Advanced search
Travel & living abroad

South America and South Atlantic Islands


Flag of Brazil
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 22 December 2010

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary (update on street violence in Rio de Janeiro), Health (dengue fever) and Natural Disasters - Rainy Season. The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Brazil.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary

  • In November there were violent clashes between police and criminal gangs in Rio de Janeiro. Most of the incidents occurred in Zona Norte (north of the city). The situation appears to now be under control, however, you should monitor local media reports for the latest information.

  • In June 2010, the northeast of the country was severely affected by heavy rain, causing widespread flooding. There are likely to be ongoing works to repair the infrastructure in the region. If you are travelling to this area please monitor local media reports.

  • Levels of crime and violence are high, particularly in major cities. You should be particularly vigilant before and during the festive and Carnival periods. See Safety and Security - Crime section.

  • Around 181,000 British nationals visited Brazil in 2008 (source: Brazilian Ministry of Tourism).  Most visits are trouble-free.  See General - Consular Assistance Statistics.

  • There is an underlying threat from international terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
  • 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

Safety and Security - Terrorism
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
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. 

Safety and Security - Political Situation

Brazil Country Profile 

Safety and Security - Local travel
Public transport

Some forms of public transport (e.g. buses, the metro, and trams), can be unsafe, particularly in major cities.  There have been instances where gangs have set buses alight leaving passengers inside after robbing them. There are also frequent bus crashes (see the “Road Travel” section of this advice), with buses very often not responding to traffic lights or “Stop” signs. The risk is lower in São Paulo, but the bus and metro system is complicated. Bus travel between and in major cities is relatively safe, although there have been incidents of hijacking and robbery of tour buses in recent years.

On arrival in Brazil, ensure that you use licenced (rather than unlicenced) airport taxis. You can pick up licensed taxis from the many recognised taxi ranks around Brazilian cities - a driver’s photographic licence on display is a good indication that a taxi is registered.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Drive cautiously in Brazil.  The style of driving and standards are very different from the UK.  Brazil has a high road accident rate.  In many rural areas the quality of roads away from the main highways, and the poor standard of driving especially of trucks and buses, requires particular vigilance from drivers more used to British standards of driving.

Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. Even a small alcoholic drink will put you over the legal driving limit. If you are caught driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, it is likely that you will be prosecuted. The penalties range from being fined and also suspended from driving for 12 months, to imprisonment for up to three years.  

For more general information see driving abroad.

Safety and Security - Air Travel
For more general information see airline security.

Safety and Security - Rail Travel
The rail and metro infrastructure is limited in Brazil.  In the past there have been some safety and security incidents on these public transport systems.

Safety and Security - Sea Travel

You should be vigilant of safety procedures on board vessels if travelling on a river or the sea. In the past there have been cases of both armed and unarmed attacks on merchant vessels, including British flag vessels off the Brazilian coast and in some Brazilian ports. In particular, boat accidents on the Amazon river are not uncommon.

For more general information see river and sea safety.

Safety and Security - Swimming
Strong currents and sharks can be a problem off some beaches. You should take local advice before swimming.

Local laws and customs

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

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

Entry Requirements - Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for at least ninety days to comply with Brazilian immigration rules. However, there are occasions when immigration authorities in some Brazilian states will require passports to have up to six months validity; you are recommended to check with your nearest Brazilian Embassy / Consulate, travel agency or airline in advance of your departure date.

Often the Brazilian Immigration Authorities will require dual British/Brazilian nationals visiting Brazil to travel on Brazilian (rather than British) passports. 

Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever Certificate

If you have recently visited a country, which is known to suffer from outbreaks of Yellow Fever, you will need to show that you have been vaccinated against the disease. Please see the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children

There are additional requirements for all children under 18 entering and/or transiting Brazil without their parents or legal guardian (including on school trips), or if travelling with one parent only.  You should contact your nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date advice on requirements, or visit the website of the Brazilian Embassy in the UK.


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

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. 

General - Insurance

We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see travel insurance.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas see When Things Go Wrong

General - Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. 

General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Around 181,000 British nationals visited Brazil in 2008 (source: Brazilian Ministry of Tourism).  Most visits are trouble-free.  57 British nationals required consular assistance in Brazil in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: 16 deaths; six hospitalisations; and 23 arrests, for a variety of offences. During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (71 cases).

General - Contact details

The British Consulate in Rio de Janeiro provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceara, Piaui, Maranhao.

British Consulate-General Praia do Flamengo, 284/2 22210-030 Rio de Janeiro RJ

Tel:  (55) (21) 2555 9600
Fax:  (55) (21) 2555 9670  Office Hours (local time):

Mon-Thurs:  0830-1230 and 1330-1645 Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630 Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1230, Mon-Fri.

The British Consulate in Sao Paulo provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul.   British Consulate-General
Rua Ferreira de Araujo, 741 – 2 andar Pinheiros 05428-002 Sao Paulo – SP

Tel:  (55) (11) 3094 2700
Fax:  (55) (11) 3094 2717

Office hours (local time):
Mon-Thurs:  0830-1230 and 1330-1645
Fri: 0830-1230 and 1330-1630
Please note that the Consular section is open to the public from 0830-1230, Mon-Fr

The British Embassy in Brazil provides assistance to British nationals in the following states: Goias, Mato Grosso, Rondonia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Para, Amapa, Tocantins.

British Embassy
Setor de Embaixadas Sul
Quadra 801, Conjunto K
CEP 70200-010

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

Share this with:

Facebook - British abroad