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São Paulo, Brazil
Value Added Tax
➤ São Paulo's VAT (known as ICMS) is a state tax levied at different rates depending on jurisdiction, but the standard is 18.5 percent. VAT is recoverable only if a foreign company is registered in Brazil.
➤ Brazil participates in the ATA Carnet program.
Voltage
➤ Anhembi Convention Center and São Paulo Expo operate on 110 volts and 220 volts, whereas Transamerica Expo Center and Expo Center Norte Exhibition and Convention Center operate on only 220 volts.
Garbage
➤ Some shows hire workers to remove debris during installation and dismantle, and any fees are included in the overall cost of your booth space.
➤ Daily trash service can be ordered from show management or contracted separately if necessary.
Cellphones
➤ Temporary phones can be rented, but it is usually cheaper to buy a disposable cellphone with prepaid minutes.
➤ Vivo, TIM, Claro, and Oi are popular service providers with locations in most Brazilian shopping centers.
Payments
➤ ATMs are widely available but may not be located near exhibition venues.
➤ Credit cards are not generally accepted for exhibition work but may be used for other services.
➤ Exhibit houses typically require that 40 to 50 percent of turnkey projects be paid via wire transfer as soon as a contract is signed, with the balance paid at or immediately following show opening.
Shipping
➤ Sending your shipments to São Paulo via airfreight can take a couple of days. Ocean freight can take up to a month.
➤ Brazilian customs regulations are complex. Some shows have an official freight forwarder that will handle shipping and customs. Otherwise, get help from a hired contractor.
Greetings and Culture
➤ Handshakes are common, along with greetings such as "Tudo bem?" ("Is everything fine?"), "Como vai?" ("How are you?"), or "Oi" ("Hello").
➤ You will be expected to shake hands with everyone in a group both when saying hello and when saying goodbye. Handshakes in Brazil tend to last longer and be more enthusiastic than in America.
➤ In casual or social settings, it is customary for women to kiss each other on both cheeks and for men to kiss women on one cheek.
➤ Brazilians often invite colleagues to family events or to their homes, as it is considered important to spend time building a personal relationship to foster a business one.
Hospitality
➤ Large exhibits usually feature bars with seating areas, high bistro tables, and stools or lounges, although even small exhibits typically offer some form of hospitality.
➤ Small exhibits offer light snacks, hot and cold beverages, and sweet treats, while larger stands provide sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts.
➤ Alcohol is frequently served, and many exhibitors offer beer, wine, whiskey, and/or caipirinhas (a Brazilian cocktail made of cachaça, sugar, and lime) in their booths. No permits are required to serve alcohol to attendees on the trade show floor.
➤ The Brazilian dinner hour is not until after 8 p.m., and meals in Brazil can stretch on for several hours.
Language
➤ Portuguese is the predominant language in São Paulo, and little English is spoken. A translator who speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and English will likely be necessary in your booth.
➤ Graphics and collateral literature should be printed in Portuguese, but it is acceptable for business cards to be printed in English only.
Staff Attire
➤ Suits are still the most common attire, although neckties are becoming scarce on Brazilian trade show floors.
➤ Casual dress is increasingly popular at trade shows, but wearing sneakers is not appropriate.
➤ Brazilian women tend to be very fashion conscious but avoid wearing short skirts or plunging necklines.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ Turnkey, build-and-burn exhibits are the norm in São Paulo. For these types of stands, installation-and-dismantle labor is provided by the exhibit house.
➤ Exhibitors are not required to use union workers in Brazil, so labor is generally much less expensive than in the United States. But because the quality of labor is inconsistent, hire workers through an exhibit house and allow for plenty of setup time and on-site supervision.
➤ Most labor is contracted for the whole project rather than per hour or for things like I&D only. Work hours vary greatly, and crews often labor late into the night.
➤ Workers hired by exhibitors must be registered with the Labor Department in Brazil. To ensure proper work status, only employ Brazilians who have a signed contract with the show organizer, the exhibit house, or a work agency.
➤ Drayage is not typically charged by venues or show organizers in São Paulo.
➤ Show organizers may require an agreement known as an ART or RRT that must be signed by an engineer or architect in order to approve your stand. They may also request a fire-resistance certificate for all materials used in the exhibit.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Taxis are plentiful, but insist the driver turn on the meter. Do not accept fixed rates, as that is not how taxis are supposed to levy fees, and you will likely be overcharged. Some hotels offer van service to the airport and/or show venues.
➤ The ride-share apps Uber and Cabify are widely used in São Paulo.
➤ It is common in Brazilian culture to be up to 30 minutes late for appointments.
➤ Even if you have set meeting times with clients and prospects, be prepared to wait.
➤ Air conditioning is usually provided in the exhibit hall. However, in some circumstances you may have to provide your own small fans or air-conditioning units to cool your booth to a comfortable temperature.
Safety
➤ Fire marshals and venue personnel are responsible for enforcing all safety rules and regulations.
➤ Double-deck exhibits must be approved prior to the show. Check your exhibitor guide for deadlines.
➤ Safety regulations are not as strictly enforced in Brazil, so exhibit designs that would be acceptable in the United States should easily pass Brazilian inspections.
Venues and Resources
➤ São Paulo Expo (www.saopauloexpo.com.br/en) underwent a massive renovation in 2016. It now boasts nearly 970,000 square feet of total exhibition space and is one of the most modern trade show venues in Brazil.
➤ Anhembi Convention Center (www.anhembi.com.br) is one of the largest venues in São Paulo, with approximately 820,000 square feet of show and meeting space.
➤ Expo Center Norte Exhibition and Convention Center (www.centernorte.com.br) has roughly 940,000 square feet of show and meeting space.
➤ Transamerica Expo Center (www.transamericaexpo.com.br/en) is near Congonhas Airport and has seven halls with roughly 430,000 square feet of exhibit and event space.
SOURCES
Fabricio Amilibia, general manager, AAG Workshop, São Paulo, Brazil; Alejandro Blitstein, president, Dodecaedro Group, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Anselmo Carvalho, founder and CEO, ExpoSolutions Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil; Paco Collazo Garcia, general manager, Sistemas de Exposición, Cancun, Mexico; Monika Detemple, commercial director, PromoBox Group, São Paulo, Brazil; Christopher Dorn, president, Idea International Inc., Osaka, Japan; Jeff Hannah, vice president of international interiors and creative, Exhibit Concepts Inc., Vandalia, OH; Tim Matthews, owner, OX2P Creative Communications, London, United Kingdom; James Prescott, senior project manager, GLS Design Ltd., Farnham, United Kingdom; Andrew Sexton, creative director and partner, 2LK Design Ltd., Guidford, United Kingdom; Jeannine Swan, owner, Global Exhibit Management, Fort Worth, TX; Jenny Town, director of sales and marketing, Expo Partners, Shanghai, China; Mariska van Dasselaar, internal office coordinator, The Inside, Deventer, Netherlands; Xiaoyang Wang, Asia Pacific account executive, Skyline Exhibits, Shanghai, China; Jamie Zavoral-Brown, business development director North America, Bray Leino Events, Devon, United Kingdom
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