The Brazilian Paper Trail


No, not lines of used wax strips, but a bureaucratic necessity for life in Brazil – the all important receipt.

There is what seems to be an over-complicated exchange of goods, money, and three times the amount of paper in Brazil. And at first glance it’s a bit odd.

Like the restaurant in Rio for example, where you are given a card as you enter. When you take a plate of buffet food to the counter to be weighed, the card is swapped for a piece of paper which details all you are about to consume. Following dinner and a few beverage additions to the paper, you take the slip to the cashier at the door. She hands you your receipt and a note to give to the doorperson who is standing less than a foot away. The note is your permission slip to exit. Sounds complicated for a plate of food right?

If you by chance forget to pick up your receipt, with your worldly western ways, then you’ll probably get an odd look or two from the Brazilians.

That’s because the ‘nota fiscal’ is quite important for their financial management. In Brazil, you can buy things such as groceries or most small to large goods on monthly credit payments (4x, 10x…).

In Australia, credit seems to come in just the one payment, and you have to sign up for different interest free purchase offers with other providers. But in Brazil, Visa and MasterCard offer the opportunity to purchase through monthly credit payments.

And there is no end to the variety of credit and debit cards you are likely to encounter in Brazil.

With all these payments happening at any one time, it helps to have the receipts at the end of each day in order to work out just how much you might be owing or have left to spend.

So what might seem to be an overzealous obsession with the paper trail might just be the signs of good, if not slightly complicated, financial management.

Posted on March 31, 2011, in Brazilianaire Vol. 2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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