My South America vacation will cover Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Sounds amazing, right?! Well… I have a feeling it will be, but today I’m going to chat about how it almost didn’t happen, and how you can better prepare yourself to not make the same mistake I did if a trip to Brazil is in your future.
In case you are unaware, Brazil is a country that USA citizens need a visa for. It’s not one of those visa on arrival, or visa you apply for online and pay $20 for and are good to go — it’s a process, and it’s a long one.
About 10 days before my trip was supposed to begin, the thought crossed my mind, and I immediately had an “oh sh!t” moment. I’m the expert, right?! I tell clients all the time to be knowledgeable about requirements when visiting different countries, yet here I was dropping the ball.
Since I am in South America, you can probably gather that it all worked out for me. However, it was an expensive lesson, and one that had far more stress attached to it then I would have liked. The one thing I am grateful for though, is that it happened to me first and that I learned from my mistake -- I now know how to help people get to South America with far less stress than I did!
So, today I’m going to prepare you with all the information you need to get your visa for Brazil. Applying for a Brazilian visa is a lot of time, money, and hassle. The payoff? Beautiful beaches, thrilling nightlife, amazing rainforests, and a host of over things that make it totally worth it.
How to get a Brazilian Visa - What you need to know
Where do you go?
There are 10 Brazilian consulates throughout the country and each consulate is responsible for certain states (or portion of state in the case of California). So, if I live in Southern California, I must apply in Los Angeles. I can’t just decide it would be easier in Miami and try and do it there. That consulate doesn’t have jurisdiction to issue me a visa. If you live nowhere close to your consulate, it’s even more of an issue. That is where 3rd party services come in and we will talk about those in a minute.
How long does it take?
This is largely determined by which consulate you have to go to. I can tell you that the consulate in Los Angeles wasn’t pretty. If you look online and try to book their first available appointment, it was two months away. Add to that, their processing times are 2-3 weeks on top of that. Some consulates aren’t as crazy — the consulate in Houston seems to have a very quick turnaround. Additionally, using a visa agency can speed up your wait time by enabling them to get your passport to the consulate and start the processing. You pay for their services though, and the quicker you need your visa, the more you might have to pay. Because this can be such a lengthy process, you would be better off getting your visa BEFORE making any bookings.
What are the requirements?
Most consulates are going to require that all of your required documents be submitted either in person or by a third party agency. But it is best to understand all the requirements, and make sure you have everything that is asked for, otherwise it will be denied and your visa won’t be approved.
List of requirements:
Online Brazil visa application: You must complete the online visa application, and print the confirmation sheet. This confirmation contains your protocol number, and will contain a space for your photo, and for your to sign. Make sure you sign only inside the box, and make sure you don’t staple your photo, only use tape or glue.
Your passport: your actual passport and not a copy. It must have 2 designated visa pages blank, and be valid for at least six months beyond your return from Brazil.
Passport style photo: One 2x2 professional looking photo. Make sure it meets all the requirements and is on a white background.
Copy of your drivers license: This is what establishes your residence, and also what consulate you apply with. If for some reason you don’t have one, a utility bill will work as well.
Travel Itinerary: You need to have an itinerary that shows your entry and exit into Brazil. If you are working with a travel agent, they will be able to hold a reservation for you, and the printout of that will be sufficient. Otherwise, if you use an online booking engine, you’ll actually have to purchase your itinerary. As was stated above, you don’t want to have an itinerary and not get you visa back in time, so unless you are planning extremely far in advance, using a travel agent would be your best bet.
Money Order: The consulate will only except USPS money orders as payment. You’ll pay $140 if you do it yourself, and $20 more if you use a 3rd party. (That isn’t the fee for the agency, it’s just an additional fee the consulate is charging you for being absentee). However, if you do use an agency, they get the money order for you, and that is another thing you don’t have to worry about.
There are a few additional requirements for residents of certain states, but these are the essential things for all U.S. citizens trying to obtain a Brazil visa. Here’s the good news — once you do all of this, your visa is good for 10 years. For all that work, I suggest a return trip!
If you are considering a trip to South America, either on your own or an amazing guided experience like I’m about to embark on with Insight Vacations on their Classic South America Tour, lets chat! I’d love to help you have the trip of a lifetime.