Cultural Etiquette

The People

Brazilians are friendly and free-spirited, with an incredible zest for life. Portuguese is the language of Brazil. Good conversation topics in Brazil: football, family, and children. Bad conversation topics: Argentina, politics, poverty, religion, and the Rain Forest.

Meeting and Greeting

Take time to greet and say good-bye to each person present.

Body Language

Physical contact is part of simple communication. Touching arms, elbows and backs is very common and acceptable. Brazilians also stand extremely close to one another. Do not back away.

Corporate Culture

Brazilians will do anything for friends, hence the expression: "For friends, everything. For enemies, the law."

Relationships are more important than a legal document in business.

Meetings are conducted at a casual, unhurried pace. Don’t get right down to business. Engage in conversation first.

Doing business with Brazilians requires face to face communication. You will be able to do only limited business by phone, fax or e-mail.

Hire a Brazilian contact (a despachante) from your industry to introduce you to the right people. He or she will be invaluable to your success.

Hire a local accountant and a lawyer to help you with contract issues. Brazilians may resent an outside legal representative.

Dining and Entertainment

Always entertain in a prestigious restaurant.

Be prepared for lengthy meals (two hours or more for lunch). Do not discuss business during meals unless your host brings it up. Business may occasionally be discussed at dinner in São Paulo or Rio.

When inviting Brazilians to dinner or a party, do not expect them to arrive on time, and never indicate a time that the party will "end."


Gifts are not important in establishing a business relationship, and people won’t expect gifts in the first few contacts. A very expensive gift may be viewed as a bribe.

Present a gift at a social meeting, not during a formal business meeting.

Helpful Hints

Brazilians can be casual about time. Being ten to fifteen minutes late in business is normal, and twenty to thirty minutes late is not unusual. Be on time for a formal meeting, but prepare to wait for your Brazilian colleagues.

(Adapted from material compiled by Window on the World, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm)

Read More on Business Tips for Brazil: http://www.brazil.doingbusinessguide.co.uk/the-guide/business-etiquette.aspx



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