- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Brazil because of the high levels of serious and violent crime, particularly in major cities.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- The incidence of violent crime, including muggings, armed robbery, kidnappings and sexual assault, is significant. See Safety and security: Crime for more information.
- Industrial action, demonstrations and protests in major cities occur in Brazil intermittently.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Brazil for the most up to date information.
The Brazilian Government strongly enforces immigration and entry laws. You should ensure you have a proper and valid visa prior to your arrival and remain aware of your visa status while in the country. Australians will be detained on arrival for not having the correct visas and will be prohibited from entering Brazil. A visa will not be granted on arrival. If you have any concerns about the status of your Brazilian visa, you should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Brazil.
Brazil is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever (see Health section). Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. If in doubt, check with your airline.
If you have visited Brazil in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia.
If you intend to leave Brazil and return during your trip, you should obtain a multiple entry visa before leaving Australia. You should also ensure that an exit stamp is placed in your passport by Brazilian immigration authorities when you depart Brazil. On arrival you must complete an arrival card, which has a carbon copy. The carbon copy must be retained and presented to immigration authorities on departure. Failure to do so may result in delays and possibly a fine when departing Brazil.
If you are travelling to Brazil through the United States of America, or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other US points of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.
Brazilian law requires that for all travel, Brazilian children (including dual nationals) travelling alone or with one parent must carry a letter of consent from the non-travelling parent(s) authorising travel. The letter must be in Portuguese and certified by the Brazilian embassy or consulate in Australia or by the Juvenile Court in Brazil. There is an office of the Juvenile Court at all airports in Brazil.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a passport photo taken within six months in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
Industrial action, demonstrations and protests occur in Brazil’s major cities intermittently. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent without warning and monitor local media for information about expected demonstrations in major cities.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Brazil because of the high levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Violence and crime, often involving firearms or other weapons, can occur anywhere and at any time.
The incidence of violent crime, including muggings, armed robbery, home invasions, kidnapping (especially express kidnappings), and sexual assault, is significant, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Salvador and other large cities. Carjacking is also common, particularly in major cities.
You should be vigilant, particularly in major cities. You are advised to avoid wearing jewellery and expensive watches, or carrying valuable items such as laptop computers. You are advised to dress down and carry minimal cash and credit cards, as victims are often targeted for perceived wealth or value of personal possessions.
Tourists are often targeted by criminals, especially directly prior to and during public festivals such as Carnaval. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is common, including by young men on motorcycles. Thieves operate in outdoor markets, in hotels and on and around public transport. Crime levels in shanty towns or ‘favelas’ and many satellite cities are very high. Tourists should avoid these areas, even with a well-organised tour group and especially at night.
Tourists have also been robbed and assaulted when using unregistered taxis. Use of a prepaid taxi ticket on arrival at the airport or taxis from registered taxi ranks may reduce the risk of robbery. As a guide, licensed taxis are generally required to have their photographic licence displayed.
During peak tourist seasons, large, organised criminal gangs have reportedly robbed and assaulted beachgoers. You should take a minimal number of personal belongings to the beach and leave passports, wallets and other valuables in a secure place. Isolated areas on the beach should be avoided, particularly in the early evening, when a high number of robberies occur. Sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas.
Some armed groups in Sao Paulo have begun robbing patrons in restaurants, both in rich and poor neighbourhoods.
If you are robbed or are a victim of an express kidnapping, you should cooperate and not resist as these situations can quickly turn violent. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators.
'Express kidnappings', where individuals are abducted for short periods for a quick payoff from the victim’s family, business or ATM cards are a significant threat. Vigilance is key. We also recommend approaching your car with the keys ready, driving with doors locked and windows up, and not remaining in parked vehicles. Take particular care if approached while sitting in a car or at the traffic lights, especially at night. Express kidnappings are common in major cities including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Salvador and Recife. Victims, whom are frequently released in remote areas, should seek to alert authorities by approaching somebody at the nearest safe area, which could be a home or commercial establishment. Carjacking is also common, particularly in major cities.
Gang-related violence is common, particularly in the State of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Incarcerated drug lords also orchestrate sporadic disruptions in Brazilian cities. While most of these types of incidents are targeted at police, local officials, and public infrastructure, you should remain alert and aware of local conditions at all times. Outbreaks of such violence are unpredictable and could occur at any time.
Criminal activities related to drug trafficking and trafficking of illicit goods are common along Brazil’s western and northern border areas, including the states of Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Roraima, Pará and Amapa, as well as the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Travellers should avoid leaving food and drinks unattended in bars and places of entertainment as there have been incidents of drink spiking.
Due to the risk of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.
Mobile phone cloning occurs in Brazil. You should take care of your handset at all times.
It is unlikely Brazilian police will be able to recover stolen property, however, we strongly recommend you obtain a “boletim de ocorrencia” (police report) at a “delegania” (police station) if any of your possessions are lost or stolen. In most cases, you will require a police report to lodge a travel insurance claim related to lost or stolen possessions.
Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Brazil. See our travel bulletin on piracy. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issues a piracy report that displays all Piracy and Armed Robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.
Money and valuables
Before you depart Australia, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Brazil. Banking facilities such as ATMs, EFTPOS and credit card machines may be unreliable. Credit card fraud is widespread in Brazil. We recommend travellers using ATM or credit cards in Brazil check billing statements for unauthorised charges. ‘Good Samaritan’ scams are also common.
In efforts to combat fraud and thefts, many ATMS and banks do not permit withdrawals on foreign cards of more than R$400 per day and/or reduce the amount that can be withdrawn after-hours.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves (refer to Crime section).
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Australians are required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Delays of domestic and international flights are common in Brazil. You should check with your travel agent to ensure that itineraries take this into account and be prepared for the possibility of extended waits at airports.
There is a significant risk of becoming lost or injured while trekking in remote parts of Brazil, including the Amazon border regions and the Pantanal wetlands. We recommend use of an experienced guide to reduce these risks.
Driving in Brazil is hazardous due to aggressive driving habits, poorly maintained roads and large numbers of trucks and other slow vehicles on main routes. Stop lights are often not obeyed at night in Brazil’s larger cities. Pedestrians should not assume that cars will stop. If you find yourself in a vehicular accident, call 193 (fire department) if there are injuries or 190 (police) if no injuries. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
When you are in Brazil, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for possession or trafficking of illegal drugs in Brazil are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.
It is a legal requirement to carry your passport or a form of identification issued by the Brazilian Government at all times.
Penalties for driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero are severe.
Homosexual activity is not illegal in Brazil, however gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities, particularly in rural communities.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Australian/Brazilian dual nationals must enter and exit the country using their Brazilian passport.
Australian/Brazilian dual national males aged 18 years or older who reside long-term in Brazil are required to register for military service. Dual nationals are advised to contact the nearest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate for further advice regarding military service obligations.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of private medical facilities in large cities such as Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba is comparable to Australia. Other larger cities in Brazil also have small private hospitals providing adequate services. Outside of major cities, however, facilities can be very limited. Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is very expensive. Doctors and hospitals may expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to one of Brazil's large cities would be necessary. Costs would be considerable (in the tens of thousands of dollars).
Malaria is a high risk in Brazil throughout the year. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, yellow fever, filariasis and leishmaniasis) are also a risk to travellers, with a higher incidence during the wet seasons (May to August and November to January). You should consult your doctor or travel clinic about prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and leptospirosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Rabies is also present in Brazil. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
HIV/AIDS is also a significant risk in Brazil. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. You can find out more information at the World Health Organization website.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For more information see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
In Brazil, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Brasilia
SES QD 801
Conjunto K, Lote 07
BSB, DF 70200-010,
Telephone: 55 61 3226 3111
Facsimile: 55 61 3226 1112
Australian Consulate-General, Sao Paulo
Edificio Trianon Corporate – Cerqueira Cesar
Alamenda Santos 700
9th Floor, Unit 92
Sao Paulo, 01418 100, Brazil
Telephone: 55 11 3171 2851
Facsimile: 55 11 3171 2889
Limited consular assistance may be obtained at the:
Australian Consulate, Rio de Janeiro
Veirano e Advogados Associados
Av. Presidente Wilson, 231, 23rd Floor
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20030-021, Brazil
Telephone: 55 21 3824 4624
Facsimile: 55 21 2262 4247
The São Paulo Tourist Police can be contacted at (11) 3120 4447 and (11) 3151 4167. In Rio de Janeiro, tourist police can be contacted at (21) 2332 2924, (21) 2332 2511 and (21) 2332 5112.
In Rio de Janeiro, there is a dedicated police unit for tourists:
Special Police Unit for Tourism Support
Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco, 159 - Leblon
Rio de Janeiro - RJ
Delegado Mr. Fernando Vila Pouca
Phone: (21) 2332-2924/2885/2889
Phone/Fax:(21) 2334 6802
In an emergency or accident with injuries, dial 193 (fire department) throughout Brazil. Other important nation-wide numbers include the police (190) and public ambulance (192). Be aware the operators may not speak English.
If you are travelling to Brazil, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia. If the event affects a number of Australians, the Embassy may recommend courses of action via its Facebook page and the Ambassador’s twitter account.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Storms, flash flooding, and landslides are common in southern Brazil in the wet season between December and March. They can result in loss of life and property damage. Wildfire, especially in central Brazil, occurs during the dry season.
If a natural disaster occurs, monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
Many beaches in Brazil have very strong and dangerous riptides, including those in Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.