Some of my family and friends would like to visit Brazil but find the tourist visa process a little daunting. I thought I would provide a guide based on my own experiences for what it takes for US citizens to get their tourist visa for Brazil.

Tourist visas are required for US citizens to enter Brazil and must be obtained in advance of your trip. Unfortunately the requirements vary by consulate so what you need to do will probably depend on which consulate has authority over your jurisdiction. What jurisdiction are you in? This link from the Brazilian embassy lists each consulate general and which states are under its jurisdiction. Since I am a resident of Pennsylvania I am under the New York consulate’s jurisdiction.

First you need to gather the required documents.

For all jurisdictions you will need:

  • Your US passport, valid for 6 months beyond your stay in Brazil
  • 2 copies of the signed visa form (see below for form instructions)
  • A recent 2×2 passport photo
  • A photocopy of your US state drivers license
  • Proof of departure (more on this later)
  • Visa processing fee of US$165

Unfortunately some different consulates have additional requirements. If you’re in the Chicago jurisdiction you need to sign a sworn statement that your documents are truthful. Applicants in the Hartford consulate’s jurisdiction require a signed letter of authorization. In the Chicago jurisdiction if you are not staying in a hotel, (e.g. staying with friends) you need an official invitation from your host in Brazil. It even has to be notarized. I recommend staying in a hotel!

US citizens must now apply for their Brazilian visa electronically. This link provides the electronic forms. Select “Visa Request” in the third box (the English one!) and follow the instructions provided. Fill out the form electronically on the site. You will find that you need your parents’ names and your profession for this form, and just about any other form you fill out in Brazil – one the country’s quirks. Also be prepared to provide your passport information, your addresses in Brazil (probably hotels) and duration of your stay.

Where is your consulate?

If you can visit your consulate in person you can print out the form and bring it with you, along with your other required documents. Check the consulate’s website for information on applying for a visa. A few of the consulates will accept your application by mail, but some do not. If you can’t mail the application you can use a visa service rather than going in person. A quick Google search will reveal lots of options. I checked in to several but ended up using the company Travisa, which is also the service I’ve used through my employer for business visas. Initially it seems like Travisa is a little pricier, but I found some of the “discount” services tack on so many fees at the end that the prices end up very similar. The service you use should provide you step-by-step instructions for sending your paperwork through them as well.

The Brazilian consulate expects to see proof of onward travel with the visa application, usually in the form of your airline reservation. This can present a problem if you don’t want to book your plane tickets just yet or want to actually have the visa before buying them. While it is very unlikely that your tourist visa application will be denied and generally safe to book the tickets, you could use “fake” tickets to fulfill the requirement. I just went on Expedia and searched for some flights to Brazil and selected a round-trip that matched my expected travel dates. I went through the reservation process up until I had to pay and then took a screenshot of the flights and sent it along. Make sure the reservation has your name on it.

Send all your documents through your visa service or bring them to the consulate. The processing times vary between the locations but I wouldn’t expect to be without your passport for more than a week or two. And then once you get your visa, enjoy your travel to Brazil!

Keep in mind that the Brazilian embassy often changes visa application requirements. While this information was up-to-date as of press time, I recommend verifying the requirements on your consulate’s website before submitting your application.