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Brazil

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Summary

  • 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. ​
  • An outbreak of yellow fever continues in Brazil, including states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. Arrange yellow fever vaccinations before travelling to Brazil and bring your yellow fever certificate. Outbreaks of other endemic mosquito-borne illnesses are common. Protect yourself against mosquito bites. See Health.
  • The incidence 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.
  • 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, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media for information about expected demonstrations. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.   

Entry and exit

Visas

Get a visa before travelling to Brazil as visas cannot be obtained on arrival. 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. If you have any concerns about the status of your Brazilian visa, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Brazil.

From November 2017, an electronic visa was introduced for Australians travelling for tourism, business or transit. More information: Embassy of Brazil website

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. On arrival, you 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, a police report (for a stolen passport) or evidence of your arrival in Brazil (airline tickets) are needed.

If travelling 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. More information: our travel advice for the United States of America.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. More information: Embassy or Consulate of Brazil

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Yellow fever vaccination

Brazil is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease, but preventable by vaccination. Get vaccinated for yellow fever before you travel (See Health).

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, check the yellow fever entry requirements for Brazil and all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before boarding flights out of the country, including domestic connecting flights. More information: the Department of Health website.

Travelling with children

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.

Safety and security

Crime

The incidence of violent crime, often using weapons, is high throughout Brazil, particularly in large cities. Risks can include:

  • muggings
  • armed robbery
  • home invasions, and
  • sexual assault.

Crimes and muggings are particularly common in:

  • tourist locations
  • hotel sectors
  • public transport
  • car parks
  • public beaches
  • nightclubs and bars, and
  • outdoor markets.

Tourists are targeted, especially prior to and during festivals such as Carnaval. Avoid wearing jewellery and expensive watches, or carrying valuable items. Dress down, and carry minimal cash and credit cards.

Tourists are at risk of robbery in areas of Rio de Janeiro, particularly at:

  • Copacabana Beach
  • Ipanema Beach
  • the Santa Teresa area
  • the Christ the Redeemer statue, and
  • the Corcovado Trail.

The military is currently deployed to Rio de Janeiro to enforce public security, with a focus on organised crime. Armed groups in Sao Paulo have robbed patrons in restaurants, both in rich and poor neighbourhoods.

Robbery and assault frequently also occur on Brazilian beaches. Take minimal personal belongings to the beach and leave passports, wallets and other valuables in a secure place. Avoid isolated areas on the beach, particularly in the early evening, when a high number of robberies occur. Sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas.

Thieves target mobile phones and ATM and currency exchange users. Drink and food spiking occurs, with tourists targeted and robbed when drugged. Avoid leaving your food and drinks unattended in bars and places of entertainment.

Tourists have been robbed and assaulted when using unregistered taxis. Use a prepaid taxi, or registered taxi ranks, on arrival at the airport. Official taxis must display their photographic licence. Do not enter a taxi or Uber that has other, unknown passengers.

If you are attacked or robbed do not resist. Thieves are often armed and you could be seriously injured or killed.

It is unlikely that Brazilian police will be able to recover stolen property. However, if your possessions are lost or stolen you should obtain a 'boletim de ocorrencia' (police report) at a 'delegacia' (police station) to lodge a travel insurance claim.

Crime levels in shanty towns or 'favelas' and many satellite cities are very high. Avoid these areas, even with a tour group, and especially at night. GPS navigation can inadvertently lead people (including taxis and Ubers) into favelas, exposing them to risk of theft and violence. Tourists should use the registered taxis to and from the Rio de Janeiro airport of Galeão and don't self-drive in Rio. If driving, ensure your GPS route is not via a favela. If in doubt consult your hotel or tour guide.

Carjackings are a significant threat. Always be vigilant and attentive to your environment. Approach your car with the keys ready, drive with doors locked and windows up, and don't remain in parked vehicles. Take particular care if approached while sitting in a car or at traffic lights, especially at night. Do not remain in the car when parked in public.

'Express kidnappings', where individuals are abducted for short periods for a quick payoff from the victim's family, business or ATM cards, occur in major cities including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Salvador and Recife. Victims are often released in remote areas, and should seek to alert authorities by approaching somebody at the nearest safe area, which could be a home or commercial establishment.

If you're a victim of a carjacking or an express kidnapping, cooperate and do not resist as these situations can quickly turn violent. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators.

Due to the risk of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, including rape, should seek immediate medical assistance.

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.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Brazil, particularly in the north-east of Brazil. It has also been reported for cruise ships on the Amazon River. More information: Piracy. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issues a piracy report that displays all piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

Civil unrest/political tension

Large scale protests frequently occur across Brazil. These will continue through to the general elections in October 2018. Authorities may use tear gas and other riot control measures to disperse protesters. Traffic and public transport are often affected by demonstrations and protests. Avoid demonstrations and protests as they may become violent without warning. Monitor local media for information about expected protests and demonstrations and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Airports and public transport can experience industrial action during major events or key holidays, and passengers can experience considerable travel delays. Monitor local media for information and prepare for extended waits during these times.

Terrorism

Travellers are reminded that major events represent potentially attractive targets for terrorists.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat overseas

Money and valuables

The currency in Brazil is the real (BRL).

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 cards are widely accepted for payment of any goods and services.

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 thefts, 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.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Local travel

Delays of domestic and international flights are common in Brazil. Check with your travel agent to ensure that itineraries take this into account and be prepared for the possibility of extended waits at airports. Airport strikes can also occur.

Australians planning to make or change airline bookings while in Brazil should note that 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; the same applies for travel/tour agents. If you need to make a booking while in Brazil, shop around regarding forms of payments accepted, arrange to pay cash at the airline office or consult with your Australian travel provider.

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.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Brazil than in Australia. Driving in Brazil is hazardous due to aggressive driving habits, poorly maintained roads and large numbers of trucks and other slow vehicles on main routes. Stop lights are often not obeyed at night in Brazil's larger cities. Pedestrians should not assume that cars will stop. If you are in an accident, call 193 (fire department) if there are injuries or 190 (police) if no injuries. More information: Road safety and driving

Airline safety

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.

See our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Brazil, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs in Brazil are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails. More information: Drugs

It is a legal requirement to carry your passport or a form of identification issued by the Brazilian Government at all times. When you are 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.

Homosexual activity is not illegal in Brazil, although gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly in rural communities. More information: LGBTI travellers

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas can be prosecuted in Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Australian/Brazilian dual nationals must enter and exit the country using their Brazilian passport.

Australian/Brazilian dual national males aged 18 years or older who reside long term in Brazil are required to register for military service. Dual nationals should contact the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate for further advice regarding military service obligations.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

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. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to one of Brazil's large cities would be necessary. Costs would be considerable (in the tens of thousands of dollars).

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses: Mosquito-borne diseases are a serious risk in Brazil.

Brazil is experiencing an ongoing yellow fever outbreak. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which 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. More information: World Health Organization. Arrange vaccinations before travelling to Brazil as local vaccine supplies are inconsistent and some states are recommending unvaccinated visitors avoid parks, forests and waterfalls. See Entry and exit for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. More information: Department of Health

Zika virus remains prevalent in Brazil. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. 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. More information: Department of Health.

Malaria is a high risk in Brazil throughout the year, with an outbreak currently in Bahia. Consult your doctor or travel clinic about medication against malaria. 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).

Avoid insect bites by using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, staying indoors whenever possible and using a mosquito net at night.

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. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is also a significant risk in Brazil. Take appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. More information: World Health Organization

Natural disasters

Storms, flash flooding, and landslides are common in southern Brazil in the wet season between December and March. They can result in loss of life and property damage.

Wildfire, especially in central Brazil, occurs during the dry season.

If a natural disaster occurs, monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

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.  

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, 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.

In an emergency or accident with injuries, dial 193 (fire department) throughout Brazil. Other important nation-wide numbers include the police (190) and public ambulance (192). Be aware that operators may not speak English.

In Rio de Janeiro, Tourist Police can be contacted at: 

Special Police Unit for Tourism Support
Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco, 159 - Leblon
Rio de Janeiro - RJ
Phone: (21) 2334 6802 / (21) 2332-2924
 

The São Paulo Tourist Police can be contacted at (11) 3120 4447 and (11) 3151 4167.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular services charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.

Australian Embassy, Brasilia

SES QD 801
Conjunto K, Lote 07
BSB, DF 70200-010,
Brasilia, Brazil
Telephone: 55 61 3226 3111
Email: embaustr@dfat.gov.au
Website: brazil.embassy.gov.au
or

Australian Consulate-General, São Paulo

Edificio Trianon Corporate – Cerqueira Cesar
Alamenda Santos 700
9th Floor, Unit 92
São Paulo, 01418 100, Brazil
Telephone: 55 11 2112 6215
Facsimile: 55 11 3171 2889

Email: consularsaopaulo@austrade.gov.au

Australia also has a consulate in Rio de Janeiro headed by an Honorary Consul, which provides limited consular assistance.

Australian Consulate, Rio de Janeiro

Veirano e Advogados Associados
Av. Presidente Wilson, 231, 23rd Floor
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20030-021, Brazil
Telephone: 55 21 3824 4624
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 7 day 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia. If the event affects a number of Australians, the Embassy may recommend courses of action via its Facebook page and the Ambassador's twitter account.

Additional information

Additional resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: