Over the past decade, overseas investment in Brazil has grown considerably. Investor interest in Brazil remains healthy, although it has eased as GDP growth slowed in recent years. Nonetheless, the country still attracted around US$60bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2014, supporting robust flows of money transfer to Brazil. When looking to send money to Brazil, whether you are importing from or investing in the country, there are many options available. With no restrictions on capital outflows on the UK side, it is very easy to transfer money to from the UK, much easier, in fact than it is to send money out of Brazil.
Only foreigners with both permanent residence status and an established urban residence are permitted to buy rural property. For foreign corporations that meet the residence criteria and wish to purchase large tracts of land, the restrictions are particularly tight. The acquirer must justify the size of the plot relative to the size of the project; provide a schedule of works and financing; detail the logistical feasibility of the projects implementation; and demonstrate compliance with the criteria for Ecological and Economic Zoning of Brazil (ZEE13), which determines which crops are best suited economically and environmentally to each area of the country.
With the number of expats moving to Brazil on the rise, and the country having enjoyed impressive growth in both GDP and income per capita, the number of foreigners buying property has grown, whether for personal occupancy, vacation, or investment. There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property, all property sales are titled, and foreign investors enjoy the same investment and possession rights as Brazilians. No local partner is needed to buy land, but there are restrictions in some areas, particularly regarding rural land. For private property purchases, at present, only foreign investors with a permanent visa can get a mortgage from a domestic bank. As such, it is necessary to borrow abroad and transfer money to Brazil from UK to finance this.
Foreign capital can easily be brought into Brazil without the need for prior approval by the government and with no limit on the amount. Some sectors are closed to foreign investment, however, namely nuclear energy, healthcare, mail and telegraph, and aerospace activities. Other sectors financial institutions, air transportation, media, and mining are restricted or have limits on the amount of foreign participation. Acquisition or rental of rural property may require authorization from the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) or, in the case of large purchases, the National Congress.
All money transfer to Brazil with respect to foreign capital inflows must be registered with Bacen within 30 days. Profits and dividends arising from unregistered investments are not permitted to be repatriated through the commercial foreign exchange market. Such funds can still be remitted, but the process is even harder. Registered and unregistered investment are subject to the same tax regime, however, with equity FDI exempt from all taxation. Intercompany loans to a Brazilian subsidiary from a non-Brazilian parent are liable for the federal Tax on Credit, Foreign Exchange, Bonds and Securities Transactions and in Insurance Operation, although this rate can be as low as 0%.
Foreign corporations may only conduct permanent activities in Brazil through a registered subsidiary, branch or permanent establishment. The process of company registration can be slow and complex, so seeking expert and bilingual legal and accounting advice is essential. For UK businesses, UKTI has offices at the British Embassy in Braslia, British Consulates-General in Recife, Rio de Janeiro and So Paulo and British Consulate in Porto Alegre, as well as a representative in Belo Horizonte.
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