As US citizen you’ll be required to have a visa before you go to Brazil. It is a bit of a complicated process and I will share some tips of mine to obtain a Brazilian tourist visa as I am planning a trip to Brazil later this year and just got my passport returned with my Visa processed!!
You can use an agency to process for visa for you, however I did mine myself since I am cheap and wanted to save money and waste time. If you are in a hurry an agency can save you some time and hassle.
The Self Submission
Brazil makes it a bit of a bureaucratic pain in the ass to get the visa for American citizens why? Because America makes it difficult for Brazilians to visit the USA. Therefore, you have to have your Visa already in hand before you jump on the plane to Brazil. No magical stamp as soon as you arrive. Some advanced planning is needed.
However, if you get everything in order the process is rather painless but just takes times.
Plan way in advance.
As the Brazilian consulate website even says: “You may find it difficult to get an appointment with less than one month in advance.”
The visa is good for ten years ( at least mine is) so even if you don’t have a trip booked, you can go to the consulate and get your visa prepared. (see note 7 below)
I live in the San Francisco Consulate area and you have to go in person to apply. You cannot apply by mail with the San Francisco Consulate (other areas I do not have experience with)
What you need:
- An APPOINTMENT. For the San Francisco Consulate go here: LINK. Click on the Visa Appointment on the left under select service. PRINT YOUR CONFIRMATION PAGE. You have to have your visa appointment confirmation page to get through the door at the consulate
- Fill out the VISA APPLICATOIN on line (within 30 days of your appointment) LINKClick through to the visa request section. Fill it out and PRINT THE FINAL PAGE. Fairly given, but make sure you bring it
- $160 MONEY ORDER form the US POST OFFICE. Pain in the ass, but you have to go to the post office to get a money order, while you are there get:
- EXPRESS MAIL RETURN STAMP AND ENVELOPE. This way you will not have to go back to the consulate to pick up your processed passport. (see this LINK for details)
- PASSPORT PHOTO. I went to CVS and got one for $11.99. Costco has them for five bucks if you have a membership there.
- TRAVEL ITINERARY. I had a trip booked, so I used that, but I have heard you can book a refundable trip and use that if you are getting your visa well in advance.
- RESIDENCY INFORMATION. You are supposed to have a copy of your id or copies of utility bills to prove you live in the jurisdiction of the consulate. I had mine ready, but was not asked for it.
Bring all your stuff and get to the consulate on your appointed day and you’ll be set. Once you are at the embassy, get there a bit earlier than your appointment. As it some good old government agency hurry up and wait.
A Monday morning appointment was probably not the best. I was 20 minuntes early for my appointment and still the 10th person in line! One one family came prepared for the bureaucracy and brought playing cards to use and play games with while they were in line.
Of the 8 out of the remaining 10 people in line, including myself, were all using our phones. One was actually reading a real book. The horrors!! 2 samsungs and 6 iPhones for those counting. 2 more people showed up after 10 mins wait. Now with 9 minutes to go, there were are over 20 people waiting. Felt like being in line on black Friday to get all the deals! Tear down that door!!
There was quite a bit of conversation now. And people are much more friendly in line than any other line I have been in. Because of the family and kids? Maybe. Because it is Brazil? Probably. Like a shipwrecked passengers we are trying to make a common connection to pass the time and survive our waiting situation.
Everyone excited to learn and share stories. One group in front of me exchanged phone numbers to meet in rio and get a personalized tour! Well done!
Two minutes!! Everyone up!! No more sitting down.
Ok. The line is moving! It’s 9 am!! One security guard. No metal detectors like the USA process. It’s a bit like the dmv! Grab a slip and take a seat. Again. However it is a much cleaner and brighter DMV. Green and blue. Bright Green and Blue
My number V 102. Two visa appointments in front of me. 100 and 101 before me.
7 minutes after 9 and I am next for visas.
912 and I am done. 7 business days I am informed. I hand him my USPS Express mail envelope and we are set!
An added touch to the visit? The bathroom is nice and I am the first one to use it this morning and it is fairly clean. Has fogged up glass to allow light in. Red stall doors. Haven’t ever seen that. The Brazilians must like the use of hard colors. Nice tile floor too with flower patterns.
Time to get home. Waiting for my Uber. What a great coincidence he is wearing a Brazilian soccer jacket!!
“Are you from Brazil?!!” I eagerly ask
“Yes.” is the immediate dry response.
“I was just at the consulate!! I am going to Brazil soon!” I exclaim.
After he realized my excitement of a five year child for his home country, he opened up a bit and we had a great chat.
His tips / takeaways:
“You’re gonna love it you’ll see, Brazil is not like the media portrays it.” “Use common sense. Use cards no cash keep you’re phone in you’re front pocket and you’ll be fine. “
“You’re gonna love the girls in rio, man with their small bikinis!”
“Watch out you’re gonna get fat. The food is great. Bug pieces of meat. Fresh orange juice. You won’t want to come back to the USA!”
Five days later, the final product came in the mail;
Well, dear reader, if you made it this far, Thank You. I will let you know how my trip goes when I come back!