The rise of remote work has inspired many people to embrace a more nomadic lifestyle. For freelancers working across various industries, any corner of the planet has become a possible workspace - provided it has an internet connection! One such destination is Brazil, a country known for its exciting food, carnivals, and wonderful beaches. But can you actually work from Brazil if you're a digital nomad? And what kind of visas does the Brazilian government require from travelers interested in this scheme?
In this article, we will tell you everything you should know about working remotely from Brazil, including how to relocate, how to apply for visas, and even how to do your taxes! Let's get started.
The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Although the choice had been growing in popularity over the last dozen years or so, it wasn't until the pandemic receded that many freelancers finally took the leap to work from a different country.
The reasons for picking a foreign location to conduct business are varied, but most would agree on the following main ones:
- The cost of living can be cheaper: Many countries allow you to stretch your income because they have lower living expenses.
- There are lots of remote working possibilities: The rise of remote work has made it easier to work from anywhere, as long as you can connect to the internet.
- There can be tax benefits: Some countries have more favorable tax regimes for freelancers, offering, for example, lower tax rates or special incentives for foreign workers.
- It's always an interesting cultural experience: Working from another country can provide you with an opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, experience new traditions, and meet new people.
Why You Should Consider Relocating to Brazil
Brazil has long been an attractive choice for travelers for a multitude of reasons. For one, the country boasts stunning natural landscapes (think of the lush Amazon rainforest or the iconic beaches of Rio de Janeiro!). Many nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers love Brazil's biodiversity and the countless opportunities the country provides to those wanting to try hiking, water sports, and wildlife spotting.
Brazil is also famous for its vibrant and colorful festivals, with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro being one of the most popular (although there are plenty of others, too!). If you like the beach, Brazil also has some world-famous ones, including Copacabana, Ipanema, and Praia do Forte - all of which are perfect spots to relax, swim, and sunbathe.
Lastly, Brazil has a rich cultural heritage with various influences and several immigrant communities. So, music, cuisine, and arts are always unique. Oh, and, of course, there's football (or soccer, but don't use that word if you're in Brazil!).
What Is It Like to Be an American Freelancer in Brazil?
Let's start with what life is like for a Brazilian person in Brazil, so we can then compare what yours could be like as a freelancer or digital nomad.
A Brazilian person's monthly expenses are typically around 2,400 real or BRL). That's more or less $500. A one-bedroom apartment can range from 850 to 2,500 real, or $300. A meal is, on average, 25 real ($5), and a three-course dinner for two some 120 real ($25).
As you can already guess, if you're working remotely and you have an American salary, then these prices are very low compared to what you'd have to pay to rent or eat in the United States. Of course, just like we've covered the benefits of relocating to Brazil, we should also mention the disadvantages of doing so.
Brazil is not an unsafe country, but if you're moving to a big city, you will have to take precautions like you would in any large urban area. In other words, Brazil is no more dangerous than other densely populated countries. The best way to avoid problems is to talk to the locals and ask them which places they avoid.
Before we move on to the actual paperwork, we should also mention the internet quality. Brazil ranks about 65th in terms of international broadband speeds. The average is 26 megabits per second - so, not perfect, but not bad either. Most cafes, restaurants, hotels, and bars in large cities also have free Wi-Fi, and for the places that don't, you can rent your own portable router!
Brazil's Tourist Visa and Visa Waiver Agreements
If you travel to Brazil for tourism, transit, artistic or sports activities, or business, you are not required to get a visa if you're from the United States. However, this only applies to those who have no intention of establishing residence.
You can see the complete requirements in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, but the first thing we should note is that, if you are American and you are visiting Brazil to see whether the country could be a good option for you as a freelancer or digital nomad, you do not need to apply for a visit visa. All you need is a valid U.S. passport.
The 2022 Nomad Brazil Visa
If you are relocating to Brazil as a remote worker, you will need to get a visa from the Brazilian consulate or Brazilian embassy.
Luckily, the process to get one is quite straightforward because the country is definitely interested in attracting more workers that can contribute to its economy.
So, what is this visa all about? Well, for one, it's a temporary visa that will allow you to stay and work remotely from Brazil for up to two years (you will need to renew it every year). You can apply through a consulate in your home country or in person in Brazil, and it takes about four weeks for a decision to be announced.
Who can apply for a digital nomad visa?
Any foreign national can apply for the Nomad visa, but there are some visa requirements you should check before you do:
- You will need to have at least $18,000 in the bank and earn at least $1,500 a month.
- You will need to provide proof of a clean criminal record.
- You will need to purchase private medical insurance.
- You will need to present a contract (can be for employment or services) signed by a foreign contractor or employer.
In summary, you will need funds, insurance, a clean record, and a contact. That's not too bad, is it?
How to apply for a Brazilian digital nomad visa
As we mentioned, you can apply for this Brazil visa in two ways: Through a consulate in the United States or in person if you're in Brazil.
Regardless of the method, if you are eligible, you should start by gathering all the documents you will need to go through the process. These are:
- Passport: Your original passport needs to be valid for at least six months from the entry date and have at least two blank pages that can be used for visas (these are special visa pages and not amendment pages).
- Forms: You will need to fill in an application form called RER and sign it. You will also need your police clearance form (it can't be older than six months) and our health insurance documents.
- Tickets: You will also need a round-trip ticket reservation. Don't panic, though, if you don't have a ticket (not many airlines let you book two years in advance!), you can also use a letter from a travel agency.
- Letters: As we covered above, you will need to present also a letter from an employer or contractor stating that you will be working. This letter needs to be notarized and should clearly state the precise nature of the business, your salary, and your desire to work from Brazil. You will also need to provide a letter signed by you where you say you want to work remotely from Brazil and use information technology channels.
- Other documents: Lastly, you should include the original contract of employment or agreement of services and stamped bank statements covering the last three months. Both of these (as well as any additional information you might consider relevant to your application) will also need to be notarized.
Once you've submitted all of your documentation, if you are approved, you will be notified within a month. Then, you will need to apply for a resident permit in Brazil. You can do this through the General Coordinator of Labor Immigration or the Federal Police.
When you register, you will be asked to provide your passport containing the visa, the original visa application form, a birth certificate, and the extract from your criminal records.
The paperwork in detail
If this is the first time you're applying for a work visa, you probably feel a little lost in terms of what the documentation required actually entitles. So, let's see how each of the main elements of the visa application works.
We'll start with the personal declaration. The most important thing in it is to state that you will be working by means of information and communication technologies. What does this mean? Simple; that you'll use the internet. This is an important distinction because the visa is specifically designed for digital nomads - or people who want to work remotely from Brazil. If you intend on visiting Brazil and then finding work there, the Digital Nomad visa won't apply to you (you can find more information about regular temporary visas below).
Your employment or services agreement is another important document that needs to include some pretty specific information. Firstly, the contract needs to be issued in English (you can present it in Portuguese too, but only if you have an official translation). The employer also needs to be foreign; it cannot be from Brazil. Make sure this document lists your responsibilities and also states that you will be working remotely.
You will also need to provide evidence of means of subsistence from a foreign paying source. Specifically, you must provide a bank statement showing at least $18,000. You can show you have these funds by printing the last three months of bank statements (again, these need to be in English or officially translated to Portuguese). And don't forget you will also need to show you are earning at least $1,500 a month. The best way to demonstrate this is to also use your bank statements.
Now, for the visa application form. The form can be found here: https://formulario-mre.serpro.gov.br/ (it's actually an online one). Here is where you will need to upload and submit your documents. Pay special attention to the field where you're asked about your parents' full names. You still need to fill both of these if your parents are deceased. Another thing to keep in mind is that the telephone number and email address you give the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to be yours.
Lastly, in terms of the criminal records required, they, of course, need to be official. The extract needs to show your date of birth, the city of birth, and an ink stamp and signature. The extract also needs to be less than 3 months old and issued originally in English.
The processing time
Most Digital Nomad visas for Brazil are processed within just five working days after the documentation is received at the embassy and only if you have paid all the required fees.
The Consulate General does not provide emergency or express visas of any kind, and you can also expect times to increase. So, don't take too long before your intended travel dates to apply! Also, keep in mind the government will not tell you about the status of your visa while it's being analyzed.
The visa fees
If the application has all the required documentation and is considered ready to begin processing, you will receive an email informing you that you need to pay a consular fee.
At the time of writing this, the consular fee is about $150. You can pay it via bank transfer, and you cannot pay it in advance.
Temporary Visas, Permanent Residency, and Your Taxes in Brazil
Applying for and securing a visa is one of the steps necessary to work from Brazil. But there's one more thing that's essential if you're considering relocating, and that's planning for your taxes.
Any remote worker needs to know the taxation rules of the country they move to (or are living in) and abide by them. In other words, it's your responsibility to learn the requirements and make sure you follow them to the letter. If you don't, you might have to face penalties and fees (and, in some cases, you can even be prohibited from working from Brazil again).
If you are a non-resident and you're working in the United States (for example, if you're temporarily in Brazil and you are still doing remote work for an American employer), you don't need to pay tax. However, you might need to declare your foreign income.
If you are a resident, then you will need to pay. The fees are 25% of your earned income and 15% of your unearned income. To reiterate, that's only applicable if you are staying permanently in Brazil (legally, if you have been in Brazil for more than 184 days in a year, consecutively or not).
This is the tricky part: Any income you receive from abroad needs to be taxed. Now, here's the good news: Brazil has a compensation system with the United States. This means that the income tax you pay in Brazil can be compensated back in the U.S. (Articles 15, Paragraph 1, and Article 16, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 6 of the Normative Instruction No. 208 of 2002).
Registering at the Tax Revenue Office
If you have a temporary visa to work in Brazil, the best thing you can do is register ASAP for a Brazilian CPF number. You will need this number to carry out various common activities, such as opening a bank account, buying a SIM card for your phone, renting an apartment, or signing up for services like Internet, energy, or gas.
You can request your CPF number online using this link.
Getting Help With the Brazil Visa
Although the process of applying for a visa is relatively straightforward (you just need funds, a clean sheet, and a contract), taxes are a slightly different story. The compensation agreement, in particular, is an excellent way to reduce some of the fees, but you need to know how and when you can claim your tax back.
If you're considering relocating to Brazil for work, you should always seek advice from a specialist. They will be able to help you not just with the application paperwork but also with the stuff that comes after you arrive in Brazil - and that will probably all be written in Portuguese! Remember: Tax mistakes can be extremely stressful and very expensive. So, start on the right foot and get advice so you can enjoy your Brazilian experience in peace.
How Can Indy Help?
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Navigating the process of obtaining a work visa to freelance in Brazil can feel a little challenging at first, but as you've seen, the country is actually happy to welcome freelancers. Nothing beats immersing yourself in a new culture, and Brazil is a particularly vibrant and enriching one! So, gather your paperwork, pack your bags, and start a new chapter in your freelancing journey!
And when you’re ready to grow your freelance business faster, you can create a free account with Indy. Get everything you need to manage your business, from proposal to payment.
Brazil Freelancer Visa FAQs
Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Brazilian Visas for Americans?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that, if your visa lacks any of the documents we've listed above, it won't be processed. Also, these requirements are not inclusive. What we mean to say is that, if the Brazilian government is not satisfied with your application, they can ask you for additional information or refuse your visa entirely. In some cases, you may also be invited to an interview.
What Are The Best Cities for Freelancers in Brazil?
Brazil is an amazing country with plenty of spectacular beaches and beautiful cities. if you're a digital nomad, though, you probably want to focus on one important thing, and that's a good internet connection. Having that, you can pick from many urban metropolises, cities, towns, and villages. Many people choose Sao Paulo, the biggest city in the country. If you're looking for a less hectic choice (Sao Paulo has 12 million inhabitants!), then Rio de Janeiro is wildly popular. Although, it's pricey, too. Another good option is Brasilia, the capital, which has a much more modern feel.
Can You Use the National Healthcare System as a Foreigner in Brazil?
Brazil does have a national healthcare system, although if you apply for a nomad visa, you will be required to have private insurance (this is not legally obligatory if you apply within the country, but highly recommended). This is because the system is quite overloaded. So, it's definitely a good idea to get insurance beforehand so you can have more peace of mind.