What Does Despachante Mean in Brazil? - Word of the Week
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DESPACHANTE

A despachante is a professional that helps people with bureaucratic issues, representing them before public institutions. However, in this productivity-based business, they don’t always do things by the book

What does a despachante do?

Originally, a despachante is a professional responsible for inspecting and liberating goods at customs. This career has existed in Portugal since medieval times. The activity was first regulated in 1587 by King Felipe II. These professionals represented importers and exporters, helping them with the heavy state bureaucracy.

With time, though, their field of action encompassed other areas of the public administration. And despachantes became the guys who would cut the line for you. That is particularly the case with the Traffic Department. As millions of people apply for administrative processes, any request can take months. Unless, of course, you have a good despachante.

The fees you’ll pay depend largely on the professional’s network and rapidity. But to ensure their productivity, despachantes often pay bribes to open certain doors for their clients. Every now and then, police operations show corrupt links between these professionals and public servants.

This month alone, two police operations showed how despachantes helped criminal groups obtain fraudulent documents to acquire licenses to bear firearms and fake vehicle registrations.

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