Brazilian Portuguese Internationalization
Brazilian Portuguese is not a difficult language for programmers when the focus is internationalization. Coders do not face many problematic 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 internationalization and localization for Brazilian Portuguese:
Be aware of the accented characters and c cedilha char (ç) that exist in Portuguese.
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.
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
In most cases, adding a “30%” extra width to your labels would work. But pay special attention to short labels like menus and buttons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the most famous payment gateways in Brazil are: PagSeguro (https://pagseguro.uol.com.br), Moip (https://site.moip.com.br/), Mercado Pago (https://www.mercadopago.com.br), and PayPay (https://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 buying something 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. Brazil is a large country, and many people expect everything to appear local and sound local. Strange units of measure or things that sound “foreign” to Brazilians can be very off-putting.