also notarised and translated, if necessary, into English, Spanish or Portuguese. This is required for the Federal Police in Brazil. It must show both parents’ full names. It should be notarised/legalised in home country and then translated by an official translator in Brazil.
Proof of residence in home country e.g., address
Qualifications and work experience for job position including CV
When the Temporary Work Visa is inserted in the passport and a Visa Application Form has been received from the embassy, the employee travels to Brazil, they have 90 days to register with the Federal Police (Policia Federal – DPMAF). This is where they apply for the National Migration Registry Card (CRNM) which is the Brazilian ID and the Tax ID (CPF) number. They also require the legalised and translated birth certificate.
The attractions are clear. Brazil is the largest country in Latin and South America. It is the world’s fifth-largest nation by area at 3.3million square miles (8.5 sq. km) and occupies almost close to 48% of South America’s entire land mass, with the world’s seventh largest population of 214 million. Gross Domestic Product of US$ 1,646 billion (2021), 12th globally, is based on mining, manufacturing and agriculture. Brazil is rich in natural resources with gold, iron ore, nickel, niobium (used in jet engines and construction), tin and other rare earth elements, and by 2050 is expected to be a global leader in supplying raw materials. But … Brazil’s revenue regime is complex, with taxes applying at federal, state and municipal level. On the business front there are multiple corporate taxes, while the indirect tax situation is similarly complicated. This adds to the burden for foreign companies establishing their presence in the Brazilian economy by setting up a subsidiary as a limited liability company (Sociedade Empresária a Limitada) in order to operate payroll for their staff.
However, there is a straightforward solution to avoid these obstacles.
Bradford Jacobs’ dedicated specialists remove the burden of worrying about these complications while you focus on building your business in a new territory. From locating the brightest talent to running your payroll, our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) specialists are with you at every step.
Overview of Tax in Brazil
Personal Income Tax (PIT):
There are five bands. Monthly taxable income up to BRL 1,903 (€341, US$346) is at 0%, up to a top rate of 27.5% on taxable income above BRL 4,664 (€832, US$848).
Alternative Income Taxes:
Taxes apply to profits that companies share with employees. The five bands begin at 0% up to BRL 6,677 (€1,190, US$1,214) to a top rate of 27.5% above BRL 16,380 (€2,920, US$2,978).
Social Insurance Taxes:
Employers contribute between 26.8%-28.8% of payroll to the Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS), plus the equivalent of 8% of employees’ earnings into the Employees’ Severance Indemnity Fund (Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Serviço, FGTS). Employees’ contributions vary from 7.5% to 14% depending on their income.
Corporate Income Tax:
This is applied only at federal level. The rate is 15% on taxable income each year, assessed either by actual profits or presumed profits. There is a 10% surcharge on taxable income exceeding BRL 240,000 (€42,800, US$43,645).
Social Contribution on Net Income (CSSL) Tax: Legal entities are generally liable for 9% CSSL tax. Entities such as financial and insurance institutions have been taxed at 20% since March 2020. The tax base is on profits before paying tax.
These include federal excise tax (IPI), state value added tax (ICMS) and municipal tax (ISS) at various rates depending on products, values and location of suppliers or recipients, how ‘essential’ they are and whether or not they are imported into Brazil.
Withholding Tax (WHT):
Zero percent applies to resident and non-resident individuals and companies regarding dividends. On interest payments – resident companies and individuals 15%-22.5%; non-resident companies and individuals 15%-25%. On royalties – resident companies and individuals 0%; non-resident companies and individuals 15%-25%. For technical services – resident companies 1.5%, individuals 0%; non-resident companies and individuals 15%-25%
Capital Gains Tax (CGT): Corporate capital gains are treated as ordinary income up to certain levels.
Personal Income Tax in Brazil
The tax year is the calendar year. Married couples have the option of filing joint returns for their household. Income tax for employees is generally withheld and deducted at source. Payroll tax for individuals is due on all remuneration directly or indirectly related to employment – salary, bonuses, allowances, reimbursements and benefits in kind such as company cars. Due taxes are paid monthly, either through withholding or by individual taxpayers, or by advance payments for the self-employed based on their previous year’s returns. All returns must be filed by the last business day of April the following year and must include all foreign and domestic property rights.
Brazilian individual taxpayers are liable for their worldwide income. Non-residents on payroll are taxed at a flat rate of 25% with no permitted deductions. Instead of itemizing deductions, resident taxpayers can deduct 20% against taxable income to a limit of BRL 16,754 (€2,985, US$3,046). Foreigners on payroll are tax residents if they hold a permanent visa (available for new applicants until November 2017); have a temporary visa with a local employment contract; have a temporary visa without a contract but have lived in Brazil for 183 days in any 12-month period.
* Non-residents are taxed at a flat rate of 25% on Brazil-sourced income, with no permitted deductions.
Employees’ tax is generally withheld and deducted at source by the employer
Tax is due on all employment remuneration, whether direct or indirect – salary, bonuses, reimbursements, allowances and benefits in kind such as company cars
Taxes are paid monthly, either through withholding or by individual taxpayers
Advance payments must be paid by the self-employed, based on their previous year’s returns
All returns must be filed by the last business day of April the following year, including details of any foreign or domestic property rights
Brazilian individual taxpayers are liable for their worldwide income
Non-residents are taxed at 25% regardless of income level with no permitted deductions
Resident taxpayers have the option of deducting 20% against taxable income to a limit of BRL 16,754 (€2,985, US$3,046), instead of providing itemized deductions
Foreigners are tax residents if they hold a permanent visa; have a temporary visa with a local employment contract; have a temporary visa without a contract but have lived in Brazil for 183 days in any 12-month period
Employer’s Social Insurance and Statutory Contributions
Employer contributions are typically between 26.8%-28.8% of payroll, with 20% to the INSS and the balance to other social security requirements. In some sectors, 20% contributions apply to gross revenue, in place until December 2023. Additionally, employers pay 8% of their employees’ earnings into the Employees’ Severance Indemnity Fund (Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Serviço, FGTS).
Employers are exempt from contributions on the first ARS 7,003 (€57, US$59) of an employee’s monthly earnings. SMEs employing no more than 25 workers are exempt from the first ARS 10,000 (€82, US$85). Employers must also pay labour risk insurance of ARS 49.48 (€0.41, US$0.43) per employee per month, plus a percentage of their salary depending on the type of employment and risk involved. Employers also pay ARS 24.23 (€0.20, US$0.21) towards life insurance for their employees.
Foreign companies planning to expand operations beyond their own shores or borders can take the step of establishing a subsidiary in their new territory. This can be a risky venture – expensive in time and money – and there is no guarantee that the effort and financial outlay will bring success. Hundreds of foreign companies set their sights on the powerfully emerging Brazilian economy. One route is to open a subsidiary in the private sector, typically choosing a limited liability company, a (Sociedade Empresária a Limitada), which is regulated by the Civil Code. With the subsidiary in place, the company can register employees and use the eSocial digital platform to deal with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB), part of the Ministry of Finance, and the Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS) for social insurance, among other federal, state and municipal authorities.
But expanding overseas is a major step. If the move fails, companies face the extra expenditure and stress of closing the business, selling property and paying off employees. It is easy to stumble while chasing two objectives – advancing your company at home while crossing the world into new territory. The sensible alternative is to use a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) such as Bradford Jacobs to locate the finest local talent and administer your payroll in Brazil. Your company will be up-and-running in days rather than weeks or even months and without running any risks.
How to Set Up an Brazilian Subsidiary?
Foreign companies poised to move into the Brazilian economy must first decide on the business structure best suited to their expansion blueprint. The preferred and most popular choice for operating in the private sector is to open a subsidiary, a (Sociedade Empresária a Limitada), which is regulated by the Civil Code.
Registration and other procedures via the digital eSocial system include:
Obtaining the company’s Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas (CNPJ) 14-digit number from the National Registry of Legal Entities, or from the appropriate State Board of Trade (Junta Comercial do Estado, along with confirming the unique company name
Completing the Documento Básico de Entrada (DBE) application form for the CNPJ and the Ficha Cadastral da Pessoa Jurídica (FCPJ) form, listing managers and partners
The CNPJ number is compulsory. An individual number must be obtained for each entity or branch
Logging the CNPJ with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB) database
Obtaining the Inscrição Estadual (IE) 12-digit number for companies collecting or paying State taxes on goods and services
To obtain the IE, notarized documents include: Proof of office ownership or lease agreement; Articles of Association; ID documents, such as passports, of owners or partners; power of attorney or attorney-in-fact for local legal representative; proof of residency of partners or owners
Obtaining a business license (Alvará de funcionamento) from the relevant municipal office (Secretaria Municipal da Receita e do Patrimônio Público lmobiliário)
Registering Articles of Association with the State Board of Trade (Junta Comercial do Estado
Legally, there is no requirement for minimum capital for a limited liability company unless a foreigner is expected to be the manager of the Brazilian In this case a minimum capital of BRL 150,000 (€27,615, US$27,990)is needed plus the commitment to create 10 employed positions within two years. Alternatively, a paid-in foreign capital of at least, BRL 600,000 (€110,500, US$111,960) is required for visa purposes
Once the subsidiary is incorporated, other procedures must be followed before companies can operate payroll for their staff. Employers use the eSocial digital platform to carry out all registration procedures, including:
Registration with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB); the Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS) for social insurance and the Social Integrated Program (Programa de integração Social)
Obtain the Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, (CPF) number from the RFB, required for all taxpaying Brazilian citizens and resident aliens
Employees must be registered with eSocial at least one business day before they start work, and within 10 days of leaving
Record employment contract details in the Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social,CTPS), preferably digitally and complete all employee’s data in the employer’s system
Log the hiring on the General Register of Employed and Unemployed (Cadastro Geral de Empregados e Desempregados)
The Ministry of Labor must be informed if foreigners are employed
Benefits of Setting Up an Brazil Subsidiary
Brazil, the largest economy in South America, gives incoming companies a foothold in the rest of the continent for further expansion.
Additionally, the subsidiary can ‘test the market’ by following its own business ideas and entering into different areas of operation to the owning company. The subsidiary is also free to draw up its own contracts and agreements with clients.
Other benefits for a subsidiary:
Easier to obtain potential benefits and incentives and enter into contracts with other Brazilian, Central and South American companies
More impact with clients and suppliers, as subsidiaries imply more permanency than branches
Employees feel there is more stability and job security than from being with a branch
In the broader commercial sense, opening a subsidiary makes a statement of a company’s commitment to expanding into foreign markets, in this case, the opportunities offered by South American economies. However, there is a more straightforward option to the risks and costs of setting up a subsidiary in Brazil by working with Bradford Jacobs. Using a global PEO such as Bradford Jacobs means staff can be sourced, placed in their roles and be up and running within days rather than months. All the payroll, taxation and compliance difficulties are under control thanks to our EOR services.
Subsidiary Laws in Brazil
Subsidiaries established in Brazil as a limited liability company, (Sociedade Empresária a Limitada), are generally covered by the Civil Code. Corporations, (Sociedade Anônima), also come under the Corporations Act as well as some provisions of the Civil Code. Public Corporations must also comply with regulations from the Brazilian Securities Exchange Commission (CVM).
Incorporation and registration procedures for a limited liability company are generally completed through the eSocial platform and requirements include:
Registration and Documentation:
The company’s Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas (CNPJ) 14-digit number from the National Registry of Legal Entities or from the local State Board of Trade (Junta Comercial do Estado, along with the unique company name
The Documento Básico de Entrada (DBE) application form for the CNPJ and the Ficha Cadastral da Pessoa Jurídica (FCPJ) form; listing managers and partners
The compulsory CNPJ number must apply to each entity or branch
The Inscrição Estadual (IE) 12-digit number is required for companies collecting or paying State taxes on goods and services
To obtain the IE, notarized documents include: Articles of Association; proof of office ownership or lease agreement; ID documents, such as passports of owners or partners; power of attorney for local legal representative; proof of residency of partners or owners
The business license (Alvará de funcionamento) is obtained from the relevant municipal office (Secretaria Municipal da Receita e do Patrimônio Público lmobiliário)
Articles of Association registered with the State Board of Trade (Junta Comercial do Estado
Accounts and Taxation:
Logging the CNPJ with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB) database
There is no legal requirement for minimum capital for a limited liability company. If a foreigner is the manager of the Brazilian subsidiary a minimum capital of BRL 150,000 (€27,615, US$27,990)is needed plus the commitment to create 10 employed positions within two years. Alternatively a paid-in foreign capital of at least, BRL 600,000 (€110,500, US$111,960) is required for visa purposes
A limited liability company incorporated in Brazil is treated as a domestic company for tax purposes and is liable for its worldwide income
All entities must file federal, state and municipal tax returns, depending on business activities, some of which must be monthly
All quota holders / shareholders must be registered with the corporate taxpayers’ register (CNPJ)
Bank account does not have to be opened for incorporation, only after the subsidiary is registered with the RFB
Rules for directors’ meetings are established in the Articles of Association
Limited liability companies can have a board of directors, following the same rules as for corporations under the Corporations Act
There must be a minimum of one shareholder
Shareholder (quota holder) annual meeting must be held within four months of the end of the previous financial year
The subsidiary must have at least one manager, a Brazilian or foreigner, who must be authorized as an attorney-in-fact (power of attorney) to act on the company’s behalf
The Republic of Brazil is South America’s largest country – taking up nearly 50% of the continent’s landmass – and its largest economy, ranking 12th in the world in 2021 with Gross Domestic Product of 1,646 billion US dollars.
Economically, Brazil has one of the world’s leading mining industries and is rich in mineral reserves of gold, iron ore, nickel, and tin, niobium, which is used in construction and jet engines, and other rare earth elements. By 2050, Brazil is predicted to be a leading global supplier of raw materials. Agriculture and manufacturing are also key elements of the Brazil’s growing influence in the global economy.
And, of course … there’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil, which is the world’s largest producer and reckoned to account for 40% of global consumption.
Brazil’s global profile includes membership of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation and is beginning the process towards membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Regional memberships include the Mercosur trading bloc with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Geographically, Brazil boasts iconic features – the Amazon Basin and rain forest, 4,345 miles of the Amazon River and 4,400 miles of Atlantic coastline
Starting a business in Brazil
International companies planning to access this potential have the option of establishing a foothold through a limited liability company (Sociedade Empresária Limitada) which is regulated under the Civil Code. Establishing the limited liability subsidiary is the preferred route for hiring staff and operating their payroll. Registration procedures are dealt with through the digital eSocial platform, including:
Registration with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB), the Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS) for social insurance and the Social Integrated Program (Programa de integração Social)
Obtaining the Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, (CPF) number from the RFB, for all taxpaying Brazilian citizens and resident aliens
Employees must be registered with eSocial at least one business day before they commence work, and eSocial notified within 10 days of leaving
The employment contract is recorded in the Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social,CTPS), preferably digitally. This belongs to the employee
Log the hiring on the General Register of Employed and Unemployed (Cadastro Geral de Empregados e Desempregados). The Ministry of Labour must be informed of plans to hire foreigners
Employers must submit identification documents for the employee as well as pre-employment documents regarding such as any required medical examination
Employees’ tax and social insurance information is combined on the DCFTWeb, which employees access via the Digital Workbook from the Ministry of Labour (Ministério do Trabalho, MTE) website or smartphone app
To ensure compliance, employers or their payroll providers must digitize as many of their payroll processes as possible as the eSocial platform is exclusively electronic. Employers must use the eSocial system to report withheld taxes; all types of leave, including sickness; family allowances; unemployment insurance; contributions to the Employees’ Severance Indemnity Fund, Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Serviço, (FGTS)
Expanding your business into Brazil
Opening a business in any overseas territory brings issues. Moving staff across the world means complex procedures to obtain visas and work permits. When employees are in place, who will handle payroll? How will your company deal with regulations on taxation, entitlements and benefits, termination and severance? Drawing up an expansion blueprint is not enough. Your business plan will have to deal with all these issues.
Brazil is an attractive target for foreign investment, but there are always considerations surrounding compliance with relevant legislation. In Brazil this revolves around the Labour Code, which lays down the obligations of employers and the protected rights of their employees.
There are other issues, too. Where will you find manufacturers, offices and distributors?
There is a simple and effective alternative. By partnering with a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) such as Bradford Jacobs, companies can plot a time-efficient and cost-effective path to locating and employing staff in Argentina.
Finding an Office in Brazil
Companies attracted to establishing a commercial presence in Brazil, can access an ever increasing, middle-class consumer market. Free movement of goods, services and people through the Mercosur area, including Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, removes or reduces tariffs and customs duties as well as giving access to a huge labour market.
Mining, petroleum processing, iron and steel, chemical production and agriculture and manufacturing are driving Brazil’s economy. An emerging player in the global marketplace, Brazil is rich in natural resources with gold, iron ore and other rare earth elements. Brazil is expected to be a dominant global supplier of raw materials by 2050.
Sao Paulo, known as the Tech City of Brazil and compared favorably to Silicon Valley, is South America’s largest city with a population of over 22 million, while the state of Sao Paulo has a larger area than the UK! Tech giants, such as Google and Uber, have been there since 2020. The city’s start-ups have blossomed, especially in Fin-tech. Government funding, credit facilities and a talented workforce fuel powerful resurgence in e-Commerce. Sao Paulo ranks in top place for business ventures, according to the Index of Entrepreneurial Cities of to the National School of Public Administration (ENAP).
Florianopolis was placed second by ENAP for starting a business, and is an attractive city to live and work, and for tourism and IT. It is renowned for beaches and high quality of life and attracts many talented people to its island shores in South Brazil. Its start-up sector is flourishing.
Brasilia is the federal capital, north of Sao Paulo in the central-west region. It is a more industrialized area with construction, IT, food, furniture, metallurgy and printing sectors prevalent, but is also strong in semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. There is strong consumer demand as industries attract more companies, generating increased income and jobs
Free Trade Zones or Export Processing Zones (EPZ)
Designed to attract new businesses and investment, mainly in the more remote areas to link rural and urban communities. They provide:
Preferential tax rates and financial incentives
Promoting international trade
Reducing the red tape to establish better distribution channels and flow of merchandise to make businesses more competitive
New legislation in 2022 was planned to update and modernize these zones, such as the first EPZ to be launched and developed over a 10-year period – ZPE Ceará.
Some Brazilian Facts
Capital – Brasília
Population – 214 million
Regions and States – The geographical regions are North, Northeast, Central-West, South and Southeast. Brazil has 26 states
Official language – Portuguese
Economy and world ranking – Gross Domestic Product 1,646 billion US dollars, 12th globally
Leading sectors – (approximately) Services 62%, industry 17%, agriculture 6%
Main exports – Iron ore, oil, transport equipment, soya beans, meat and poultry, coffee, vehicles, sugar and confectionery
Main imports – Machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil, automotive parts, electronics, pharmaceutical products, crude oil, coal, natural gas and wheat grain
Maintrading partners – China, US, Argentina, Netherlands, Chile, Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, Japan, Spain, Germany and Canada
Government – Federal, constitutional republic; presidential system
Currency – Real
Advantages and Challenges when entering the Brazilian Market
The advantages of expanding into the Brazilian market include:
Resources and energy: Rich in reserves of gold, iron ore, nickel, tin, quartz and other rare earth elements, Brazil is expected to be a globally dominant supplier of raw materials by 2050. In the world’s top 10 oil producers and second only to China for hydroelectric power; now developing renewable energy with more options for incoming companies
Consumerism: Growing middle class with more spending power in a population of 214 million
Economy: Stable and based on strong services sector, over 60% of GDP; industry, mining and manufacturing; agriculture
e-Commerce: On-line sales of BRL 174 billion (€32.7 billion, US$33.3 billion) predicted for 2022 in a growing sector that will account for more than 10% of all sales
Challenges of expanding into the Brazilian market include:
Geography: While Brazil’s size can add to its potential, it is not a coherent whole and the 26 states produce regional variations for business, work culture and way of life
Bureaucracy: The World Bank’s final ‘ease of doing business’ report in 2020 ranked Brazil 124th out of 190 nations overall in categories such as registering properties, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and obtaining credit
Taxation: Within the report, the World Bank specifically rated Brazil 184th out of 190 for paying taxes
Logistics: The government plans a program of investment, privatization and leasing for much-needed improvement of road and rail infrastructure
Labour: Off-putting inflexible employment legislation for incoming foreign companies
The most popular option for opening a subsidiary in The Republic of Brazil is a limited liability company (Sociedade Empresária Limitada) or a corporation (Sociedade Anônima), both of which offer protection against liability for the parent company and shareholders.
Establishing a legal entity in Brazil is essential for companies intending to hire staff and run their payroll. This involves operating within the online digital eSocial program for registering with Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB) and the Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social (INSS) for social insurance, among other procedures.
There is more. The employer’s working relationship with staff is strictly regulated in Brazil by the Consolidation of Labour Laws Decree (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho), known as the Labour Code (CLT). Statutory regulations also come from the Federal Constitution, Social Security Law, decrees and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Once Bradford Jacobs’ Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) recruitment networks have located the best talent for your company, we step in to steer you through this crucial element of recruitment.
The different types of Brazilian Employment Contracts
Open-ended, indefinite duration employment contracts (Contrato por tempo indeterminado): These are regular contracts with a start date but no end date. Termination can be by either party, at any time, with notice periods according to the Labour Code. Employees dismissed without cause are due 40% of their contributions to the Employees’ Severance Indemnity Fund (Fundo deGarantia do Tempo de Serviço, FGTS) during their employment, plus other payments relating to vacation bonus.
Fixed-term employment contracts (Contrato por tempo determinado): The Labour Code permits these for a maximum of two years when justified by the nature of a service or project or the requirements of the business. If the contract does not specify the justifiable reason or the length of the fixed term, it is deemed to be open-ended. Similarly, if the fixed-term is extended more than once, renewal is not agreed upon in writing, or if successive fixed-term contracts do not have a six-month break between them, they become open-ended.
Temporary employment contracts (Contrato de Trabalho temporário): Used where staff are taken on for increased business needs or to replace staff and are usually fixed-term for between three and nine months.
Unlike a temporary contract, occasional or casual employment contracts (Contrato de Trabalho eventual) are not deemed part of a formal employment relationship. They involve occasional work for short periods over unspecified periods.
Probation Periods: These cannot exceed a total of 90 days. They can be renewed once but cannot exceed the 90-day limit.
Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs): These can be negotiated between unions, employers and employees, or directly between employers and their staff. CBAs are binding on all employment contracts and can be agreed upon for a maximum of two years. They can improve statutory minimums for minimum wages, sick leave and maternity rights, among other employee entitlements but cannot undercut them.
Brazilian Employment Contracts Requirements
General considerations include:
Written contracts are not legally required but are advisable, and the basic terms and conditions of employment are detailed in the employee’s Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social, CTPS) and the employer’s employment files.
The CTPS belongs to the employee, is carried at all times and is retained by them when employment ends.
Where eSocial operates, the Digital Employee’s Workbook replaces the CTPS.
Employers must be given the employee’s Individual Taxpayer’s Registration number, the Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas (CPF), during the hiring process. This is assigned to all taxpaying Brazilian citizens and resident aliens.
The most common contract is indefinite or open-ended (Contrato por tempo indeterminado). Other options are fixed-term, temporary or occasional.
Probation periods cannot exceed 90 days.
Proposed employment of foreigners must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour.
Employers must publish workplace health and safety policies, such as the Occupational Health Medical Control Program (PCMSO) and Environmental Risk Prevention Program (PPRA).
The economy of Brazil is the largest in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere and the third-largest in the Americas. The economy is an upper-middle income developing mixed economy, Brazil being a newly industrialised country.
After rapid growth in preceding decades, the country, which historically had an economy in the top ten largest, entered an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a political corruption scandal and nationwide protests. The economy started to recover in 2017. In 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brazil has the largest gross domestic product expenditure (GDP) and purchasing power parity. The Brazilian nominal GDP is USD 1.833 trillion, 12th worldwide.
Foreign companies hiring employees in Brazil must operate within this framework of legislation, which provides safeguards and guarantees for the workforce. Minimum guarantees include paid vacations, working hours, termination, sick leave, maternity benefits, etc. Foreign companies’ responsibilities reach beyond simply complying with tax, social security and payroll regulations – although these alone comprise a demanding scenario. Failure to comply with specific regulations applying to benefits and entitlements runs the risk of fines and sanctions. Employers must have a firm grasp of what is guaranteed for their employees, which will affect the employer-employee relationship. This is where Bradford Jacobs points you in the right direction, drawing on over 20 years of experience as a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR). We deal with the complexities while your staff focus on work.
What are the Compensation Laws in Brazil?
Employment legislation is primarily governed by the Consolidation of Labour Laws Decree (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho), known as the Labour Code (CLT). Other considerations come from the Federal Constitution, the Social Security Law and the Government Severance Indemnity Fund Law, and decrees and regulations the Ministry of Labour applied. There are also Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Employers must beware, as employment law in Brazil is significantly weighted to the employee’s benefit. This particularly applies to areas such as termination and severance. CBAs or contractual arrangements may also affect statutory minimums, but these cannot undercut mandatory minimum levels.
* Brazil’s official currency is the ‘real’ (BRL), for which we give approximate equivalents in euros and US dollars.
National Minimum Wage (NMW): The monthly minimum for 2022 is BRL 1,212 (EUR 217 – USD 220), a 10.16% increase over the previous minimum to combat inflation in line with Brazil’s National Consumer Price Index (INPC).
Sick Leave and Benefit: The employee must provide a medical certificate. The employer pays the total salary for the first 15 days of incapacity. After this, social insurance payments come from the Brazilian Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS), based on the employee’s contributions to the system and capped at BRL 6,100 (€1,093, US$1,109).
Working Hours and Breaks: The Labour Code generally allows eight hours per day up to a maximum of 44 a week, although CBAs can apply fewer working hours. Employees have a 15-minute break between four and six hours and one hour for working over six hours. There must be an 11-hour break between working shifts. Night work (between 10 pm and 5 am) is paid at a minimum of 20% above the standard wage for the same position during the daytime.
Overtime: The statutory limit for overtime is two hours per day, reimbursed by at least 50% above the regular hourly rate. Employers are prohibited from offering a fixed sum instead of extra hours worked. Overtime and working hours regulations exclude managers, those working outside the company premises whose hours cannot be defined, and remote workers.
Paid Vacations: The CLT allows 30 days paid leave each year with a ‘vacation bonus’ equalling 30% of the regular monthly wage after employees have worked for 12 months; those working less than 12 months receive an adjusted allowance pro rata. ‘Unjustified absences’ defined by the Labour Code exceeding five days restrict the employee’s right to the vacation allowance. Employers can set which holiday periods are most convenient to the business, individually and collectively. Companies can have two collective or company ‘shutdowns’ a year of at least 10 days each, notifying the Ministry of Labour at least 15 days in advance. Employees can ‘sell’ up to 10 days of their holiday allowance back to the company for pay in lieu.
Public Holidays: In addition to state or local holidays, for example, celebrating a city’s anniversary, there are also national holidays entitling employees to a paid day off.
January 1 New Year’s Day (also known as ConfraternizaçãoUniversal)
April 21 Tiradentes
May 1 Labour Day
September 7 Independence Day
October 12 Our Lady of Aparecida Day (Children’s Day)
November 2 Day of the Dead (Finados)
November 15 Proclamation of the Republic
December 25 Christmas Day
Maternity / Paternity / Parental Leave and Benefit: The entitlement is 120 days of paid leave for pregnant employees, with full salary paid by the employer and reclaimed from the INSS. Employers can grant an additional 60 days of paid holiday and recover them from tax credits given by the federal authorities. Maternity leave and benefits are the same for adoptive parents.
Paternityleave is five days on full pay, with the employer able to grant an extra 15 days under the same payment terms for the mother. There are no other parental entitlements. Female employees cannot be made redundant from when pregnancy is confirmed until five months post-natal.
Discrimination: A combination of the constitution, decrees, statutes and case law prohibit discrimination on grounds including gender and sexual orientation, race, colour or ethnicity; marital or family status; age, disability, religion or other beliefs. Discrimination regarding salaries for men or women performing the same roles is also prohibited.
Health and Social Insurance: Brazil’s Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social, INSS)administrates the social insurance programs in Brazil and collects contributions from employers and employees via payroll to fund the system. Social insurance benefits support illness and disability, death and accidents, pensions and other categories.
Employer contributions generally range from 26.8%-28.8% of payroll, with 20% to the INSS and the balance to other social levies. In some sectors, a rate of 20% applies to gross revenue until December 2023. In addition, employers pay 8% of their employees’ earnings into the Employees’ Severance Indemnity Fund (Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Serviço, FGTS). Employees’ contributions vary from 7.5% to 14%, depending on their income.
The universal public health system (Sistema Único de Saúde, SUS) is supported by federal, state and municipal taxes and contributions. Health care is delivered by states and municipalities, providing primary outpatient and hospital care, speciality and mental health care and prescription drugs. Private healthcare and related costs are tax deductible.
13th Month Salary in Brazil: The mandatory 13th-month salary is paid in two parts, November and December, and is not part of the basic salary. A pro rata adjustment of the 13th month’s salary is paid on termination.
International companies expanding into Brazil, and needing to recruit top talent, face daunting levels of bureaucracy and strictly applied employment legislation aimed at protecting the rights of employees. Legislation hinges on the Consolidation of Labor Laws Decree (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho), known as the Labor Code (CLT), which is heavily weighted in workers’ favor. Written contracts are not compulsory under the law, but strongly recommended. Terminating employment is laced with potential dangers and litigation … making it vital to recruit the ‘best fit’ for your business from day one.
Most recruited workers come in the category of a ‘celetista’, defined under the CLT as an employee who has an employment relationship or contract with an employer. That relationship has to be recorded by the employer in the Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social,CTPS), which is owned by the employee, carried by them at all times and remains in their possession at the end of employment. These are among the many considerations – and complications – that come with recruiting in Brazil; especially so for foreign companies who are not familiar with the employment market.
Finding and recruiting the best talent in an overseas territory that may be thousands of miles away is always a major task for companies broadening their international horizons. Where to begin? This is where Bradford Jacobs’ global experience is vital for taking the smartest recruitment route into Brazil. Our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) solutions have worldwide reach and include a total understanding of the complexities of the Brazilian employment market
Recruiting in Brazil
Foreign companies entering the recruitment process in Brazil must cope with layers of bureaucracy and employment legislation that is stringently applied and weighted heavily in favour of the employees. Legislation is governed by the Consolidation of Labor Laws Decree (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho), known as the Labor Code (CLT). Other regulations can be applied by the Federal Constitution, the Social Security Law, decrees and regulations applied by the Ministry of Labor in addition to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs). Statutory minimums may be affected by CBAs, or contractual arrangements, but these cannot undercut mandatory minimum levels.
The recruitment process is the first stage of making your company operational and competitive in Brazil. However, complications surround moving staff into the country, obtaining residence permits and work visas. Once recruited and onboarded, employers must comply with various procedures to ensure employees are legally able to work in Brazil. The recruitment process begins with these responsibilities:
Accessing the eSocial digital accounting system, through which employers can complete registration procedures with various authorities
Registering with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB), the Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social (INSS) for social insurance and the Social Integrated Program (Programa de integração Social)
Obtaining the Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, (CPF) number from the RFB, assigned to all taxpaying Brazilian citizens and resident aliens
Recording the employment contract in the Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social,CTPS), preferably digitally, and filing all employee’s data in the employer’s system
Logging the hiring on the General Register of Employed and Unemployed (Cadastro Geral de Empregados e Desempregados)
All the employees’ tax and social insurance is combined on the DCFTWeb, which they can access via the Digital Workbook from the Ministry of Labor (Ministério do Trabalho, MTE) website or smartphone app
Employees’ Legal Checks
No specific legislation covers this hazardous grey area, and employers should not undertake any checks without the applicant’s agreement. Pre-hire checks or interviews should avoid references to gender, race or colour, marital or family status, age, or pregnancy unless the role could compromise the employee’s condition. Employers are best to avoid criminal or medical record checks, including by a third party, particularly without the knowledge of the applicant.
There are no mandatory regulations covering drug or alcohol use, although the tests are permitted for professional drivers if justified under certain provisions in the Labor Code. Generally, employees’ privacy rights conflict with the employers’ need to prevent drug or alcohol use from jeopardizing their business.
It is generally allowed to check education qualifications, and references, with the candidate’s permission, and confirm information such as residential address.
Required: Provide a valid ID and all necessary documentation to prove immigration compliance
Basic Facts when Recruiting in Brazil
The main legislation controlling the relationship between employers and employees in Brazil is the Consolidation of Labor Laws Decree (Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho), known as the Labor Code (CLT). The Federal Constitution, the Social Security Law, plus decrees and regulations applied by the Ministry of Labor can also affect regulations, along with Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Employers must take into account these basic facts on hiring in Brazil:
Employer’s conduct all registration processes through the eSocial digital accounting system, including with the Federal Revenue Service (Receita Federal do Brasil, RFB) and the Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social (INSS)for social insurance and the Social Integrated Program (Programa de integração Social)
Written contracts are not legally required, but are strongly advised in case of disputes following termination
The basic terms and conditions of employment are set out in the employee’s Work and Social Security Card (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social,CTPS), and in the employer’s own employment files, preferably digitally
The CTPS belongs to the employee, who carries it at all times and must retain it when employment ends
Where eSocial is in action, the Digital Employee’s Workbook replaces the CTPS
When being hired, employee’s give employers their Individual Taxpayer’s Registration number, the Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, (CPF), assigned to all Brazilian citizens and resident aliens who pay taxes
The most common contract is indefinite or open-ended (Contrato por tempo indeterminado). Other options are fixed-term, temporary or occasional
Probation periods are limited to 90 days
Proposed employment of foreigners must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor
Employers are legally required to provide written health and safety policies, such as the Occupational Health Medical Control Program (PCMSO) and Environmental Risk Prevention Program (PPRA)
After hiring and onboarding, employers must comply with requirements of the Labor Code (CLT). Statutory minimum standards apply to such as minimum wages, sick leave, working hours, maternity allowances, paid vacations, termination and severance, notice periods and social insurance payments. All of the statutory minimums can be improved by contracts or CBAs. Examples include:
The first 15 days of sick leave is paid in full by the employer, with subsequent days funded by the INSS, based on the employee’s contributions to the system
The Labor Code restricts work hours to eight per day and a maximum 44 in a week
Overtime is limited to two hours a day, paid at 50% above the normal hourly rate
Maternity leave is 120 days, paid in full by the employer and reclaimed from the INSS
The economy of Brazil is the largest in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere and the third-largest in the Americas. The economy is an upper-middle income developing mixed economy, Brazil being a newly industrialised country.
After rapid growth in preceding decades, the country, which historically had an economy in the top ten largest, entered an ongoing recession in 2014 amid a political corruption scandal and nationwide protests. The economy started to recover in 2017. In 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brazil has the largest gross domestic product expenditure (GDP) and purchasing power parity. The Brazilian nominal GDP is USD 1.833 trillion, 12thworldwide.
According to the World Economic Forum, Brazil was the top country in the upward evolution of competitiveness in 2009, gaining eight positions among other countries, overcoming Russia for the first time, and partially closing the competitiveness gap with India and China among the BRICS economies. Necessary steps taken since the 1990s toward fiscal sustainability and measures taken to liberalise and open the economy have significantly boosted the country’s competitiveness fundamentals, providing a better environment for private-sector development.
The Basics of the Brazilian Work Culture
Language: The national language is Portuguese, making Brazil the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world and the only one in South America. Brazilians are proud of their language. As English will not necessarily be the medium for meetings, check ahead, engage an interpreter if necessary and learn some phrases.
Punctuality: Be on time, but do not assume the other party will be. Hide any frustration if you have to wait.
Negotiations: Impatience will not work in business meetings either. Expect to spend time with small talk and getting to know each other. Brazilians prefer to feel they are doing business with people rather than companies. Meeting face-to-face or making a phone call is always preferable to letters or emails. Although showing emotions in meetings is normal, Brazilians may be shy about saying no. So make sure what is the right message from ‘maybe’ or ‘potentially’. Keep presentations to the point; meetings can be action-packed and noisy, and take any interruptions as interest is shown.
Greetings: The formal way to greet a man is Senhor and Senhora for women. On the first meeting, shake hands with eye contact and exchange a ‘Muito prazer’ (meaning ‘Nice meeting you’). Research ahead of the first meeting to learn the correct titles – Senhor, Doutor or Engenheiro. And know whether female members of the team are Senhora or, in the case of single or young women, Senhorita. Greet everyone individually.
Gift Giving: Not recommended in a business setting. It is more appropriate to offer a lunch or dinner instead of a gift.
Business Cards: Exchanged at the start of the meeting, during the introductions, with the Portuguese translation face up.
Dress Code: Varies depending on the company but is often formal and conservative; suit and ties for men, elegant clothing for women as a suit (jacket and trousers) or a formal business dress.
Out of Hours: The dinner host pays, but it is polite for guests to offer.
Join Our Newsletter
Stay up to date with latest service offerings while receiving tips and strategies for making your next remote hire.