When planning a trip to Brazil, it can be a bit nerve-wracking when you realize there is an extra step to get a travel visa to enter the country, even if you are going for a short period of time. Americans are in fact very fortunate that there is only a short list of countries where our passports require a visa to visit. But obtaining a tourist visa is fairly straightforward, and much easier than my experience obtaining a student visa in the past.
Here is my experience obtaining a visa in September 2018.
Note: rules and laws can change, so be sure to check with your local consulate for all up-to-date requirements.
When to apply for your visa
You will want to apply for a visa within 90 days of your departure, since the visa will only be valid for 90 days from the time it’s issued. The website states you can typically get your visa within 1-5 business days, but obviously it’s best to allow yourself as much time as possible.
One thing we struggled with was whether to book the flight before or after getting the visa. The consulate will want to see proof of travel itinerary so we booked our flight ahead of time and just hoped we would get the visa. I’ve heard some people have screenshotted the flight they PLAN to take and used that as well. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with. (We figured there should be no reason for us to not get approved!)
Fill Out the Online Application Form
You will need:
- A valid passport (valid for at least 6 months after travel) with blank pages
- Another form of identification (such as driver’s license)
- 1 passport photo (recently taken)
In addition, you will need a digital copy or picture of your passport, passport photo (the same one you are using for your application), and signature. It’s best to have all of this on your computer and ready to go before starting the application.
Start the application process online using this form:
You will need to provide your parents names and birth dates, as well as some other personal information.
After completing this form, save your confirmation number, and print out the digital receipt. Tape/glue your passport photo to the form and sign the form in the box where indicated.
You will also need a USPS money order for $160USD. (Yes, it has to be USPS.)
Go to the Consulate to get your application
The New York City consulate does not offer appointments, so you can just show up. I checked Google to see what times it was busiest and chose to go first thing in the morning on a Wednesday. Hours vary by day and by consulate, so be sure to double check before you go.
Bring with you the following documents:
- Completed form printout with passport photo taped to it (and signed)
- Valid passport
- A copy of your travel itinerary (I printed my flight and hotel confirmation)
- A USPS money order for $160USD made out to Consulate General of Brazil in New York (double check fees have not changed before buying)
- Optional: A copy of your bank statement (they didn’t ask for this, but it’s a good thing to have if you have not booked your flight yet to prove you can book your travel)
Our Experience at the Consulate
We arrived just before opening hours (9am) on Wednesday. There was already a line formed outside with several people that had the same idea to get there early. However at 9am, the line moved fairly quickly and we went through security and headed to the counter for issuing travel visas.
We stood in that line for about 10 minutes or so and then got to the window where they checked we had all of our documents. We were then issued a number at 9:37am and told to wait in the waiting area until our number was called. Another 10 minutes or so and our number was called. They asked us a few questions like the purpose of our trip (tourism), how long we were planning to stay (4 days), and if we have friends or family in Brazil (we didn’t). They took our documents and told us to wait until our number was called again.
Another 15 minutes or so and we were called up and presented our visas, pasted into our passport, and asked to check the spelling of our name, birth date, and passport number. All looked good, so we were on our way out the door around 10am.
So all in all, this experience took an hour and we left with visa in hand. Not too bad!
It’s worth noting that every city is different and rules often change, but considering tourism is an important income source for Brazil, they make the process fairly simple. If you’re wondering whether visiting Brazil is worth it, the answer is YES – so go get your visa!