COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The fifth largest country in the world, Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking country with a robust economy. It consists of 26 states and a Federal District. Tourist facilities are excellent in major cities but vary in quality in remote areas. Read more about U.S. relations with Brazil.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Brazil, please take the time to tell the U.S. Department of State about your trip. If you enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
U.S. Embassy Brasilia
SES 801 - Avenida das Nacoes, Lote 3
Emergency after-hours telephone: 011-55-61-3312-7400
Consular Agency in Brasilia's Consular District:
Manaus Consular Agency
Edificio Atrium, Suite 306
Rua Franco de Sá, 310
69.079-210 Manuas AM Brazil
U.S. Consulate General Recife
Rua Goncalves Maia, 163, Boa Vista
Telephone: 011-55-81-3416-3050 or 011-55-81-3416-3080
Emergency after-hours telephone: 011-55-81-3416-3060 (guard booth) or
011-55-81-9916-9470 (after hours duty phone) Facsimile: 011-55-81-3231-1906
Consular Agency in Recife's Consular District:
U.S. Consular Agency Fortaleza
Avenida Santos Dumont 2828, Aldeota, Suite 708
U.S. Consulate General Rio de Janeiro
Avenida Presidente Wilson, 147, Castelo
Emergency after-hours telephone: 011-55-21-3823-2000
Consular Agency in Rio de Janeiro's Consular District:
U.S. Consular Agency Salvador da Bahia
Avenida Tancredo Neves, 1632, Caminho das Arvores,
Salvador Trade Center - Torre Sul, Room 1401
U.S. Consulate General Sao Paulo
Rua Henri Dunant, 500, Chacara Santo AntonioTelephone: 011-55-11-3250-5000
Emergency after hours telephone: 011-55-11-3250-5373
Consular Agency in Sao Paulo's Consular District:
U.S. Consular Agency Porto Alegre
Avenida Assis Brasil 4320 Store 84 (Boulevard Strip Mall)
Parque Sao Sebastiao 91110-000 Porto Alegre, RS
You can find contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates in neighboring countries at the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Brazil requires U.S. citizens to carry a valid U.S. passport and visa when traveling to Brazil for any purpose. You must obtain your Brazilian visa in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to your place of residence in the United States. There are no "airport visas" and immigration authorities will refuse entry into Brazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. The U.S. government cannot assist you if you arrive in Brazil without proper documentation. Travelers under 18 years of age and their parents should carefully review the visa application requirements. The adjudicating official at the Brazilian Embassy or consulate may require a birth certificate and notarized travel authorization to issue a visa to a minor.
U.S. citizens and other foreign travelers must fill out a small immigration form on arrival that will be stamped and handed back by immigration officials at the airport. It is important to retain this form to hand back to immigration officials upon exit from the country. According to the Brazilian Embassy's website, visitors who lose this form will have to get clearance from the Brazilian Federal Police to leave the country and may have to pay a fine.
Remember that while in Brazil, you are subject to local law. Showing contempt to a Brazilian government official at the port of entry, or elsewhere, is a serious offense.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Brazil.
For additional information on current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, contact the Brazilian Consulate, located at 1030 15th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005, phone: (202) 461-3000. Travelers may also contact the Brazilian consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and San Francisco. Contact information for these consulates may be found at the Brazilian Embassy website.
Special Entry/Exit Requirements for Dual Nationals: U.S. citizens who also have Brazilian nationality cannot be issued Brazilian visas and must obtain a Brazilian passport from the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to their place of residence to enter and depart Brazil. In addition to being subject to all Brazilian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Brazilian citizens. Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.
Special Entry/Exit Requirements for Minors: Brazilian minors age 17 years and under, including minors who have both Brazilian and U.S. citizenship, are subject to strict exit requirements. Brazilian minors departing Brazil, if not accompanied by both parents, must prove that both parents authorized the departure. If accompanied by only one parent, the minor must either have a notarized letter from the other parent indicating permission to depart the country, a court order proving that the accompanying parent has sole custody, a Brazilian court order authorizing the child's departure, or a Brazilian passport containing pre-printed authorization for the child to travel with either parent (which must be applied for at the same time as the Brazilian passport). If accompanied by neither parent, the minor must have a notarized letter from both parents authorizing departure or a Brazilian court order authorizing the same. There are no exceptions, even if the child remained in Brazil only a short time.
The authorization must be notarized by a Brazilian notary to be considered valid by the Brazilian authorities. If prepared in the United States, the authorization must be in Portuguese or accompanied by an official translation into Portuguese. The authorization must be notarized by either the Brazilian Embassy or a Brazilian Consulate, or notarized by a U.S. notary public and then authenticated at the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate. Prior to departing the United States, parents traveling to Brazil with children who are Brazilian nationals may wish to obtain an authorization for each parent to return with the children to the United States without the other parent, just in case.
Minors age 17 years and under who are not Brazilian nationals are not technically subject to the same strict travel requirements as Brazilian minors. However, there have been cases where the travel of non-Brazilian minors has been delayed or prevented when accompanied by only one parent or a third party. To avoid potential difficulties, parents of non-Brazilian minors may want to follow the procedures above if their children will be traveling to Brazil accompanied by only one parent or by a third party.
Parents contemplating separation or divorce should resolve custody matters before leaving the country. Pursuant to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which both Brazil and the United States are party, custody will ultimately be decided by a court in the country where the child is a habitual resident.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about general customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Demonstrations and political/labor strikes are common in urban areas and may cause temporary disruption to public and private transportation. While the protests have not been directed at U.S. citizens, there have been incidents of vandalism which have affected U.S. government facilities. In some cases, Brazilian police have used tear gas, riot control, and mounted units to disperse protestors. If you become aware of protests in your vicinity, you should remain indoors and close doors and windows. U.S. citizens in Brazil are urged to monitor local news reports and to plan their activities accordingly.
Protests anywhere in the world have the potential to become violent. Even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Brazil are advised to take common-sense precautions, avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest, and comply with the instructions of local authorities. Check the website of the Embassy or consulate nearest you for current information on demonstrations.
Criminal Activities: Individuals with ties to criminal entities and traffickers operate along all the Brazilian borders. These organizations are involved in the trafficking of illicit goods and drugs. U.S. citizens crossing into bordering countries should consult the Country Specific Information on the relevant nation.
Colombian terrorist groups have been known to operate in the border areas of neighboring countries. Although there have been reports of isolated small-scale armed incursions from Colombia into Brazil in the past, we know of no specific threat directed against U.S. citizens across the border in Brazil at this time.
Colombian groups have kidnapped residents and tourists along the Colombian border. If you are traveling or residing in this area we urge you to exercise caution when visiting remote parts of the Amazon basin, and respect local laws and customs. You should ensure that your outfitter/guide is familiar with the Amazon region.
Restricted Areas for U.S. Government Employees: U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to any of the shanty towns, or "favelas," in Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. This restriction does not include commonly used transit routes that pass near or through favelas.
In addition, U.S. government employees are not permitted to visit any area within 150 km of the borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, or Paraguay. Travel is also restricted between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in Brasilia's "satellite cities" of Ceilandia, Santa Maria, Sao Sebastiao, and Paranoa.
Stay up to date on safety and security information:
CRIME: Brazilian police and media report that the crime rate remains high in most urban centers, including the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and is also growing in rural areas within those states. Brazil's murder rate is more than four times higher than that of the United States, and rates for other crimes are similarly high.
Street crime remains a problem for visitors and local residents alike. Foreign tourists, including U.S. citizens, are often targets, especially in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Recife. While the risk is greater during the evening and at night, street crime also occurs during the day, and safer areas of cities are not immune. Incidents of theft on city buses are frequent. You should keep a copy of your passport with you while in public and keep your passport in a hotel safe or other secure place. You should also carry proof of your health insurance with you.
The incidence of crime against tourists is greater in areas surrounding beaches, hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs, and other tourist destinations. It is especially prevalent prior to and during Carnival (Brazilian Mardi Gras), but also occurs throughout the year. Several Brazilian cities have established specialized tourist police units to patrol areas frequented by tourists.
Use caution when traveling through rural areas and satellite cities due to reported incidents of roadside robberies that randomly target passing vehicles. Robberies and "quicknappings" outside of banks and ATMs occur regularly. In a "quicknapping," criminals abduct victims for a short time in order to receive a quick payoff from the family, business, or the victim's ATM card. Some victims have been beaten and/or raped. You should also take precautions to avoid being carjacked, especially in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and other cities.
In airports, hotel lobbies, bus stations, and other public places, pick pocketing and the theft of hand-carried luggage and laptop computers is common. You should "dress down" when in public and avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewelry or expensive watches. "Good Samaritan" scams are common. If a tourist looks lost or seems to be having trouble communicating, a seemingly innocent bystander offering help may actually be a participant in a scam. Take care at and around banks and ATMs which accept U.S. credit or debit cards. Travelers using personal ATM or credit cards sometimes receive billing statements with unauthorized charges after returning from a visit to Brazil, or discover that their cards were cloned or duplicated without their knowledge. If you use such payment methods, carefully monitor your bank records for the duration of your visit.
While the ability of Brazilian police to help recover stolen property is limited, we strongly advise you to obtain a "boletim de ocorrencia" (police report) at a "delegacia" (police station) if any of your possessions are lost or stolen. This will facilitate your exit from Brazil and assist with insurance claims. Be aware, however, that the police in tourist areas are on the lookout for false reports of theft for purposes of insurance fraud.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. These goods are illegal in the United States, and if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
Brasilia: Brasilia has significant crime problems. Reports of residential burglaries continue to occur in the generally affluent residential sections of the city. Public transportation, hotel sectors, and tourist areas report the highest crime rates, but statistics show that these incidents can happen anywhere and at anytime. The "satellite cities" that surround Brasilia have per-capita crime rates comparable to much larger cities. Police reports indicate that rates of all types of crime, including "quicknappings," have risen dramatically in Brasilia in the last two years. Brasilia's Central Bus Station or "Rodoviaria" is a particularly dangerous area, especially at night. This location is known to have a large concentration of drug dealers and users. Illegal drugs such as crack cocaine and "oxi" (a derivative of cocaine base produced with cheaper chemicals) have become very common in the "Plano Piloto" area and satellite cities.
Rio de Janeiro: The city continues to experience high incidences of crime. Tourists are particularly vulnerable to street thefts and robberies in the evening and at night especially in areas adjacent to major tourist attractions. There have been attacks, including shootings, along trails leading to the famous Corcovado Mountain and in other parts of the Tijuca Forest. If robbed, do not attempt to resist or fight back, but rather relinquish your personal belongings. At all times, pay close attention to your surroundings and the behavior of those nearby. There have been reports of thieves and rapists slipping incapacitating drugs into drinks at bars, hotel rooms, and street parties. While crime occurs throughout the year, it is more frequent during Carnival and the weeks prior.
Choose lodging carefully considering location, security, and the availability of a safe to store valuables. Do not answer your hotel room door until you positively confirm who is on the other side. Look out the peephole or call the front desk to confirm the visitor. There have been several recent incidents where mass holdups of guests have occurred at hotels and hostels in the city.
Rio de Janeiro's favelas are a subject of curiosity for many U.S. travelers. A favela pacification program, instituted in 2008, installed police stations in some favelas, primarily in the Zona Sul area. However, most favelas exist outside the control of city officials and police. Travelers are urged to exercise caution when entering any "pacified" favelas and should not go into favelas that are not "pacified" by the state government. Even in some "pacified" favelas, the ability of police to provide assistance, especially at night, may be limited. Several local companies offer "favela jeep tours" targeted at foreign tourists. Be aware that neither the tour company nor the city police can guarantee your safety when entering favelas.
Be vigilant while on the roads, especially at night. There have been shootings and carjackings on the Linha Vermelha that links the airport to the Southern Zone of the city. In Rio de Janeiro, motorists should be especially vigilant at stoplights and when stuck in traffic. Carjackings and holdups can occur at intersections, especially at night. Incidents of crime on public transportation are frequent, and at times have involved violent crimes. When traveling by yellow taxi, tourists are recommended only to use taxis openly displaying company information and phone numbers as well as red license plates. Tourists are also advised not to use public vans.
Visitors should also remain alert to the possibility of manhole cover explosions. There have been multiple manhole cover explosions in Rio de Janeiro in the past few years, with a higher incidence in the Centro and Copacabana neighborhoods.
Report all incidents to Rio's tourist police (DEAT) at (21) 2332-2924. The tourist police have been very responsive to victims and cooperative with the U.S. Consulate General.
Sao Paulo: All areas of Greater Sao Paulo have a high rate of armed robbery of pedestrians and drivers at stoplights and during rush hour traffic. The "red light districts" of Sao Paulo, located on Rua Augusta north of Avenida Paulista and the Estacao de Luz metro area, are especially dangerous. There are regular reports of young women slipping various drugs into men's drinks and robbing them of all their belongings while they are unconscious. Armed holdups of pedestrians and motorists by young men on motorcycles ("motoboys") are a common occurrence in Sao Paulo. Criminals have also begun targeting restaurants throughout the city, frequently between the hours of 10:00 pm and 4:00 am, at establishments in the upscale neighborhoods of Jardins, Itaim Bibi, Campo Belo, Morumbi and Moema. Victims who resist run the risk of violent attack. Laptop computers, other electronics, and luxury watches are the targets of choice for criminals in Sao Paulo.
Efforts of incarcerated drug lords to exert their power outside of their jail cells have resulted in sporadic disruptions in the city, violence directed at the authorities, bus burnings, and vandalism at ATM machines, including the use of explosives. Be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution at all times. Respect police roadblocks and be aware that some municipal services may be disrupted.
As in Rio de Janeiro, favela tours have recently become popular among foreign tourists in Sao Paulo. We advise you to avoid Sao Paulo's favelas as neither the tour company nor the city police can guarantee your safety when entering favelas.
Recife: As in Rio de Janeiro, tourists in Recife should take special care while on the beaches, as robberies may occur in broad daylight. In the upscale Boa Viagem neighborhood, carjackings can occur at any time of the day or night.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate (see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates ). We can:
The local equivalent to the "911" emergency line in Brazil is divided beween three services: 190 - Policia (Police), 192- Ambulancia (Ambulance), and 193- Bombeiros (Fire Department).
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and regulations of any foreign country they are visiting or residing in. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brazilian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Brazil are especially severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The Brazilian judicial process can be slow and cumbersome.
There are also some things that might be legal in Brazil, but illegal in the United States. For instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods in Brazil. In addition, engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. In November 2008, Brazil passed a series of laws designed to strengthen protection of children against sexual exploitation. Brazilian police in tourist areas such as Rio de Janeiro are on the lookout for foreigners inappropriately touching or photographing minors. If you break local laws in Brazil, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
According to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Brazil, you have the option to request that the authorities alert the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We recommend that you carry the contact information for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate with you when traveling.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Water Hazards: Brazil's beaches can pose a threat to the safety of travelers. Many beaches have very strong and dangerous riptides, including those in Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. Always observe posted flags and signs warning of strong swells and currents, and never swim while under the influence of alcohol. Even if the water looks safe there may be strong riptides. Ocean currents and waves are unpredictable, even in popular beaches frequented by tourists. In 2011, one U.S. citizen suffered serious injuries and two died while swimming at Copacabana beach.
Travelers are advised to adhere to local authorities' guidance and refrain from swimming alone in areas marked with red warning signs or at beaches where there are no municipal lifeguards or first responder services. There is a possibility of shark attacks in the waters of many of the beaches in northeastern Brazil, including those in Recife, Natal, and Maceio. Heed signs posted on any beach you visit.
Brazil is an endemic area for schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasite, and travelers should avoid wading, swimming, or other contact with fresh water in streams, lakes, and ponds.
Blackouts: Blackouts in the large urban centers have struck areas with high concentrations of hotels and residences. During these blackouts, local authorities quickly increase police presence to maintain public security. In addition, most tourist hotels are equipped with generators, minimizing the impact of a blackout on visitors. Nonetheless, you should use caution in the event of a blackout during your visit to Brazil. Residents should keep flashlights and sufficient supplies of food and potable water in their residences to prepare for extended blackouts.
Natural Disasters: Flooding and mudslides occur throughout the country, and can be fatal. Monitor news and weather reports and adhere to municipal advisories before traveling to areas prone to flooding or landslides. Many of Brazil's larger cities have frequent heavy rainstorms that have caused flash flooding and crippled traffic for hours.
Customs Restrictions: Brazilian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into, or export from, Brazil of items such as firearms, antiquities, mineral samples, tropical plants, medications, and business equipment. In the Amazon region, there is special scrutiny of the export of biological material which could have genetic value. People propagating or exporting biological material without proper permits run the risk of being accused of "biopiracy," a serious offense in Brazil. Contact the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or one of Brazil's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please also refer to our information on customs regulations.
Accessibility: While in Brazil, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Brazilian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care. The federal government effectively enforces these provisions. Although federal and state laws have provisions ensuring access to buildings for persons with disabilities, states do not have programs to enforce them effectively. Accessibility to public transportation and the ability to accommodate the needs of physically disabled persons are limited in many areas.
Death of a U.S. Citizen: In the unfortunate event of a death, relatives or friends of any deceased U.S. citizen should contact the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia or one of the U.S. consulates in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or Recife before contracting with a local mortuary.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care is generally good but it varies in quality, particularly in remote areas, and it may not meet U.S. standards outside the major cities. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines are widely available. Emergency services are responsive. Travelers may call a private ambulance company or call 192 and request an ambulance for a public hospital. Callers must stay on the line to provide the location as there is no automatic tracking of phone calls. Other important phone numbers include, Emergency 199, Police 190 and Fire Department 193.
Sao Paulo: Expatriates regularly use the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. It is inspected and certified by the Joint Commission International and offers international service assistance. The hospital phone number is 011-55-11-3747-1233.
Rio de Janeiro: In Rio, many expatriates go to Hospital Samaritano (Rua Bambina 98, Botafogo; tel. 2537-9722; ambulance tel. 2535 4000); or Pro-Cardiaco, which specializes in cardiac care but also offers other specialty services (Rua Dona Mariana 219, Botafogo; tel. 2131-1400 or 2528-1442, ambulance tel. 2527-6060).
Information on vaccinations and other health issues in Brazil, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) and their " Yellow Book ". For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad and for general and country specific health information for travelers, consult the World Health Organization (WHO).
General Vaccinations: All travelers should visit either their personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure, as some vaccines and malaria prophylaxis must be given a few weeks before travel. All travelers to Brazil, and those transiting the country, should have prior vaccinations for Hepatitis A, typhoid, and Hepatitis B. Routine immunizations including MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and varicella should be up to date. Neither cholera nor polio vaccines are recommended except under specific circumstances. Consult the Yellow Book for more information.
Insect-borne Illnesses: Insect-borne illnesses are common in Brazil, principally yellow fever, malaria, leishmaniasis, and dengue. Vaccination is available to prevent yellow fever, and prophylactic medication can be used to lower the risk of malaria. Chagas disease (a/k/a American trypanosomiasis ) transmission has been eliminated in every state except Bahia and Tocantins through an aggressive program of insecticide spraying.
The first-line of protection against all insect bites is the use of insect repellents (less than or equal to 30% DEET content for children above two months of age), but mosquito nets, mosquito coils, aerosol sprays, protective clothing, use of screens, or staying in air-conditioned environment when available are also alternatives.
Dengue: There is no vaccine for dengue. Dengue usually presents fever, rash, and body aches, or there are no symptoms and clears relatively quickly; however, it can be rapidly fatal in a minority of severe cases. Consult CDC Yellow Book for the signs and symptoms of severe dengue.
Malaria: Malaria is present throughout the year in forested areas of the Amazon region, but it tends to be seasonal (southern summer) elsewhere in the country; mostly on the periphery of cities and towns in the Amazon region. There is little to no risk of malaria in other areas of Brazil.
Yellow Fever: The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for travelers over nine months of age to the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazones, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins, and designated areas of the following states: Piauí, Bahia, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. The vaccine is also recommended for travelers visiting Iguaçu Falls. Daytime insect precautions are essential for unvaccinated travelers.
Yellow fever vaccine is not recommended for itineraries limited to the cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, or Fortaleza, or any other areas not listed above. Travelers over age 65 should consult with their physician prior to receiving yellow fever vaccination.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is recommended for prolonged stays, with a priority for children and those planning rural travel. For shorter stays, rabies vaccination is recommended for adventure travelers, those with occupational exposure to animals, and those staying in locations more than 24 hours from access to rabies immune globulin.
Travelers' Diarrhea (TD): Travelers' diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment. The cornerstone of prevention is food and water precautions: (1) do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected and (2) do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks with ice. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish, including ceviche. The most important treatment measure for TD is rehydration, best performed with oral rehydration solution available in almost all pharmacies in Brazil.
Tuberculosis: Brazil is a high-burden country for tuberculosis, but short-term travelers are not considered at high risk for infection unless visiting crowded environments such as hospitals, prisons, or homeless shelters. If you are at risk, consult with your health care provider or travel health clinic for possible use of tuberculin skin testing before and after returning from Brazil.
Elective Surgery: Plastic and other elective/cosmetic surgery is a major medical industry in Brazil. While Brazil has many plastic surgery facilities that are on par with those found in the United States, the quality of care varies widely. If you are planning to undergo plastic surgery in Brazil, make sure that emergency medical facilities are available. Some "boutique" plastic surgery operations offer luxurious facilities but are not hospitals and are therefore unable to deal with emergencies.
Non-traditional Medicine: Several U.S. citizens have died while visiting non-traditional healers outside of urban areas. While this is not surprising given that this type of treatment often attracts the terminally ill, U.S. citizens are advised to ensure they have access to proper medical care when visiting such sites.
LGBT Rights: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Brazil enjoy many of the same legal protections as non-LGBT people. While Brazilian federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, several states and municipalities have administrative regulations that prohibit such discrimination and provide for equal access to government services. Same-sex marriage is legal in Brazil, but in practice, petitions for same-sex marriage can still be denied by notaries on an individual basis. Brazil grants temporary and permanent visas to same-sex partners of Brazilian citizens if they are found to be in a "stable union" under Brazilian law. There are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LBGT events.
For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page. For more detailed information about LGBT rights around the world, you may review the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You should not assume that your medical insurance will go with you when you travel. Medicare,for instance, does not cover any foreign medical care except in very limited circumstances along the border of the United States. We strongly urge you to consult with your medical insurance company PRIOR to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. It is very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover medical evacuation or doctors' and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does not go with you when you travel, it's a very good idea to take out another policy for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Brazil, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Brazil is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Travelers should consider obtaining an Inter-American Driving Permit to carry along with their valid U.S. license if they plan to drive while in Brazil. Such permits can be obtained through AAA or other sources.
Driving on Brazil's inter-city roads can pose significant risks. As is the case elsewhere in the region, poor driving skills, bad roads, and a high density of trucks combine to make travel via roads considerably more hazardous than in the United States.
There are no laws requiring truckers to take mandatory rest stops and they often drive for excessive periods of time. All major inter-city routes are saturated with heavy truck traffic and for the most part have only two lanes.
Road maintenance is inadequate and some long-distance roads through the Amazon forest are impassable much of the year. Private cars and public buses are the main modes of inter-city road travel. Buses can range (depending on the route and the price) from luxurious and well-maintained to basic and mechanically unsound. Bus hijacking, usually non-violent, occurs at random in some areas of the country.
Apart from toll roads, which generally have their own services, roadside assistance is available only very sporadically and informally through local private mechanics. The fastest way to summon assistance in an emergency anywhere in the country is to dial 193, a universal number staffed by local fire departments. This service is in Portuguese only. Many motorists in major urban areas and more developed parts of the country carry cellular phones, and can be asked to assist in calling for help.
Traffic Laws: There are severe penalties for a number of traffic offenses. If you are involved in an accident that results in injuries or death, you may be fined for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as charged with criminal penalties.
Enforcement of traffic laws ranges from sporadic to non-existent, so motorists should not assume that others will necessarily follow even the most fundamental and widely-accepted rules of the road. Some important local rules and customs include the following:
Seatbelts / Child Car Seats: Brazil requires the use of seatbelts for everyone in the car. Brazilian federal law requires car seats for all children under the age of 7 ½. From age 7 ½ years to 10, children cannot ride in the front seat of the car, and must be in the back seat wearing a seatbelt.
Speed Limits: The maximum speed limit on major, divided highways is 120 kmph (74 mph). Lower limits (usually 60 kmph or 40 mph) are often posted in urban areas depending on the road and the nature of the neighborhood. Speed limits are widely ignored and rarely enforced. However, an increasing number of towns and cities have electronic/photographic devices (marked "Fiscalizacao Eletronica") which verify speed and take photos of violators' cars and license plates as a basis for issuing speeding tickets. Brazilian drivers tend to brake suddenly when encountering these devices. Many cities and towns have erected speed bumps, which are sometimes severe and may be unpainted and unmarked.
Yielding the Right of Way: Drivers must yield the right of way to cars on their right. Compliance with stop signs is rarely enforced, so many motorists treat them as yield signs.
Driving Under the Influence: Drivers with any measurable content of alcohol in their blood are in violation of the law. Checkpoints are often set up in urban areas where randomly chosen drivers are required to exit their vehicles and perform a breathalyzer test.
Local Driving Customs: Drivers often use flashes or wave a hand out of the window to signal other drivers to slow down. In addition, pedestrian "zebra" crossings are strictly observed in some places (especially in Brasilia) and ignored most everywhere else.
For specific information concerning Brazilian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Brazilian National Tourist Organization.
Additional information, including up-to-date road conditions throughout Brazil and downloadable state roadmaps, can be found on the websites of the Brazilian Federal Highway Police and Ministry of Transportation (Portuguese only).
Please also visit our road safety page.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Brazil's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brazil's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.
* * *This replaces the Country Specific Information for Brazil dated April 10, 2013, to update sections on Threats to Safety and Security, Crime Women Travelers and LGBT Travelers.