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Procedure to Open a Business

Procedure 1

Comment: The entrepreneur checks whether the company name exists in the state, a process that takes an hour to complete on average. For a federal check, a request for extension must be submitted to the Board of Trade (Junta Commercial).

Procedure 2

Comment: A payment receipt  must be obtained for use in the Procedure 3.

Procedure 3

Comment: Depending on the company activities (business or civil), its corporate acts (articles of association and amendments) should be registered either with the Board of Trade (Junta Comercial) or with the Registry of Civil Companies. The cost for registration of a limited liability company before the Registry of Civil Companies depends on the amount of corporate capital of the company to be incorporated. Only for “civil companies” must signatures on articles of incorporation be authenticated before a notary public before registration and filing with a registry of civil companies.

To take advantage of expedited registration of the company’s articles of association and amendments with the Board of Trade of the State of São Paulo, most entrepreneurs choose to register either with Sindicato da Micro e Pequena Indústria de São Paulo (SIMPI) at or with Associação Comercial de São Paulo (ACSP) at An additional fee of BRL100 applies for expedited service. In this case, the registration will be completed within 24 hours. The entrepreneur completes the form online (at and takes it with the corporate acts (articles of association and amendments) to be registered with the Board of Trade (Junta Comercial).

For a limited liability company, registering before the Board of Trade of the state costs about BRL 60,000. To accelerate document registration, the Board of Trade of the state of São Paulo is implementing an electronic system that accepts both electronic and physical forms (so far, however, this has not reduced registration time).

Procedure 4

Comment: One of the company managers will be accountable to the Office of Federal Revenue of the Finance Ministry (Secretaria da Receita Federal do Ministério da Fazenda, [SRF/MF]) an entity similar to the IRS. Employer enrollment with the Institute of Social Security (Instituto Nacional da Seguridade Social, INSS) is automatically completed by the Office of the Federal Revenue and the National Registry of Legal Entities (Cadastro Nacional de Pessoas Jurídicas [CNPJ], formerly Cadastro Geral de Contribuintes [CGC]). The Normative Rule, IN 568, issued on September 8, 2005 by the Office of Federal Revenue, requires that the relevant company obtain licenses from Compania de Tecnologia de Saneamento Ambiental (CETESB) and/or from the Sanitary Surveillance Department (depending on its main activities).

Licenses must be issued before registration in the CNPJ is granted (enrollment for the taxpayer’s tax). For example, industrial and pharmaceutical companies are required to obtain a previous license from the CETESB before applying with the CNPJ. The process at the CETESB, however, will be completed only by obtaining the installation permit and operating license from the CNPJ. The licenses from CETESB and/or the Sanitary Surveillance Department are necessary to complete the state regular process. Normative Rule IN 568 regulates only the CNPJ registration process and not the licenses from CETESB and the Sanitary Surveillance Department. After the Office of Federal Revenue issued Administrative Regulation No. 632/06 to implement the Programa Gerador de Dados (PGD), which is an administrative project in development, the registration process was synchronized across the federal revenue and tax authorities of both the state and the city of São Paulo, which allows the sharing of company registry data. When the company requests the CNPJ number, the SRF/MF, via an internal system, informs the tax authorities of São Paulo of that request.

Once the company obtains registration in the CNPJ registration, its legal representative visits the Office of Federal Revenue to confirm the information contained in the forms presented to Secretaria da Receita Federal do Ministério da Fazenda (SRF/MF1). State tax authorities schedule an official inspection of the company’s head office before approving its registration. Registration of businesses before the SRF/MF (to obtain the CNPJ number) and before the tax authorities of the state of São Paulo is done simultaneously.

Procedure 5

Comment: The company information must be entered on forms available on the Internet. After about 4 days, the company’s legal representative will go to the Office of Federal Revenue to confirm the information in the forms. Only firms that purchase or sell goods must register with the state tax authority. The state registration is done before the Secretaria da Fazenda Estadual of the State of São Paulo, and the municipal registration, before the Municipality of São Paulo at the Secretaria de Finanças e Desenvolvimento Econômico.

Procedure 6

Procedure 7

Comment: Once the company is registered with the Secretaria da Fazenda Estadual, a specific form (known as the AIDF) must be presented to that authority.

Procedure 8

Comment: An enrolment form must be delivered to the municipality.

Procedure 9

Comment: The proof of payment of the location, installation, and operation tax (TLIF) has been replaced by a new tax, the taxa de fiscalização de estabelecimento (TFE). The main difference between the TLIF tax and the TFE tax is the basis for the annual rate: The TLIF is based on the company’s number of employees, and the TFE is based on the company’s corporate purpose. The annual rate of the TFE may vary from BRL 100,000 to BRL 12 million. Once the company has been registered with the Secretaria de Finanças e Desenvolvimento Econômico, it shall pay an annual fee for the control and fiscalization of the compliance with municipal laws. This payment is due on the tenth day of the second month following commencement of company operations. The TFE tax is related to the operations permit (alvará de funcionamento).

Procedure 10

Comment: Upon registering the company at the Secretaria de Finanças e Desenvolvimento Econômico, the company must file a specific form (known as the AIDF) and present it to that authority, along with Book No. 51 and Book No. 57.

Procedure 11

Procedure 12

Comment: To obtain the operational license, the company must first obtain the fire brigade license and, if necessary, the sanitation license, the CETESB license, and the police license. All licenses are requested at the same time, though such requests must precede that for the operational license.

Procedure 13

Procedure 14

Comment: After registration with the Secretaria de Finanças e Desenvolvimento Econômico, the company has 30 days to apply for the operations permit (alvará de funcionamento) by filling out the proper forms and submitting the required documents. The operational license is a prerequisite for the company to begin operations. However, because of practicalities and the long processing time to obtain the license, municipalities have permitted companies to operate provided that they pay the TFE. An inspection to obtain the municipal license is necessary but not mandatory. The inspector shall verify whether the company is respecting such municipal laws as zoning laws.

Procedure 15

Comment: After duly registering the new employees in the social integration program (Programa de Integração Social, PIS/PASEP), the employer must open an Fundo de Garantia por Tempo de Serviço (FGTS account for each employee). To open the account, the company’s representative or attorney-in-fact must go to any local branch of the federal savings bank (Caixa Economica Federal) with a copy of the company’s taxpayer registry number (CNPJ/MF), the adhesion form issued by the Federal Saving Bank (Caixa Economica Federal), the list of employees, and the company’s articles of association or bylaws.

Upon opening the employee FGTS accounts, the company will make monthly deposits equal to 8.5% of the total payroll, of which 8% is allocated for the employees and 0.5% for the government. The employees are entitled to withdraw those deposits for specific events provided by law (termination without cause and serious disease or disability, among others). A new online procedure (Sistema Empresa de Recolhimento do FGTS e informações à Previdência Social, SEFIP) was developed to speed up FGTS payment and information exchange between the employer and the federal savings bank. SEFIP can be accessed through the Federal Savings Bank’s Web site.

This procedure permits the online transfer of data, creating a company file with all information required by the FGTS and Social Security. After the referred data transmission, the program issues a tax payment form (guia de recolhimento do FGTS) necessary for employer contribution payment.

Procedure 16

Comment: After duly registering the new worker in the employee registry book (livro de registro de empregados), the employer must proceed to register the employees in the social integration program (Programa de Integração Social, PIS/PASEP). The PIS/PASEP registry is intended to identify the worker in order to establish an unemployment guarantee fund (FGTS) account, to request unemployment insurance, and to be entered in the National Registry of Social Information (Cadastro Nacional de Informações Sociais). The employee must thus be registered into the PIS/PASEP to not only set up an FGTS account but also to be eligible for unemployment insurance, if necessary.

To register the employee, the employer must complete a PIS/PASEP registry form (documento de cadastramento do trabalhador, DCT), to be delivered to the federal savings bank responsible for the FGTS account. The enrollment is completed in about 5 to 10 business days from application if all enrollment requirements are met. The employee is enrolled with the Social Integration Program (Programa de Integração Social, PIS) upon entry, and if the employee has already a PIS/PASEP registry, the employer must only inform the Federal Savings Bank of the new employment relationship. The employer will obtain the receipt of the application to PIS within 15 days.

Procedure 17

Comment: Pursuant to applicable legislation, the employer must inform the Ministry of Labour of any new hires or employee dismissals, as well as any transfer to another locality. The employer must make that notice to the local department of the Ministry of Labour (Delegacia Regional do Trabalho) by the seventh day of the month subsequent to the month of the event, through delivery of a written notice by postal mail or the Internet. Delay in delivering that information makes the company liable for a fine calculated according to the number of employees in question and the duration of delay.

In addition, the company must submit annually to the Labour Ministry the “annual report of social information” (relação anual de informações sociais, RAIS), which contains information on company employees (name, salary, admission date, and employment booklet number, among others).

Procedure 18

Comment: Pursuant to labor law, registration with the employees union is mandatory and ensures that the company is obeying employee labor rights. Each municipality and state must have unions that represent the activities performed by the company. Once a year, employees and employers must contribute to their representative employee unions and employer associations an amount equivalent to one day’s salary (regardless of whether they are affiliated to the union or association).

The employer must withhold this amount from the employee’s pay and send it to the respective union by March of each contribution year or upon hiring the employee. As a result, the company must check each new employee’s employment booklet to verify whether any union contributions have been recorded for the year of hire. If not, the company must discount the union contribution from the employee’s pay at the end of the first month after hire and must forward the contribution to the employee’s union. The payment of the company’s contribution to the employer’s association shall be proportional to the company’s corporate capital. Payment is due every January, except for the first payment, which is due in the month of the company’s registration. The time may vary for each employers union and employees union.

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