10 Tips for Brazilian Portuguese Localization from a Software Engineer

Brazilian Portuguese is not a tough language for programmers when the subject is internationalization. Coders will not face many difficult programming issues regarding the language alone. The challenge everyone faces with Brazilian Portuguese isn’t with internationalization matters, but with localization.

Brazil is a large country, and it has a lot of particular practices and patterns, which makes it a unique region with its own rules. Rules and social practices are strong, so other international patterns may sound very unfamiliar and strange to Brazilians (likely even due to some lack of information and interaction with other countries). Brazil has its singular concepts (mainly for commerce), and few people are familiarized with other international terms.

Here are 10 general tips that may help you, when implementing Brazilian Portuguese localization:

1) Accented Characters

Be aware of the accented characters and c cedilha char (ç) that exist in Portuguese. These are the different characters you find in Portuguese (ISO 639-1: pt-BR):


á á é é õ õ ç ç
á á é é õ õ ç ç
â â ê ê Ó Ó Ç Ç
ã ã É É Ô Ô
à à Ê Ê Õ Õ
Á Á í í ú ú
 â Í Í ü ü
à à ó ó Ú Ú
À À ô ô Ü Ü


Check the encoding of your database tables, source files and protocols, and make sure they are able to support pt-BR chars. Look for any inconsistencies. Accented characters are very important in Portuguese. Brazilians don’t consider them when chatting in their Instant Messenger, but when it comes to your software or site, this is what makes your product look trustworthy in their eyes.

2) Text Length

When developing your system, don’t forget to set more width to your labels to accommodate possible text expansions/contractions. Words in Portuguese are usually longer than English, and sometimes they can even beat German.

Here is an example:

English: “Job Opportunities”
Portuguese: “Oportunidades de Trabalho”

In most cases, adding a “30%” extra width to your labels would work. But pay special attention to short labels like menus and buttons.

3) Date and Hour

The Brazilian date format is DD/MM/YYYY. Never use MM/DD/YYYY,  because few people know the possibility of this foreign format, and they would mistake day and month values. Another possibility is “(Day) de (Month) de (YYYY)”. Only these two date formats are common in Brazil.


Brazilian date format 1: “20/08/1984”
Brazilian date format 2: “20 de Agosto de 1984”

For time, go with a 24-hour format. Brazilians do not use the terms “AM” and “PM”.


Hour: “22:30h”
Date and Hour: “20/08/1984 às 22:30h”

4) Units of Measure

Most units of measure used in Brazil are different from a lot of units used internationally. Brazilians use centimeters and meters and they don’t know what a foot is. Inch is probably known, but it still sounds unfamiliar.

Below you find some of the unit measurements used in Brazil:

Length: Kilometer (km), meter (m), centimeter (cm), milimeter (mm)
Mass/Weight: Kilogram (kg), gram (g)
Electricity Volt (V), Watt (w), Ampere (A)
Volume: Liter (l), mililiter (ml)
Temperature: Celsius (ºC)
Speed: Kilometers / hour (km/h)

So again: no pounds, ounces, miles and feet.

5) Brazilian Currency

Two weeks ago I was browsing eBay (www.ebay.com) and they had released their interface for Brazilian Portuguese, and I remember how I felt strange observing prices like R$19.99, R$39.90, and so on. Two weeks later, the prices showed up as R$19,99, R$39,90, and so on. I, as a Brazilian, feel much better now! The Brazilian currency is Brazilian Real (ISO 4217: BRL), and (in comparison to USD currency) we use commas instead of periods and periods instead of commas. Periods are used to separate thousands and commas are used to express decimals.

An an example for “Two thousand and thirty-four cents”: (BRL in comparison to USD):

BRL: R$ 2.000,34
USD: U$ 2,000.34

6) Brazilian Addresses

This is an example of a Brazilian address:

José da Silva
Rua Duque de Caxias, 678, casa 2
Jardim Boa Vista
Pindamonhangaba – SP

In Brazil there are 27 Federative Units (UF, or simply State). UF is a mandatory field in all addresses, and in a form it comes after the city field. Another important field is CEP (13490-123 in the past example). CEP is the same as ZIP code, but its nomenclature is XXXXX-XXX (always 5 numeric digits + hyphen + 3 numeric digits). Make sure you allow for 8 (or 9) character spaces in your database field.

7) Payment Gateways

Some of the most famous payment gateways in Brazil are: PagSeguro (http://pagseguro.uol.com.br), Moip (http://site.moip.com.br/), Mercado Pago (http://www.mercadopago.com.br), and PayPay (http://www.paypal.com/br). Probably of these, you know PayPal, but it is not as well known in Brazil as you might think it is. Brazilians are used to inputting their card information directly every time when paying, so a robust payment gateway like PayPal simply is not that popular yet.

8) Brazilian Commerce Practices

There is a common practice in Brazil for splitting payments in installments when paying through credit card. In fact, many customers may refuse to buy if they are unable to split payments.

The reluctance for entering bank information in browsers is also high. A large part of the population will just make a payment if the payment method “Boleto Bancário” (Bank Slip) is available. If you run an international company, it would be wise to research this payment method, since you could lose many sales without it.

9) Brazilian Import Duty

There is an expensive Brazilian import duty (60% over the product price + shipping costs) for packages arriving internationally. While many consider its rate abusive, many others are totally unaware of it. So, if you run an e-commerce business, keep this in mind. When shipping to Brazil, it would be a good practice to add message to your site during the order confirmation, informing users that Brazilian customers must be aware of the 60% import duty risks and that buyers are responsible for any additional costs. Thus, you avoid complaints, and your site would stand out among other sites regarding localization features.

10) Local Expertise

Whenever possible, hire an expert in the Brazilian market and/or Brazilian localization. Brazil is a country with many localization issues you need to be aware of. Brazilians expect everything to appear local and sound local. Strange units of measure or things that sound “foreign” can be very off-putting.

I hope these tips help you not just to improve the localization of your website, but also to help you attract and retain Brazilian customers.

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