Life in Brazil For Foreigners: A Starting Guide

Life In Brazil For Foreigners

Brazil is a developing country known for its natural beauty, amazing coffee (it’s really good), great national soccer team, and a lot more. Also, is a welcoming country for immigrants. That’s the reason why a lot of people consider immigrating to Brazil.

As a general rule, life in Brazil for foreigners is good. Brazilians are friendly and as long as you learn Portuguese (or at least Spanish) you’ll be able to make friends and find work very fast. There are jobs for immigrants in different areas, simplified migration policies, and freedom of religion.

People planning to move to a different country usually want to know if there’s work if the country is receptive to immigrants and how’s the migration policy. However, as in the past years, religious intolerance increased, this is another important question for those thinking about moving to Brazil.

To learn in detail about each of these questions and more, keep reading this guide.

Immigrating to Brazil: The First Steps

Life in Brazil For Foreigners
Rainy Day in São Paulo, Biggest City in South America

In this article, you’ll find the most important things that you need to know before moving to Brazil. It’s simple pieces of information that can make a lot of difference. Also, in the end of this article you’ll find a resources section, with links for Brazilian Embassy and support institutions for immigrants and refugees.

Migration Policies in Brazil

Moving to Brazil is not as hard as moving to the US. In 2017, the Migration Law (No. 13445/2017) was sanctioned and among its guidelines is the repudiation and prevention of xenophobia, racism, and any forms of discrimination. It also guarantees the non-criminalization of migration and equal treatment and opportunity.

This is great news for those thinking about moving to Brazil. The process of moving to Brazil is very simple when compared with other countries. That’s why in my opinion there’s no point in immigrating to the country not complying with the law. It’ll only make your life harder at the beginning.

The first thing to do to live legally in Brazil is requesting a Residence Permit. This is the document that is granted to immigrants who intend to work or reside and settle temporarily or permanently in Brazil.

To obtain a Residence Permit the interested party must request at the Brazilian consulate in his country of origin (if he is abroad) or at the Brazilian Ministry of Labor / Federal Police (if he is in Brazil). If the foreigner does not request this document within 90 days of arriving in the country, he will be considered an illegal immigrant and may be deported.

With a Residence Permit, an immigrant will be able to request a National Migration Registration Card (CRNM). Popularly known as the “immigrant’s ID”, this is the most important document for foreigners who want to legalize in Brazil. With these two documents, the Residence Permit and the “Immigrants’ ID”, you’re good to start your new life in Brazil.

Finding Jobs In Brazil As An Immigrant

Considering that you’ve followed the previous steps, find work will be easy for you. To work legally in Brazil you need a license provided by the government, a Work Permit, but is not you that will request an authorization. This process is made by the company that has an interest in the professional, filling up the authorization request in the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

It’s important to notice that for a company start this process the worker needs to be living legally in Brazil. In this case, with a Residence Permit or at least with a Temporary Visa, that allows staying in the country for a period of 90 days (up to 2 years).

As a legal immigrant, it is very easy to get simpler jobs, in stores, supermarkets, restaurants, bars, etc. As long as the professional has at least some Portuguese or Spanish skills. Spanish is not widely spoken in Brazil, but as the languages ​​are similar, a person that speaks Spanish will be able to communicate. For mid to high-level professionals is easier to find jobs in bigger companies, as long they have at least intermediary Portuguese skills (preferably fluent).

Notice that some companies will not do the complete hiring process filling up authorization requests for the government for a simple reason: there are costs involved in this process. So don’t be surprised if you start work in a company without all of these requirements being filled. It’s not completely legal, but hey, it’s a start.

Costs of Living In Brazil

After fulfilling the rules for immigrating to Brazil and knowing the step-by-step to get a job, it’s time to understand more about the country’s economic reality. Brazil is a gigantic country, with continental dimensions. So it’s hard to estimate a number to define the reality of the entire country. Fortunately, in this article, I’ve made extensive research and found a number that is a good average of monthly costs in Brazil.

As shown in our research, to live comfortably after moving to Brazil a couple will need a monthly income of around 1221 USD. For a family of four, the salary per month to live a comfortable life in Brazil is around 1741 USD. These values consider a simple yet comfortable life, not luxurious. For those that have an income in a strong currency such as dollars it does not seem much, but for entry-level professionals is hard to make this kind of money in Brazil.

These values can vary depending on the city that you choose to live in, but at current trading rates, 1221 USD is enough money to live a comfortable life in Brazil as a couple, or 1741 USD for a family of four. To dive deep into the numbers and have a better understanding of the reality in different regions of the country, don’t forget to check this article.

Cultural Challenges

The hardest two things of immigrants, in my opinion, are missing the family (that often stay in the country of origin) and getting used to a totally different culture in a country that you don’t know well. It’s absolutely a challenge. Fortunately, Brazil is very welcoming to foreigners, but there are bad things as well.

The best part of Brazil is the people. It’s biased for me to talk about my people, but it’s true: Brazilians are happy, friendly, and helpful people. And this is warmful information for anyone thinking about moving here. Maybe you don’t know, but there are a lot of places where xenophobia is still a thing, sometimes even stimulated. Brazil is not perfect, but this is a very rare problem here, which is awesome for immigrants.

Life in Brazil For Foreigners: Food Will Not Be A Problem
Feijoada, Traditional Brazilian Recipe

Another thing that people feel bad about leaving behind is food, and that’s totally understandable. But rest assured for two reasons: first, Brazilian food is amazing. Trust me on this one, there’s not even a single friend of mine from the US that doesn’t love the food here when they come to visit. And as Brazilians are very friendly, It’ll not take much time for you to receive a dozen invitations for lunch and dinner trying delicious traditional dishes. Second, Brazilian markets are very good (at least in mid to big cities), and you can find almost any kind of seasonings and ingredients to prepare the food of your home country (just don’t forget to invite me).

The biggest challenge you’ll face in Brazil will probably not involve food or people, it’ll be personal. Learning a new language that is very hard as Portuguese, adapting to cultural differences such as the way people behave and talk in the streets, bars, and literally anywhere you go, learning how to use public transportation, or taking classes to validate your driver’s license. Those differences are hard to get used to, but that’s part of the life of an expat. Challenges will be part of the process.

The worst part of Brazil is the poverty and social differences. In the same city, you’ll see millionaires and homeless people, giant mansions, and people living in a cardboard box. It’s sad, but that’s part of life in a developing country. Another big worry of people considering moving to Brazil is with safety, and well, there are problems here in that sense. Robberies, murders, drugs. All things present in the country, but honestly, those bad things happen literally in any city in the world. Overall, Brazil is a safe country. You just need to blend in and learn how to avoid trouble. It’ll take some time but you’ll do.

How Safe Is Brazil For Foreigners?

Brazil is a country known for its natural beauty and its friendly people, but unfortunately, safety problems are also a thing that Brazil is known for. But it has been changing in the past years.

As a general rule, Brazil is safe for foreigners traveling and for immigrants. There are problems in the country, mostly involving robberies and drugs, but public safety is improving every year. Also, just using common sense and not attracting too much attention to yourself will avoid 99% of the danger.

Can A Foreigner Work in Brazil?

Brazil is a developing country with a lot of job opportunities in different areas for all levels of professionals. The salary for entry-level positions is not the best, but it gets better with time.

Any foreigner can work legally in Brazil as long as they have a Residence Permit or a Temporary Visa and a job offer from a company. After the offer, the company is responsible for filling up an authorization request in the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to hire an immigrant.

It’s important to notice that the Brazilian Migration Policies are flexible and not as hard to comply with as the laws from the US for example. This way, moving and working in Brazil can be a good option for anyone seeking a fresh start in a great and paradisiacal country.

Related Articles

If you’re planning to move to Brazil, our blog can help you a lot. At this moment, you can check these related articles to learn more about the Brazilian culture and how’s life in Brazil.

Cost of Living in Brazil: How Much Money Do You Need To Live Comfortably in Brazil?
Rent in Brazil: How Much Is Rent In Brazil?
House Cost in Brazil: House Cost in Brazil: A Detailed Post-Pandemic Guide
Healthcare in Brazil: Is Healthcare Free in Brazil?
Brazil Currency: What Is Brazil Currency?

Resource List

Expat Life in São Paulo:
Official Portal of Support to the Immigrant (In Portuguese):
Jobs for Refugees in Brazil:
Immigrant Support:
Caritas Brazil (Refugee Support):


What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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