As the largest country in South American and fifth-largest in the entire world, Brazil boasts more than 3.28 million square miles and population of 200.4 million. More than 146 million of those residents happen to be packed along the east coast, which calculates to more than 90 percent of the people living on 10 percent of the land.
Whether you’re hitting the country’s east coast or other regions on your business trip, you’ll want to brush up on your Portuguese, exchange some American dollars for reals, and give yourself plenty of time to obtain a business visa for your travels.
Depending on where you live in the U.S., processing a Brazil business visa could take anywhere from 10 to 45 days. That means you certainly want to leave enough time between submitting your extensive list of required documents and your departing flight.
Brazil business visas demand plenty of paperwork to be submitted for the visa to be approved. Documents include:
A number of additional requirements apply based on the jurisdiction in which you live.
From its colonization in the 1500s through the late 1930s, Brazil relied heavily on exporting sugar and gold, with coffee joining the fray in the early 1800s. Business has since expanded to include everything from raw steel to finished refrigerators. The country is divided into five regions, each with its own economic drivers.
Doing business in Brazil could certainly involve coffee, but it could also extend to other agricultural as well as industrial, service-oriented or technology-related endeavors.
Executives traveling to Brazil definitely want to pack a three-piece suit, as two-piece suits are typically for standard office workers. Business women will want to dress conservatively and make sure they have impeccable manicures. Don’t wear any combination of the Brazilian flag colors of yellow and green.
Your appointments should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance; drop-ins are never welcome at government or business offices. Business meetings start on time and business attire is expected in Sao Paulo and Rio. Other areas may be more laid-back and casual about start times and dress.
Let the host start the business discussions, which are typically only begun after a span of casual chatting. While you don’t have to bring a gift to a first business meeting, you should expect to buy lunch or dinner. You should also expect to invest a lot of time building up relationships, which is the key to successfully doing business in the country.
Titles are important, although first names are also common. Handshaking is a must when meeting and leaving; be sure to extend yours to everyone if in a small group. You may also be privy to a lot of arm, elbow and back touching, common gestures throughout the country.
With or without the Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro remains one of the most popular Brazilian hotspots for several reasons. One is the bountiful beaches. Another is the massive mountains, which come complete with Christ the Redeemer, the largest Art Deco statue in the world. Mix in music, feasting and annual Carnaval celebrations, and you have three more reasons to swing by Rio.
Feasting is a popular pastime throughout the entire country, with the midday meal being the largest, followed by a lighter meal in the evening. Brazilian cuisine varies by region, influenced by the population and prominent agricultural crops. If you’re topping off a meal with a cup of coffee, expect a very small cup of a very strong brew. American coffee has been called “a mere shadow” of its Brazilian counterpart.
One more tip is to be prepared for plenty of music, long conversations, and jovial laughter. Brazilians are big on connections and friendships, even in the business arena. So pack your three-piece suit or your conservative business dress, get your business visa process started, and be ready to have some fun.
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