Make your online presence fit in with the Brazilian market

A guide to localisation in Brazil.

1 Overview

We’ve created this guide to help you get closer to your Brazilian customers. A web presence that is in tune with Brazil’s culture will make your customers feel well disposed to you, and give them the confidence to do business with you. Get the little details right, and you'll be in a good position right from the start in your new market.

2 The main language

Portuguese is the main spoken and written language in Brazil, and is used by a significant 85% of the country. Most customers would expect to be communicated to in Portuguese, although 12% of the country speaks English.

When Brazilians write in English, they use US English spellings instead of UK English spellings for example:

US UK
Favor Favour
Color Colour
Honor Honour
Organize Organise
Maximize Maximise
Stylize Stylise

3 Formality

Should you be formal or informal when addressing your customers? It’s only polite to ask.

In Brazil, most products are written about in an informal way. At times this can verge on playful. Products with this playful informality include YouTube and Google Play.

If you have a financial product, a legal service, or are talking about money, you should adopt a more formal tone and style, but use language which is still accessible to the reader.

Whether you are talking in a formal or an informal context, you should use you as the form of address. Then tailor your copy to suit your needs.

4 Numbering systems and formats

Numerals

Decimal separator

This is a comma(,),
e.g. 1,5 hours.

Thousand separator

This is a dot or a period (.),
e.g. 1.524 people.

Telephone numbers

The country code is +55.

Each number has a two-digit area code followed by the main number. The area code is popularly known as the “DDD code.”

Telephone numbers follow the format of (+55) 12 4567-8910.

Numbers are separated by spaces or a dash for clarity.

Freephone numbers have the 0800 prefix.

5 Currency format

Brazilians trade in the Brazilian Real. This is represented by the sign R$ and its trading three letter code is BRA.

The note denominations used are:

R$100,00 R$50,00 R$20,00 R$10,00 R$5,00 & R$2,00

6 Dates & times

Date and time formats

In Brazil the date format is DD/MM/YY or less commonly DD/MM/YYYY,
e.g. 24/03/17 or 24/03/2017

Or, if written out in full, it should be "24 março 2017" with no commas and no ordinals like th, nd, or st.

When writing out dates in full, including the day, put a comma in after the day,
e.g. Segunda-feira, 27 de março de 2017 for Monday, 27 March 2017.

The separator for ranges of dates is an en dash (–),
e.g. 24–27 de março.

7 Hour formats

The 24-hour clock is widely used in Brazil.

When writing formally you would write 7h45min or informally you would write 13:25.

Writing formally you would write a full hour with just an “h” e.g 8h (not 8h00min).

In everyday speech Brazilians use the 12-hour format, saying “eight at night” for 20h.

The 24-hour format is favoured on digital devices like PCs, phones, tablets, etc and is the standard format on Android where the separator is a colon,
e.g. 14:24.

8 Working days

Standard working days are Monday to Friday. Offices are closed on Saturdays, although services and shops are open.

9 Things to avoid in the Brazilian market

Every culture has different superstitions and traditions which are always worth noting, especially when entering a new market. Brazilians consider the number 13 to be unlucky.

10 Important rules

Here are the top five translation tips that will make you sound like a local in no time:

  1. Be careful not to translate too literally, and try to follow the sentence structure of the Portuguese language

  2. Avoid using English or foreign words in your copy, and steer clear of colloquialisms and expressions used in your language, as they may not translate in the Brazilian market. For example local slang won’t translate easily since it varies a lot across country regions

  3. Take account of cultural differences so you don’t confuse or offend your Brazilian audience. For example, don’t mention Boxing Day in a promotion or assume that it is understood in Brazil

  4. Pay extra attention to the translation of the payment process, support center, and all parts of your website that need your user to do something in order to complete a purchase or conversion

  5. Avoid using machine translations as this won’t give a natural-sounding translation

11 Additional guidelines

Discover how to ensure your website is local in tone and language in our website localisation guide.