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GUIDE TO BRAZIL

VISAS & DOCUMENTS


Brazil has a reciprocal visa system, so if your home country requires Brazilian na­tionals to secure a visa, then you will need one to enter Brazil. At the time of writing, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens need visas, but citizens of the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Portugal, Spain and Scandinavian countries do not. Check with the Brazilian embassy or consulate in your home country.

Tourist visas are issued by Brazilian dip­lomatic offices. They are valid from the date you arrive in Brazil for a 90-day stay. They are renewable in Brazil for an additional 90 days. In most embassies and consulates visas can be processed within 5 business days.

In many Brazilian embassies and consul­ates it takes only a couple of hours to issue a visa if you go in person (it's instant in some places), but the processing can take a couple of weeks or more if you do it by mail. You will normally need to present a passport valid for at least six months, a passport photo­graph, and a round-trip or onward ticket or a photocopy of it or a statement from a travel agent that you have it. If you don't have the ticketing requirements, proof of means of support - such as credit cards or bank state­ments - may be acceptable.

The fee for visas is also reciprocal. It's usually between US$40 and US$60, though for US citizens visas cost US$100 (those who find this excessive should write to their local congressional representative and ask why the US charges Brazilians so much to enter the US ).

Business travelers may need a business visa. It's also valid for 90 days and has the same requirements as a tourist visa. You'll also need a letter on your company letter­head addressed to the Brazilian embassy or consulate, stating your business in Brazil, your arrival and departure dates and your contacts. The letter from your employer must also assume full financial and moral (!) responsibility for you during your stay.

Depending on where you are coming from when you arrive in Brazil, you may need a yellow-fever vaccination certificate. On your arrival in Brazil, immigration officials some­times ask to see your onward or return ticket and/or proof of means of support such as credit cards or traveler's checks.

Visa regulations change from time to time, and you should always get the lat­est information from your local Brazilian embassy or consulate.

Passport

By law you must carry a passport with you at all times, but many travelers opt to carry a photocopy (preferably certified) when traveling about town and leave their pass­port securely locked up at their hotel. It's convenient to have extra passport photos for any documents or visas you may need to acquire in Brazil.

Entry/Exit Card

On entering Brazil, all tourists must fill out a cartao de entrada/saida (entry/exit card); immigration officials will keep half, you keep the other. They will also stamp your passport and, if for some reason they are not granting you the usual 90-day stay in Brazil, the number of days will be written beneath the word Prazo on the stamp in your passport.

When you leave Brazil, the second half of the entry/exit card will be taken by immi­gration officials. Make sure you don't lose your card while traveling around Brazil, or your departure could be delayed until of­ficials have checked your story.

EXTENSIONS TO ENTRY/EXIT CARDS & VISAS

These are handled by Brazil's Policia Fed­eral (Federal Police), which has offices in the state capitals and border towns. You must apply before your entry/exit card or visa lapses, and don't leave it until the last minute. Tourist offices can tell you where the nearest Policia Federal office is. When you go, dress nicely! Some Fed stations don't take kindly to people in shorts.

In most cases an extension seems to be pretty automatic, but sometimes you may not be given the full 90 days. The police may well require that you have a ticket out of the country and proof of sufficient funds, though this seems to be at the discretion of the officer. You may be told to complete a Documento de Arrecade4ao de Receitas Federais (DARF; Federal Revenue Collec­tion Document) form (US$1), which you have to buy from vendors outside the po­lice station or from a papelaria (stationery shop). After filling it out, you must go to a bank and pay a fee of about US$40. You then return to the Policia Federal with the DARE form stamped by the bank. The ex­tension should then be routinely issued.

If you opt for the maximum 90-day ex­tension and then leave the country before the end of that period, you cannot return until the full 90 days have elapsed.