Moving to Brazil

The most popular destination for professional expats is São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city by far. Many people also head to the capital, Brasília, or coastal cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife.

There are lots of positive aspects to life in Brazil, from the great weather and friendly people to the vibrant cities and natural beauty. Some expats struggle to come to terms with the glaring social inequality and the machismo that permeates the local culture. Other frustrations can include the Brazilians’ relaxed attitude towards time, poor customer service and a high level of bureaucracy.

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Basic info

  • Population: Over 209 million
  • Capital city: Brasília
  • Largest city: São Paulo
  • Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic
  • Main languages: Portuguese is the official language, but English and Spanish are occasionally used in cities and business.
  • Main religion: Catholicism. Other religions include Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and other Christian denominations.
  • Time: Brazil spans four time zones from GMT-2 (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) to GMT-5 (in the Western regions). In some parts of the country, clocks move forward an hour in October and back an hour in February.
  • Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are used.
  • Currency: Brazilian real (BRL)
  • International dialling code: +55
  • Internet domain: .br
  • Emergency numbers: 197 (police), 192 (ambulance) and 193 (fire)
  • Road traffic: Drives on the right

Next holiday

Sep

07

Independence Day

Public Holidays

2020
1 January New Year's Day
10 April Good Friday
21 April Tiradentes Day
1 May Labour Day
11 June Corpus Christi
7 September Independence Day
12 October Our Lady of Aparecida
2 November All Souls' Day
15 November Republic Day
25 December Christmas Day
2021
1 January New Year's Day
2 April Good Friday
21 April Tiradentes Day
1 May Labour Day
3 June Corpus Christi
7 September Independence Day
12 October Our Lady of Aparecida
2 November All Souls' Day
15 November Republic Day
25 December Christmas Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Key phrases in Portuguese

  • Hello Olá
  • Good evening Boa noite
  • Goodbye Adeus
  • How are you? Como está?
  • Thank you Obrigado/a
  • Yes Sim
  • No Não
  • Do you speak English? Fala inglês?
  • Can you help me? Pode me ajudar?
  • I’m sorry Desculpe-me

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about Brazil:

“When Brazilians say 'oi?' they're not being rude... it means 'pardon me?'” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Head to the beach at weekends but outside the local holidays as driving to the nearest beach, for example from Sao Paulo to Guaruja, can be a nightmare. One hour trip can turn into a 4-5 hours drive. Visit the usual touristic places but do explore places outside the usual tourist route. Brazil is a huge country and there are a lot of unspoilt places to see and explore. Locate places outside town for outdoor activities to participate in.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Places to see: Coast of the Northeast, Foz de Iguaçu falls, Historic gold towns in Minas Gerais, Pantanal swamp and others. Be prepared to spend a lot on children's' schooling and have difficulty finding good schools. Dress informally if possible and buy clothes and most electronic goods (not TVs)in UK before, as they're generally better quality and cheaper there.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“The food is unbelievable, possibly the best in the world - so try everything. And see life outside of the cities as well in order to begin to understand the variety of situations in Brazil.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“It is sometimes frustrating and at others exciting and challenging. I live in a very geographically beautiful country vast and varied which I explore often.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Brazil

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I've moved around a lot in the last 4 years, to take my home comforts with me but to avoid lugging loads of stuff or paying airline excess baggage fees I use a luggage service.

Chigwell to Washington

View more hints and tips for Brazil

Shipping

You can ship goods to Brazil by air or sea. Air freight is quicker, but it’s usually a lot cheaper to send your belongings by sea. There’s a wide choice of international removals companies that offer both options – and they’ll be able to advise you on the latest customs regulations and import duties.

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Import duties

You can import most furniture and electrical items duty free as long as you’ve owned them for at least six months. If anything exceeds a certain value, you’ll have to get authorisation from your nearest Brazilian consulate.

Medicines

If you need to take a supply of prescription medication to Brazil, make sure you have a letter from your doctor confirming the type of medicine and the reason it’s been prescribed.

Pets

You can take a pet to Brazil as long as they’ve been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. They must also have a health certificate from a vet in your home country.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

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