If Brazil has been on your radar as a potential place to launch your next business, take heart -- along with nerves of steel -- as you wend your way through the administrative and legal maze that is the Brazilian system. While some legitimate shortcuts are possible along the way, the norm for a non-Brazilian starting a business is a long, drawn-out affair of paperwork that would make even the most stalwart of entrepreneurs wring their hands.


Step 1.

Give yourself enough time to handle all the administrative preliminaries. According to the International Finance Corporation, which serves as the private equity arm of the World Bank, it takes approximately 130 days, $900 and 43 documents to launch a new business in Brazil.

Step 2.

Enlist the required help, including the services of a Brazilian attorney if you wish to incorporate in the country.

Step 3.

Determine your visa requirements. Assess your personal role in the company you wish to create in Brazil; if you are delegating most of the day-to-day operations to a Brazilian manager and making only occasional visits, a tourist visa or limited business visa might be sufficient. Make sure you meet the requirements if you plan to become a permanent resident, such as investing at least R$150,000 in the company.

Step 4.

Choose the type of business entity your enterprise will take. The most common and least expensive is the Sociedade Limitada, which operates under an articles of association. Another option is the more transparent yet less flexible Sociedade Anônima, which requires published disclosure of corporate activity.

Startup Example: Sao Paulo

Step 1.

Check the viability of your company name with the agency Junta Comercial do Estado de São Paulo.

Step 2.

Pay the registration fees, either at a commercial bank or directly at the commercial registry.

Step 3.

Download two forms for new businesses from two different registry websites, both to be submitted to JUCESP. The first will enroll you with the National Register of Legal Entities, and the other with the Register of Enterprises.

Step 4.

Present your CNPJ certificate to register with the Institute of Social Security.

Step 5.

Register for the ICMS, which is a value-added tax. In addition, enroll as a municipal taxpayer through the Sao Paulo city government website.

Step 6.

Apply for an operations permit within 30 days of enrolling as a municipal taxpayer. Pay the required Registry Taxa de Fiscalização de Estabelecimentos.

Step 7.

Complete other requirements, such as registering new employees with the social integration program, which places them into a national worker database. Notify the Ministry of Labor of changes in staffing and set up an unemployment fund at a bank.


When estimating costs and time to complete the different hurdles, keep in mind that the "local way of doing things," or "jeitinhos," could throw you for a loop and add more time and inconvenience to the process.


Do not underestimate the importance of getting your visas squared away. As noted by Wharton Business School, you might find that after going through the administrative labyrinth of registering your business, unexpected visa snafus could require you to make unexpected trips back home to clear them up.