Import Duty

Imposto sobre a Importação, or simply II in Portuguese, is an import duty that applies to the entrance of foreign products into Brazil. 

It is determined by the products NCM and paid by the importer, the recipient of the international shipping named by the sender, those who are acquiring the commodity and the bidder of seized or abandoned products.

Importing to Brazil

Before 1990 it was virtually impossible to find imported products in Brazil. The Brazilian government made use of protectionist measures and extremely high taxes to discourage importing of goods.

This almost xenophobic approach to importing changed when ex-president Fernando Collor de Mello broke the importing barrier by reducing the average importing taxes and abolishing a huge amount limiting factors.

Although it became easier to import products, there are still lots of other challenges that companies face when bringing their goods into Brazil.

As well as meeting prohibitions on the import of certain items such as used clothing, cars and machinery, importers have to deal with complex cascading taxes and charges that increase the cost of importing products into the country quite significantly. In most cases taxes (both federal and state) and other charges will add about 100% to the importing cost. This will also depend on what type of product and which state is nominates as the final destination for the import.

Importing in Brazil

All importers must be registered at Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX) through a system named Sistema integrado de comércio exterior (Siscomex). This system registers, monitors and controls international trades with Brazil. You will be able access to Siscomex from banks, broker agencies or terminals on foreign trading related governmental agencies. It is also possible to access the system, online, from your office if you obtain a password at Federal Revenue Secretariat.

You will be registered at Siscomex as an importer or exporter at Registro de Exportadores e Importadores (REI) the first time you are importing goods. The next step is to obtain an importing license if your product requires one. There are two types of license:

  • Automatic license: Automatic Licenses are granted to most imports into Brazil
  • Non-automatic license: These are necessary for products that require approval from other ministries or agencies, such as: 
  • National Petroleum Agency (ANP)
  • Brazilian Institute of Environment (IBAMA)
  • Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT)

It is imperative that you have obtained the necessary license before you ship the goods, as some items are not allowed to enter Brazil without the documentation in place. It may take several months for your licence to be issued if your product falls under the non-automatic license regime.

RTS - Simplified taxation regime

It is possible, however, to import your products using the regular mail service or couriers, you may benefit from a simplified taxation regime when your import has a value under USD 3000. RTS however doesn't apply for alcoholic beverages, tobacco and smoking related products.

The fixed import tax is 60% of product value declared in the commercial invoice plus the freight and freight insurance costs if these are not included in the value of the goods. The procedure to pay the tax will depend on the carrier you choose and they should be able to advise of this cost:

  • Regular mail - If the goods worth less than USD 500, taxes (import tax and ICMS) are paid at the post office when you are picking up the goods. For goods that are worth above USD 500 and below USD 3000, you must register the import at Siscomex to obtain a Declaração Simplificada de Importação (DSI). In addition to ICMS (VAT) you will be required to pay BRL 150 for customs clearance.
  • Couriers - Courier will calculate and pay the necessary taxes directly to the Federal Revenue Secretariat, and the addressee will be charged later.

Additional documentation for imports requiring automatic or non-automatic import license 

The Import License contains information about the goods that will be imported and the import operation in general, as well as the following information:

  • Name of importer
  • Name of exporter
  • Country of origin
  • Place of unloading and clearance of goods
  • Manufacturer of the goods
  • Tax classification
  • Quantity and net weight
  • Detailed description of goods
  • Unit and total price
  • Incoterms
  • Payment method
  • Type of taxation

As with the Simplified Import Declaration, the Import License is a document specifically designed to simplify import operations, provided that the total amount of the imported goods does not surpass USD 3000.

The Import License Excerpt is a printable document issued by Siscomex and is often requested for any customs clearance process. The Import License Excerpt contains all the information available in the Import License or in the Simplified Import License.