Brazil has a reciprocal visa system, so if your home country requires Brazilian nationals to secure a visa, then you will need one to enter Brazil. At the time of writing, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens need visas, but citizens of the UK, Ireland and most other EU countries as well as South Africa do not. Check with the Brazilian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Tourist visas are issued by Brazilian diplomatic offices. They are valid from the date you arrive in Brazil for a 90-day stay. They are renewable in Brazil for an additional 90 days. In most embassies and consulates, visas can be processed within 24 hours.
In many Brazilian embassies and consulates it takes only a couple of hours to issue a visa if you go in person (it’s instant in some places), but the processing can take a couple of weeks or more if you do it by mail. You will normally need to present a passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended arrival date, a passport photograph, and a round-trip or onward ticket or a photocopy of it or a statement from a travel agent that you have it. If you don’t have the ticketing requirements, proof of means of support – such as credit cards or bank statements – may be acceptable.
If you decide to return to Brazil, your visa is valid for five years.
The fee for visas is also reciprocal. For most nationalities, a visa costs between US$40 and US$60, though for US citizens it’s US$100 (which is what the US charges Brazilians for visas).
Applicants under 18 years of age who are traveling alone must also submit a notarized letter of authorization from a parent or legal guardian.
Business travelers may need a business visa. It’s also valid for 90 days and has the same requirements as a tourist visa. You’ll also need a letter on your company letterhead addressed to the Brazilian embassy or consulate, stating your business in Brazil, your arrival and departure dates and your contacts. The letter from your employer must also assume full financial and moral (!) responsibility for you during your stay.
Depending on where you are coming from when you arrive in Brazil, you may need a yellow-fever vaccination certificate. On your arrival in Brazil, immigration officials sometimes ask to see your onward or return ticket and/or proof of means of support such as credit cards or traveler’s checks.
Visa regulations change from time to time, and you should always get the latest information from your local Brazilian embassy or consulate.
On entering Brazil, all tourists must fill out a cartão de entrada/saida (entry/exit card); immigration officials will keep half, you keep the other. They will also stamp your passport and, if for some reason they are not granting you the usual 90-day stay in Brazil, the number of days will be written beneath the word Prazo on the stamp in your passport.
When you leave Brazil, the second half of the entry/exit card will be taken by immigration officials. Tip: Don’t lose your card while traveling around Brazil! If you do lose it, you could miss your flight dealing with immigration hassles. Typically, you’ll be required to pay a fine (upwards of R$150) at the Banco do Brasil before you’re allowed to leave.
Extensions to entry/exit cards & visas
These are handled by Brazil’s Polícia Federal (Federal Police), which has offices in the state capitals and border towns. You must apply before your entry/exit card or visa lapses, and don’t leave it until the last minute. Tourist offices can tell you where the nearest Polícia Federal office is. When you go, dress nicely! Some Fed stations don’t take kindly to people in shorts.
In most cases an extension seems to be pretty automatic, but sometimes you may not be given the full 90 days. The police may well require that you have a ticket out of the country and proof of sufficient funds, though this seems to be at the discretion of the officer. You may be told to complete a Documento de Arrecadeção de Receitas Federais (DARF; Federal Revenue Collection Document) form (R$3), which you have to buy from vendors outside the police station or from a papelaria (stationery shop). After filling it out, you must go to a bank and pay a fee of about R$100. You then return to the federal police with the DARF form stamped by the bank. The extension should then be routinely issued.
If you opt for the maximum 90-day extension and then leave the country before the end of that period, you cannot return until the full 90 days have elapsed.