|Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 22 December 2010
Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil, and incurs severe penalties.
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance.
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is an underlying threat from international terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. For more general information see our Terrorism Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Crime
Levels of violence and crime are high. Shanty-towns (“favelas”) exist in all major Brazilian cities; they are characterised by poverty and extremely high levels of violent crime. Do not venture into a favela even with well-organised tours, as favelas can be unpredictably dangerous areas. Outbreaks of violence, particularly aimed at police and officials, can occur at anytime and may be widespread and unpredictable. Public transport is likely to be disrupted during periods of unrest. You should remain alert and aware of local conditions at all times.
You should be particularly vigilant before and during the festive and Carnival periods, as there is often a seasonal upsurge in robberies around this time. Violence and crime can occur anywhere and often involve firearms or other weapons. You should be extra vigilant, particularly in major cities. You are advised to dress down, avoid wearing jewellery and expensive watches, and only carry small sums of money. Conceal mobile phones and cameras. You should be ready to hand over your valuables if threatened; do not attempt to resist attackers as they will often use their weapons, particularly if under the influence of drugs. Safeguard valuables at all times, including your passport.
The crime rate in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, is higher than in many other regions, partly because the district attracts lots of tourists and hosts large events.
Thefts from cars are common, and cases of car jacking occur, sometimes with the occupants being taken and forced to withdraw money from their accounts at cash machines. When in a car you should keep the doors locked and the windows closed, and take particular care at traffic lights. In three or more lanes of traffic, consider using the middle lane(s), where safety may be higher. Avoid venturing out after dark in quiet streets except under reliable local advice. The threat of personal attack is lower outside the cities. However, incidents can occur anywhere, even in holiday destinations that appear relatively secure.
The incident of rape and other sexual offences is statistically low, but there have been reports of attacks against both men and women, and some have involved 'date rape' drugs - you should purchase your own drinks and keep them within sight at all times to avoid them being drugged. See our rape and sexual assault abroad page.
Credit card fraud is common. Try to keep sight if your card at all times. Additionally, with the possibility of theft, consider keeping a spare credit card for emergencies in your hotel safe, if there is one, in a sealed envelope (for extra security- to indicate fraudulent access to the safe).
Mobile phone cloning occurs. Take care of your handset.
See our victims of crime abroad page.
Local Laws and Customs - Drugs
Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil. If you are caught trafficking the penalties are severe. The penalties for possession of drugs for personal use range from educational classes to community service.
Local Laws and Customs - Paedophilia and child prostitution
The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime and widespread in Brazil. The UK and Brazilian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders and the Brazilian Government continues to crack down on those who commit such offences. Those arrested and convicted can expect to receive long prison sentences. Legislation in the UK, the Sex Offenders Act 1997, can be used to prosecute in the UK those who commit sex offences against children abroad, and has already been used successfully in cases of British nationals who have committed such offences elsewhere in the world.
Local Laws and Customs - Gap Year Travellers
Please read: GOGAPYEAR.COM
Local Laws and Customs - Homosexuality
There is no legislation against homosexuality in Brazil. The country has a tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, and Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are regarded as destinations for gay travellers. However, gay travellers should be generally aware of local sensitivities.
For more general information for different types of travellers see our your trip page.
Entry Requirements - Visas
British nationals can normally enter Brazil without a visa as tourists for an initial maximum stay of 90 days. However, it is important that you comply with Brazilian immigration laws on arrival in country and satisfy the Federal Police (the Brazilian immigration authority) of your intended purpose of visit. It is particularly important to be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient money to fund the duration of your stay, and that you also have details of your accommodation and a return airline ticket or evidence that you are going to leave the country by other means of transport. If you do not, then you risk being denied entry into the country. If you wish to extend your stay you should apply to the Federal Police for an extension in advance of your 90-day period. If you overstay the validity of your visa, you are likely to be given notice to leave the country at your own expense and risk fines and/or deportation.
It is important that you retain your immigration landing card that is required to leave the country – if you lose it you could be subject to a fine. It is also important that you have enough cash to pay the airport tax (R$65 payable in cash only) if this has not been paid with your airline ticket, which is a requirement to leave the country.
The Brazilian Immigration Authorities are vigilant to foreigners claiming to be visitors when in fact their intention is to work in Brazil (e.g. by undertaking training and equipment maintenance).
For further information about entry requirements for Brazil, you should contact your nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. The full contact details of the Brazilian Embassy in London.
Foreign nationals are entitled to unforeseen emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. However, you are not obliged to offer treatment for existing illnesses or care after you have been stabilised. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance.
Due to the rainy season (December – March) and the elevated temperatures in the summer it is common for the number of dengue cases to increase. Symptoms of dengue fever usually begin 7 to 10 days after being bitten and include high fever with aching joints and bones and a headache. If you develop these symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Dengue fever is common to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. The North of Brazil reported a number of cases of dengue type 4 in August 2010. These cases were reported in the state of Roraima which is located in the Amazon region. According to the Ministry of Health the most affected municipalities in Roraima were Boa Vista, Cantá and Normandia. If you are travelling to Roraima state please monitor local media reports.
In 2009, 529,237 suspected cases were reported. The following states are the main affected areas: Acre, Bahia, Brasilia, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais (source: Brazilian Ministry of Health). There is no vaccine to protect against Dengue Fever, and you should therefore use mosquito repellent regularly and cover up with suitable clothing to avoid being bitten. Symptoms of Dengue Fever usually begin 7 to 10 days after being bitten and include high fever with aching joints and bones and a headache. If you develop these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 710,000 adults aged 15 or over in Brazil were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.6% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.
You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Brazil and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
See our travel health page.
Natural Disasters - Rainy Season
Brazil is now in summertime (December-March) and with this the rainy season has begun. It is common to have heavy thunderstorms which may affect local infrastructure. When travelling please monitor local media for updated news.
Flash floods and landslides, especially in poorer urban areas, occur regularly. In April 2010, torrential rain in the state of Rio de Janeiro caused widespread flooding and landslides. In such cases, we recommend monitoring the local media and following any instructions that are given by local authorities.’
We advise you to check the integrity and safety standards of any adventure travel tour you may use, before embarking on the journey.
Setor de Embaixadas Sul
Quadra 801, Conjunto K
Brasilia – DF
Tel: (55) (61) 3329 2300
Fax: (55) (61) 3329 2369
Office hours: (local time)
Mon – Thurs 08:30-1230 and 1330-1730
Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630
Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1230 Mon-Fri