Sailing and Boating in Brazil

Information on the rules on boat licenses and sailing permits, the sea safety recommendations, maritime weather and more, with details of the ports and harbors and links to local sailing associations...

Below is information on:

Safety at Sea

Emergency Numbers
Accidents, Police, Ambulance Tel: 192
Fire Emergency (Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Coast Guard / Sea Rescue (Salvamento Marítimo) Tel: (21) 2104 6119

Life jackets (colete salva-vidas) must be worn at all times when sailing in Brazil.

It is important to check weather reports before setting out to sail or practicing any other water sports as weather conditions can change very rapidly.

The Brazilian Sailing Federation (Confederação Brasileira de Vela) has a website (in Portuguese) with sailing contacts and will assist visiting sailors with information and tips on sailing in Brazil.

Sailing Areas and Events

Brazil is one of the world's top nautical tourism destinations. Brazil has 8,000 Km (5,000 miles) of Atlantic coastline, with many tropical islands. Inland there are navigable rivers and, in some states, such as São Paulo, there are large lakes which are popular for sailing.

Perhaps the most scenic stretch is the coastline between São Sebastiao Island in São Paulo State and Rio de Janeiro, where there are many protected anchorages, as well as stunning scenery. The River Amazon can be navigated for 1,000 miles and attracts boat cruisers who wish to explore the interior of Brazil.

Boats can be chartered from several locations along the coast and boat trips are available. Sailing schools, facilities and clubs are available in many of the main marinas and ports of Brazil.

The São Paulo Boat Show is held every year in late September with many boats on display, as well as products for diving, fishing and other nautical activities.

Competitive Sailing

Bahia hosts the Salvador regatta for ocean yachts (Circuito Salvador de Vela de Oceano) every two years in the Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos). This event is the Brazilian National Championship in the classes ORC International and ORC Club, and is held in January. Also the annual regattas from Cape Town to Salvador attract international yachting teams.

To compete in sailing and boating competitions in Brazil it is necessary to have an Amateur Sailing License (Carteira de Habilitação de Amador - CHA). The license is available to Brazilians and foreigners who have permanent residence in Brazil. There are five different categories of license:

  • Amateur Captain (Capitão-Amador): For vessels moving between national or foreign ports without limit of distance from the coast
  • Amateur Master (Mestre-Amador): For vessels moving between national or foreign ports within the limits of coastal shipping
  • Amateur Skipper (Arrais-Amador): For vessels within the limits of inland navigation
  • Jet ski (Motonauta): For jet-skis within the limits of inland navigation
  • Sailboat (Veleiro): For sailing vessels without power propulsion, within the limits of inland navigation

How to apply for a license

The following documents should be taken to the Harbor Master's Office (Capitania dos Portos, Delegacia e Agências - CP/DL/AG):

  • Application form (available at the Harbor Master's Office or online; in Portuguese)
  • Photocopy and original identity card or RNE
  • Photocopy and original of the Individual Taxpayer's Number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física)
  • Proof of address (utility bill)
  • Payment of a small fee
  • Medical certificate certifying the applicant is in a good state of physical and mental health

Individuals under the age of 18 will need to present a written authorisation from their parents. All applications need to be supported by yachting certificates of courses taken relevant to the type of license being requested.

A written exam will be required for all types of license. Exams are organized by the CP/DL/AG or an authorized yacht club. The minimum age for a motonauta license is 18 years and a separate test will be required.

Foreign sailing licenses given by the Maritime Authorities in the individual's home country will be accepted in Brazilian waters.

Renting yachts and boats

A non-resident foreigner may rent a sailing yacht or boat but must register for a temporary sailing license (habilitação provisória). This can be done at the CP/DL/AG or with an authorized boat rental company, who will test each candidate on theory and practical ability. A temporary sailing license is not required when renting a jet-ski.

These licenses are available exclusively for non-resident foreigners who do not have an amateur sailing license requirement in their home country, and are valid for 45 days.

Sailing and Boating Regulations

Boating and sailing regulations may vary greatly depending on the type of boat and type of water sport being practiced. For a general guide, however, the Brazilian Ministry of Maritime Defense recommends the following:

  • Life jackets should be worn at all times
  • Any accidents (drowning, collisions, sinkings, explosions) or breach of navigation security laws (Lei de Segurança da Navegação) must be communicated to the Maritime authorities
  • Observe marine rules and pay attention to meteorological weather reports
  • Check that all equipment is secured before beginning a journey
  • Maintain equipment, including fire extinguishers, in perfect working order
  • When confronting adverse climatic conditions, open areas should be adequately closed
  • Avoid using auto-pilot when in adverse conditions
  • Reduce speed and pay extra attention when waves are one to one-and-a-half times the length of boat
  • Be aware of currents and waves in shorelines, estuaries or rivers

Regulated sailing areas

  • Sail boats should stay at least 100 meters from the shore
  • Boat with an engine should stay at least 200 meters from the shore
  • Motor and sail boats may anchor near to the shore if there are no warning buoys or signs, but must approach the shore at 3 knots and be aware of bathers
  • All boats must stay at least 200 meters from military installations and 500 meters from oil platforms

Procedure on arrival in Brazilian marinas and ports

On arrival at Brazilian marina or port, the owner or captain of a foreign boat must report to the Harbor Master's Office (Capitania dos Portos, Delegacia e Agências office - CP/DL/AG) and fill in an Entrance/Departure Form (Declaração de Entrada/Saída de Embarcação Estrangeira). This form includes technical details of the boat and the boat's intended movements within Brazilian waters (Águas Jurisdicionais Brasileiras).

The following documents must be presented at the Harbor Master's Office within 24 hours:

  • Entrance/Departure form
  • Passport of the boat's owner or skipper and any passengers

In some Brazilian ports it is obligatory to use the services of a despachante (administrative facilitator) for the first entry. They take the passports and entrance/departure form and complete all the necessary paperwork for a fee.

Immigration and Customs

The owner or captain will also need to deal with immigration and visas at the Federal Police (Polícia Federal) office and with customs at the Tax office (Receita Federal). Smart dress is recommended when visiting these establishments.

These offices may not be situated at the yacht club or marina that the boat has entered. The owner or captain will need to visit the nearest commercial port. In this case, the ship can be left at the club and the owner or captain must go to these offices within 24 hours.

It is necessary to go to the Harbor Master's office and the Federal Police office at every major port when sailing in Brazilian waters, especially when sailing between Brazilian states. This is strictly enforced and, if in violation, hefty fines are imposed. On leaving Brazil all of these authorities must be visited at the port of departure. It is suggested to visit them in reverse order starting with Customs.

The owner or captain can expect a Naval Inspector to visit the boat within 48 hours of arrival. A cruising permit (passe de saida) will be issued by the Harbor Master's office and this should be shown on subsequent entries into Brazilian ports.

90-day visas are issued by the Federal Police on entering a Brazilian port for the first time. This visa can be extended for a further 90 days. Passports must be valid for at least six months following arrival.

Health issues

Current yellow fever vaccination certificates may be required by those arriving from some South American and African countries. Check with the local Brazilian Consulate or Embassy before departure.

How to Register a Boat in Brazil

Boats in Brazil are registered according to length. All registrations should be done at the Harbor Master's Office (Capitania dos Portos, Delegacia e Agências - CP/DL/AG).

The following documents will be required for boats up to five meters in length:

  • Receipt of purchase with the seller's signature legalized at a local Civil Registry office (Cartório)
  • Proof of identity and Individual Taxpayer's Number (Cadastro de Pessoa Física - CPF)
  • Proof of residence (utilities bill)
  • Proof of tax payment (taxa de expediente) at a branch of Banco do Brasil (form available at the Harbor Master's Office)

Boats over five meters long will also need to present the following:

  • A form listing all of the technical details of the boat (Boletim de Atualização de Dados da Embarcação - BADE)
  • Proof of compulsory insurance (Seguro Obrigatório de Embarcações - DPEM)

Marinas in Brazil

São Paulo

Rio de Janeiro

  • Marina da Gloria
    : Avenida Infante Don Henrique s/n, 20021-140 Rio de Janeiro 
    Tel: (21) 205 6716
    Fax: (21 285 4558 
    VHF Channel 16, 68


  • Bahia Marina
    : Av. do Contorno N 1010, 40015-230 Salvador de Bahia
    Tel: (71) 322 7244
    Fax: (71) 322 7244
    VHF Channel 16, 68 


  • Porto Marina Oceana
    : Rua B Constant 89, 83203-450 Paranagua
    Tel: (41) 423 1831 
    VHF Channel 68


  • Marina Park - Fortelza
    : Av. Presidente Castelo Branco 400, Praia de Iracema, Fortaleza, Ceará  
    Tel: (85) 4006 9595 
    Fax: (85) 3253 1803 
    VHF Channel 74 


Sailing and Watersports Clubs in São Paulo

  • Sao Paulo Yacht Club (SPYC) 
    At: Rua Francisco de Seixas 225, 04770-060 Santo Amaro  
    Tel: (11) 5523 8366
  • Iate Clube de Santos
    : Rua Funchal 1.140, 11432-900 Vila Funchal, Guaruja 
    Tel: (13) 3358 2980
    Fax: (13) 3358 2873 

Sailing Vocabulary

Brazilian-Portuguese English
barco boat
colete salva-vidas life jacket
cruise cruising
excurção excursion
iate yacht
marinheiro/navegador sailor
mergulho diving
mergulhar to dive
motor engine, motor boat
navegação sailing
navegar to sail
navio ship
ondas waves
passeio de barco boating trip
provas races, competitions
regata à vela regatta
vela sailing boat, sail
veleiro sailing boat
velejar sailing
zarpar sail away, sail off, lift anchor