23 April 2014

So You Want a Brazilian Domain Name For Your Company

In Brazil almost nothing is as straightforward as it should be. Suppose you have a personal savings account with no activity that you want to close. Depending on your bank, it could take all day and still not be complete by closing time. Are you a foreigner who's just moved to Brazil and you want/need to get a local driver license? Assuming you already have a license in your home country, at the very least a pricey legal translation, a trip to your Brazilian state's capital, as well as medical exams and psychological tests are going to be involved. With that information in mind, are you still interested in getting a domain name in Brazil for your company?

Under current Brazilian law, domains ending in ".br" are controlled by FAPESP (São Paulo State Foundation for Academic Research) and are to be provided only to legal residents and companies either with operations already in the country or which plan to begin operating in Brazil within a year. If you are an individual, you simply have to have a CPF number (personal tax ID) as well as the money to register. If your business is up and running in the country, you'll need your CNPJ (business tax ID). If neither of the previous describes your situation, it gets a little more complicated.

In order to register that domain name, you'll need someone located in Brazil to serve as your attorney-of-fact (aka "agent"). Documents required are a power-of-attorney authorizing that person to act on your company's behalf with regard to domain registration in Brazil, a statement of your company's activities and a declaration that your company will initiate formal activities in Brazil (at least through obtaining the CNPJ) within 12 months. These all have to include specific elements and be notarized, authenticated by a consulate and legally translated in order to be valid in Brazil.

Daunting? Perhaps so, but I can help.

If you just need a copy of the detailed steps and English-language models for the documents, let me know through the contact form on this blog and I'll be happy to send those your way at no cost. If you need someone on the ground in Brazil to serve as your company's agent, I'm also happy to help with that. Contact me so I can provide an estimate for documentation and registration as well as my fee for providing this service. Please note I reserve the right to choose which projects to accept and carry forward, and prices vary depending on the specific situation.

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22 April 2014

Brazil Is Not For Beginners

From time to time I receive messages from people through the contact form on this blog who, enchanted with Brazil, are looking to move here. Businesses large and small are eyeing this enormous emerging market as well. That's all very nice, but I have the same word of warning for both starry-eyed individuals and profit-seeking companies:

"Brazil is not for beginners." - Tom Jobim, Brazilian Musician

Several years ago I set up a few Google Alerts around keywords involving Brazil. For the first couple of years I only received a trickle of mostly irrelevant links via email. As Brazil's economy heated up and the World Cup and 2016 Olympics have drawn nearer the trickle has become a flood. I received a few long emails per day now from Google Alerts, listing out numerous articles about various aspects of life and business in Brazil. Freelance journalists now located in Brazil are contributing to this increasing torrent of news.

The world is talking about Brazil. Some are criticizing the delays involved in the major infrastructure projects for the World Cup and Olympics, citing the nation's history of failed projects (there were some truly significant projects in the past that should be remembered, such as the building of Brasília to be the nation's capital). While many are turning bearish on the economy, others continue glowingly bullish. As for me, I prefer to avoid the extremes of pessimism and optimism and simply admit that Brazil is a challenging place to live and work, but one that can be incredibly rewarding as well.

I continue to be more than happy to answer questions from those considering a personal move to Brazil. Simply reach out to me through the contact form and I'll assist as best I can. 

I am also pleased to provide assistance to businesses looking to enter the Brazilian market. As a PMP certified project manager with extensive experience in the tech industry (see my About page) I know my way around web development. I speak fluent Portuguese and have a fundamental grasp of how to navigate Brazil's red tape. Contact me and let's see how I can help. If I don't have the particular solution you need, I can at the very least point you in the right direction to move ahead.


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21 April 2014

Escape from Brazil

Question: How difficult is Brazil? 
Answer: If it were a test, the answer key would only get 70%.

Back in 1997 I made my first trip to Brazil. I spent two months in Campinas and Riberão Preto, cities in the state of São Paulo, learning Portuguese and becoming acquainted with the culture. It was an amazing, life-altering experience. After that, all I wanted to do was move to Brazil after graduating from the university. What youthful naiveté.

In 2001 this dream finally became a reality. I married a beautiful Brazilian woman and settled down to teaching English and starting a family. It didn't take long for the dream to go bad. I wouldn't call it a nightmare, but it was no picnic.

When I moved to Brazil that time I arrived on a tourist visa. I had all my documents ready to submit to the Federal Police to switch status from tourist to resident. There was just one problem. Brazilian bureaucracy isn't that simple. It took nearly three years for my paperwork to be processed. During that time I was unable to obtain most of the documents I needed to carry out the simplest actions. I couldn't sign rental agreements or have a bank account in my name. We had to do all of that in my wife's name.

Then there's the money situation. Had I not been receiving some support from American churches to do mission work, we would not have lasted 3 years in Brazil. Before I moved to this country my wife's family told me I could make a decent salary teaching English. Not so. For over a year I hardly worked 20 hours a week, and I was paid by the hour. Now, in 2014, the pay has only increased by R$2.00 an hour. In other words, almost no difference at all.

This time around we tried building up savings. My wife moved to Brazil ahead of me with the kids and we sacrificed a year so I could fund our transition. I'm now a digital project manager who has worked with Wired.com and Scholastic. I'm certified PMP and ITIL-f. Yet, none of this seems to matter. I find myself teaching English and handling (a very interesting) project for an Australian tech company, but so far no Brazilian company has called me in for an interview.

I know that I'd have much better chances for full-time employment in my field in São Paulo, Rio or Belo Horizonte, but I'd really rather not live in any of those places. Uberlândia's a pretty decent city. Not too big, too crowded or too crime-ridden. The weather is beautiful, the food is good and the people are generally easy to get along with.

The urge to "escape" from Brazil comes up every so often. Faced with perplexing red tape, sky-high taxes and poor job prospects, New York starts looking pretty good. Yet, I stay. For now.

The same can't be said for many.

Recently, Mikkel Jensen, a reporter from Denmark who came to Brazil to cover the World Cup, decided to pack it in and head home. He recounts his reasons why in the Facebook post I've included below. It's in Portuguese, but the gist of it seems to be that Brazil's corrupt officials are using foreign journalists to promote the country while at the same time steamrolling over citizens. The injustice seemed to be too much for him, and Mikkel thought it best to leave rather than be used.

I don't blame Mikkel, but I also don't agree with him.

There's much good to be found in Brazil, and if a clear-eyed reporter sees fraud and injustice, then the best thing he or she can do is report on it. Without people standing up and telling the truth, nothing will ever change. The powerless street kids he talks about need people who will hear them and share their stories. If money is being stolen from government coffers, it needs to be known. If NGOs are shutting down under pressure, let's find out why.

Again, I don't blame Mikkel for leaving. I might follow him out the exit if my situation doesn't improve within the year. This just increases my respect for those who come, stay and make a go of it. Click here for a list of freelance reporters who aren't giving up on Brazil.

See Also:
Early Reflections on My Move to Brazil
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Uberlândia: Digital City?

20 April 2014

Coming Soon to Brazil: Sunday Assembly

It began in London and has been spreading like wildfire around the globe. Erroneously referred to as an "atheist church," this church-like gathering is this-life-affirming and upbeat without supernaturalism. Now, Sunday Assembly is coming to Brazil.

According to what I've been hearing, there's a handful of people in São Paulo that's been meeting to plan for a big launch. No dates have been circulated publicly, but it may well take place on September 28th, in order to coincide with the launch of around 100 assemblies worldwide. While I'm not sure if only one launch model is to be accepted among the various assemblies, I do know that the style being encouraged currently is called "Launching Large" and has been adopted from evangelical church planting methodology.

As I mentioned above, Sunday Assembly is non-theistic rather than theistic or atheistic in outlook. As point #3 on the main about page puts it, Sunday Assembly "[h]as no deity. We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do." Although this could be well-understood and welcome in Rio, São Paulo and other commercial and political centers in Brazil, in smaller cities it might not be clear to the general public. Brazilians tend to be very religious (and diversely so), so the concept of a Sunday gathering without a god might be a stretch. Then again, I could be completely wrong. Certainly many of the young people throughout the country could be attracted to more humanistic, this-worldly message.

As of this post I only know of a Facebook fan page for Sunday Assembly in Brazil. Whenever the Twitter profile and possibly a standalone site is available, I'll certainly blog about it here.

Interesting days ahead for Sunday Assembly and for Brazil.

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