Import Tax: Understand What It Is and How It Works

With the growth of online product consumption, the possibility of making international purchases has become an increasingly common reality. However, it’s important to be aware of the existence of the import tax, a fee that may be charged by the Federal Revenue Service when importing foreign goods into Brazil.

In this article, we will explain in detail what the import tax is, when it is charged, what the minimum taxable value is, and what happens in cases of non-payment.

Keep reading to clarify all your doubts!

What Is Import Tax?

The import tax, also known as import duty or rate, is a tax charged by the Federal Revenue Service on foreign goods entering the country. These goods are examined upon their arrival in Brazilian territory, and if they are subject to taxation, the buyer is notified by email or correspondence to make the tax payment and release the goods for delivery.

The value of the import tax corresponds to 60% of the total purchase, including the value of the goods, insurance, and freight. It’s important to note that the tax cannot exceed 60% of the total value of the goods in any case.

The function of the import tax is to regulate economic activities between countries, ensuring the correct collection of taxes and fair trade competition. Additionally, the tax also contributes to the revenue of the Union, although it represents less than 3% of the total taxes collected by the Federal Government.

Other Fees Related to Import

In addition to the import tax, there are other customs fees applicable to imports made by legal entities. Some of these include:

  • Post Office Fee: Related to shipping, the Post Office fee is mandatory and is independent of whether the goods are taxed or not. The fee is R$15 and is not included in the tax calculations.
  • ICMS (Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services): ICMS varies depending on the state where the recipient resides and is a state tax applied to the total value of the goods. Generally, the ICMS rate in states varies between 17% and 18%.
  • PIS (Social Integration Program) on Imports: PIS on imports is a federal contribution applied to the value of the goods and has a rate of 2.1% for products and 1.65% for services.

Minimum Value to Avoid Import Tax

The issue of the minimum value to avoid paying import tax raises many questions among consumers. According to the 1980 decree, goods intended for individuals, coming from abroad and valued up to $100, may be exempt from taxes.

However, in 1999, the Ministry of Finance reduced this value to $50, provided that the sender and recipient are individuals and the product is declared as a gift. The Federal Revenue Service follows this rule, but in some situations, court decisions can grant tax exemption for items below $100 when deemed fair.

It’s worth noting that the maximum value for each import operation made by an individual cannot exceed $3,000, including the value of freight and insurance.

Consequences of Not Paying Import Tax

In some cases, the import tax charged by the Federal Revenue Service may be higher than the value of the product itself, leading some people not to regularize the goods. In these cases, the goods may be returned to the country of origin or declared lost due to abandonment.

If the payment is not made within the stipulated period, the purchased product may become the property of the Union, and the goods may be destroyed, donated, auctioned, or incorporated into public assets.

However, it’s important to note that a person who does not want to regularize the purchase does not incur any debt with the Federal Revenue Service. Even if the goods are auctioned, the consumer does not receive any funds.

The penalty can be converted into a fine, equivalent to the total purchase value, plus freight and insurance if applicable. However, this fine does not eliminate the taxes already calculated by the Federal Revenue Service to release the goods.


The import tax is a tax charged by the Federal Revenue Service on foreign goods entering Brazil. It’s important to be aware of this tax and its specifics when making international purchases to avoid issues and prevent penalties.

Understanding the values, limits, and regulations related to the import tax contributes to a more informed and successful international shopping experience. Always make sure to follow the established rules and regulations to avoid future problems. And keep following our articles for more information on fiscal measures and international trade!

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