Thursday, March 5, 2009

Brazil: Visa, Passport, Copies, Copies, Copies

Ready to go to Brazil... right now?

Too bad. You can't just tell your boss you will be gone for the next 3 weeks, book your flight and go. (So much for spontaneity!)

So, if you have decided that you would like to take a trip to Brazil in a few months, or even a year from now you should start NOW to make sure all your legal documents are ready to go.

A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil for any purpose.

You can apply for a passport at most local post offices. Be sure to bring a picture with you (or they may provide that service for you for an extra $15) and around $100 is a good estimate for the total cost for 1 adult. Download the passport application forms ahead of time to speed up your visit. It can take a few weeks up to a few months to get your passport approved and sent to you. If you need it right away you can pay an extra fee of $60 and have it expedited.

Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler's place of residence. Immigration authorities will refuse entry to Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. Obtaining a visa in person can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 business days and up to a few months if requested by mail.

All Brazilian visas, regardless of the length of validity, must initially be used within 90 days of the issuance date or will no longer be valid.

Timing the issuance of your visa correctly to be sure you are covered for the entirety of your trip is hopefully the biggest headache you will have to face when planning your trip. If you will be gone for longer than 90 days then you will need to renew your visa while in Brazil at a consulate or embassy there. It would be best to research all the locations you can get that accomplished BEFORE you leave. Start with asking the embassy or consulate in your home country.

The requirements for a visa for Brazil are as follows:
  • Application form
  • 1 Passport-size photo(2" x 2", white background)
  • Valid passport with 1 full blank page
  • Return ticket
  • Evidence of sufficient funds for stay
  • Visa fee payment
  • Clear copy of driver's license or ID card

The most important thing to remember is to MAKE COPIES!! Copy all your legal documents, trip itineraries, hotel reservations etc. Leave one set at home, have another set in each suitcase you pack and carry a set with you. You must show your original passport, but copies of other legal documents may be good enough to prove what's necessary to Brazilian officials, so you can leave the originals in a very safe place. Double check with the Embassy about the documents to which this may apply.

Travelers are reminded that they are subject to local law. Showing contempt to a Brazilian government official at the port of entry, or elsewhere, is a serious offense. (And, let's face it, aggravating government officials never got anyone good favor, so just don't do it... no matter where you are. )

Thank you to Express Travel Services, the Department of State, and the USPS for their contribution to this post.


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