As with any good question, it depends.
For anyone carrying a US passport, you need a visa. However, if you are in Europe or New Zealand you do not. The laws are changing all the time so it’s always wise to check with the Brazilian embassy in your home country when planning your travel.
For example, Brazil waived the tourist visa requirement for US citizens during the Olympics. For an overview, this Wikipedia page has a map showing what countries Brazilian citizens need visas to visit. As visas tend to be reciprocal, you can assume that if a Brazilian citizen needs one to visit your country, you need one to visit Brazil.
In February 2018, Brazil adopted an e-visa process for tourist visas for citizens of United States, Japan, Australia, and Canada. This new process significantly simplified the process, lowered costs, and decreased processing times. And the change paid off for Brazil, with a 42% increase in tourist applications since the process changed.
eVisa Process – Tourist Visa
There is one agency, VFS Global, that processes eVisas for Brazil. You apply directly on their website and visas are processed within five (5) business days. You will receive your e-visa via email. And that’s it!
To apply all you need is a color scan copy of your passport information page as well as a digital copy of a traditional passport photo. You will upload both with your application on the VFS Global website. In addition to being a lot faster and easier to complete, the eVisa is also a lot less expensive.
The visa itself costs $40 USD, plus a $4.40 service fee. eVisas are good for two (2) years, in comparison to ten (10) years on a traditional, paper visa.
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Traditional Process – Tourist Visa
The traditional visa process is still in place for anyone that wants a paper visa, a visa that is longer than two years, or for whatever reason does not wish to use the e-visa process.
Where are the Brazil consulates?
In the US, the process is fairly simple. You need to apply at the consulate whose jurisdiction you reside.
The US consulate locations in the US are: Washington DC, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. The main embassy website in Washington DC has a map of the consulate jurisdictions as well as links to each of the different embassy sites.
You should check the website for the consulate for the jurisdiction for where you live for details as each jurisdiction has different rules, but the process for a tourist visa is fairly straightforward and you can use a visa service to get your visa.
When I got my Brazil tourist visa I used TDS, as the San Francisco consulate requires an in-person appointment to submit the application. When my brother recently got his tourist visa, he was able to do it via email at the Chicago consulate. So, you really do need to read the rules for each consulate.
I know I have already said “read the rules for your consulate” — and here is another reason to do so. Visa processing times can vary dramatically. I just looked at the San Francisco site, and appointments are currently readily available for the same week. But at times — such as around New Years and Carnaval — the wait can be 6-8 weeks. And, there is no option to get the visa at the border — if you don’t have it when you leave your home country you aren’t getting in.
What do I need?
What you need for your tourist visa is pretty standard:
- a visa that is still valid for six months
- at least one blank page
- two passport-style photos
- your completed application
- proof of travel (purchased flight itinerary and lodging information)
- income information
How long is my tourist visa good for?
Once you have your visa, congratulations! The Brazil tourist paper visa is a multi-trip visa good for 10 years (eVisa is two years), and you can stay for 90 days at a time up to 180 days in a year.
Your passport will probably expire before your visa, but you can still travel with it — you just need to carry the expired passport with the visa and your current passport and present both at immigration. No problem — I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now.
What about other types of visas?
Brazil has other types of visas as well – work visas, residency visas, cultural exchange visas, etc. Each has their own specific criteria and rules as well as processing times. Check with your respective consulate — I have emailed the San Francisco consulate a number of times and each time they have written back in a few days.