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Purchase retained in customs? Know what to do!

Published on 10/17/2019 - Updated on 11/07/2023

Parcels arriving from other countries may be retained by Brazil Customs for a number of reasons. However, this does not mean the purchase will not be delivered.


Read also: How are import taxes calculated in Brazil? A guide for e-commerce in 2023


Brazilians are avid online shoppers. As a matter of fact, in 2018 eMarketer registered 21.2 million cross-border digital buyers. Consumer electronics pulled ahead as the main product category purchased from other countries, representing 34%. Computers and equipment, along with fashion and accessories, hold 24% and 25% respectively of cross-border market share. The same report also showed that 53% of shoppers in Brazil purchase from China.

Nearly 20 days after the arrival of purchases, most of them are sent to Brazil Customs in Curitiba – which receives approximately 300,000 packages daily. After that, the parcels go through a verification process, meaning a package may take up to an additional 40 business days to arrive at the delivery address. For that matter, consumers and even merchants may have the impression that the purchase has been lost or retained by Brazil Customs for legal matters, when, in fact, the delivery process is delayed only because of the extensive and bureaucratic system.

Even so, there are a few reasons why the purchase may be held indeterminately. If the package arrives with incomplete address information or the label has low printing quality, the parcel will not be delivered. According to Brazil’s national postal service Correios, this accounts for over BRL 1 billion losses annually. In addition, local legislation may also hinder the entry of particular sorts of products. Pharmaceuticals, food and supplements, telecommunications and LED products, among others, need special licenses to be imported.

So, when should customers be concerned about their purchase? What are the proper procedures they should follow to guarantee their product will arrive? In order to answer these questions, we must first understand the Brazilian delivery process.


Understand the delivery process for import goods in Brazil

According to Receita Federal, final customers are responsible for 40% of legal entries of import goods into Brazil. However, the delivery process still causes confusion among Brazilian digital buyers. In addition, cross-border merchants should be aware of the process, so they can guide their customers through specific situations.

Most import goods arrive through Correios’ postal shipping and are sent to Curitiba, and, according to the state-owned company, 80% of international parcels that arrive in Brazil are from China. In this case, the customer must pay for the despacho postal, a handling fee charged by Correios, in addition to import duties whenever the product is over a total value of $50 – which can add up to 60% to the purchase price. If the buyer does not pay for this extra charge, the delivery process will not be resumed, meaning the parcel will not be delivered.

Understand the product’s path when arriving through Correios’ postal shipping and what to do in this circumstance:


1. Parcels arrive in Brazil and are sent to Brazil Customs

As mentioned previously, once parcels arrive in Brazil, they are sent to Brazil Customs, either in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo or Curitiba. The products are distributed according to the following criteria: weight, shipping model and transportation.

Products sent by express shipping mode – such as FedEx, for instance – and that weigh between 2kg and 30kg, are sent to Rio de Janeiro. The center located in São Paulo, on the other hand, receives non-urgent packages weighing up to 30kg that arrive by sea. Finally, Curitiba receives all small packages of up to 2kg labeled with codes beginning with “L” or “R.”

Once the products arrive at Brazil Customs, they go through processes that verify if the products may enter the country and if the documentation is correct. After that, Brazil Customs evaluates which products are subject to import duties.


2. The customer is notified of additional costs

After the products are verified, the customer is notified of the situation. If the product is subject to taxation, the customer will receive an invoice regarding tax payment – in addition to the despacho postal, the handling fee we mentioned earlier. However, if the product is released without tax, then the customer will only have to pay for the despacho postal.

A step-by-step guide on how to pay for the handling fee and import duties may be found on the Correios website.


3. The delivery process is resumed

Once the additional costs are paid, the delivery process is resumed, and the customer will receive the purchase at his registered address. However, there are certain situations where the customer must collect the product at the agency. More information can be found at the Correios website.

Delivery process for import goods in Brazil

How to track import goods arriving in Brazil

The best way to track the product’s delivery status is through the postal service’s website. Full tracking will be provided through a code allocated at the moment the customer completed the purchase.

With this code, the customer may access an online environment that provides the status of the delivery, with links redirecting the user for tax and fees payment. This way, the buyer may pay for import duties and the despacho postal.

However, if there are any additional problems, the customer may also open a request on the Correios website.

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  • DK 8 de January de 2020

    First, thank you for this amazing article.
    If the package is considered a gift and got stuck in Customs in Rio – is there way for me to call the custom in Rio, so I can pay the tax or whatever fees needed to be paid?
    The package I sent is a surprise gift to my girlfriend.

    • Paula Martins 16 de January de 2020


      If the package was sent through Correios, you may access the web environment “Minhas Importações” and create an account. Here is the link: (in Brazilian Portuguese).

  • Pierre 18 de January de 2020

    Hi. I sent a package on December 24th 2019 to Salvador, bahia. It arrived at customs in Sao Paulo on December the 30th and it held to this day. I’ve went to the United States postal service and they can’t help me. Please help me on what to do next

  • Pedro Badra 26 de February de 2020

    I sent a gift from USA to Brazil for my siblings and they had to refuse the parcel because Brazil’s government taxed the crap out of the parcel. It wasn’t their purchase, I bought them for myself and decided to send something MINE to family members, and the Receita Federal took it like it was a purchase. It wasn’t even worth appealing. Ridiculous, they couldn’t receive my gifts. If the parcel is worth more than $50 they WILL tax 60$ besides other BS taxes. The amount of money they asked was unacceptable, they are straight up mercenaries

  • Michael 22 de June de 2020

    My sister visited me in the US back in Feb 2020. She left her reading glasses in the car going to the airport, so I mailed it back to her in Sao Paulo. It was stuck in Rio customs for a long time and finally, it said it was processed and enroute to destination since April. What’s going on and what can I do?

  • Flavia Koehler 19 de July de 2020

    I have sent a package- actually from my 11 year old daughter to her 13 year old friend containing drawings, candy, seashells… only little things. However it was posted in the US on June 10th and last tracking information is of July 04th acknowledging it arrived in customs in Rio. Nothing else since. What should I do? At this point Im about to consider it lost but the drawings cant be replaced. A real shame.

    • Paula Martins 6 de August de 2020

      Hi Flavia,

      Unfortunately, it can take several weeks for a package to arrive at the final destination. I recommend you keep posted on the package’s situation on the Correios website and in any case, maybe try contact with them. Good luck!

  • Dalell 10 de August de 2020

    Not sure anyone can help, but a package I sent from Dallas Texas USA to London England Great Britain, has found its way to Curitiba Brazil Customs. It has been there since 14 July 2020, today being 10 August. Any thought on how I can get the package en route to its intended location?

  • Jenna 12 de August de 2020

    My son sent a gift to a friend in Brazil. It was a letter and a cloth headband. USPS said that it had to go in a padded mailer, and they processed it like a package. The total cost of goods was $0, and shipping was $15. Is his friend going to have to pay to receive it?

  • Michael ODell 2 de September de 2020

    I have 3 packages being held in the Rio de Janeiro customs. One has been there for over 2 weeks. What should I do?

  • Cindy O'Brien 2 de September de 2020

    Hi Paula
    Can you help me, please!
    I sent a friend of mine a translator for when she comes to NY from Brazil and it’s stuck in Brazil, Customs awaiting , Tax Payment.
    I cannot find out how to pay or a telephone # to talk to someone that can help me.
    I would appreciate any help that you can give.
    Thank you, Cindy

  • EF 19 de September de 2020

    Thanks for the clarity of the explanations here but the correios website is not effective. If you register as a foreigner living abroad, the system doesn’t allow you to pay the fee, as it keeps saying you’re missing your credentials (CPF…). So, if you are sending a gift to somebody in Brazil, they must pay the fee. Huge waste of time, website doesn’t function. Nothing works, not even to get paid.

  • Lucky Lovan 29 de September de 2020

    Hello, I sent out a package through USPS to Porto Alegre, Brazil on August 24th and it’s been in Customs in Brazil since September 8th. I am worried that my package will never get delivered. Is there anyway to speed up the process to make sure it gets to its destination? Before I shipped it off I made sure to provide the necessary information so this problem wouldn’t occur. I provided the correct Brazilian address and CPF# of the recipient. I don’t know what else I can do. Please help me.

  • Wagner Falanchi 2 de October de 2020

    Oi Paula,
    Tenho uma pergunta, nao sei se vc tera a resposta.
    Em agosto enviei p Brasil (Rio Preto- SP) um pacote com usada camisetas , um cartao e estava em sao paulo , agora foi pro Rio.
    poderia vc ver se pode identificar o ocorrido sendo q neste pacote nao ha nada de eletronicos os algo novo.


  • Dave 6 de October de 2020

    I posted an item to Brazil & it’s currently with customs. if the buyer doesn’t pay the tax will they return the item to me?

  • Annamaria Topan 16 de October de 2020

    Hello. I have ordered an item from Germany and I live in Romania. The tracking number shows that my package is currently held in customs in Curitiba. However, I’m not really sure why my package was forwarded in Brazil when the destination country is in Europe? Is this normal? Thank you.

    • Paula Martins 16 de October de 2020

      Hi Annamaria,

      I wish I could answer you, but unfortunately, I’m not sure why this occurred. I recommend you contact the store so that they can provide more details. Good luck!

  • Tranae 24 de October de 2020

    Hi I return a package for a refund since Aug 25 n now it’s Oct 25 it’s telling me my package in customs from September 12 is there anyway some can notify as to why it’s there so long and what steps to I need to take I’m waiting on that refund like yesterday. Please help I’ve sent numerous emails and none was clarified. Thank you

  • Tranae Davidson 25 de October de 2020

    Hi I sent couples emails and no response I’m just trying to get my refund back for an item I purchased this been going on since September 12 it’s in customs can someone please give me details on what’s going on

  • Tranae Davidson 30 de October de 2020

    Are you gonna ever answer my texts as to why my package is being held in customs for so long I need it to get to it’s destination so I can get my refund ASAP please can you respond back

    • Paula Martins 13 de November de 2020

      Hi Tranae,

      If the purchase was processed via PagBrasil, then I kindly ask you to reach out to us through

      You can also reach out to the store where you purchased for more information.

  • Jo 4 de November de 2020

    I paid the customs duty to release a package that was being held (the recipient had declined to pay the charges at point of delivery, so the package was returned, at which point I made the payment) but it still hasn’t been released for delivery. I tried contacting Correios who told me I’d need to check with FedEx. FedEx tell me I need to check with Corrieos!
    I don’t want to be charged again for the item to be posted back to the UK. I’d rather abandon the package if it’s not going to be delivered to the recipient.
    Any idea’s please?

  • Tessa 10 de November de 2020

    My order arrived Brazil since july 9 and till now it has not be delivered to me and i have not been able to track it on corrieos because the tracking number starts with R… can you help please.

  • Chris Lassiter 11 de January de 2021

    The first comment below from DK is identical to my situation. I sent gift to my girlfriend and I have been tracking with tracking number. Package is at customs at SAO PAUL, BRAZIL. US postal service charged $65 and some change. What can i do to ensure delivery?

  • Jordan 6 de February de 2021

    Hey I sent a packaged under 50$ in goods. will that be taxed? And if the person I’m sending this package to doesn’t want the package if it’s taxed, are there any repercussions to them other than them not getting the package?

  • Jordan 6 de February de 2021

    The person I sent the package to doesn’t want it. Will they be alright if they deny paying? No legal trouble? Just an undelivered package?

  • Nate Dal Cais 5 de March de 2021

    I sent the package out to Brazil on December 29th. On February 18th I thought we were informed that the receiver had to pay an additional fee, which they did on February 24th. However the package still has not arrived. Any idea and how long the delivery would take after the fee has been processed?

  • Valderedes Bandura 17 de March de 2021

    My name is Val Bandura and I send to my daughter in low 2 swimming and 1 pants at October.I pays $55 for this, she do not receive yet this is on costume Helder’s they want she pays for this again I paid here

  • Christine 19 de March de 2021

    Hi Paula,
    I had a gift to send to my fiend in Brazil. I had to wait quite some time due to Covid before I could post. After a year I was able to send.
    Now it is in Rio De Janeiro Customs, and they are asking over $200AU in tax to have it delivered. This is outrageous.
    The gift did not cost that much including postage..
    So it will be returned to me due to the high amount of Tax requested.
    Does this mean we are no longer able to send a gift do our Dear ones in Brazil. How can we ever do this.
    Why on earth would a Government want to deny their people kindness and happiness from their loved ones overseas.
    Why on earth would this Government want to show the world such a cold cruel heart…

  • Joanne 30 de March de 2021

    PLEASE I NEED HELP. On January 4th 2021.I sent a small package from N.Y. It was mishandled from the beginning. It took a trip by truck up the East Coast then went down the East Coast around 650 miles.Then it was to go to my friend in Sao Paulo but took a detour and went to Rio. I was in t h e Hospital for the month of February 3,2021. Now I find out they are sending it back.If they open it I think what their concern is the 2 toys for my friends dog one has water in it to freeze as a cooling off pop for her dog. NICO . The other is a ball with a battery init. The battery is a 1.5 VOLT CELL BATTERY. Can’t they just open the box and take what I can’t have in there.. Can I call them ?? I am writing from the United States 🇺🇸 Thank You. WHAT AM I TO DO

  • Joyce 18 de June de 2021

    I sent a parcel to Brazil but it has never arrived. According to Brazilian post office I should pay a fine. The fine was not paid and now my parcel will return back to Australia. Is there any way, I could still oay for the parcel before its return to Australia?!.

  • Joslyn Banks 31 de July de 2021

    Looking for package that is supposed to be deliver to my from a friend. It’s struck in Brazil Custom

  • Patricia smith 10 de August de 2021

    I sent a package to Brasil with a few baby clothes, and now its in Rio de Janeiro waiting for me to pay $90. How can i pay this amount if the website is not allowing me to put my credit card number?
    Or how can i cancel the delivery and receive my package back to the US if i cant put my credit card to pay it?

  • Peter Degelleke 1 de September de 2021

    I sent a small package with a gift to my mother-in-law who lives in Araxa, MG. I sent it US priority mail in June. According to the USPS website, it was delivered to customs in San Paulo on July 8, 2021 Can I do anything, or is this just lost and gone? THANK YOU!

  • Leif 4 de September de 2021


    I was attempting to send a package to a well known company in the UK at a PO box, and somehow that package got scanned into customs in Correios, BR. Is there any customer service rep that I can talk to to try and figure out why this occurred and how I can get the package back on track?

  • Okkes Yavuz 6 de October de 2021

    Hi, If the cargo’s commercial value is not pay and refuse the goods after arrival the of the veseel, when the cargoes will be abonded in Brazil customs. .?

  • Darren 19 de October de 2021

    How do I pay the taxes if I am from UK they want a ridiculous £46 to release this ! My girlfriend don’t want to pay such a fee so how do I pay ?

  • Robert Eller 22 de October de 2021

    I sent some things to rio, just personal clothing, and its at customs in rio “waiting for additional payment” Yet, cant find out where, how much, or how to pay. Any clues to the process? Should I be getting notice from them or the correios (post office)? Expensive to ship. Need that stuff. If its sent back….

  • Rethabile 27 de October de 2021

    I bought clothes from brazil
    My courier tells me that my shipment is held by the brazil customs for inspection and it’s been over a month now
    I don’t know what’s going on
    I don’t even know how will i contact them

  • Robert E Eller 22 de November de 2021

    I just returned to brazil after being gone for 4 years. I have an RNE for 10 years. I couldnt get everything on a plane so I shipped 2 boxes of clothing and personal items. However, seems I have to pay an enormous fee for shipping my own clothes here. What in the world?

  • Melissa 1 de December de 2021

    My package has been sitting in customs. I set everything up on the site and fixed the issues it says I needed to fix before paying the fee in customs but it says the errors are still there. My friend even tried as I do not speak Portuguese with the same errors. I tried to contact customer support online and it wouldnt help me. Said they didn’t have an English translator and it kicked me out of chat. What do I do?

  • Titilope christianah motunrayo 4 de December de 2021

    My friend sent me a gift from US to brasil ,since 22nd of novembr have not seen the gift i also tracked it with the tracking number given to me .is there i noticed are in rio de Janeiro,when i goggle it they said is likely to pay taxes on it ,have called many numbers that i saw online but not throu pls hlp me out. This is not the second time of returning anything that came frm US to me here in Brasil.

  • John T Kennedy 6 de December de 2021

    I purchased a remote control for a Firestix from Amazon. Since Amazon would not ship the item to Brazil, I had it shipped to my daughter in the U.S. who shipped it to me in Brazil by USPS. The problem is the duty being charged by Brazil is 3 times what I paid for it. Is it possible to have Brazil Customs send it back to my daughter, the sender? How do I do it?

  • Roseli 18 de December de 2021

    Oi Paula meu nome é Roseli eu estou confusa porque fazem 3 meses que mandei uns tênis e roupas para meus netos para o Brasil e vejo que está difícil a entrega a caixa vai e volta toda hora o que devo fazer ? Obrigada

  • Richard Pierce 16 de January de 2022

    I have 2 packages that I have not received. One is coming from Germany – a battery charger from Leica photography company. The other is a sweater from Aran Sweater company in Ireland. I have not received any information why these two packages have not been delivered. Can you help?

  • Anndesha 24 de April de 2022

    I have a few packages coming into brazil from a international country and I forgot to put the CPF number on the packages. Will customs allow me to give them my CPF number ?

  • Olga 3 de May de 2022

    Hi I sent 3 phones a small tablet and some shoes to my kids since December and they never arrived. They argued that they needed the receipts. We sent them and now they say that the federal police has the items and that they don’t know what will happen. What a sent was a Christmas present for my kids and this is the time the didn’t receive it. I want the things returned to me but nobody really helps. What can I do at this point.

  • Sonny Tawjoeram 1 de June de 2022

    Eu tenho uma pergunta. A tem um pacote na Receita Federal. Não recebi nenhuma informação dos Correios Brasil de que tenho que pagar imposto de importação. E agora o pacote está voltando para ser devolvido ao remetente na Holanda (o remetente está na Holanda). Como ainda posso pagar o imposto de importação no Brasil? Após o pagamento do imposto de importação, o pacote será liberado e posso retirar o pacote (pacote bem pequeno). Seu apoio neste será muito apreciado. Obrigada. Sonny Tawjoeram. E-mail:

  • Angela 27 de June de 2022

    I posted a small parcel (under 2kg) from the Uk to My son in Brazil on 5th May 2022 and he still hasn’t received it. As it’s so expensive I went for the cheapest option which is untracked. It has disappeared probably never to be seen again.

  • ANA 12 de July de 2022

    They retained a greeting card!!! And charged me the equivalent to 50 USD as “importation taxes” to release it from Customs. And then governments wonder why postal service is dying. And getting it released is a whole ordeal when you are not Brazilian or living in there.