Working in Brazil
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Brazil's economy is the seventh largest in the world and continues to grow, which attracts foreign investment and workers from oversees. Sao Paulo is the most popular destination for expats and offers the majority of job opportunities, with numerous multinational companies having their head offices there.
Finance, IT and engineering are all areas that require graduates. There are new transport infrastructure plans to get the country ready for the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but the affect of the games on the economy is yet to be seen.
Graduates with experience and knowledge of Portuguese are at a considerable advantage. The best way in is to join an international company with a posting in Brazil.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: Brazil has well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors. It is also a large producer of sugar cane, coffee and ethanol and exporter of coffee, iron ore, soybeans, footwear and motor vehicles and parts.
- Recent growth areas: investment is being put into space, nanotechnology, healthcare and energy research. Opportunities are also available in ethanol production and deep water oil research.
- Shortage occupations: engineering, environmental management and consultants and IT professionals.
- Major companies: Itaú Unibaco Holding, Banco Bradesco, Banco de Brasil (regional banks), Vale (iron and steel), Petrobras (oil and gas operations), JBS, BRF (food processing), Itaúsa (conglomerates), Companhia Brasileria de Distribuicao (food retail), Ultrapar Participacoes (oil and gas operations).
What’s it like working in Brazil?
- Average working hours: the maximum working week in Brazil is 44 hours, not exceeding eight hours per day. Most business is conducted between the hours of 8am and 6pm. Employees are entitled to a weekly rest of at least 24 hours, which is usually taken on a Sunday.
- Holidays: all employees are entitled to up to 30 days' holiday after a full year of work with the same employer.
- Tax rates: individual income tax, or impost de renda, is a progressive tax starting at 7.5% with the top level at 27.5%. Non-residents pay a flat 27.5% tax on income earned in Brazil. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
The usual way to apply for a job in Brazil is by submitting a CV and cover letter or by completing an application form. If you are applying for a job by CV and covering letter, your CV should be no more than two A4 pages and your covering letter no more than one. Interview preparation is generally the same as in the UK. The interview format will vary depending on the role that you are applying for and the type of organisation. For more tips and advice on applying for jobs see applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world, but check with the employer or the relevant professional body prior to applying for work.
- Catho – popular site in Portuguese
- Empregos.com.br – in Portuguese. Includes job and networking opportunities, CV and application guidance and a section highlighting companies looking to recruit new graduates.
- Guia de empregos – in Portuguese.
- Jobs Abroad – in English.
- Yahoo Empregos Brasil – in Portuguese.
- A Tribuna – in Portuguese.
- Classificados Diario Do Grande ABC in Portuguese.
- Gazeta Online – in Portuguese.
- Online newspapers.com – for a directory of newspapers in Brazil.
As in many other countries, there is a hidden job market in Brazil, and numerous vacancies are filled without even being advertised. To try and find these jobs you need to make speculative applications to employers that interest you, as well as making contacts through networking.
Getting work experience
Work placements and internships
There are quite a number of internship programmes but getting a placement is a competitive process and can be difficult. You are normally expected to be between 18 and 28 and studying at a UK university. Examples of these programmes can be found at:
If you are an undergraduate studying science, technology, applied arts or engineering you can apply for placements through IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience). Programmes typically last for six to twelve weeks in the summer months.
International traineeship exchanges, providing work experience opportunities from 6 weeks up to 18 months are available through AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales).
- British Council – English Teacher Training in Brazil
- Berlitz – Careers Services
- Bridge TEFL
- TEFL Job Placement
It is difficult to get casual work such as restaurant or bar work or tour guiding. This is because if you enter Brazil as a tourist you cannot work. Contact the Consulate General of Brazil in London for guidance and advice. Language is also an issue and this kind of work may be difficult without good Portuguese.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
It can be difficult to get short-term work opportunities in Brazil, as obtaining a work permit is a complex process. Latin America is becoming an increasingly popular destination for undergraduates and graduates looking for a combined work and travel experience, either for a gap year or short-term projects. There are many gap year companies offering such opportunities, some of which are summarised on Year Out Group.
Do you need a visa?
If you are a British national, you do not need a visa to enter Brazil if your initial stay will be no longer than 90 days and you won't be working while you are there. If you overstay the period you risk fines or deportation. If you wish to stay for longer, you should apply to the federal police for an extension at least two weeks before your initial 90-day period expires. Extensions may be granted for a further 90 days.
If you are planning to work in Brazil, you will need to secure the job first and your employer will then act as a sponsor and apply for a temporary or permanent work visa on your behalf with the Minister of Labour and Employment in Brazil.
Once authorisation has been granted, you will need to supply relevant documentation to get the visa issued. Following this, within 30 days of arriving in Brazil, you must register with Brazilian immigration authorities at the federal police.
Temporary work visas are valid for up to two years and cannot be extended.
Further details on all types of visas can be found at Consulate General of Brazil in London.
If you are not a UK national, contact the Brazilian embassy in the country where you are currently resident to find out about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you are living in the UK, go to the Consulate General of Brazil in London.
How do you become a permanent resident?
Applications for permanent residency must be made through the Consulate General of Brazil in London. If you are not a UK national, apply through the Brazilian Consulate General or Brazilian embassy of your home country.
Living in Brazil
- Cost of living: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the most expensive cities to live in Brazil. Millions of Brazilians live on the minimum salary. However, in comparison to the UK it is cheaper in terms of day-to-day life. The majority of rented accommodation in Brazil is completely unfurnished so budgeting for furniture is necessary.
- Internet domain: .br
- Currency: real
- Health: Malaria is present in parts of the country and Dengue fever is particularly common during the rainy season (November to March). You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes including using repellent regularly. Visit your doctor at least a few weeks before travelling to find out if vaccinations are required. Air pollution, especially in São Paulo, may aggravate chest complaints. Private health insurance is strongly recommended as there is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK.
- Type of government: federal republic government. The República Federativa do Brasil (Brazil’s official title) is made up of 26 administrative states.
- Laws and customs: penalties for drug trafficking can be severe. The country is tolerant towards gay travellers. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are seen as destinations for gay travellers, but you should be aware of local sensitivities.
- Emergency numbers: police: 190; medical: 192; fire: 193. As a UK national, you can also contact the British Embassy in Brazil. If you are studying in Brazil through your UK university, make contact with both universities to let them know of your situation and find out how they may be able to help you.
- People: the population in Brazil is diverse with a history of immigrants from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Syria and Japan. Brazilians of mainly European descent account for more than half the population, although the proportion of people of mixed ethnic backgrounds is increasing.
- Major religion: Roman Catholicism (64.6%), Protestant (22.2%) and other (13.2%).