Once you have decided to visit Brazil for pleasure or on a business trip, or seek to remain in the country for a longer period, you may face a certain amount of bureaucracy to obtain your entry or permanent visa. However, procedures are fairly straightforward if steps are taken in the right order, and at the correct time.
Documentation required to obtain a visa for Brazil can vary from the simple presentation on arrival of a valid passport and travel ticket, for tourists of certain countries, to documents such as a work contract, educational record, letter of employment, certificate of good standing, etc. for foreigners who wish to reside and/or work in Brazil.
It should be noted that this article is based on legislation and procedures in effect in March 2011, and is therefore subject to changes that may have been implemented subsequently by the Brazilian Government.
Where to start: The first step, even before thinking of packing your suitcases, is to find out from the nearest Brazilian Consulate which documents are necessary for your authorized entry into Brazil.
Transit and tourist visas are normally easy to obtain. However, the temporary and permanent residence visas require an extensive list of documents. It is always wise to have a professional specialized in such matters to accompany these processes, given the bureaucracy involved and the constant changes in the legislation.
There are seven principal types of visa for Brazil:
- Transit Visa
- Tourist Visa
- Temporary Visa
- Permanent Visa
- Courtesy Visa
- Official Visa
- Diplomatic Visa
This article covers procedures for obtaining the first two types of visa for Brazil, which are the most commonly used by the majority of travelers and businessmen. Temporary, Permanent, Courtesy, Official and Diplomatic visas have special rules and are not dealt with in this publication.
Transit: This visa is granted to foreigners who, during their trip to a third country, need to pass through Brazilian territory. This situation typically occurs in flight connections where the passenger has to change planes at separate airports to proceed on his trip, or in journeys that involve different modes of transport. Obtaining this type of visa is usually very simple – basically a case of going to the nearest Brazilian Consulate and presenting your passport and connection flight ticket.
When a trip to a third country is interrupted in Brazil for reasons beyond the control of the traveler, the transport company must communicate this fact to the Federal Police. They will authorize the foreigner’s stay for the period strictly necessary to proceed with the trip. Expenses incurred during the stay are the responsibility of the transport company.
Tourism: Brazil practices a policy of reciprocity with respect to tourist visas. In other words, Brazil requires the prior issuance of a visa for citizens of countries which make the same requirement for Brazilian citizens. It is important to stress that it is not unknown for tourists to be barred at Brazilian airports if they arrive without a valid visa. While travelers arriving without the necessary visas may sometimes be able to arrange for emergency issue at the airport, this is not a right and it is within the discretionary powers of immigration officials to insist on compulsory departure on the next available flight, irrespective of destination. Therefore, travelers are strongly advised to take the proper precautions beforehand.
The tourist visa is granted to people who wish to enter Brazil for tourism or to visit friends or relatives. The trip can not be made for the purposes of immigration; neither may the holder of such a visa work in Brazil nor receives remuneration of any form. For example, someone coming to Brazil on a business visit or to attend a professional congress should apply for a visa for this express purpose.
Validity – Tourist visas may be issued for up to five years, with multiple re-entry, for citizens from countries offering similar or longer periods to Brazilian citizens. However, it is important to note that this refers to the validity of the visa stamp on the passport and not to the length of the permitted stay in Brazil. When the tourist arrives at the airport or other point of entry, he will normally receive permission to stay for 60 or 90 days, which can be extended once for an equal period of time. To extend the length of stay, a petition must be made to the Federal Police Department before the initial period expires. The tourist must demonstrate means of support for the subsequent 60 or 90 days and the ticket to return.
The traveler who overstays his permitted time in the country is liable to a daily fine, plus an order to leave within eight days, coupled with a threat of deportation should he disobey such an order.
It is important to note that the initial and/or extension periods may be reduced at the discretion of Federal Police immigration officials. Also, an extension is permitted only once every 12 months, counting from the first entry. Therefore, providing all other conditions are complied with, it is theoretically possible to spend six months each 12 consecutive months in Brazil as a tourist.
Obtaining a tourist visa – Tourists visiting Brazil fall into two basic categories, depending on reciprocity agreements between Brazil and other countries:
- Those who MUST obtain a visa stamp on their passport BEFORE traveling, and;
- Those who may travel WITHOUT a visa, and be granted it at the airport, seaport or border point on arrival.
Countries whose citizens must obtain a tourist visa before traveling to Brazil are listed on countries that require visa. However, since these rules are subject to change, it is advisable to check with a Brazilian Consulate before traveling.
Those who must apply for a visa before traveling should present their passport at the Brazilian Consulate nearest to their normal place of residence, showing means of support in Brazil and a return ticket. Consular fees may range from very little to US$100 or more – the amount depends on reciprocity agreements and varies according to where the application is made.
For nationals of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Equator, Peru and Venezuela, due to reciprocity agreements, they can travel to Brazil only with their Identity Card or equivalent document.
Note that all tourists, regardless of whether they are required to seek a visa for Brazil before traveling or may simply request one on arrival, must carry a passport valid for at least six months or for certain nationalities (Argentinean, Uruguayan, Paraguayan and Chilean) alternatively, they can carry only their identity card (or equivalent document). Additionally, immigration officials may ask any incoming tourist to show his return ticket and means of support (cash, credit card, traveler’s checks and/or other financial instruments). It is thus advisable to carry all such items and documents in hand luggage.