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Travel and security advice from the U. S. State Department

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION

usa-flag Brazil, a nation the size of the lower 48 United States, has an advanced developing economy. Facilities for tourism are excellent in the major cities, but vary in quality in remote areas. The capital is Brasilia. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Brazil for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS

A passport and visa are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil for any purpose. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to the traveler’s place of residence. There are no “airport visas” and immigration authorities will refuse entry to Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. 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. Americans reentering Brazil must be able to show an entry stamp in their passport proving that the visa was issued within 90 days; otherwise they will not be allowed reentry. Immigration authorities will not allow entry into Brazil without a valid visa. The U.S. Government cannot assist travelers who arrive in Brazil without proper documentation.

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. (Fines for such offenses are based on the offender’s claimed income.)

Additionally, travelers who have recently visited certain countries, including most other Latin American countries may be required to present an inoculation card indicating they had a yellow fever inoculation or they may not be allowed to board the plane or enter the country. 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. The authorization (in Portuguese) must be notarized and then authenticated by the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.

For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy at 3009 Whitehaven Street NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone 1-2…, e-mail consular@brasilemb.org; web site at http://www.brasilemb.org. Travelers may also contact the Brazilian consulates in Boston, Houston, Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Addresses, phone numbers, web and e-mail addresses, and jurisdictions of these consulates may be found at the Brazilian Embassy web site.

U.S. citizens also possessing Brazilian nationality cannot be issued Brazilian visas and must obtain a Brazilian passport (from the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to their place of residence) to enter and depart Brazil. In addition to being subject to all Brazilian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Brazilian citizens. Note that children adopted from Brazil are still considered Brazilian citizens and must be documented as such should they return to Brazil.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Political and labor strikes and demonstrations occur sporadically in urban areas and may cause temporary disruption to public transportation. Naturally, protests anywhere in the world have the potential to become violent. In addition, criminal organizations, during 2006, staged several violent campaigns against public institutions in the Sao Paulo State leading to a large number of deaths. While it is unlikely that U.S. citizens would be targeted during such events, U.S. 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. Individuals with ties to criminal entities operate along the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. These organizations are involved in the trafficking of illicit goods; some individuals in the area are financially supporting designated foreign terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens crossing into Paraguay or Argentina may wish to consult the Country Specific Information for those countries.

Colombian terrorist groups have been known to operate in the border areas of neighboring countries. Although there have been reports of isolated small-scale armed incursions from Colombia into Brazil in the past, we know of no specific threat directed against U.S. citizens across the border in Brazil at this time. Colombian groups have perpetrated kidnappings of residents and tourists in border areas of Colombia’s neighbors. Therefore, U.S. citizens traveling or residing in areas of Brazil near the Colombian border are urged to exercise caution. U.S. citizens are urged to take care when visiting remote parts of the Amazon basin and respect local laws and customs. U.S. visitors should ensure that their outfitter/guide is experienced in the Amazon.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-4… toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME

Crime throughout Brazil has reached very high levels. The Brazilian police and the Brazilian press report that the rate of crime continues to rise, especially in the major urban centers – though it is also spreading in rural areas. Brazil’s murder rate is more than four times higher than that of the U.S. Rates for other crimes are similarly high. The majority of crimes are not solved. There were several reported rapes against American citizens in 2006.

Street crime remains a problem for visitors and local residents alike, especially in the evenings and late at night. Foreign tourists are often targets of crime and Americans are not exempt. This targeting occurs in all tourist areas but is especially problematic in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Recife.

Caution is advised with regard to nighttime travel through more rural areas and satellite cities due to reported incidents of roadside robberies that randomly target passing vehicles. Robbery and “quicknapping” outside of banks and ATM machines are common. In a “quicknapping,” criminals abduct victims for a short time in order to receive a quick payoff from the family, business or the victim’s ATM card. Some victims have been beaten and/or raped.

The incidence of crime against tourists is greater in areas surrounding beaches, hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs, and other similar establishments that cater to visitors. This type of crime is especially prevalent during Carnaval (Brazilian Mardi Gras), but takes place throughout the year. While the risk is greater at dusk and during the evening hours, street crime can occur both day and night, and even safer areas of cities are not immune. Incidents of theft on city buses are frequent and visitors should avoid such transportation. Several Brazilian cities have established specialized tourist police units to patrol areas frequented by tourists. In Rio de Janeiro, crime continues to plague the major tourist areas (see separate section on Rio de Janeiro).

At airports, hotel lobbies, bus stations and other public places, incidents of pick pocketing, theft of hand carried luggage, and laptop computers are common. Travelers should “dress down” when outside and avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewelry or expensive watches. “Good Samaritan” scams are common. If a tourist looks lost or seems to be having trouble communicating, a seemingly innocent bystander offering help may victimize them. Care should be taken at and around banks and internationally connected automatic teller machines that take U.S. credit or debit cards. Very poor neighborhoods known as “favelas,” such as those located on steep hillsides in Rio de Janeiro, are found throughout Brazil. These areas are sites of uncontrolled criminal activity and are often not patrolled by police. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid these unsafe areas. Carjacking is on the increase in Sao Paulo, Recife and other cities.

Travelers using personal ATMs or credit cards sometimes receive billing statements with non-authorized charges after returning from a visit to Brazil. The Embassy and Consulates have received numerous reports from both official Americans and tourists who have had their cards cloned or duplicated without their knowledge. Those using such payment methods should carefully monitor their banking online for the duration of their visit.

While the ability of Brazilian police to help recover stolen property is limited, it is nevertheless strongly advised to obtain a “boletim de ocorrencia” (police report) at a “delegacia” (police station) whenever any possessions are lost or stolen. This will facilitate the traveler’s exit from Brazil and insurance claims.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME

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. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION

Medical care is generally good, but it varies in quality, particularly in remote areas, and it may not meet U.S. standards outside the major cities. Expatriates in Brazil regularly use the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. The hospital phone is (55-11) 3747-1301.

There have been recent fatalities, possibly from Yellow Fever, in Goias and Brazil’s Federal District (including Brasilia). While test results are pending to determine if these deaths were actually caused by Yellow Fever, the Government of Brazil has begun a Yellow Fever vaccine campaign in the affected regions.

CDC has long recommended Yellow Fever vaccinations for parts of Brazil:

Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended for persons over 9 months of age for travel to all rural areas of all states, including Iguassu Falls tourist resorts, and for travel to Brasilia and Belo Horizonte. Cities in jungle areas are considered rural, not urban, in nature.

Yellow Fever is not a risk for travel to major coastal cities from Fortaleza to the Uruguay border, including the major tourist/business destinations of Sao Paulo, Salvador, Rio, Recife, and Fortaleza.

An increase in Dengue Fever cases in early 2008 led to a number of deaths primarily around Rio. Visitors are advised to take precautions against mosquitoes.

Plastic and other elective/cosmetic surgery is a major medical industry in Brazil. While Brazil has many plastic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, two U.S. citizens died and one was left in vegetative state from complications following plastic surgery in 2005. U.S. citizens should make sure when arranging such surgery that emergency medical facilities are available, as some “boutique” plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities, but are not hospitals and are therefore unable to deal with unforeseen emergencies. Several U.S. citizens have also died while visiting non-traditional healers outside of urban areas. While this is not surprising given that this type of treatment often attracts the terminally ill, U.S. citizens are advised to ensure they have access to proper medical care when visiting the site. In the unfortunate event of a death, relatives or friends of any deceased U.S. citizen are advised to immediately contact the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia and not to contract with local mortuary services before seeking embassy assistance.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

MEDICAL INSURANCE

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS

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.
Travelers may consider obtaining an Inter-American Driving Permit, to carry along with their valid U.S. license if they plan to drive while in Brazil. Such permits can be obtained through AAA or other sources.

Road conditions in Brazil vary widely throughout the country. State roads (especially in the south) are often excellent, while federal, interstate roads (designated by ‘BR’) are often very poor due to lack of maintenance. There are occasional stretches of modern divided highway (especially in Sao Paulo State) that rival European or U.S. roads. In municipal areas, however, signs, shoulders, exits, and merge lanes tend to be haphazard. There are many potholes and surfaces are frequently uneven and bumpy. Some stretches of federal roads and rural state roads are so potholed that high-clearance vehicles are needed to traverse them. Many cities and towns have erected speed bumps, which are sometimes severe and may be unpainted and unmarked. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and horse-drawn vehicles all pose hazards and can be encountered even on major routes. Travel after dark outside city centers is not recommended because of animals and disabled vehicles. Dirt roads are the rule in remote areas. These vary widely in quality and may quickly become more dangerous, even impassable, in rainy weather. Passenger car travel can be reasonably safe in most areas if one takes into account the prevailing conditions described above and exercises due prudence and caution. Passenger-bus hijacking, usually non-violent, occurs at random in some areas of the country.

Brazil’s inter-city roads are widely recognized as among the most dangerous in the world. As is the case elsewhere in the region, poor driving skills, bad roads and a high density of trucks combine to make travel considerably more hazardous than in the United States. There are no laws requiring truckers to take mandatory rest stops and they often drive for excessive periods of time. All major inter-city routes are saturated with heavy truck traffic and for the most part have only two lanes. Road maintenance is inadequate and some long-distance roads through the Amazon forest are impassable much of the year. There are few railroads and passenger train travel is almost nonexistent. Private cars and public buses are the main modes of inter-city road travel. Buses can range (depending on the route and the price) from luxurious and well maintained to basic and mechanically unsound.

The Brazilian Federal Government maintains a (Portuguese language) website with up-to-date information on road conditions throughout the country (http://www.dnit.gov.br); the site also has downloadable state roadmaps. A private Brazilian company, Quatro Rodas, publishes road maps that contain local phone numbers to ascertain the current conditions of roads on the map. They are available at www.guia4rodas.com.br. Apart from toll roads, which generally have their own services, roadside assistance is available only very sporadically and informally through local private mechanics. There is a group called the “Angels of the Pavement” that provides roadside assistance on the main highway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The fastest way to summon assistance in an emergency anywhere in the country is to dial 193, a universal number staffed by local fire departments. This service is in Portuguese only. Many motorists in major urban areas and more developed parts of the country carry cellular phones, and can be asked to assist in calling for help.

Brazilian traffic laws impose severe penalties for a number of traffic offenses. Enforcement ranges from sporadic to non-existent, so motorists should not assume that others will necessarily follow even the most fundamental and widely accepted rules of the road. Some important local rules and customs include the following:

Seat Belts

All states have seat belt laws, but enforcement varies from state to state.

Child Car Seats

Some states require child car seats, but they are not universally available or affordable, and enforcement is also lax. As a result, most children are not secured in car seats.

Speed Limits

The maximum speed limit on major, divided highways is 120kmph (74 mph). Lower limits (usually 60kmph (40 mph)) are often posted in urban areas, depending on the road and the nature of the neighborhood. Speed limits are widely ignored and rarely enforced. Many towns and cities have marked electronic/photographic devices (“Fiscalisacao Electronica”), which verify speed and snap photos of violators’ cars and license plates as a basis for issuing speeding tickets. Brazilian drivers tend to brake suddenly when encountering these devices.

Yielding the Right of Way

Drivers must yield the right of way to cars on their right. Compliance with stop signs is rarely enforced; so many motorists treat them as yield signs.

Driving Under the Influence

Drivers are in violation of the law if blood/alcohol level reaches 0.06 percent.

Turns on Red Lights

Not permitted, except for right turns where there is a sign with an arrow pointing right and the words “Livre a Direita.”

Penalties for Drivers Involved in an Accident Resulting in Injury or Death

In addition to possible criminal charges and penalties, compensatory and punitive damages may also apply.
Local Driving Customs: Drivers often use flashes or wave a hand out of the window to signal other drivers to slow down. Drivers will often break suddenly to slow down for the electronic speed traps mentioned above. In addition, pedestrian “zebra” crossings are strictly observed in some places (especially in Brasilia) and ignored most everywhere else.

For general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please refer to our Road Safety page .

For specific information concerning Brazilian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Brazilian National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at http://www.embratur.gov.br/ .

For additional information from other sources in Brazil about road safety and specific information about accident statistics, Brazilian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please see the following web sites: http://www.dprf.gov.br (Brazilian Federal Highway Police, in Portuguese only), and http://www.transportes.gov.br (Ministry of Transportation, in Portuguese only).

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brazil’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Foreigners are required to carry their passports for internal flights. Brazil’s air transportation system has been in disarray since accidents with fatalities occurred in September 2006 and July 2007. Causes of the accidents are still under investigation. Air traffic work stoppages and issues with equipment have caused widespread delays in air travel nationwide. Both international and domestic flights are frequently delayed for several hours or cancelled. In some cases, travelers have been rerouted, causing disruptions to travel plans. American citizens living in or traveling to Brazil are advised to prepare for long delays at Brazilian airports and for the possibility of missing flight connections. Foreigners are required to carry their passports for internal flights.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Brazil of items such as firearms, antiquities, tropical plants, medications, and business equipment. In the Amazon region, there is a special concern for the export of biological material, which could have genetic value. People propagating or exporting biological material without proper permits run the risk of being accused of “biopiracy,” a serious offence in Brazil. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brazil in Washington or one of Brazil’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, 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 offenses. Persons violating Brazilian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brazil are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN’S ISSUES

For information on intercountry adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues web pages.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION

Americans living or traveling in Brazil are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Brazil. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Brasilia at Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3, telephone 011-55-61-3312-7000, after-hours telephone 011-55-61-3312-7400; web site at http://brasilia.usembassy.gov/. Consular Section public hours are 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency services are provided by appointment, available at 61-3312-7471 or 7063.

There are consulates in the following cities:

Recife: Rua Goncalves Maia 163, telephone 011-55-81-3416-3050, after-hours telephone 011-55-3416-3060; web site at http://www.embaixada-americana.org.br/index.php?itemmenu=161&submenu=14&action=recife.php. Consular Section public hours are 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays.

Rio de Janeiro: Avenida Presidente Wilson 147, telephone 011-55-21- 3823-2022, after-hours 011-55-21- 3823-2029; web site at http://www.embaixada-americana.org.br/index.php?itemmenu=83&submenu=107&action=rio.php. Consular Section public hours are 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (passports and reports of birth by appointment) and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (notary services), Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency passports and reports of appointments should be done by appointment; please request at acsrio@state.gov.

Sao Paulo: Rua Henri Dunant, 500 Barrio Chacara Santo Antonio, telephone 011-55-11-5186-7000, after hours telephone 011-55-11-5186-7373 ; web site at http://saopaulo.usconsulate.gov/. Consular Section public hours are 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday and 2:00 p.m. -3:30 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday except Brazilian and U.S. holidays. Non-emergency services are done by appointments, please request at ACSAPPTSPL@state.gov, by phone: 11-5186-7315 or by fax: 11-5186-7159.

There are Consular Agencies in:

Belem: Edificio Sintese 21, Av. Conselheiro Furtado 2865, Rooms 1104/1106; telephone 011-55-91-3259-4566.

Manaus: Rua Franco de Sa, 230 Sao Francisco, Edificio Atrium, Rm. 306; telephone 011-55-92-3611-3333.

Salvador da Bahia: Av. Tancredo Neves, 1632, Rm. 1401 – Salvador Trade Center – Torre Sul, Caminho da Arvores; telephone 011-55-71-3113-2090/2091/2092.
Fortaleza: Av. Santos Dumont 2828 s.708 – Aldeota; telephone 011-55-85-3486-1306.

Porto Alegre: The Instituto Cultural Brasil-Norteamericano, Rua Riachuelo, 1257, Centro; telephone 011-55-51-3226-3344.


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