UNDERSTANDING  BRAZIL'S IMPORT REGULATIONS
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS

The movement of goods across borders is governed by laws and regulations with due penalties for failure of
compliance. Import regulations are intended to deter the entry of illegal and dangerous products. With the
application of duties and fees, they also serve to protect domestic production of similar items or produce.

The Brazilian government controls its foreign trade transactions through an integrated computerized system
known by its acronym, SISCOMEX. Introduced in 1993 for exports and expanded to include imports in 1997,
SISCOMEX is administered by the Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX), Federal Revenue Secretariat, and the
Central Bank of Brazil. The customs department falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Revenue Secretariat
of the Ministry of Finance.

SISCOMEX centralizes the flow of information between all government organs and banks involved in
import/export operations. Online analyses of import operations registered within the System reduce the
number of documents required and speed up the process.

Only importers or their representatives registered with the Registry of Exporters and Importers can access
SISCOMEX. Registration is automatic with the importer’s first import operation. However, the writer
recommends registration before shipment of goods as the existence of unpaid federal taxes will defer approval
and delay customs clearance.  

All merchandise entering Brazil, whether or not subject to import taxes, are inspected by customs at the port of
entry. The registration of the Import Declaration (DI) by the importer or his legal representative initiates the
import process. The DI should contain the complete names and addresses of the importer and exporter,
description of goods with their product classification numbers, the unit price and total value by product, and the
origin of the goods.

The importer should next present supporting shipping documents to the customs officials at the port of entry.
These documents include the Original Bill of Lading or Air Waybill; Original Commercial Invoice, signed by the
exporter; Packing List, when applicable; and other documents, as required. The System calculates import
taxes levied on the merchandise as well as other federal taxes applicable to the importation, and then debits
the importer’s bank account for the amount due.

Imported goods not registered with SISCOMEX within 45 to 90 days following their arrival in the country are
considered abandoned. Customs authorities then destroy or dispose of such imports in accordance with the
law. Goods held for 60 days following an interruption in the import process also suffer the same fate. This can
occur when the importer fails to comply with customs requirements.

For the most part, imported goods do not require an Import License and are subject to automatic licensing
within the System. Complete and correct documentation expedites clearance through customs within ten
working days from the date of registration of the DI.  

However, some imports are subject to non-automatic licensing. They may also require approval from the
competent government agency which controls the production and commercialization of certain products, such
as food products and medicines. The importer should obtain the Import License(s) prior to shipment of goods.
Failure to comply will result in a penalty. Generally, requests can take up to 60 days for approval and are valid
for 60 days from date of shipment of goods to Brazil.

Goods costing US$3000 or less imported through the postal service or courier companies fall under the
Simplified Taxation Regime (RTS). Customs applies a 60 percent tax rate over the invoice price plus shipping
and insurance costs. When the value exceeds US$500, the importer must register a Simplified Import
Declaration (DSI).

For more details about Brazil’s import regulations, visit the Website of the Federal Revenue Secretariat (www.
receita.fazenda.gov.br).


Article published in the Brazil Explore Magazine, Los Angeles, California, USA, March 2010.
Reprinted with permission.
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