Brazil has been creeping steadily and inexorably into the consciousness of travellers and tourists for some time, and with the Fifa World Cup of 2014 waiting on the horizon and the Rio Olympics set to follow two years later, it seems that Brazil is set to remain the travel destination of choice for several years to come.
Depending on your nationality, obtaining a tourist visa to visit Brazil is often relatively straightforward. But there are some important considerations and a few handy hints worth knowing in order to make sure you get the best out of your trip.
Nationals from many countries, including the UK, are exempted from applying for a tourist visa or a business visa if they will be spending less than six months of any single year in the country. However, due to political and other influences, the exemption list can be subject to change with no notice, so always check the latest information before you travel to ensure that you will have the right to enter the country. The Brazilian Embassy or consulate in your country of residence is your best source of accurate information.
Do be aware that if you are travelling to Brazil as a student, media correspondent or professional athlete, there are certain restrictions which mean that you will need to apply in advance for a specialist visa.
Your “exemption” entry (i.e. your temporary visa) is valid for an initial period of up to 90 days although in many cases just 60 days are granted as standard (see below for more on this). In order to qualify, your passport will need to be valid for more than six months (i.e. long enough for you to leave the country again) so do check this before you travel. You will be required to fill out the necessary forms on the aeroplane in readiness for the visa to be stamped in your passport on arrival at the airport immigration desk.
If you intend to stay in Brazil for longer than 90 days but less than six months, you have the right to apply for a visa extension. This can be done at the local Brazilian Federal Police station wherever you are resident at the time. Note that it must be applied for in advance of the expiration of the initial 90-day period and that it is not an automatic right. In practice, it is rare for a tourist not to be granted the extension but it does happen. Bear in mind that there is a level of etiquette that is expected when visiting the Federal Police stations and if you trot in wearing grotty shorts and no shoes or leave your good manners at home, the immigration department may refuse to see you or may decide that you should be one of the few who to whom they will not grant an extension.
Note that if your initial period was for 60 days your extension may only be granted for a further 60 days so if you intend to stay for a 6-month period be sure to make it known at immigration on your arrival and request a 90-day stamp – otherwise you will find yourself being required to leave the country after just four months.
There are many other forms of Brazilian visa depending on your needs, but for the majority the basic visitor exemption is easy to obtain and provides everything you need to enjoy the beauty and contrasts of this exotic and exciting destination.