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Travel Advice from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Travel Summary

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is an underlying threat from international terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. For more general information see Terrorism Abroad.

Crime

Levels of violence and crime are high. You should be particularly vigilant before and during the festive and Carnival periods, as there is often a seasonal upsurge in robberies against foreigners around this time. Violence and crime can occur anywhere and often involve firearms or other weapons. You should be extra vigilant, particularly in major cities. You are advised to dress down, avoid wearing jewellery and expensive watches, and only carry small sums of money. Conceal mobile phones and cameras. You should be ready to hand over your valuables if threatened; do not attempt to resist attackers as they will often use their weapons, particularly if under the influence of drugs. Safeguard valuables at all times, including your passport.

The crime rate in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, is higher than in many other regions, partly because the district attracts lots of tourists and hosts large events. You should see the Crime section of this advice for more details about crime and violence.

Outbreaks of violence, particularly aimed at police and officials, can occur at anytime and may be widespread and unpredictable. Public transport is likely to be disrupted during periods of unrest. You should remain alert and aware of local conditions at all times.

Shanty-towns (“favelas”) exist in all major Brazilian cities; they are characterised by poverty and extremely high levels of violent crime. Do not venture into a favela even with well-organised tours, as favelas can be unpredictably dangerous areas.

Thefts from cars are common, and cases of car jacking occur, sometimes with the occupants being taken and forced to withdraw money from their accounts at cash machines. When in a car you should keep the doors locked and the windows closed, and take particular care at traffic lights. In three or more lanes of traffic, consider using the middle lane(s). Safety may be higher.

Avoid venturing out after dark in quiet streets except under reliable local advice. The threat of personal attack is lower outside the cities. However, incidents can occur anywhere, even in holiday destinations that appear relatively secure.

The incident of rape and other sexual offences is statistically low, but there have been reports of attacks against both men and women, and some have involved “date rape” drugs – you should purchase your own drinks and keep them within sight at all times to avoid them being drugged. For more information see the Rape and Sexual Assault Abroad.

Credit card fraud is common. Try to keep sight if your card at all times. Additionally, with the possibility of theft, consider keeping a spare credit card for emergencies in your hotel safe, if there is one, in a sealed envelope (for extra security- to indicate fraudulent access to the safe).

Mobile phone cloning occurs. Take care of your handset.

Public Transport

Some forms of public transport (e.g. buses, the metro, and trams), can be unsafe, particularly in major cities; there have been instances where gangs have set buses alight leaving passengers inside after robbing them. There are also frequent bus crashes (see the “Road Travel” section), with buses very often not responding to traffic lights or “Stop” signs. The risk is lower in São Paulo, but the bus and metro system is complicated. Bus travel between and in major cities is relatively safe, although there have been incidents of hijacking and robbery of tour buses in recent years.

On arrival in Brazil, ensure that you use licensed (rather than unlicensed) airport taxis. You can pick up licensed taxis from the many recognised taxi ranks around Brazilian cities – a driver’s photographic licence on display is a good indication that a taxi is registered.

Road Travel

Drive cautiously in Brazil. The style of driving and standards are very different from the UK. Brazil has a high road accident rate; much higher than in the UK. In 2006 there were almost 19,000 deaths on the roads (Source: DENATRAN – Brazilian national transport department) compared to 3,336 road deaths in the UK in 2005 (source: Department for Transport).

Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. Even a small alcoholic drink will put you over the legal driving limit. If you are caught driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, it is likely that you will be prosecuted. The penalties range from being fined and also suspended from driving for 12 months, to imprisonment for up to three years.

Air Travel

Following two major air crashes since September 2006, the Brazilian civil aviation network is undergoing changes. Many of these alterations were introduced on 1 October 2007 and could cause delays to flights and changes to departure and arrival airports.

Rail Travel

The rail and metro infrastructure is limited in Brazil. In the past there have been some safety and security incidents on these public transport systems.

Sea Travel

You should be vigilant of safety procedures on board vessels if travelling on a river or the sea.

There have been cases of both armed and unarmed attacks on merchant vessels, including British flag vessels off the Brazilian coast and in some Brazilian ports, including Amapá, Rio Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Santos.

Swimming

Strong currents and sharks can be a problem off some beaches. You should take local advice before swimming.

Local laws and customs

Drugs

Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil. If you are caught trafficking the penalties are severe. The penalties for possession of drugs for personal use range from educational classes to community service.

Paedophilia and Child Prostitution

The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime and widespread in Brazil. The UK and Brazilian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders and the Brazilian Government continues to crack down on those who commit such offences. Those arrested and convicted can expect to receive long prison sentences. Legislation in the UK, the Sex Offenders Act 1997, can be used to prosecute in the UK those who commit sex offences against children abroad, and has already been used successfully in cases of British nationals who have committed such offences elsewhere in the world.

Homosexuality

There is no legislation against homosexuality in Brazil. The country has a tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, and Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are regarded as destinations for gay travellers. However, gay travellers should be generally aware of local sensitivities.

For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.
Entry requirements

Visas

British nationals can normally enter Brazil without a visa as tourists for an initial maximum stay of 90 days. However, it is important that you comply with Brazilian immigration laws on arrival in country and satisfy the Federal Police (the Brazilian immigration authority) of your intended purpose of visit. It is particularly important to be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient money to fund the duration of your stay, and that you also have details of your accommodation and a return airline ticket or evidence that you are going to leave the country by other means of transport. If you do not, then you risk being denied entry into the country.

If you wish to extend your stay you should apply to the Federal Police for an extension in advance of your 90-day period. If you overstay the validity of your visa, you are likely to be given notice to leave the country at your own expense and risk fines and/or deportation.

It is important that you retain your immigration landing card (green) that is required to leave the country – if you lose it you could be subject to a R$165 fine payable in cash only. It is also important that you have enough cash to pay the airport tax (R$115 payable in cash only) if this has not been paid with your airline ticket, which is a requirement to leave the country.

The Brazilian Immigration Authorities are vigilant to foreigners claiming to be visitors when in fact their intention is to work in Brazil (e.g. by undertaking training and equipment maintenance).

For further information about entry requirements for Brazil, you should contact your nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. The full contact details of the Brazilian Embassy in London is: Brazilian Representation in the UK.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for at least 90 days to comply with Brazilian immigration rules. However, there are occasions when immigration authorities in some Brazilian states will require passports to have up to six months validity; you are recommended to check with your travel agency or airline in advance of your departure date.

Often the Brazilian Immigration Authorities will require dual British/Brazilian nationals visiting Brazil to travel on Brazilian (rather than British) passports.

Yellow Fever Certificate

If you have recently visited a country, which is known to suffer from outbreaks of Yellow Fever, you will need to show that you have been vaccinated against the disease. Please see the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit For Travel.

Travelling with children

There are additional requirements for all children under 18 entering and/or transiting Brazil without their parents or legal guardian (including on school trips), or if travelling with one parent only. You should contact your nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date advice on requirements, or visit the website of the Brazilian Embassy in the UK.

Health

Foreign nationals are entitled to unforeseen emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. However, you are not obliged to offer treatment for existing illnesses or care after you have been stabilised. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance.

Dengue Fever is common to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Earlier in 2008, an increase in cases of Dengue Fever was been reported across several states of Brazil compared to 2007. The city of Rio de Janeiro experienced a serious outbreak. Whilst the authorities seemed to limit the spread of the disease, they have now warned of fresh outbreaks. The following cities are on ‘outbreak risk’ status: Epitaciolândia (state of Acre); Várzea Grande (state of Mato Grosso); Mossoró (state of Rio Grande do Norte; Itabuna and Camacari (both in the state of Bahia). The following ciites are on ‘alert’ status: Salvador (state of Bahia); Rio de Janeiro (state of Rio de Janeiro); Vitória (state of Espírito Santo); São Luís (state of Maranhão); Porto Velho (state of Rondonia); Rio Branco (state of Acre); Manaus (state of Amazonas); Recife (state of Pernambuco); Natal (state of Rio Grande do Norte); Belém (state of Pará); Boa Vista (state of Roraima); São Luiz (state of Maranão); Goiás); Aracaju (state of Sergipe) and Maceió (state of Alagoas) – source: Brazilian Ministry of Health. There is no vaccine to protect against Dengue Fever, and you should therefore use mosquito repellent regularly and cover up with suitable clothing to avoid being bitten. Symptoms of Dengue Fever usually begin 7 to 10 days after being bitten and include high fever with aching joints and bones and a headache. If you develop these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

There is also an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Brazil. Up to June 2008 there were 45 confirmed cases of Yellow Fever in Brazil including 25 deaths (source: Brazilian Ministry of Health). The affected areas are the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (Brasilia), Goias, Maranhaõ, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins, and areas in the endemic zone of the states of Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended at least 10 days prior to visiting some parts of Brazil, including the states affected by this outbreak. In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 710,000 adults aged 15 or over in Brazil were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.6% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Brazil and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

Natural disasters

Flash floods and landslides, especially in poorer urban areas, occur regularly. In November 2008, in the state of Santa Catarina was affected by severe flooding and landslides that left more than 118 people dead and 85,000 people homeless. If you are in the area you should monitor the media and follow the advice of the local authorities.

General

We advise you to check the integrity and safety standards of any adventure travel tour you may use, before embarking on the journey.

Insurance

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see Travel Insurance.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is How We Can Help.

Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.

Contact Details

The British Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Piaui, Maranhao.

British Consulate-General
Praia do Flamengo, 284/2
22210-030
Rio de Janeiro RJ

Tel: (55) (21) 2555 9600
E-mail: brazil.consular@fco.gov.uk
Website: www.ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk

Fax: (55) (21) 2555 9670

Office Hours (local time):
Mon-Thurs: 0830-1230 and 1330-1645
Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630
Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1330, Mon-Fri.

The British Consulate in Sao Paulo provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul.

British Consulate-General
Rua Ferreira de Araujo, 741 – 2 andar
Pinheiros
054…
Sao Paulo – SP

Tel: (55) (11) 3094 2700
E-mail: brazil.consular@fco.gov.uk
Website: www.ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk

Fax: (55) (11) 3094 2717

Office hours (local time):
Mon-Thurs: 0830-1230 and 1330-1645
Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630
Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1330, Mon-Fr

The British Embassy in Brazil provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Goias, Mato Grosso, Rondonia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Para, Amapa, Tocantins.

British Embassy
Setor de Embaixadas Sul
Quadra 801, Conjunto K
CEP 70200-010

Brasilia – DF

Tel: (55) (61) 3329 2300
E-mail: brazil.consular@fco.gov.uk
Website: www.ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk
Fax: (55) (61) 3329 2369

Office hours: (local time)
Mon – Thurs 08:30-1230 and 1330-1730
Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630

Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1230, and from 1330-1645, Mon-Fri


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