Doing Business in Brazil

Brazilian Business Practices
Brazilians do business through personal relationships. If you want to do business in Brazil, you must first reach out to an appropriate Brazilian contact within your industry to introduce you to the right people. A great place to start is through the U.S. Department of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil. Additionally, be prepared to devote long-term resources, such as time and money, to building strong relationships in Brazil. If you are not committed to this endeavor, Brazil may not be the right market for you and your company.

Important tips

  • Brazilians consider themselves to be “Americans.” Do not refer to America as something that is specific to the United States.
  • Commas and periods are reversed in numbers; periods are used to punctuate thousands, commas to punctuate for decimal points.
  • Refrain from any topic including Argentina, traditionally known to be a rival.
  • Don’t talk politics.
  • The sign for OK in the United States is considered extremely vulgar in Brazil.
  • The colors for the Brazilian flag are yellow and green. You should avoid wearing this color combination.


  • Your first greeting with a Brazilian will often include an enthusiastic handshake. As a Brazilian gets to know you and a friendship develops, the greeting will progress to an embrace.
  • Women often kiss one another on either cheek.
  • It is respectful to shake hands with each member of a group upon arrival and departure.


  • Punctuality is not a trait commonly possessed by Brazilians. When attending a meeting, be prepared to wait.
  • Make appointments in advance, generally two weeks ahead of time.
  • Though business hours are slated similarly to those in the United States (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), executives and upper management tend to arrive in the late morning and work into the evening. Optimal meeting times are typically 10 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5 p.m.


  • Often, the aggressive nature of businesspeople from the United States can come across as offensive to Brazilians. Don’t expect to get right to the point and don’t show your frustration; be patient. Contract negotiations may take a lengthy period of time and several in-person visits.
  • Brazilians do business with people, not firms. Try not to change your team during negotiations.
  • Retain a local attorney and/or accountant. An outside legal presence is often resented.


  • When entertaining, it is highly recommended that you get a recommendation on location. That recommendation can be acquired from your prospect’s assistant or your hotel concierge. If you are staying at a first-class hotel, it is appropriate to entertain there as well.
  • No business should be conducted during the meal. This is the time for you to get to know your prospect. Business can be done after the meal when coffee is served, if appropriate.
  • Dinner parties are known for lasting into the night. A great one can last straight through to sunrise!

Morrision, Terri, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden, Ph.D. (1994). Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands. Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation.



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