Bradesco is now also offering money transfers via Western Union, although you have to have a Bradesco account to send.
The Brazilian Central Bank has issued a notice stating that, from now on, all transfers must also contain the IBAN, which was not previsouly used in Brazil. For more info, see:
I recommend you visit your agency, although they probably won´t know what the heck you are on about, and insist they give you the IBAN and SWIFT for money transfers.
If you have to fill in an online form or can do it yourself, here is an IBAN code generator in Portuguese, for Brazil:
Note to readers: Given the unexpected popularity of this post, I am collecting information from all the major banks to post here in the future and help people calculate the best way to send and receive money based the best rates, etc. I am not an expert on this subject and only wanted to tell my story and the information I gathered in the process, but given the huge amount of people with the same problem, I will try to get more precise information from each bank.
Last update 23/07/2012. Updated information on the limits for Western Union via BB in Brazil.
If you ever need to transfer money from a foreign account to a Brazilian bank, you will need the swift code and all relevant bank and account information (full name and address, agency and account number, etc.). Some countries also use the IBAN which is basically the bank account and agency numbers. The IBAN is not used in Brazil. The SWIFT code, however, is the country code, bank code and city code, totaling 11 digits. In order to get this code right, you will have to contact the receiving bank and ask for it, or ask the receiver to find out the SWIFT code of the bank in Brazil. Don´t call the main office as they will tell you to call the branch. Try the “cambio” desk of the branch. Below, some SWIFT codes of the main Brazilian banks and some useful websites in case you need more information. You will not need the SWIFT of the agency, just the general SWIFT of the bank in Brazil to send money. If you need help, write a comment.
Swift codes of major Brazilian banks
Note: all More information links are to the International Remittance page of the bank´s website, in Portuguese. It is VERY important to use these swift codes for sending money as most banks have more than one swift code. If you are unsure or have not been given information on the specific “branch”, use the general swift codes provided below.
Swift code: BBDEBRSPSPO
Bank code: 237 (Bank Bradesco S.A)
Santander (Banco Santander Banespa)
Swift Code: ABNABRSP
Bank Code: 033
Swift codes: http://www.swiftbic.com/index.html
Bank codes (see below)
Bank codes (all Brazilian banks)
Full list from Central Bank website
Ways to send and receive money in Brazil
Bank transfer (wire)
This is the best option if you are sending large amounts. According to an article I read in Epoca magazine the other day, the bank rates (on reception or to send, in BRL) are the following:
Bradesco: Up to 100 dollars, regardless of amount.
Itaú: Up to 200 dollars
Caixa Economica: 1% of amount and max. of 100.
Banco do Brasil: 1% of amount and max. of 200.
Receiving money from abroad can be a real pain because most bank employees (especially in small towns) get no training on this service (as noted in a very useful blog). The money is usually bottlenecked somewhere in between for reasons unknown, while the banks/Central Bank demand loads of unnecessary paperwork and then clear the transfer to the corresponding account. This is especially true is you are sending large amounts. The limit is 10,000 BRL.
Western Union and other money order services
Another option is Western Union. The limit for sending and receiving varies from country to country, but Brazilians that want to send money from Brazil must have a bank account in BB. For sending or receiving less than 3000, not much paperwork is required, if you want to send or receive more than 3000, the sender must sign an Authorization provided by the bank. Western Union is not intended for commercial transactions. Information on receiving varies and is confusing. BB claims that the limit is 10,000 if you have an account in BB, but Western Union claims that if you want to receive amounts higher than BRL 4,000 you must have a bank account in BB (source: http://www.westernunion.com.br/WUCOMWEB/staticMid.do?method=load&pagename=mtSendMoney). For more information check with your bank or the Western Union Booth in your country (not Brazil).
Then there is Remessa Expresso, mostly offered by travel agencies in Brazil. All these services request Brazilian documents. This is unbelievably ridiculous as it´s supposed to be an international service. The Brazilian government has probably made up this new rule to prevent immigrants from sending part of their wages to their families. If you want to RECEIVE via Western Union, you must have a valid passport or a Brazilian document and the 10-digit code. If possible, take the name of the person that is sending and the amount. The Caixa Economica Federal also has a money transfer service via Caixa Internacional.
The Brazilian government is also controlling services like Paypal. Brazilians companies can no longer use PayPal to make payments to people or companies in Brazil. If you do manage to use it, there is limit and they charge 6% to transfer the payment to your Paypal account. Then you must have a bank account in Brazil to transfer the money to. It´s free for payments over 250 R$.
Most countries offer other methods of sending and receiving money from Brazil or other countries. In Brazil, there is the so-called “parallel” market and services based on this market are mostly offered by travel agents. The line between legal and illegal in this case is extremely thin although some services are not approved by the Central Bank. I get lots of messages from these companies and most foreigners use these local money transfer services, but they can always cause delays if the money goes to a regular Brazilian bank account because they are not always “recognized” in Brazil although they are perfectly legal. Some companies offer rate-free transfers, but I cannot comment on those as I have never used these services.
Sending money from Brazil
Sending money from Brazil abroad is always a nightmare. Besides Western Union, you don´t have many easy options. The bureaucracy is so suffocating, I almost gave up immediately. You must justify the reason for sending the money, with contracts and agreements and invoices, or, if for personal use, you must prove family/blood/marital bond. Without this information, Brazilian banks are not authorized to send money.
Just a short update to say that there is a service called Dinheiro Certo (changed to Vale Postal Eletronico) provided by the Brazilian postal service (Correios) that allows sending of money from partner countries. Check the following link (in Portuguese) to see the countries. They charge 28 reales and 0,75% for sending cash to Brazil. The recipient has to have Brazilian documents but, unlike Western Union, the sender does not need to have any Brazilian document and there is no limit of transactions for Brazilians (WU can only be used if you have CPF and Brazilian documents in Brazil and the annual limit is 2000 dollars).
Some advice before you start…
- If you have to send or receive money from/to Brazil, arm yourself with lots and lots of patience, take a deep breath and make sure you have all the information you need because you are in for a very bumpy ride. Brazil is one of the worst countries to send or receive money, believe me.
- Get all the information you possibly can from the recipient. Gather all documents that prove your bond with the recipient and hand them over to the bank clerk. Ask them to include all this information even if it´s not requested on their side. It´s requested in Brazil and your money will get stuck in limbo if you just send it with a swift code and bank info.
- Monitor the status of your remittance. Ask the receiver to go to the bank and check the process on their end. Don´t assume it will simply fall into the account. Chances are, it won´t.
- Think twice before sending small amount or very large amounts. The rates here are unreal, almost alien. On this side, the receiver will be charged a new “international transaction” charge and IOF (financial transaction charge), even if the money is exchanged outside Brazil. Some banks are using foreign account to exchange and filter the money so be more competitive, but you cannot escape the claws of the central bank once the money is in Brazil.
- Whenever possible, use PayPal, Moneybookers and the like for small amounts. They exchange the money outside Brazil. Keep in mind that if you use Western Union and the Itau money transfer service, the money is exchanged in Brazil. The advantage of these services is that you do not need a Brazilian bank account and you can collect in cash. The ridiculous aspect, is that you have to have a Brazilian document to receive or send money via Western Union, and proof of residence as well via the Itau service.