Exercise a high degree of caution in Brazil due to high levels of serious and violent crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
There is a current outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, including in Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. Get vaccinated before you travel. Outbreaks of other mosquito-borne illnesses are common. Protect yourself against mosquito bites. See
The rate of violent crime, including muggings, armed robbery, kidnappings and sexual assault, is high. Thieves are often armed. Tourists are targeted, particularly around festival periods. See
Safety and security.
Rio de Janeiro is a high risk area for tourist robberies. Thefts are common at tourist landmarks, such as the Christ the Redeemer statue, the Corcovado trail and Santa Teresa, and on public beaches, particularly Copacabana and Ipanema. See
Safety and security.
Avoid shanty towns (or 'favelas') in the big cities due to the very high threat of crime. If you are attacked or robbed, do not resist. See
Safety and security.
Demonstrations and political protests are common, can occur at any time, and may turn violent with little or no warning. Avoid all demonstrations and protests. Monitor local media for information about expected demonstrations and avoid affected areas. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See
Safety and security.
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
You'll need a visa to enter Brazil. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival.
From November 2017, an electronic visa (e-visa) was introduced for Australians travelling for tourism, business or transit purposes. Only apply through the
VFS Global official e-visa channel. In other circumstances, you'll need to apply for your visa through an
Embassy or Consulate of Brazil.
Embassy or Consulate of Brazil (Canberra)
The Brazilian Government strongly enforces immigration and entry laws. If you arrive without a valid visa, you will be sent back to the country of departure on the next available flight.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an
Embassy or Consulate of Brazil for up-to-date information.
If you travel to Brazil through the United States, you must meet US entry/transit requirements. Check with your nearest
Embassy or Consulate of the United States regarding visa requirements in advance of your travel.
Travel advice for the United States of America
On arrival, you'll receive an entry stamp and complete an arrival card, which has a carbon copy. The entry stamp or carbon copy must be presented to immigration authorities on departure. If you have neither, you'll need a police report (for a stolen passport) or evidence of your arrival in Brazil (airline tickets).
If you intend to leave Brazil and return during your trip, make sure that you get an exit stamp in your passport from Brazilian immigration when you depart.
You may need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter Brazil. Yellow fever, which is endemic in Brazil, is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is preventable by vaccination. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. Read
Yellow fever for information on re-entry to Australia following exposure to yellow fever. See also
Brazilian children (including dual nationals) travelling alone or with one parent must carry a letter authorising travel from the non-travelling parent(s). The letter must be in Portuguese and certified by the Brazilian Embassy or consulate in Australia or by the Juvenile Court in Brazil. There is an office of the Juvenile Court at all airports in Brazil.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an
Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The local currency is the Brazilian Real (BRL). Declare all amounts in excess of BRL10,000 or foreign currency equivalent on arrival and departure. The USD is the most readily exchanged foreign currency.
Credit cards are widely accepted for payment of any goods and services. Banking facilities such as ATMs, EFTPOS and credit card machines may be unreliable. Withdrawing money can be difficult despite ATMs displaying the Cirrus/Maestro logo. Trying a number of different ATMs may be necessary. Consult your bank to find out whether your ATM card will work and whether they have an affiliate bank in Brazil.
Credit card fraud and ATM tampering is widespread in Brazil. If using ATM or credit cards in Brazil check your billing statements for unauthorised charges. To combat fraud and theft, many ATMs and banks don't permit withdrawals on foreign cards of more than BRL400 per day and/or reduce the amount that can be withdrawn after-hours.
Safety and security
The incidence of violent crime, often using weapons, is high throughout Brazil, particularly in large cities. Tourists are targeted, especially prior to and during festivals such as Carnaval. Common crimes include:
- armed robbery
- home invasion
- food and drink spiking
- sexual assault
- 'express kidnapping', where individuals are abducted for short periods for a quick payoff from the victim's family, business or ATM cards before release, often in a remote area.
Muggings and other violent crimes are particularly common in and around:
- tourist locations
- hotel sectors
- public transport
- car parks
- public beaches
- nightclubs and bars
- outdoor markets
- unregistered taxis
- ATMs and currency exchange facilities.
In Rio de Janeiro, tourists are often robbed, particularly at:
- Copacabana Beach
- Ipanema Beach
- the Santa Teresa area
- the Christ the Redeemer statue, and
- the Corcovado Trail.
The military is deployed in Rio de Janeiro to enforce public security but its focus is on organised crime.
Crime levels in shanty towns or 'favelas' and many satellite cities are especially high. GPS navigation can inadvertently lead people (including taxis and Ubers) into favelas, exposing them to risk of theft and violence.
Criminal activities related to drug trafficking and trafficking of illicit goods are common along Brazil's western and northern border areas, including the states of Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Roraima, Pará and Amapa, as well as the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu city) and Paraguay.
- Be alert to your surroundings and pay attention to your safety and security at all times.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
- Don't tempt thieves – avoid displaying expensive watches, phones, jewellery and cameras. Dress down.
- Keep vehicle doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, including when moving.
- Guard against carjacking – be alert to threats, including when stopped in traffic. Always approach your car with the keys ready. Don't remain in a parked vehicle.
- Secure your accommodation against intruders.
- Avoid going out alone, especially at night.
- Avoid isolated areas on the beach, particularly in the early evening.
- Don't leave your luggage, food or drinks unattended.
- Never accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or new acquaintances.
- Only use a prepaid taxi or an official taxi from a registered taxi rank. Official taxis must display their photographic licence.
- Don't enter a taxi or Uber that has other, unknown passengers.
- Don't drive your own vehicle in Rio de Janeiro.
- Don't go into favelas, even with a tour group, and especially at night.
- If you're driving, make sure your GPS route is not via a favela. If in doubt consult your hotel or tour guide.
- If you're carjacked, robbed or otherwise attacked, don't resist. Thieves are often armed and you could be seriously injured or killed.
- If you're left in a remote area following express kidnapping, seek to alert authorities by approaching somebody at the nearest safe area, which could be a home or commercial establishment.
- If you become a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical assistance because of the high risk of HIV/AIDS.
Civil unrest and political tension
Large scale protests occur frequently across Brazil, especially in the current lead-up to general elections in October 2018. Demonstrations, protests and other large public gatherings can turn violent with little or no warning. Authorities may use tear gas and other riot control measures to disperse protesters. Demonstrations and protests often interrupt traffic and public transport.
Airports and public transport can experience industrial action during major events or key holidays, and passengers can experience considerable travel delays.
- Avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings.
- Monitor the media and other sources for news of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
- If you are in an area where a protest or similar is occurring, leave if it is safe to do so.
- If there is unrest, prepare for extended waits and be ready to adjust your plans.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Brazil. Major events are potentially attractive targets for terrorists.
- Be alert to possible threats.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
- Avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack because of the risk of secondary attacks.
Terrorist threat worldwide
There is a significant risk of becoming lost or injured while trekking in remote parts of Brazil, including the Amazon border regions and the Pantanal wetlands. Use an experienced guide.
Many beaches in Brazil have very strong and dangerous riptides, including those in Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. There is the possibility of shark attacks, especially at many north-eastern beaches. Obey the warning signs.
Crime is a risk at many beaches. See
Safety and security.
You are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Brazil than in Australia. Driving hazards include aggressive driving habits, poorly maintained roads and large numbers of trucks and other slow vehicles on main routes. Stop lights are often not obeyed, especially at night in Brazil's larger cities. Pedestrians should not assume that cars will stop.
You could encounter carjacking or other vehicle-related crimes. Driving in Rio de Janeiro is particularly dangerous. See
Safety and security.
- Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
- Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
- Drive defensively and legally.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Don't drive in Rio de Janeiro.
- Guard against carjacking and other vehicle-related crimes – see Safety and security.
- If you are in an accident, call 193 (fire department) if there are injuries or 190 (police) if no injuries. See
Where to get help.
Road safety and driving
You can drive in Brazil with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.
Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.
Due to the high risk of crime, use only registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Rideshare apps such as Uber are also available. Do not use unofficial taxis or taxis hailed on the street. Most airports have licensed taxi desks inside the baggage reclaim areas. You can pay for your taxi in advance using a credit card or cash inside the airport rather than in the street.
Brazil has a well-developed network of inter-city buses, though travel can be risky due to poor vehicle maintenance, local driving habits and the high risk of crime. Be vigilant when using public transport, especially during busy times and at night as petty crime is common. Criminals often work in gangs robbing large numbers of people concentrated in the same place: public transport hubs can be particular hotspots. There have been incidents of hijacking and robbery of tour buses in recent years. See
Safety and security.
Sea and boat travel
A number of international cruise liners visit Brazil.
Commercial river boats are a common form of transport in some parts of Brazil. Take precautions to protect your belongings on these boats. Vessels used by tourist operators for river excursions in jungle areas are often basic. Always wear a life jacket, even if others don't.
Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Brazil, particularly in the north-east. Cruise ships on the Amazon River have also been attacked. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issues
piracy reports on its website.
Delays of domestic and international flights are common in Brazil. Airport strikes also occur. Check with your travel agent to ensure that itineraries take this into account and be prepared for the possibility of extended waits at airports.
If you need to make or change airline bookings while in Brazil, shop around to make sure your payment method will be accepted. LATAM (the major airline) only allows use of foreign credit cards online with their international website. Other airlines such as GOL, Azul and Avianca may not accept foreign credit cards on their websites. Travel and tour agents may also have restrictions. You may need to pay cash at the airline office or consult with your Australian travel provider.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Brazil.
More information: Air travel
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs in Brazil are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.
Carrying or using drugs
By law, you must carry your passport or a form of identification issued by the Brazilian Government at all times. When you're out, carry a photocopy of your passport along with original identification (such as a driver's licence).
There are severe penalties for driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
Staying within the law
Under Brazilian law, Australian-Brazilian dual nationals must enter and exit Brazil using their Brazilian passport.
If you're a dual national male aged 18 years or older, you'll be required to register for military service if you reside long term in Brazil. Contact a
Brazilian Embassy or Consulate for advice on your obligations.
Homosexual activity is not illegal in Brazil but there are some local sensitivities, particularly in rural communities.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel
Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
Yellow fever and other mosquito-borne diseases
Mosquito-borne diseases are a serious risk in Brazil.
Brazil is currently experiencing a
yellow fever outbreak. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is preventable by vaccination. In January 2018, a high number of yellow fever cases were reported in the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and the Federal District. Local yellow fever vaccine supplies are inconsistent.
Zika virus is prevalent. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to areas affected by Zika virus.
Malaria is a high risk throughout Brazil. There is a current outbreak in Bahia. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, chikungunya, filariasis and leishmaniasis) are also a risk to travellers, with a higher incidence during the wet seasons (May to August and November to January).
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases throughout the year:
- get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel
- consider taking malaria prevention medication
- ensure your accommodation is insect proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache
HIV/AIDS is a significant risk. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
HIV infections (WHO)
Other Infectious diseases:
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, leptospirosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.
- Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
- Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid raw and undercooked food.
- Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
- Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.
The standard of private medical facilities in major cities is comparable to Australia. Public facilities in Rio de Janeiro have limited resources, which can impact the services available. Other larger cities in Brazil also have small private hospitals providing adequate services. Outside of major cities, however, facilities can be very limited.
Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is very expensive. Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to one of Brazil's large cities or another destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Emergency phone numbers
- Fire: dial 193
- Medical emergencies: dial 192 or go direct to the hospital
- Criminal issues: dial 190 or contact the nearest police station
Operators may not speak English.
Tourist Police, who speak English, are available in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
- Rio de Janeiro Special Police Unit for Tourism Support
Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco, 159 – Leblon, Rio de Janeiro – RJ
Phone: (21) 2334 6802 or (21) 2332-2924
- São Paulo Tourist Police
Phone: (11) 3120 4447 or (11) 3151 4167
Always get a police report when reporting a crime. It is unlikely that Brazilian police will be able to recover stolen property but you'll need a police report to lodge a travel insurance claim and to replace official documents.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Brasilia, the Australian Consulate-General in São Paulo or the Australian Consulate in Rio de Janeiro. The Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides only limited consular services.
Australian Embassy, Brasilia
SES QD 801
Conjunto K, Lote 07
BSB, DF 70200-010,
Phone: 55 61 3226 3111
Facebook: Embaixada da Austrália no Brasil
Australian Consulate-General, São Paulo
Edificio Trianon Corporate – Cerqueira Cesar
Alamenda Santos 700
9th Floor, Unit 92
São Paulo, 01418 100, Brazil
Phone: 55 11 2112 6215
Fax: 55 11 3171 2889
Australian Consulate, Rio de Janeiro
Veirano e Advogados Associados
Av. Presidente Wilson, 231, 23rd Floor
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20030-021, Brazil
Phone: 55 21 3824 4624
Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: