How To Move To Brazil
The complete guide!

Find A Job

The Brazilian labour market is not overly welcoming to foreigners. Companies must demonstrate that two-thirds of their employees are Brazilian, and to get a work visa (needed by any foreigner who wants a job), you’ll need to prove that you can do a job that a Brazilian national cannot. You may find it easier to get a job with an international company with operations in Brazil – there are many big names in this category – but you will still need a work visa to take it up. Most of these companies are based in São Paulo, but others can be found in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and Macaé. The cities offer the best opportunities for foreigners.

Tax And Pensions

Income tax and social security contributions for resident taxpayers start at a rate of 7.5% and scale up to 27.5% for high earners. You are a resident taxpayer if you hold a permanent visa or a temporary work visa. Deductions are made by your employer at source. Employers also make their own contribution to your social security.

Non-resident taxpayers (e.g. employees of foreign companies drawing their salary from abroad) pay a flat rate of 27.5% on any wages they earn in Brazil.

The Brazilian pension system is in a state of transition. Under the proposed new system, the minimum retirement age will be 62 for women and 65 for men.

Are Any Skills In Particular Demand?

Most full-time jobs available to foreigners are at graduate level. There is a lot of competition from skilled Brazilians, but there is usually high demand for people to fill finance, IT and engineering roles.

Do I Need To Speak The Local Language?

To find a good, graduate-level job in Brazil, you will need to speak Portuguese to a good standard. Even casual jobs are hard to come by, if you can’t speak the language. If your Portuguese is not at least up to conversational standard, then international companies may have suitable roles.

What Are Typical Working Hours And Annual Holiday Entitlement?

Office hours in Brazil are typically 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Employees are legally not allowed to work more than eight hours per day or 44 hours each week. All employees are entitled to at least one weekly day of rest, usually taken on a Sunday.

There are 12 national holidays, but some are ‘ponto facultativo’, meaning that the employer gets to decide whether their staff can take the day off. In practice, most do. The two-day Carnival national holiday is ‘ponto facultativo’. Individual states may have their own regional holidays, and government and bank workers are treated to Civil Servants Day in October. Otherwise, holidays are generous but not flexible. One year of service with the same employer will entitle you to 30 days’ annual leave, but you must take this either all at once, or in two parts with one part being at least 20 days.

How Does The Cost Of Living In The Country Compare With Other Countries?

Wages and costs in Brazil are both generally lower than in the UK. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the most expensive cities to live in.

The Brazilian real (R$) is equivalent to about £0.18. The average monthly net salary is 1,819 R$.

Basic utilities for one month – i.e. electricity, heating, aircon, water and waste – for an 85m2 apartment average 308 R$. A monthly internet connection averages 114.19 R$.

Rent on a one-bedroom city centre apartment averages 1,288 R$ per month. A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre averages 874 R$ per month. A three-bedroom city centre apartment averages 2,566 R$ per month. And outside of the city centre, the average rent per month is 1,801 R$.

What Are The Major Websites For Job Seekers In This Country?

Please see below for a list of useful job websites:

Find A Job in Brazil

Recruitment Agencies

Not every job available in Brazil will be formally advertised, and often finding work will depend on networking and contacts. Therefore recruitment agencies are very commonly used. Some of the better known agencies include:

Grupo Foco
The Taplow Group

Direct Applications

For the same reason that recruitment agencies are common, speculative applications are a useful method for finding a job.

Job Fairs

CCUSA hosts occasional job fairs, but these are more tailored towards seasonal staff. You can find more information on the CCUSA website.


Apply for your job with a CV and a covering letter, both typed on A4 in Portuguese. Allowances may be made for imperfect conversational Portuguese, but on paper you must sparkle. It may be worth asking a native speaker to proofread your application for you.

Your cover letter should not exceed one side of A4. Try to find the name of a specific person to address your letter to. Focus on your qualifications, skills and languages.

Your CV should not exceed two pages. There is no need to include elementary education or your marital status. Focus instead on demonstrating why you are the right person for the job. Your CV should contain:

• Personal information (dados pessoais): your full name, contact information and date of birth
• Further education (formação acadêmica)
• Professional work experience (experiência profissional) – this should be listed in reverse chronological order, and should include dates, as well as your job titles and the names of each company
• Advanced qualifications (aperfeiçoamento profissional): the professional skills you have developed that might make you a suitable candidate
• Language and computer skills (línguas e informática)
• Additional information (informações adicionais) – this should include anything else that makes you qualified, for example details of any seminars and workshops you’ve attended, any volunteer work you’ve done and any relevant internships.

Interviews may include a session at a third-party assessment centre, as well as a meeting with your potential employer. Be prepared to demonstrate your suitability for the role, rather than just to talk about your skills and abilities. You could also be asked questions about your personal life. Take it as a good sign if you reach the stage where these kinds of questions are being asked.

Qualifications And Training

Your work experience will act as your qualifications. Certificates and qualifications gained abroad are useful, but they do not need to be transferred to Brazilian equivalents.


Apply For A Visa/Permit

In order to enter Brazil, you must be able to satisfy the immigration authorities about your purpose for visiting and that you have enough money for the duration of your stay. You may need to provide details of your accommodation, as well as evidence of your return or onward travel – this could be return flight tickets, an onward flight ticket, bus/coach/train tickets etc. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you enter the country. Dual citizens are usually required to present their Brazilian passport when entering the country. Additional rules apply to dual citizenship minors travelling alone.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted in Brazil for entry, transit, and exit. However, your ETD must be valid for a minimum period of six months from your date of entry.

Many nationalities will not require a visa for a short-term visit to Brazil. Check online for visa waiver countries for Brazil, as those not included will be required to obtain a visa in advance. If you outstay your visa, you will either be given a fine or, depending on how long you have overstayed, you may be fined and deported or ordered to leave with immediate effect at your own expense. Visa extensions can be made by application to the Federal Police.



All visitors to Brazil must obtain a visa from one of the Brazilian diplomatic missions, unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries. Visits on a visa exemption basis are limited to the same purposes as visits on a tourist visa (i.e. tourism, business, friends and family, culture/art, etc). The different types of visas available to foreigners are as follows:

Business visa

The Brazilian business visa is designed for foreign citizens travelling to Brazil to do business but not to seek employment. On this visa, your first entry to Brazil must be within 90 days of the visa issue date. The business visa is valid for a period of up to 90 days, but it is possible to apply for an extension once, which will offer another 90 days. The maximum amount of time you can spend in Brazil in any given year on a business visa is 180 days.

Working holiday visa

A working holiday visa in Brazil is designed for the primary purpose of tourism, but also permits temporary paid work. This visa is exclusively available by international agreement, so your eligibility will depend on your nationality. A working holiday visa in Brazil is only available for eligible candidates aged between 18 and 30 years old, and it allows a maximum stay of one year.

Investment visa

The Brazilian investment visa is available for three different types of investment. To apply, you will need to fit in one of the following categories:

• Managers and executives whose companies invest a minimum of 600,000 BRL (Brazielan Real) in a Brazilian company, or a minimum of 150,000 BRL in a business that will also generate at least 10 new jobs for local residents within the next two years
• Applicants who personally invest a minimum of 500,000 BRL in a Brazilian company OR a minimum of 150,000 BRL in research activities. In either of these cases, the applicant will be granted permanent residency straight away.
• Applicants who purchase urban real estate worth a minimum of 700,000 BRL, if located in the North or Northeast of the country, or a minimum of one million BRL, if located in another region. Residency will be granted initially for two years, after which the applicant may submit a further application for permanent residence

Family visa

The family visa is available for spouses (or domestic partners), children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and dependent siblings of a Brazilian citizen or of a person holding, or applying for, Brazilian residency. It is also available to the legal guardians of a Brazilian citizen. Residency is granted for the same period of time as for the family member who holds the initial citizenship or residency – this can be permanent residency if applicable. Dependent family members also wishing to work will need a temporary work visa.

Medical training visa

The medical training visa is available to medical doctors licensed in countries with more than 1.8 doctors per 1,000 people. They are assigned to work in areas of Brazil with a low number of doctors and trained medical staff. The visa is valid for a period of up to three years, and is eligible for one renewal of a further three-year period.

Retirement visa

Those wishing to retire in Brazil can initially apply for a retirement visa, which covers a period of up to two years, after which, the retiree can make an application for permanent residency. To be eligible for a retirement visa in Brazil, the applicant will need to show evidence of a minimum monthly income of at least $2,000 (USD).

Short-term work visa

The short-term work visa is valid for working in a specific position for a limited period of time. Expatriates on a short-term work visa are not permitted to change jobs during their stay in Brazil. They are contractually obligated to stay with the employer that applied for their work visa until the specified period expires. Dependent family members (i.e. spouses or domestic partners, dependent children, etc.) are able to accompany the visa holder, but they are not automatically allowed to start working in Brazil.

In order to be eligible for this type of visa, the applicant will need to have a signed contract of employment from a Brazilian employer. The visa application will only be processed by the immigration authorities pending a contract examination and approval that is conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour.

Long-term work visa

The long-term work visa is generally much more desirable to expats, as it allows the holder to stay in Brazil indefinitely and to change jobs without losing their work permit. Applicants for a long-term work visa in Brazil will need to convince the Brazilian authorities that they possess a highly specialised skillset, which would benefit the Brazilian economy and fill a skills gap.

To work legally in Brazil, you’ll need a residence permit and a work visa. Therefore, you will need to have your work visa ready before you take up any employment, and apply for temporary residence upon arrival.

In most circumstances, your employer should get the ball rolling for your work visa on your behalf, and will submit the proposed employment contract, along with the required supporting documents – such as qualification certificates, work experience, and a letter of recommendation – to the Ministry of Labour and Employment. All documents will need to be translated into Portuguese and approved by the Brazilian authorities. The subsequent approval will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who will authorise the responsible Brazilian embassy or consulate in your home country to start the work visa procedure.

Once such authorisation has been received, you can make an appointment with your local Brazilian embassy or consulate to further proceed with your visa application. It might be possible to start completing the visa application forms online, but you will need to check on your local embassy website. Your local embassy might require you to take a printed copy of your application instead of (or despite) your online application.

Application procedures can vary depending on the embassy or consulate that you attend, your nationality, and the visa you are applying for. It is therefore extremely important that you check all the details before you attend, and if there is any confusion regarding the exact procedure of your local embassy, you should call them as soon as possible to seek clarification. For example, some embassies do not offer appointments for visa applications, and may solely operate on a first-come first-served basis. In such cases, it would be wise not to book/confirm your travel arrangements until after you have been to the embassy.

Regardless of what type you are applying for, all visas must be issued outside of Brazil. Therefore, if you are already in the country on a tourist visa, you will need to leave, and then re-enter once you have applied for and received your new visa from your local embassy.

In order to apply for a work visa in Brazil at your local embassy, you will need to submit your passport (as well as copies of your passport), which must be valid for at least another six months. You will also need to submit completed and signed application forms, several recent, passport-size photographs, a police report, issued within the past three months, confirming that you do not have a criminal record, and the appropriate visa fee.


Work permits

You can apply for either a temporary or permanent work permit for Brazil. Temporary permits are usually issued for a duration of up to two years, and they can only be re-applied for and reissued once. After a four-year period, your employer can apply to switch your temporary permit to permanent permission to work in Brazil.

To reiterate some information from the visa section, in order to work in Brazil, you will require a short-term or long-term work visa, which can only be issued outside of the country. A Brazilian employer should start the ball rolling on your work visa and make the application for your required work permit. The employer does this due to the fact that, in the majority of cases (with only a few special exceptions), you will need a job offer before any of these applications can be made.



Both temporary and permanent residence in Brazil are available to foreigners. Certain investment visa candidates can be eligible for either permanent residency straight away, or temporary residency for two years with the option to apply for permanent residency after. You can also be eligible for residency in Brazil if you fit into the following categories:

Marriage and family residency

You can qualify for permanent residency in Brazil if you are married to (or have a child with) a Brazilian national. Those under family reunification visas can be eligible for temporary and permanent residency. This is providing that you can present all the correct paperwork, documentation and certificates, as well as proof that you can financially provide for your spouse and/or your dependant child.

International agreement residency

This is available to candidates of certain nationalities, those that belong to a country with a reciprocal residency agreement with Brazil. Agreements providing permanent residency are in effect with countries such as Argentina and Uruguay.

Another agreement, known as the Mercosur Residence Agreement, provides an initial residency of two years, with the option to apply for permanent residency after. This agreement is in place with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. Nationals of the aforementioned countries may enter Brazil without a visa, and can request residency after arrival.

Nationals of neighbouring countries that are not part of the Mercosur Residence Agreement, such as Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela, can also apply for residency after they have arrived. Nationals of Cuba, who have participated in the Mais Médicos medical training programme, and nationals of the Dominican Republic and Senegal, who have an application for refugee status under review (although this requires withdrawing the application), may also apply for residency once they have arrived. All the countries mentioned in this paragraph can apply for temporary residency in Brazil, after arrival, for a period of up to two years, after which they can submit an application for permanent residency.


Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property


Renting Property

Accommodation facilities in Brazil are in abundance and mostly depend on what you are looking for. Another factor that determines the type of accommodation you can access is the region you will be living in. It is possible to find a high standard of housing, which of course might come with higher costs.

It is possible to find places with reasonably priced accommodation facilities in Brazil. The coastal areas have plenty of short-term rentals whose prices drop during the off-season. Many people with vacation homes in Brazil usually rent them out to tourists when they are not using the homes. Living in the larger cities of Brazil is a bit expensive. The rental prices at times exceed the rate of American and European homes. Some of the rental properties in Brazil have swimming pools and gardens. Most rental properties in Brazil do not have basements or attics.

Most apartments are found in large multi-story buildings. In addition, most long-term apartments are unfurnished and their rents are relatively cheap. Long-term rentals in Brazil do not usually have many appliances. Missing showerheads, bulbs, and toilet seats are common.

Short-term rentals are usually furnished. Condominios, which are special types of accommodation popular with foreigners, are gated housing estates with CCTV and security. If you are searching for housing in large cities such as Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, then you need to consider transport because decent housing in such cities is usually located on the outskirts of town.

The most common way to find rental property in Brazil is by word of mouth. The classified sections of newspapers are also a great way to get information about rental properties in Brazil. Knowing Portuguese comes in handy when asking for information from locals. Brazilians by nature are friendly, communicative, and aware about things that happen around them.

You can also walk around looking for “for rent” signs. You will find them displayed at the gates or windows of the properties. Some signs say “Alugo” while others say “Alugo temporado”. Alugo temporado are for short term rentals. Browsing the internet in search of accommodation is perhaps the easiest way to find rental properties because they are usually categorized according to cities, price range, and type of accommodation.

Some people may not have time to search for rental properties and would instead prefer to use real estate agents. The embassy of your home country can match you up with agencies that speak your language. Real estate agents charge you commission only when you rent a house, so it is important to consult as many agents as you can. This gives you a wider range of property to choose from. Visit the properties on your own to get a feel of the properties before you visit them with a real estate agent. A real estate agent is out to make a sale and they can give you convincing arguments even when the property does not really appeal to you. The best time to check out real estate properties for rent is in the evening, to get a good idea about the noise and safety levels in the area at night.

Most agents will offer the same properties, so you need to have a list of properties you have visited before to avoid viewing the same place again. Do not work with real estate agents who ask for money in advance because this is a sign of fraudulent behavior. Only pay when you have settled on the property you want.

Before you select a property, look at the amenities and utilities available. Some properties do not have an installed telephone connection. If you choose to rent such a place, it means you will either have to buy or rent a telephone line, which takes a while. Ensure that the house has both hot and cold water and an installed shower. Many apartments do not have an air-conditioning system or central heating, so you should consider how you feel about that first before selecting a property. Brazil has frequent power blackouts, so always have a flashlight and candles on standby.

Tenancy contracts in Brazil usually have a 30-month term and require a month’s deposit. The lease agreements usually have additional costs and a clause that allows an annual increase in rent. It is important to carefully study the contract through a Portuguese-speaking lawyer since the contract is usually written in Portuguese. In the case of short-term rentals, a contract is not usually needed. The prospective tenant meets with the property owner and makes the living arrangements.

Cost of utilities are not included in the lease price and need to be paid separately. Those who live in serviced apartments will have to pay additional fees including caretaker, elevator, swimming pool, and security fees. The government of Brazil has high council taxes for property, which in most instances are paid by the tenant. Expect the rent charges to be high if the property owner is the one paying the council fees. At first sight you may miss seeing the additional costs on the contract, so make sure you pay extra attention before signing the contract. Ask as many questions as you want because it is difficult to opt out of the contract once you have signed it. Another important part to consider in a contract is a clause that ensures larger repairs are carried out by the landlord.

To apply for a rental property in Brazil, you will need a guarantor to co-sign the contract. The tenant and guarantor are expected to produce a few documents such as proof of salary, identification, and social security documents. If a tenant does not have a guarantor, the company the tenant works for can take up the role. The company acting as a guarantor will hasten and simplify the process since a company gives more security than an individual.

A rental contract is automatically renewed if no notice for termination has been given before the expiration of the lease agreements by either the property owner or tenant. The term of renewal is usually another twelve to thirty months. If a person wants to terminate the contract, a three month advance notice needs to be given by the person who wants to break the contract. If a tenant wants to break the contract on short notice, they can give a month’s notice, although they risk losing their deposit and might be charged an additional fee for the inconvenience.


Buying Property

For many years, the Brazilian property market has been considered lucrative and promising. Buying property in Brazil is considered a sound financial investment, which is why many investors purchase properties in the country. The boom in Brazil’s property market is partly due to the low prices of real estate and Brazil’s growing economy. Recent statistics indicate that Brazil is set to become one of the global economic giants in the next thirty to forty years and this has also increased investments in property and real estate.

What are the qualifications or licenses that should be possessed by real estate agents?

Since there are many unscrupulous property agents in Brazil, ensure that you find a vetted broker or agent to work with. The best way to identify one is by ensuring that they have an ID card issued by the government agency that deals in regulating the real estate agencies. This certifying body is known as the Conselhos Regionais de Corretores de Imóveis (CRECI).

You can find these agents via the CRECI website where they are divided according to the various regions as well as the language skills possessed by the agents. The site also has a list of real estate properties in different parts of the country. Alternatively, you can look for real estate agents by contacting the embassy or consulate of your home country in Brazil, especially if you are looking for agents who speak your own language.

Finding a property for sale

First, decide if you are looking for a permanent home or houses to let. Pick the most profitable regions and property types if you are hoping to invest in residential real estate. Many residential properties are not located in popular tourist destinations, but they are often located in areas where many working Brazilians reside.

However if you are looking for a permanent holiday home, you should consider looking for a house in a popular vacation spot. Therefore, you should start your search for real estate on the internet before arriving in Brazil. This will give you an idea about property prices and their availability in the different regions of the country. However, never enter into real estate agreements in advance because there are plenty of fraudsters online; wait until you arrive in Brazil and view the properties in person.

Some of the top real estate websites in Brazil Include Vivareal,
Zap, and

House buying process

Purchasing property in Brazil often begins with a non-binding offer addressed to the owner of the property. Once a non-binding offer has been endorsed, parties usually execute a binding sale and purchase agreement and then subject the contract to due diligence. Land acquisitions should always incorporate due diligence on the property, the sellers, and the past proprietors. This is necessary regardless of the value of the property.

Nevertheless, the kind of property (business, private, urban, or rural) may dictate the degree of the due diligence to be undertaken. This is due to specific liabilities that may fall to the new owner of the property after the exchange of ownership. One example of a liability associated with property that may fall to the buyer is unpaid real estate taxes. In addition, environmental liabilities may be imposed upon the buyer. Therefore, it is important to investigate whether the seller is financially stable and has a good reputation.

Prospective buyers should look for help from a real estate consulting firm to assess technical aspects of the property, for example, the potential for development and the required city permits as well as other licensing requirements. Once the purchaser has finished all due diligence the parties can execute the final deed of purchase and sale.

What is involved in taking ownership of a property?

Taking ownership for property in Brazil is accomplished by filing a Public Deed of Purchase and Sale of Property (Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda de Imóveis) with the Cartório de Registro deI Móveis (RGI) real estate registry.

The Public Deed must be executed in the presence of a notary public. The seller must present certain tax clearance certificates and the buyer must pay a real estate transfer tax known as ImpostosobreTransmissão de Bens Imóveis (ITBI). While the ITBI can lawfully be paid by either the buyer or the seller, it is standard practice in Brazil for the buyer to cover this cost.

It is important to check whether you should acquire an ownership title or “fee farm title”. Some land in Brazil is claimed as fee farms by the government, which entitles individuals to hold a “fee farm” title for that real estate. In such cases, notwithstanding the ITBI, the buyer must pay the fee farm fee, which is usually 5% of the value of the transaction.

Property may also be bought indirectly through the purchase of stock in a legal entity that holds title to the property. This structure is mostly used when purchasing commercial properties such as warehouses and office buildings.

Approximate costs

Some of the financial costs involved in real estate transactions in Brazil include due diligence costs, brokerage fees, transfer taxes and notary registration fees. The degree of the due diligence carried out on the property will affect the transaction costs related to the purchase. Investigation of hidden liabilities, such as environmental and urban liabilities, can be quite costly.

Notary registration fees vary from state to state and are often determined by the value of the property involved. An equal fee is charged upon registration of the Deed of Purchase and Sale with the RGI. These fees can reach hundreds of thousands of Brazilian reais, especially in cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Are there restrictions on foreigners holding title to property in Brazil?

With the exception of rural properties and land near Brazil’s national borders or lands considered terrenos de marinha, for which ownership title is held by the federal government, foreigners are free to acquire property in Brazil.

The Brazilian real estate market is expensive, which has mainly been attributed to a reliable legal framework that offers simple, straightforward rules for real estate funding and purchase. Population and economic growth has also led to a rise in the value of properties in Brazil. If you are looking to buy a holiday home, the hot and sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and pristine beaches makes Brazil an ideal property investment destination.


Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Brazil health insurance

Brazil’s state health insurance, the SUS, is usually referred to as a “unified system”, but it is in fact made up of a network of complementary and competitive providers, and is essentially a public-private mix. Around 25% of Brazilians also take out more comprehensive private cover.

The SUS is funded out of the Social Security Budget, a total of around 8% of Brazil’s GDP, and the country’s municipalities are expected to spend around half the tax they collect on healthcare provision.

The WHO describes it as ‘an outstanding success’ in that its inception has extended healthcare to many of Brazil’s poorer residents: the 1998 constitution includes healthcare as a fundamental right. Its success is shown in the increase — of over a decade — in Brazilian life expectancy. Unicef has also singled the country out for praise, pointing out that infant mortality has decreased by 60% since 1990.

Under the SUS, the public healthcare system is make up of three tiers of medical care: family clinics and health centers which provide basic local healthcare; “second-assistance” hospitals which treat common illnesses and perform minor operations; and specialist clinics offering treatment for more serious illnesses and surgery.

Its foundation consists of primary family care: the Programa Saúde da Família (PSF) is based on Family Health Teams who look after around 4,000 people. Private hospitals, reimbursed by the government, carry out around half of surgical procedures in Brazil.

However, the basic tier of the SUS is struggling, being overstretched and underfunded, with significant resource and staff shortages. Patients who are not in the big urban centres often have to travel for miles to access treatment.

The 2013 “Mais Medicos” program, designed to provide treatment in more remote areas, has been forced to rely on Cuban medical personnel. Staff report that SUS hospitals have stopped sharing information with one another, resulting in communication breakdowns: there are in any case few computerized systems in Brazilian healthcare. For this reason, as well as to diminish waiting times, many expats prefer to take out private health insurance despite the comprehensiveness of Brazilian coverage.

All citizens and residents are covered by Brazil’s universal health insurance system. Employment-based insurance is the most common type of health insurance, representing 76.9% of medical plans and 83.1% of dental plans.

In order to register for the SUS, you will need:

• your passport
• your foreigner’s identity number (Registro National De Estrangeiro/RNE)
• your individual Tax Payer’s Number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física/CPF)
• your marriage or divorce certificate, if applicable

If you are employed, your employer should sign you up with the SUS, but check that this has been done. You will need to have a valid work permit and to make a number of national insurance contributions, which will usually be deducted from your salary.

The old SUS card (Cartão SUS) has been replaced with a National Health Identification card, which you must take with you to medical appointments along with your ID card in order to qualify for treatment. The new card is still colloquially known as a SUS card, which can be confusing.

Once you have been given your card, you will be able to access the Citizens’ Health Portal (Portal de Saúde do Cidadão) in order to check your own medical records, but bear in mind that this is currently available only in Portuguese.


Open A Bank Account

The banking industry in Brazil is quite advanced and inflation is under control since the adoption of the Brazilian Real in 1994. One Brazilian Real consists of 100 centavos.

Brazil has two major state-owned banks: the Banco do Brazil and Caxias Economica Federal. The Banco do Brazil was initially known as the Central Bank of Brazil. With over 4000 branches in Brazil and various branches in 22 countries, it is the largest bank in Latin America. The two banks have a stake of about fifty percent of the Brazilian banking sector. Bradesco and HSBC are also among the largest banks in Brazil. Banking is quite expensive with high government imposed taxes and interest rates on every transaction.

There are also regional banks that are owned by the different states in Brazil, with the largest being Banco do Estado de São Paulo. The banking industry continues to grow and many state owned banks and financial institutions are being privatized. There are a few private banks such as Banco Tieu, Unibanco, and Banco Bradesco. In addition, there are several foreign-owned banks with branches in various cities in Brazil. These banks have emerged to make banking easier for expats who would like to access certain financial services in Brazil.

Foreign-owned banks have helped foreigners on both short-term and long-term stays to access financial services that they could access in their home countries. Examples of foreign-owned banks with branches in Brazil include:

Banco Santander
Phone: 55-11-35533300, 55-1-55386000
Fax: 55-11-35537797

Tel: +55 11 3757-7000

J.P Morgan
Phone: 55-11-49503700, 55-11-30483700
Fax: 55-11-49503817

These banks offer expats the same services as the ones they receive at home.

Banks in Brazil operate from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 4 pm. Brazilian banks offer a wide range of financial products including stocks, mortgages, insurance, and retirement plans. Business and personal banking services such as interbank transfers, electronic bill payments, and internet banking facilities are available. Most banks have ATM facilities that accept foreign credit and debit cards. Expatriates are able to access bank services and open accounts. For a foreigner to open an account in Brazil, they need to have a residence visa. The extensive banking network has popularized the use of ATMs. VISA, Cirrus, MasterCard, and Maestro are among the internationally used debit and credit cards. However, it is advisable to carry as much cash as you can when in Brazil because some restaurants, hotels, and businesses do not accept card payments.

You need a resident visa to open a bank account in Brazil. Once you finish opening the bank account in any of the Brazilian banks you will be given a debit card. To qualify as a credit card holder you need to be at least 18 years old. You will be required to submit proof of residence in Brazil and proof of income. The minimum wage to get an international credit card is 1200 Real.

Almost all banks have embraced the use of ATM facilities, with most of them accepting both foreign and local debit and credit cards. You can see the labels of ATMs that accept foreign cards on cash point devices. Most banks have a limit on withdrawals of 1000 Brazilian Real per day. In addition, you can only withdraw a maximum of 500 Brazilian Real after 10pm. If the withdrawal fails, make sure you take the receipt, because sometimes the account ends up being charged even when you do not receive any money. For your security, use ATMs located inside buildings whenever possible. In addition, check all cash machines before using them to ensure that they do not have devices attached to them that could be used by criminals to copy your banking data.

Most travel agencies and hotels accept travelers’ checks. In general, exchange fees are high, with cash exchanges being a bit less expensive. You will require your passport to exchange money. It may be difficult to find an open bureau de change during the weekend. Therefore, consider finding one during the week so that you have enough money to last you throughout the weekend. Alternatively, consider exchanging currencies once you arrive at the airport. Be sure to exchange the Brazilian Real to your home currency before leaving Brazil because the Brazilian Real cannot be exchanged outside Brazil.

Opening a bank account in Brazil is quite simple for foreigners, provided they have a residence visa. Some banks give you the option of opening the account online though you will still need to come to the bank to present the required paperwork. Other documents required to open a bank account include the National tax ID number also known as the CID, identification documents such as an ID or passport, the Foreigners issued identity card (CIE), proof of residence, and proof of employment.

There are different types of account that you can open such as the Conta Corrente, which is a current account, or the Conta de Popanca which is a savings account. Current accounts can be used for daily money transactions and an account holder receives a debit card. Savings account can be used to save money because they attract interest. Consider opening a Conta salario, or salary payment account, once you get a job in Brazil. This type of account is not different from a current account, but it comes with additional benefits such as lower transaction fees.

Expats have the opportunity to access loans from banks provided they have an account in a Brazilian bank. However, to avoid forfeiting loan payments, their visa is used to determine the amount that they qualify for. It is considered unreasonable for an individual to get a huge loan and receive a longer payment plan when the person might be in the country for a short period. The interests charged are high and tend to discourage people from acquiring loans. To qualify for a loan, you need to prove that you can pay it back, which can be seen in your savings record. Loans can be issued to those who have a longer stay period so that they will be able to pay back the loan before they leave the country.


Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

Save On Money Transfers

Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers

Learn The Language

Brazil is by far the largest country in South America, covering almost half the land mass. Brazil was formerly a Portuguese colony, and has a growing population of well over 200 million, which, due to mass immigration, is one of the most diverse multi-cultural populations in the world.

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, and has an extremely diverse and expanding economy. It is being tipped as an emerging superpower. Brazil pioneered bio-ethanol as a viable fuel source, and has recently discovered oil reserves of their own. There is also a huge tourism industry.

The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese displays some differences in vocabulary from the language spoken in Portugal, and is influenced by West African languages. Portuguese is spoken by almost everyone in the country, and provides Brazil with a different cultural feel in comparison with the Spanish-speaking countries around it. Portuguese is almost the only language used in the media, communications, and road signage, but there are almost 200 Amerindian languages spoken in the more remote areas, and dozens of relatively small immigrant populations from around the world who speak their own language in their own communities.

There is a considerable international expat community in Brazil, adding further to the linguistic and cultural mix.

Education is provided by the state, and whilst it boasts many of the best Universities in South America, there is still a very high level of illiteracy in some areas. Spanish is widely taught as the standard second language in Brazil.

If Portuguese is not your native tongue, then learning or improving it will naturally help you to communicate and settle better, and it will be vital in the workplace. If you intend to work in Brazil, it is preferable to possess a level of confidence and proficiency in Portuguese before you arrive.

You may need to consider an online Portuguese course, or attending an international school. This is especially important if you need occupation-specific proficiency, for example in banking, finance, or medical Portuguese.

There are many courses in Portuguese available on the internet catering for all levels. Some will be free to a certain level. There are also many international language schools to be found in most cities in Brazil with a wide variety of courses in Portuguese to help you when you arrive.

Commerce and general conversation in Brazil will be in Portuguese, but then these daily interactions will improve your level of proficiency fairly quickly, as you will essentially be immersed in the language and culture. You should also be able to find locals willing to coach you or encourage you by engaging in conversation over a coffee or a beer.

You may also wish to explore the idea of learning Spanish, which is the third largest language per capita in the world, spoken by almost half a billion people worldwide. Brazil is surrounded by Spanish speaking countries, and some facility in the language will help if you wish to visit them.

There are many excellent Spanish language courses available on the internet, some free (if you don’t mind the advertising). There are also a number of Spanish learning opportunities in many larger cities in Brazil.

Linguistic experts recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest and most reliable method to acquire or consolidate a new language. If you need to improve your Portuguese, this should be a matter of going about and engaging with the local population, reading local books or newspapers, and watching English-language TV or films without subtitles.

Similarly for learning or improving your Spanish, immersing yourself in Spanish language television and newspapers is a good plan.

Expat learners report that teaching standards in Brazil are generally very good. There are also locals who offer private coaching, particularly in the larger cities.

For conversation or practice, rely on your own knowledge and a good phrasebook rather than digital translation: although some areas of Brazil have decent internet connection, the wifi is sometimes slow and you may not be able to access your phone at all times, especially in the more remote areas.

For expats wishing to work in Brazil, there are plenty of opportunities in engineering, tourism, commerce and the oil industries, as well as roles in ecology management, for the well qualified. There are a small number of English-speaking jobs advertised, and there may also be a few international companies where business is conducted in English, but this cannot be relied upon.

Teaching English in Brazil is another possibility. There are many international schools, and contracts can be anything from six months upwards. These teaching jobs are available to anyone with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. Please note that it is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Most language teaching jobs will be in the major cities, but Brazil is such a huge country that there will also be opportunities for you in more adventurous locations. Rates of pay vary considerably, and if you are intending to stay long-term you need to factor in the cost of living, and your own desired lifestyle.

If you intend to teach English in Brazil, it is preferable to have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.

You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality or medical English.


Choose A School

Brazil is by far the largest South American country, with a Portuguese speaking population of some 211,000,000, which means that many millions of children are in education.

Brazil invests heavily in the entire education system (approximately 6% of GDP), and the system is highly thought of in South America. There has been a significant government-led drive to create millions of extra vocational opportunities for Brazilian children, in realisation that the continued economic success of Brazil will depend on infrastructure and a well-trained workforce.

State education in Brazil is paid for through the tax system, and is under the ultimate control of the Ministry of Education. Tuition is provided free of charge for all ages up to and including undergraduate university study. Despite this long-standing free provision, there are a considerable number of fee-paying private educational institutions at all levels, and many of these are at least partially subsidised by the government, in recognition of their importance to the system as a whole.

There are also a large number of independently run international schools, where multilingualism is strongly encouraged, and generally classes are given in English and occasionally Portuguese.

Education is seen politically as central to the continued development of the country and its citizens. The Brazilian education system is held to be one of the very best in South America. One consequence of this emphasis is that Brazil currently has an adult literacy rate of about 93%, one of the highest in the world.

However, the education system is of course very different from the UK or US systems. For a start, all lessons in state schools will be conducted in Portuguese, although some private schools, especially in Rio de Janeiro, do offer a bilingual curriculum (typically Portuguese in the morning, English in the afternoon). A recent government-driven program of open licensing of textbooks allows teachers and students free access to textbooks online.

State education provisions are divided into several levels:

Educação infantile (optional) 4 – 5
Ensino fundamental – age 6 – 14
Ensino Médio – age 15 -18

Tertiary education, for those who wish to continue their studies, is taken at any one of the 2,600 national vocational colleges and universities.

Vocational training is seen as vital for the continued success of Brazil as an expanding nation, and has received massive impetus from the government as a result. Several million young students who chose not to continue their academic studies are enrolled in vocational programs for medicine, construction, engineering, IT, agriculture and many other areas.

The curriculum at all levels is set by the government, with the express aim of offering a consistently high standard of education throughout the country, to improve the economic future of Brazil. A second language is taught in almost all schools. Generally the second language will be Spanish, although English has become more popular as the second language in Brazil.

There are large numbers of private and international schools in Brazil. These are increasingly used by results-oriented Brazilian parents, and of course expats. Many of these schools are faith-based, which you may wish to factor in to your choices.

Private schools may have almost the same curriculum as state schools, but they are not dependent on government funding for extra activities and extra classes, which makes them a popular choice for expat families. Fees and curricula will vary considerably, and need to be checked locally.

Additionally, there are many international schools: over two dozen in Sao Paolo alone, generally running on US or European curricula, with a few having also originally been set up by various branches of the Church. Many of these international schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), with compulsory subjects, – English, Maths, Biology, Spanish and IT, and a number of elective subjects. This qualification (IB) is widely recognized throughout the world by further education institutions, for those wanting to go on and attend foreign universities.

A few of the many international schools (at various levels) to consider:

• Stance Dual School
• Chapel (Catholic, American, IB)
• St. Nicholas (IB, English)
• Pan-American Christian Academy (American, Christian, Brazilian)
• Tip-Toe Discovery (Montessori)

It must be noted that in Rio de Janeiro particularly, since the international schools are so popular with expats, it will be necessary to contact your chosen school as soon as possible to secure a place for your child. Fees can also be quite expensive, which may need to be factored in to contract negotiations with your employer.

Further education in Brazil is free up to postgraduate level at the many universities, half of which are state funded, but fees must be paid at the private universities. There are at least 20,000 non-Brazilian students in the country at any one time.

Some students choose to continue their higher education elsewhere. In general, the Brazilian education system is well set up for their academic achievements to be recognised, and to enable them to fit in wherever they go in the world.


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