Brazil: An Overview Of Customs Regulations And Rules In Brazil

I. - Introduction

The subject of Customs Regulations in Brazil involves the control by the federal government and its competent agencies and bodies of foreign trade, such as import and export operations. The entrance and departure of goods to and from the country is duly examined, inspected and controlled by the government.

Brazil adopts a policy of a severe federal control of cross-border transactions involving goods or currency, imposed by the Federal Government through Trade, Bank and Tax authorities.

For this reason, for custom control purposes, two basic controls exist, one on imports and the other on exports. These controls include the strict examination and inspection of all Import and Export operations by the competent governmental authorities.

Generally speaking, the existing import control is stricter than the export one for it is intended as a mechanism for stabilizing Brazil's payment balance during economic crisis. This control also protects and stimulates the growth of Brazilian industry and helps to encourage foreign investment.

However, this may trigger a decrease in the production of manufactured goods for the local market. With that in mind, the Government has imposed controls which protect the local consumer by avoiding the export of scarce products which could cause problems of domestic supply and demand. Such an avoidance is enforced through the establishment of higher prices for export.

II. Responsible Governmental Agencies

The federal government agencies involved in foreign trade that have power to control imports and exports are:

(i) The Brazilian Monetary Council (CMN), which formulates general financial and monetary policies, including foreign exchange matters.
(ii) The Central Bank of Brazil (BACEN), which is responsible for enforcing such foreign exchange policies.

(iii) The Foreign Trade Office (SECEX), an agency of the Foreign Trade Department (DECEX), now concentrates the duties and authority of the former National Council of Foreign Trade (CONCEX), The Customs Policy Council (CPA), and the former Foreign Trade Department of Banco do Brasil S.A. (CACEX). The import and export rules formally entrusted to the latter three agencies which do not conflict with those of SECEX, continue to be effective. Among its other rules, SECEX establishes foreign trade and customs policy; issues import licenses; monitors drawback activities; verifies whether goods to be imported have domestic counterparts; and establishes customs tariffs.

III. Import Operations

III.1. - Basic Import Procedures

All Brazilian imports are subject to preliminary authorization, i.e., Import Licenses issued before the corresponding merchandise is shipped. The Import License formalizes an import request, identifying the product to be imported, the amount and the parties involved in the intended import, among other data.

Some products (such as books, educational or scientific films, certain pets usually without commercial value, etc.) which are not subject to stringent price controls, do not require Import Licenses for their entry into Brazil. In general, customs clearance of these products is made upon a direct request of the importer to the tax authorities, subject in some cases to preliminary review and/or approval from other governmental bodies.

Import Licenses for products that require a more complex import procedure may be applied for after their shipment. These products can include parts, pieces, components, accessories, raw materials, chemicals, tools and other assets employed in the maintenance and repair of machinery, equipment, apparatus, instruments, aircraft, vehicles, vessels, and locomotives.

Import applicants must be enrolled in the Exporter and Importer Register of the Foreign Trade Department (DECEX). Currently, DECEX's duties regarding imports are assigned to the Foreign Trade Office (SECEX).

III.2. - Examples of Imports Subject to Approval

Additionally, for examples sake, under current Brazilian Law, the following imports are subject to a preliminary approval from government agencies: human blood and its derivatives; human organs, tissue, and substances; psychotropic substances and products capable of causing alterations in the nervous system and higher functions; armaments and munitions, gunpowder, explosives,

Other items subject to approval are: ancillary items; nuclear materials; weedkillers and insecticides known as Agent Orange for the purpose of defoliation; aircraft, components, and parts thereof; some computer related goods; petroleum and its basic derivatives; metallic mercury; skins, hides, objects made from wild animal skins or hides; franking machinery; bovine semen; sugars and alcohol; ecology-threatening products; petrochemical products; and products used in clinical research.

The import of vehicles is constantly under control by DECEX. Currently, only new vehicles are allowed for importation and their prices must be based on a price list disclosed by the foreign manufacturer.

III.3. - Import Duty

The Brazilian taxation system establishes that Import duty ("Imposto de Importao - I.I") is payable on the entry of foreign goods into the country which are destined for internal consumption.

Those foreign goods subject to the payment of duty are listed in the Common Foreign Tariffs (TEC), based on the Mercosur Common Nomenclature (NCM) prepared by the Mercosur member countries which, in turn, is modeled on the Brussels Customs Nomenclature Harmonized System.

Import duty rates are, as a general rule, ad valorem, and vary according to the nature of the products and their degree of indispensability.

The Import Duty is assessed as per the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), the so-called Customs Valuation Agreement.

In practice, however, the basis for import duty assessment is at present the price at which the goods are normally offered for sale on the wholesale market in the exporting country, plus the cost of transport to the port of loading, plus insurance and freight (c.i.f.).

It should be pointed out that as from December 15, 1993, GATT is referred to as the World Trade Organization (WTO) in accordance with latter negotiations between the involved countries, known as the Uruguay Round.

Due to the fact that Import duty is one of the basic mechanisms used by the federal government for controlling imports, increases in import duty are excluded from the application of the rule that no tax may be levied unless the law came into force before the beginning of the relevant tax year (annuity principle).

III.3.1. - Mercosur

The Common Market of the Southern Cone-Mercosur (known as Mercosul in Brazil), caused substantial changes in foreign trade rules effective in Brazil as of March 26, 1991, upon the signing of the Asunci1/2n Treaty entered into between Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil.

For this reason, nowadays, import procedures and duties must take two distinct situations into account: (a) trades involving MERCOSUR member countries; and (b) trades with non-member countries.

Under the MERCOSUR, the import duty on most merchandise traded within the common market is reduced to zero. Those goods not included under the zero rate initially, eventually will be reduced to zero, by adopting a 20 percent reduction per year, down to zero percent by the year 1999.

In order to qualify for the reduced rates valid within the MERCOSUR, a Statement of Origin declaring the product as coming from a MERCOSUR member country must be issued.

III.3.2. - Trades with Third Countries

Trades with countries outside MERCOSUR are subject to the Common Foreign Tariff (TEC).

In the beginning, MERCOSUR member countries had difficulty in reaching uniform foreign tariffs capable of meeting their individual interests; they were allowed to maintain certain NCM items as an exception to the TEC. These exception items include production goods, computer science and telecommunications products, among others. These products listed as exception to TEC constitute the so-called "lista de excecoes" Therefore, the TEC must always be reviewed jointly with this convergence list.

III.4. SECEX Authority

As above mentioned, SECEX has authority to reduce or increase the rates for products. Such alterations can be motivated by the following factors:

(i) the tariff level of which proving to be insufficient or excessive for the achievement of the objects of the Customs Tariff;
(ii) the domestic production of fundamental importance to stimulate based on government policies in effect;
(iii) the product having obtained registration as being "comparable" to a domestic product;
(iv) the importation of merchandise from any country which imposes restrictions on Brazilian exports to that country; and
(v) that are imported from any country that devalues its currency or grants export subsidies in order to frustrate the objects of the Customs Tariff.

Under Brazilian laws in effect, SECEX is also responsible for calculating, for the purpose of assessing import duty, a minimum value tariff, thereby pre-establishing the normal price of the goods; and for issuing reference prices for the protection of the "comparable" internal production, where there is a marked disparity in prices of imports from different sources and where there has been a general decrease in import prices.

III.5. Comparability Concept

The import of products comparable to locally manufactured products is not usually granted tax or exchange advantages.

SECEX is responsible for ascertaining whether a comparable domestic product exists. For this reason, SECEX normally consults domestic manufacturers and class related entities on the subject. Domestically manufactured goods are considered to be comparable to foreign goods if they are capable of replacing the imported product. Such a replacement implies in the domestic product having an equivalent quality and having specifications adequate for the purpose to which it is required, as well as offering a normal delivery period for that type of product, and not exceeding the cost of the imported product in domestic currency (based on the normal price, plus the duties payable on import and other similar taxes).

In addition to the above mentioned products, machinery, equipment, parts, pieces, components, raw materials, and intermediary products not manufactured in Brazil, as well as their respective accessories, spare parts, and tooling, are exempt from the Tax on Manufactured Products so-called IPI (VAT type tax) until December 31, 1998.

III.6. Import Incentives

The exemption and reduction of import duties and the tax on manufactured products of a general or special nature which benefited goods of foreign provenance, have been revoked.

The only exceptions apply to the following import operations detailed below:

(a) imports of books, newspapers, periodicals, and the paper designed for their reproduction;
(b) samples and international mail without commercial value;
(c) international air mail and orders addressed to individuals;
(d) baggage of travelers from abroad or the Manaus Free Trade Zone;
(e) goods purchased in duty-free shops in Brazil;
(f) goods brought in from abroad in the normal course of business in cities situated in the border area;
(g) essential foodstuffs, fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides for use in agriculture, and raw materials for their production in Brazil, imported under art. 4 of Decree-law No. 63 of November 21, 1966;
(h) computer goods imported under Law No. 7232 of October 29, 1984;
(i) parts, pieces and components for the repair, overhaul and maintenance of aircraft and vessels;
(j) imports of medicines for the treatment of AIDS patients and scientific instruments used in AIDS research, without domestic counterparts, which will also be exempt from internal taxation; and
(k) goods imported through free-trade zones.

(l) Imports performed for or by:

(i) the Federal Government, States, Federal District, Territories, Municipalities, and their autonomous agencies;
(ii) political parties and educational or social assistance institutions;
(iii) permanent diplomatic missions, and consulates and their staff;
(iv) permanent representatives, including regional representatives, of international organizations of which Brazil is a member, and their staff; and
(v) scientific and technological institutions;

IV. Export Operations

Brazil instituted the so-called SISCOMEX system, known as the Integrated Foreign Trade System (SISCOMEX). This system was established in order to monitor and follow up on all foreign trade activities, putting the Foreign Trade Office, the Internal Revenue Service ("Receita Federal"), and BACEN data together within one single administrative system.

Under the SISCOMEX system, all information concerning exports, exchange, transports, is centralized permitting the issuing of a single document for each operation in a consolidated manner (i.e., the export license). Currently, SISCOMEX deals only with export transactions, but it will soon cover import operations as well.

Exports may be subject to the following controls, depending on the case:

(i) total or partial prohibition;
(ii) the fixing of annual quotas for the export of certain products; above these limits, exports are suspended;
(iii) the temporary suspension of the export of certain products;
(iv) contribution quotas: the setting of a percentage of the price in foreign currency which the exporter must pay to the federal government before exporting specified products; and
(v) prior sale, i.e., the specification of a certain quantity of goods to be sold to SECEX or to Brazilian firms, at a prefixed price, before the exporter may export such goods.

IV.1. - Export Incentives

IV.1.1 - Tax Incentives

(a) ICMS and IPI

Exporters of goods are granted the following tax incentives for exports made directly by the manufacturer, the supplier or through trading companies, in relation to the manufacturer:

  • IPI immunity on manufactured goods;
  • ICMS immunity exemptions;
  • maintenance of ICMS and IPI credits;
  • Social Security Contribution exemption for the sale of foreign goods and services;
  • PIS exemption.

The IPI and ICMS credits referred to above on raw materials used in manufacturing the goods exported may be used by the beneficiaries.

(b) Income Tax

No special rule for export companies is established for Income Tax purposes, therefore the general rules under Law No. 9249 of December 26, 1995 will apply. Such law provides that profits on exports of domestic manufactured products and services are subject to income tax at the rate of 15% (fifteen) percent. Apart from this, profits on exports of manufactured products and services will also be subject to additional income tax, at 10% (ten percent), on any amount in excess of R$ 240.000,00 of the actual profits.

Additionally, any remittances abroad for the payment of promotional, advertising and market research expenses, the renting of stands, maintenance of offices, warehouses, depositories, etc., commissions paid to agents abroad, interest and banking commissions relating to the discount abroad of export bills of exchange, interest and commissions relating to export finance authorized by the Central Bank, are exempt from income tax.

(c) Drawback

Under the drawback system, benefits such as those described below are available.

Authorization may be granted for the suspension of payment of import duty, IPI and ICMS on the import of goods to be exported after improvement or imported for the manufacture, completion, or packing of other goods for export.

Under the drawback mechanism, exemption from payment may also be granted in relation to import duty, IPI and ICMS payable on the import of goods equivalent in quantity and quality to those used for the improvement, manufacture, completion, or packing of the exported product.

These benefits can include the full or partial repayment of the taxes paid on the import of goods exported or re-exported after improvement or used in the manufacture of other goods for export.

(d) Domestic Trading Operations

Certain domestic trading operations are, or may be, treated as exports for the purpose of entitlement to tax incentives. Included in such operations is the supply by local manufacturers of machinery, equipment, vehicles, apparatus, instruments, parts, accessories and components to Brazilian engineering firms, to be exported in connection with work contracted abroad.

IV.1.2. - Financial Incentives

Due to Brazil's economic policy of encouraging export operations in order to control the country's export and import balance, export manufacturing companies and trading companies are also entitled to export incentives.

Through the Export Financing Fund (FINEX), SECEX may finance exports and related operations including: direct export finance by means of refinancing of documents representing sales overseas on payment terms exceeding 180 days; loans to foreign importers of Brazilian manufactured products for cash payments in Brazil; finance for feasibility studies and market research; and for promotion and sales overseas.

Furthermore, SECEX will give technical support to businessmen, class entities and any other interested parties, to assist on the development of such entities and to promote Brazilian trade exchange.

Depending on the nature of the products, 20% (twenty percent) to 40% (forty percent) of the goods exported during the immediately preceding year may be eligible for incentive.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. A specialist's advice should be sought in order to provide professional advice on a case to case basis which will meet specific circumstances.

For more information please contact us.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions