Brazil has a developing economy. Facilities for tourism are good in the major cities, but vary in quality in remote areas.
A passport and visa are required. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance. Immigration authorities will not allow entry into Brazil without a valid visa. Minors (under 18) traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party, must present written authorization by the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent or with a third party. This authorization must be notarized, authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate, and translated into Portuguese. For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy at 3009 Whitehaven St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 238-2700. Internet: http://www.brasilemb.org. Travelers may also contact the Brazilian consulates in Boston, Houston, Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Political demonstrations occur sporadically in urban areas and may cause temporary disruption to public transportation. There is no evidence that U.S. citizens might be targeted during such events. However, citizens traveling or residing in Brazil are advised to take common sense precautions and avoid any large gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. When these events do occur, additional advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate at the telephone numbers listed below.
The incidence of crime against tourists tends to be greater in areas surrounding hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs and other similar establishments that cater to visitors, especially at dusk and during the evening hours. Incidents of theft on city buses are frequent and such transportation should be avoided. Several Brazilian cities have established specialized tourist police units to patrol areas frequented by tourists.
Rio de Janeiro continues to experience a high incidence of crime. Tourists are particularly vulnerable to street thefts and robberies in areas adjacent to all the main beaches in Rio. All incidents should be reported to the tourist police, who can be reached at tel. 511-5112.
All areas of Sao Paulo have a high rate of armed robbery of pedestrians and motorists at stoplights. At airports, hotel lobbies, bus stations, and other public places there is much pickpocketing, and the theft of carry-on luggage, briefcases, and laptop computers. Travelers should closely protect these items. Travelers should "dress down" when outside and avoid carrying valuables, especially any jewelry or expensive watches.
A number of violent assaults have been registered in the hotel district in Brasilia in recent years, and it is advisable for visitors staying there to take taxis to their destination when going out at night. Also, the U.S. Embassy has noted that certain areas of the Lago Sul district in Brasilia, where many U.S. citizens live, are prone to being targeted for burglary. Travelers considering taking lodging or establishing a residence in Lago Sul may wish to consult with the U.S. Embassy in advance.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as Tips for Travelers to Central and South America are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http:www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Medical care varies in quality, particularly in remote areas. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment of medical services outside the United States.
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for the expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information of medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Brazil is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Road conditions in Brazil are not what one would expect from the world’s tenth largest economy. No U.S. standard interstate highways exist. There are some stretches of divided highways but signs, shoulders, exits and merge lanes are all haphazard. All major routes are clogged with heavy truck traffic and, for the most part, have two lanes. Road maintenance is a problem. There are many potholes, often marked with a tree branch protruding from the hole, and uneven surfaces. Many municipalities have erected speedbumps that may be unpainted and unmarked. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and horsedrawn vehicles all pose hazards on even the most major routes. Travel after dark outside city centers is not recommended. Dirt roads are the rule in non-urban areas. These vary in quality and are often impassable in rainy weather. Passenger car traffic is normally safe, but truck and passenger bus hijacking, normally non-violent, erupts from time to time and place to place, more commonly in the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo metropolitan areas. Anyone traveling extensively in Brazil should consult the "Guia Quatro Rodas" for the information available on road conditions. Most traffic accidents in Brazil are attributable to driver error, and caution should be exercised whether in a vehicle or on foot.
For specific information concerning Brazilian driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, travelers may contact Embratur, the Brazilian National Tourist Organization, on the Internet at http://www.embratur.gov.br. Embratur does not have an office in the United States, but Brazil does have eight consulates in the U.S. and an embassy in Washington, D.C.
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulation, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Brazil’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brazil are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines.
Americans living in or visiting Brazil are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Brazil and obtain updated information on travel and security in Brazil. The U.S. Embassy is located in Brasilia at Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3; telephone (011-55-61) 321-7272; website at http://www.embaixada-americana.org.br. There are Consulates in Rio de Janeiro at Avenida Presidente Wilson 147, telephone (011-55-21) 292-7117, web site at http://www.consulado-americano-rio.org.br/rio.htm; in Sao Paulo at Rua Padre Joao Manoel 933, telephone (011-55-11) 881-6511, website at http://www.amcham.com.br/consulate; and at Recife at Rua Goncalves Maia 163, telephone (011-55-81) 421-2441. There are also Consular Agencies in Belem at Rua Oswaldo Cruz 165, 66 017-090 Belem, Para, Brazil, telephone (011-55-91) 223-0800; in Manaus at Rua Recife 1010, Adrianopolis, telephone (011-55-92) 633-4907; in Salvador da Bahia at Rua Pernambuco 51, Pituba - Cep 41.830-390, telephone (011-55-71) 345-1545 and 345-1548; in Fortaleza at the Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos (Ibeu), Rua Nogueira Acioly 891, Aldeota, telephone (011-55-85) 252-1539; and in Porto Alegre at the Instituto Cultural Brasil-Norteamericano, Rua Riachuelo, 1257, Centro, telephone (011-55-51) 226-3344. There is also a Commercial and Agricultural office at Belo Horizonte, Rua Fernandes Tourinho 147-14th Fl., telephone (011-55-31) 281-7271