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Brazil

If you’re travelling to Brazil, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to take normal precautions.

Latest travel news

The Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 21 August and the Paralympics from 7 to 18 September. Please visit our Rio2016 page for more information.

There will be an increased security presence in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games due to the high profile nature of the event and the heightened risk of an attack. The Department advises Irish citizens to cooperate fully with local authorities and to expect delays due at and travelling to competition venues. Citizens are also advised to remain vigilant, particularly in public places and on public transport.

Latest travel alerts

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Brazil before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Brazil, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. 

Contact the Embassy

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Brasilia or the Irish Consulate in São Paulo at + 55 61 3248 8800.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you. 

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise, @IrlEmbBrazil and @IrlSaoPaulo for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

There will be an increased security presence in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic Games due to the high profile nature of the event and the heightened risk of an attack. The Department advises Irish citizens to cooperate fully with local authorities and to expect delays due at and travelling to competition venues. Citizens are also advised to remain vigilant, particularly in public places and on public transport.

Safety and security

Driving

Brazil has the 5th highest rate of traffic mortality in the world and 40,000 people die annually on the country’s roads. If driving in Brazil be prepared to stop unexpectedly, beware of slow moving vehicles, of vehicles changing lanes without indicating; of vehicles going through red lights, especially at night, and of people/animals on the road. Pedestrians should not presume cars will stop at pedestrian crossings.

If you want to drive:

  • An Irish driving licence is not legally acceptable in Brazil – make sure to bring an international driving license and make sure too that you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and, if caught, you risk being imprisoned or fined.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows closed when driving and your bags out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if stopped at traffic lights.
  • If you find yourself in a car accident, the emergency number for the fire department/ambulance is 193 and 190 for the police.

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, do not hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and get the agent to explain the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Other travel

For long distance bus travel, use a reputable company. If you’re in any doubt or in any way unsure about the safety or security, don’t board. The same is true for any road travel, including taxis and taxi drivers. Strikes affecting transport and security may take place at short notice across Brazil. These are often short but may cause disruption. We suggest you monitor local media for updates and advice.

Crime

  • You are obliged to carry an identity document while in Brazil. However, as mentioned above, we recommend that instead of carrying your passport, you get a laminated copy of the picture page before travelling and use that for identification purposes, leaving your passport in a safe place in your hotel or lodging. You should also leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Be aware that tourists are often targeted by criminals, especially prior to and during public festivals such as Carnival. Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is common, including by young men on motorcycles. Thieves operate in outdoor markets, in hotels and on and around public transport. Crime levels in shanty towns or ‘favelas’ (see below) and many satellite cities are very high. Tourists should avoid these areas, especially at night.
  • Robbery and assault can also occur on Brazilian beaches. It is common for locals, for example, to take a minimal number of personal belongings to the beach and they leave passports, wallets and other valuables at home – you should do the same. Isolated areas on the beach should be avoided, particularly in the early evening. Sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas.
  • Express kidnappings (called ‘quick-nappings’) and car-jackings, where individuals are abducted for short periods for a quick payoff from the victim’s family, business or ATM cards are a threat.. Park in well-lit areas; approach your car with the keys ready; drive with the doors locked and the windows up.
  • If you are a victim of crime, you should cooperate and not resist. Be ready to hand over valuables if you’re threatened; don’t attempt to resist attackers, they may be armed or under the influence of drugs
  • If you’re a victim of a crime while in Brazil, make a report immediately to the local police. We advise you to obtain a “boletim de ocorrência” (police report) at a “delegacia” (police precinct) if any of your possessions are lost or stolen. You will require a stamped police report to lodge a travel insurance claim related to lost or stolen possessions. And remember, you can contact us at the Irish Embassy or the Irish Consulate General in São Paulo if you need help.

Favelas (slums)

Favelas (heavily congested slums) exist in all major Brazilian cities; they are characterised by poverty and usually too by high levels of violent crime, often drug related.

In preparation for the Rio2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the police in Rio de Janeiro have moved in force into the favelas to root out crime and drug trafficking and to pacify the areas. You should avoid these favelas at all times.

There are some respected guided tours of certain pacified favelas in Rio de Janeiro. These are considered safe but obviously you should get advice from a tour guide or respected source before embarking on one. These aside, you should not venture into a favela and under no circumstances accept an offer from a taxi driver to give you a tour of one.

Local laws and customs

Illegal activity

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. Drug trafficking and use and sexual tourism are growing problems, with very severe penalties in Brazil.

Personal ID

You are obliged to carry an identity document while in Brazil. However, due to the difficulties in replacing lost/stolen travel documents, we recommend that instead of carrying your passport, you get a laminated copy of the picture page before travelling. You can use the laminated copy for identification purposes, leaving your passport in a safe place in your hotel or lodging. You should also leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.

Travelling with Minors

Brazil has strict laws in relation to Brazilian children leaving the country, with only one parent/guardian. In such cases, the parent/guardian must carry proof that the other parent has consented or proof of sole legal guardianship.

For minors entering/exiting from Brazil, the applicable law is the law of the country of origin of the child. This means that authorisation is not necessarily needed, from the other parent/legal guardian. However the Embassy is aware of several cases where children, who entered Brazil on an Irish passport and with one parent, faced problems trying to exit from Brazil.

The Brazilian immigration authorities will require consent for a child who also has Brazilian citizenship, even when entering/exiting Brazil using an Irish passport. If a child has a Brazilian parent, even when born abroad and without a Brazilian passport, this child is automatically considered a Brazilian citizen and will be subject to the Brazilian legislation when entering/exiting Brazil without one of their parents.

If the parent who will give the consent is a Brazilian citizen, we understand that this consent can be done through the Brazilian Embassy in Dublin. However, if the parent is not Brazilian, the parent’s signature in the consent will need to be recognized by a Public Notary registered in the Brazilian Embassy in Dublin and then afterwards legalized in their Consular Section. Please contact the Brazilian Embassy, in Dublin, for further information in this regard.

If a child is travelling to Brazil with only one parent/legal guardian, the Embassy advises that the parent/legal guardian should carry proof that the other parent has consented or proof of sole legal guardianship. This should be done, irrespective of what passport the child is using to enter Brazil.

Property Investment in Brazil and commercial disputes

If you wish to purchase a property in Brazil, you should complete all adequate due diligence procedures which may include seeking legal advice in advance on any transaction. The Embassy is aware of several cases where a property, bought in good faith, has been expropriated because of a liability acquired by the previous owner. Please contact the Embassy for information on lists of English speaking lawyers in Brazil. Please note that the Embassy of Ireland cannot give legal advice or become involved in any civil legal matters. If you need to get legal advice, please contact the Embassy for a list of English speaking lawyers in Brazil. 

Immigration / Health

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Ireland and Brazil have an agreement under which their citizens can enter each other’s country without a visa and as a tourist for up to 90 days. You will, however, have to be able to show that you are a genuine tourist (see below).

On arrival in Brazil, you must present a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. If you have any other immigration queries, you should ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.

In general, on arrival in Brazil you should have:

Proof that you have or have access to sufficient funds (if you’re bringing a credit card, we advise you to carry a statement to prove the limit).

A return or onward ticket.

Proof of accommodation booked for at least the first night.

On entering Brazil, you should ensure your passport is stamped by the immigration authorities and retain a copy of your immigration landing card. These will be reviewed when departing Brazil, and if not presented, a fine may be applied.

Vaccinations

It is mandatory to present certificates of vaccinations against poliomyelitis for children between the ages of three months and six years. Those who have been in some countries up to three months before travelling to Brazil should present international certificates of vaccination against yellow fever. Vaccinations against yellow fever are recommended for those who visit some Brazilian states. It is important to note that vaccinations against yellow fever take 10 days to take effect.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for your destination in Brazil. In general, you should protect yourself from mosquito bites in Brazil as they can carry a range of diseases including malaria, dengue fever and ZIKAV.

How to protect yourself from mosquitoes:

  1. Find out from local people when local mosquitos are most likely to be biting.
  2. Avoid areas where mosquitoes are likely to congregate (i.e. stagnant water).
  3. Wear appropriate clothing: long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots and socks.
  4. Protect your room: Mosquito bites can be reduced by air conditioning, insect-proof screens etc.
  5. Protect your bed: Bed nets and cot nets should be used if rooms are not adequately screened or air conditioned.
  6. Use insect Repellents: The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of DEET as a mosquito repellent (including by pregnant women – the risk to an unborn baby, certainly from malaria, would outweigh any potential risk from DEET.), if you ensure to A) use it sparingly, and B) wash it off when away from risk of biting mosquitoes, as it is a chemical applied to the skin.

 

Malaria

Malaria is a risk in some northern parts of Brazil including much of the Amazon. You may need to take anti-malarial medication, depending on the areas to be visited, and to cover up and use insect repellent in the evening and at night.

Dengue fever

The main risk season for dengue fever is from January to March. There is no effective treatment for this fever, which has severe flu-like symptoms and can sometimes be fatal to the elderly, the very young or people with underlying conditions. As well as getting medical advice before travelling, you should also take advice on local conditions when travelling within Brazil and minimise exposure to mosquito bites by covering up and using insect repellents on exposed skin.

Yellow fever

In Brazil, yellow fever transmission is for the most part restricted to tropical and jungle areas. However, from time to time, an increase in yellow fever activity or an outbreak occurs in other parts of the country. You should discuss the immunisation and vaccination requirements for yellow fever with your doctor before travelling to Brazil. And if you’re coming from a yellow-fever endemic zone in another South American country, you must have a documented yellow fever card before you will be allowed to enter Brazil.

Additional information

‘Faith healer’

The Embassy is aware of a number of cases of Irish people travelling to see and be treated for illness by a well-known 'faith healer' in the state of Goias in central Brazil. Some became ill following this treatment and were in need of medical attention. The Embassy strongly cautions that serious consideration be given before embarking on such a trip or allowing any, other than a medical professional, to perform a medical procedure. The public healthcare system in Brazil, especially in the more remote areas, is not of the highest quality.

Brazilian Telephones

If you have to use a Brazilian telephone (rather than an Irish mobile) you need to use a carrier, that is, to add an additional two numbers which effectively select through which company your call will be routed.

Thus if, from, say, Rio de Janeiro, you wished to call the Embassy, you would dial 0+carrier (which can be 21, 14 or 15) followed by 61.3248-8800.

You should contact your Irish mobile phone provider, in advance of your trip, to confirm whether you will be able to receive/make telephone calls or text messages while travelling in Brazil.

Customs Restrictions

If you are carrying cash of a value R$10, 000 or more, when entering/leaving Brazil, you need to complete an online declaration called a “Declaração Eletrônica de Bens de Viajantes”, print it off and present it to the Brazilian customs when entering/leaving Brazil. Further information can be found on the Receita Federal website.

Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into, or export from, Brazil of itmes such as firearms, antiquities, mineral samples, tropical plants, medication, and business equipment. In the Amazon region, there is particular scrutiny of the export of biological material which might have genetic value. People propagating or exporting biological material without proper permits run the risk of being accused of “biopiracy,” which is a serious offense in Brazil. If you have specific queries, you should contact the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.

Credit/Debit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Brazil. Some (but not all) banks in Brazil accept international debit cards. Check with you bank as to whether you can use your debit and credit cards in Brazil and if there is a daily withdrawal limit for your debit card.