How to transfer money to and from Brazil

. Jan 05, 2020
money transfer international

Unlike South American counterparts such as Argentina and Ecuador, where U.S. Dollars are readily accepted, Brazil is quite closed as far as financial transactions are concerned. Only Brazilian Reais (BRL) are accepted countrywide, meaning that currency exchanges may pose somewhat of a challenge for the uninitiated. With a view to helping foreigners navigate Brazil’s banking system, the Central Bank provided a series of materials explaining the essentials on how to open a bank account and how to send money to and from Brazil. Here are some of the main topics.

</p> <h2>Bringing money into Brazil</h2> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.bcb.gov.br/rex/cartilha/cartilha_cambio_envio_recebimento_pequeno_valores.pdf">Central Bank</a>, there are three ways to receive money from abroad: payment orders, international cards (available for Brazilians living abroad) or via mail.&nbsp;</p> <p>Payment orders must be made by way of financial institutions authorized by the Central Bank and the recipient will always receive the sum in BRL. Therefore, if the deposit is made in a foreign currency, the transaction is subject to foreign exchange rates, which vary from one financial institution to another.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is important to include information such as the full name of the recipient in Brazil, alongside identity documents, addresses and the reason for the transaction. Brazilian banking data such as branch and account number and IBAN code are also necessary.</p> <p>For transfers of up to BRL 10,000, the money can be received in cash or any payment instrument available. Transactions of over BRL 10,000 are done by way of crediting bank accounts, bank transfers, or check. Banks or financial institutions may require extra documentation from recipients in order to process transactions of over BRL 10,000 (roughly USD 2,500).&nbsp;</p> <p>Brazilians living abroad may send up to BRL 10,000 back home using cards issued abroad, providing their financial institution offers this kind of operation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Correios, <a href="https://brazilian.report/money/2019/03/28/struggling-correios-on-demand-delivery/">Brazil’s official postal service</a>, also sends money to and from Brazil to partner countries via mail. Users must pay a BRL 35 fee, plus 1.5 percent over the total amount.&nbsp;</p> <p>British online money transfer service <a href="https://transferwise.com/">TransferWise</a> also accepts the sending and receipt of Brazilian Reais. The platform works by pooling money in funds around the world and transferring money locally. For instance, when sending British pounds to Brazil, one would transfer the sum to TransferWise&#8217;s UK fund, and the company&#8217;s Brazilian fund would send on the corresponding amount in BRL. As such, users are free of the usual buy and sell rates found in foreign currency operations.</p> <h2>Sending money abroad</h2> <p>Money can be sent abroad from Brazil by way of financial institutions certified by the Central Bank to operate in foreign exchange markets, or Correios. Companies hired by accredited institutions are also allowed to perform transactions of up to USD 3,000.</p> <p>Payment orders must be made in foreign currency; it is possible to purchase the equivalent of BRL 10,000 using cash. Higher amounts must be paid by bank transfers, checks or directly debiting a bank account.&nbsp;</p> <p>The data required to fulfill the operation is similar to that required to receive money from abroad, including the name and location of the foreign institution that will receive the money, as well as the recipient&#8217;s ID and address. It’s important to ask the financial institution if additional information is required.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Bank accounts for foreigners in Brazil</h2> <p>Individuals in Brazil can open two different types of bank accounts: deposit accounts (checking or savings) or payroll accounts. Checking accounts are the best for financial transactions such as deposits, payments or withdrawals. Many banks offer a kind of simplified checking account, especially for low-income audiences, that don’t require a proof of residence to set up. These accounts normally have a low transaction limit, of up to BRL 3,000 per month, including balances and deposits.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Savings accounts are used as a form of investment as they provide interest payments and are not subject to taxes in Brazil. Their attraction, however, has been diminishing as the Central Bank continues to slash the <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/daily-briefing/2019/12/12/greta-thunberg-bolsonaro-enemy-5g-sanitation-big-agro/">benchmark interest rate</a>.</p> <p>Payroll accounts are a specific bank account that only allows deposits made by employers.&nbsp;</p> <p>With the rise of fintechs in Brazil, it’s becoming much easier to have a bank account, sometimes even one with no fees. However, it is important to make sure the institution is allowed to operate by the Central Bank, guaranteeing its credibility.&nbsp;</p> <h2>How to open a bank account as a foreigner</h2> <p>Foreigners will need to provide identity documents for opening banking accounts and banks are free to accept or deny the request. Special foreign identity cards are required, as well as the individual taxpayer ID (CPF) and proof of address. Those with pending visas may present proof that their migration process is ongoing, which is often sufficient to open a bank account. Foreigners are also allowed to open joint bank accounts or open <a href="https://brazilian.report/money/2019/10/14/fintechs-turn-attention-brazil-entrepreneurs/">small businesses known as MEI</a>—in this case, the documents may vary, depending on banks. </p> <h2>Alternatives for tourists</h2> <p><a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/04/28/eco-luxury-tourism-blossoms-brazil-amazon/">Travelers to Brazil</a> must keep in mind only Brazilian Reais are accepted in the country. International cards are widely accepted in big cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but it is advisable to carry some money in cash, especially in farther-flung locations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Those who chose to come to Brazil holding cash (either in local or foreign currencies) must keep in mind that there is a BRL 10,000 threshold. When entering or leaving Brazil with more than this amount in cash, individuals must declare it to the tax authority office at the airport in question. Those who fail to do so may have their cash seized and face punishment.&nbsp;</p> <p>To purchase Reais in Brazil, tourists may use accredited institutions, such as banks or currency exchanges. The Central Bank has an app called <a href="https://www.bcb.gov.br/acessoinformacao/legado?url=https:%2F%2Fwww.bcb.gov.br%2Fhtms%2Fmecir%2Fcedulas%2Fappcambiolegal%2Findex.asp">Câmbio Legal</a> which shows the exchange rate for the day, as well as pointing them in the direction to nearby currency exchange shops.

 
Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, she worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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