Brazil 1988 Constitution (reviewed 2017)

Table of Contents



Article 170

The economic order, founded on the appreciation of the value of human labor and free enterprise, is intended to assure everyone a dignified existence, according to the dictates of social justice, observing the following principles:

  1. national sovereignty;
  2. private property;
  3. social function of property;
  4. free competition;
  5. consumer protection;
  6. environmental protection, including through differentiated treatment in accordance with the environmental impact of the products and services and the processes by which they are elaborated and rendered;
  7. reduction in regional and social inequalities;
  8. pursuit of full employment;
  9. preferential treatment for small-scale firms organized under Brazilian law with their headquarters and management in the Country.

Sole Paragraph

Free exercise of any economic activity is assured for all, without need for any governmental authorization, except as provided by law.

Article 171


Article 172

The law shall regulate, on the basis of national interest, foreign capital investment, granting incentives for reinvestment and regulating remittance of profits.

Article 173

With the exception of the cases provided for in this Constitution, direct exploitation of an economic activity by the State shall only be permitted when necessary for the imperatives of national security or a relevant collective interest, as defined by law.

  1. The law shall establish the legal regime of public companies, mixed-capital companies and their subsidiaries that engage in the economic activities of production or marketing of goods or services, dealing with:
    1. their social functions and the forms of supervision by the State and by society;
    2. subjection to the same legal regime as private enterprises, including their civil, commercial, labor and tax rights and obligations;
    3. competitive bidding and contracting of works, services, purchases and transfers, observing the principles of public administration;
    4. organization and functioning of boards of directors and supervisory councils, with participation of minority shareholders;
    5. the offices, evaluation of performance and liability of administrators.
  2. Public companies and mixed-capital companies may not enjoy fiscal privileges that are not extended to private sector companies.
  3. The law shall regulate the relationship of public companies with the State and with society.
  4. The law shall repress abuse of economic power seeking to dominate markets, to eliminate competition and to increase profits arbitrarily.
  5. Without prejudice to the personal liability of the officers of a legal entity, the law shall establish the liability of the latter, subjecting it to penalties compatible with its nature for acts that contravene the economic and financial order and the popular economy.

Article 174

As the normative and regulatory agent of economic activity, the State, as provided by law, shall perform the functions of supervision, incentive-promotion and planning, the latter being binding for the public sector and advisory for the private sector.

  1. The law shall establish directives and bases for planning balanced national development, which shall incorporate and make compatible national and regional development plans.
  2. The law shall support and stimulate cooperative activity and other forms of association.
  3. The State shall favor organization of cooperatives for prospecting and placer-mining activity, taking into account protection of the environment and the socio-economic promotion of the prospectors and miners.
  4. The cooperatives referred to in the preceding paragraph shall have priority in obtaining authorizations or concessions for prospecting and mining mineral resources and deposits in areas where they are operating and in those fixed in accordance with art. 21, XXV, as provided by law.

Article 175

The Government is responsible for providing public utility services, either directly or under regimes of concessions or permits, always through public bidding, as provided by law.

Sole Paragraph

The law shall provide for:

  1. the regime for companies that have concessions or permits to provide public utility services, the special character of their contracts and the extension thereof and conditions for lapse, supervision and termination of concessions or permits;
  2. rights of users;
  3. rate policy;
  4. obligation to maintain adequate service.

Article 176

Mineral deposits, whether being worked or not, and other mineral resources and hydraulic energy sites constitute property distinct from the soil for the effects of exploitation or use, and belong to the Union, guaranteeing to the concessionaire ownership of the output of the deposit.

  1. Prospecting and mining of mineral resources and use of hydraulic sites referred to in the heading of this article may only take place through authorization or concession by the Union, in the national interest, by Brazilians or by companies organized under Brazilian law and that have their headquarters and management in the Country, as provided by law, which shall establish specific conditions when these activities take place in frontier areas or on indigenous lands.
  2. The owner of the soil is assured a share in the results of working the deposit, in the form and in the value provided for by law.
  3. Prospecting authorization shall always be for a limited period, and the authorizations and concessions provided for in this article may not be assigned or transferred, either in whole or in part, without prior legal consent from the granting authority.
  4. Utilization of renewable energy sites of small capacity does not require an authorization or concession.

Article 177

The Union has a monopoly on the following:

  1. prospecting and exploitation of deposits of petroleum, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons;
  2. refining domestic or foreign petroleum;
  3. importation or exportation of products and basic by-products resulting from the activities set forth in the prior subparagraphs;
  4. maritime transportation of crude oil of domestic origin or of basic petroleum by-products produced in the Country, as well as the pipeline transportation of crude oil, its by-products and natural gas of whatever origin;
  5. prospecting, mining, enrichment, reprocessing, industrialization or commerce in ores and nuclear minerals and their by-products, with the exception of radioisotopes whose production, marketing and utilization may be authorized under a permit regime, in accordance with subparts b and c of subparagraph XXIII of the heading of art. 21 of this Federal Constitution.
  1. The Union may contract with state or private firms to perform the activities provided for in subparagraphs I to IV of this article, observing the conditions established by law.
  2. The law referred to in §1° shall provide for:
    1. guarantee of furnishing petroleum by-products in the entire national territory;
    2. the conditions of contracting;
    3. the structure and powers of the agency regulating the monopoly of the Union.
  3. The law shall provide for the transportation and use of radioactive materials within the national territory.
  4. The law that institutes a contribution on the intervention in the economic domain relating to the activities of importation or marketing of petroleum and its by-products, natural gas and its by-products and fuel alcohol shall obey the following requirements:
    1. the rate of the contribution may be:
      1. differentiated by product or use;
      2. reduced and re-established by act of the Executive, without the provision of art. 150, III, b, being applicable;
    2. the resources collected shall be destined for:
      1. payment of subsidies for the prices or transportation of fuel alcohol, natural gas and its by-products and petroleum by-products;
      2. financing of environmental projects related to the petroleum and gas industries;
      3. financing programs of infrastructure in transportation.

Article 178

The law shall provide for the regulation of air, water, and land transportation, and shall observe the agreements signed by the Union as to the organization of international transportation, in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

Sole Paragraph

In regulating water transportation, the law shall establish conditions under which transportation of merchandise in the coastal trade and in internal navigation may be done by foreign vessels.

Article 179

The Union, States, Federal District and Counties shall afford micro-enterprises and other small firms, as defined by law, differentiated legal treatment, seeking to stimulate them through simplification, elimination or reduction of their administrative, tax, social security and credit obligations, by means of law.

Article 180

The Union, States, Federal District and Counties shall promote and grant incentives to tourism as a factor of social and economic development.

Article 181

Compliance with a request for a document or for information of a commercial nature, made by a foreign administrative or judicial authority to an individual or legal entity residing or domiciled in the Country, requires authorization from the proper governmental authority.


Article 182

The urban development policy carried out by the County Governments, according to general guidelines fixed by law, is intended to order the full development of the social functions of cities and to guarantee the well-being of their inhabitants.

  1. The master plan, approved by the County Legislature, which is compulsory for cities of over twenty thousand inhabitants, is the basic policy instrument of urban development and expansion.
  2. Urban property performs its social function when it conforms to the fundamental requirements for the city’s ordering expressed in the master plan.
  3. Expropriation of urban property shall be made with prior and just compensation in cash.
  4. County Governments may, by means of a specific law for areas included in the master plan, require that the owner of non-built, under-used or unused urban land provide for adequate use of such land, under penalty, successively, of:
    1. compulsory subdivision or construction;
    2. building and urban property tax rates that increase over time;
    3. expropriation with payment in public bonds, from an issue previously approved by the Federal Senate, redeemable in up to ten years, in equal and successive annual installments, ensuring the real value of the compensation and legal interest.

Article 183

An individual who possesses as his own an urban area of up to two hundred and fifty square meters, for five years without interruption or opposition, using it as his or as his family’s residence, shall acquire title to such property, provided that he does not own any other urban or rural property.

  1. The deed of title and concession of use shall be granted to the man or woman, or both, regardless of their marital status.
  2. This right shall not be recognized more than once for the same holder.
  3. Public lands may not be acquired by usucaptio.


Article 184

The Union has the power to expropriate for social interest, for purposes of agrarian reform, rural property that is not fulfilling its social function, upon prior and just compensation in agrarian debt bonds, with a clause for preservation of real value, redeemable in up to twenty years, starting from the second year after issue, and whose utilization shall be defined in law.

  1. Useful and necessary improvements shall be compensated in cash.
  2. The decree declaring property as being of social interest for agrarian reform purposes authorizes the Union to file the expropriation action.
  3. Complementary law shall establish a special summary adversary procedure for expropriation actions.
  4. The budget shall determine each year the total volume of agrarian debt bonds, as well as the amount of funds allocated to the agrarian reform program in the fiscal year.
  5. Transfers of property expropriated for agrarian reform purposes are exempt from federal, state and municipal taxes.

Article 185

The following shall not be subject to expropriation for agrarian reform purposes:

  1. small and medium-sized rural property, as defined by law, so long as its owner does not own other property;
  2. productive property.

Sole Paragraph

The law shall guarantee special treatment for productive property and set rules for compliance with requirements for its social function.

Article 186

The social function is met when rural property simultaneously complies with the following requirements, in accordance with the criteria and standards prescribed by law:

  1. rational and adequate use;
  2. adequate use of available natural resources and preservation of the environment;
  3. observance of provisions regulating labor relations;
  4. exploitation that favors the well-being of owners and workers.

Article 187

Agricultural policy shall be planned and executed as provided by law, with the effective participation of the productive sector, consisting of producers and rural workers, as well as the sectors of marketing, storage and transportation, particularly taking into account:

  1. credit and fiscal instruments;
  2. prices compatible with production costs and marketing guarantees;
  3. incentives for research and technology;
  4. technical assistance and rural extension;
  5. agricultural insurance;
  6. cooperative activity;
  7. rural electricity and irrigation systems;
  8. housing for rural workers.
  1. Agricultural planning includes the activities of agro-industry, livestock, fishing and forestry.
  2. Agricultural policy actions shall be made compatible with agrarian reform actions.

Article 188

The use to which public and vacant lands are put shall be made compatible with agricultural policy and the national agrarian reform plan.

  1. The alienation or concession, by whatever manner, of public lands with an area of more than two thousand and five hundred hectares to an individual or legal entity, even through an intermediary, needs prior approval of the National Congress.
  2. Alienations or concessions of public lands for agrarian reform purposes are excluded from the provision of the prior paragraph.

Article 189

Beneficiaries of distribution of rural land under the agrarian reform shall receive deeds of title or concessions of use that are nonnegotiable for a period of ten years.

Sole Paragraph

Deeds of title and concessions of use shall be granted to the man or woman, or to both, irrespective of their marital status, pursuant to the terms and conditions provided for by law.

Article 190

The law shall regulate and limit acquisition or leasing of rural land by foreign individuals or legal entities and shall determine which cases shall require authorization from the National Congress.

Article 191

Anyone who is not the owner of rural or urban property but possesses as his own for five uninterrupted years, without opposition, an area of land not exceeding fifty hectares in a rural zone and with his labor or that of his family makes the land productive and resides thereon, shall acquire ownership of the land.

Sole Paragraph

Real public property may not be acquired by usucaptio.


Article 192

The national financial system, structured to promote the balanced development of the country and to serve collective interests, in all its component parts, including credit cooperatives, shall be regulated by complementary laws that shall provide for, including, participation of foreign capital in the institutions of which [the national financial system] is composed.

I, II, III (a) and (b), IV, V, VI, VII, VIII; § 1°, § 2°, and § 3°. -Revoked.