Foreign travel advice

Brazil

Summary

There has been an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

UK health authorities have classified Brazil as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

A number of protests are expected to take place across Brazil over the coming weeks in response to political developments. Roads and public transport may be severely disrupted. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place, monitor local media and follow the advice from the local authorities.

Levels of crime and violence are high, particularly in major cities. You should be particularly vigilant before and during the festive and Carnival periods. Bank card fraud is common. 

You should remain vigilant, follow local advice and monitor local media.

Terrorist attacks in Brazil can’t be ruled out.

189,269 British nationals visited Brazil in 2015. Most visits are trouble free.

If you’re a single parent or guardian travelling with a child, you may need additional documentation.

Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil, and incurs severe penalties.

The number of dengue fever cases in Brazil as a whole has increased considerably in 2015, especially in the south-east and central-west. Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Brazil and the number of reported cases in the region is increasing. For more details about this outbreak, see the website of the National Health Network and Centre. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Brazil’s land border with Venezuela has reopened, but may be closed at short notice. You should monitor local media for updates and advice.

If you need to contact the emergency services, call 2332-2924 or 3399-7170 (tourist police), 190 (police), 192 (ambulance), or 193 (fire).

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Safety and security

Crime

A number of tourists in Rio de Janeiro have recently reported robberies on the walking trail to the Christ the Redeemer statue. Be particularly vigilant and never resist attackers.

Crime levels are high. Military troops have been deployed to Rio de Janeiro since 27 July 2017, with an operational focus on organised crime such as drug trafficking, illegal firearms and cargo theft. Violence and crime can occur anywhere and often involve firearms or other weapons. You should be vigilant, particularly before and during the festive and carnival periods.

Most visits to Rio de Janeiro are trouble free. The most common incidents affecting British nationals are thefts or pick pocketing around Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach and the Lapa area.

Avoid wearing expensive jewellery, watches and clothes. Don’t carry large sums of money. Keep mobile phones and cameras out of sight and leave your passport and valuables in a safe place, though you should carry another form of photo ID like a driving licence with you at all times.

Thefts are particularly common on public beaches, especially in Rio de Janeiro. These include ‘arrastões’ where large groups of running thieves target an area of beach. Take extra care and avoid taking valuables to the beach. Thefts are particularly common around Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Take extra care and avoid taking valuables to any public beach.

In any situation, be ready to hand over valuables if you’re threatened. Don’t attempt to resist attackers. They may be armed and under the influence of drugs.

Thefts from cars are common, and cases of carjacking occur. When approaching your car have the keys ready to make it easier to get into the car. When driving, keep doors locked and windows closed, and take particular care at traffic lights. In three or more lanes of traffic, consider using the middle lanes. Avoid deserted or poorly lit places, except under reliable local advice. Be aware of people approaching to ask for information, especially at night. The threat of personal attack is lower outside cities, but incidents can occur even in holiday destinations that appear relatively secure.

Rape and other sexual offences against tourists are rare, but there have been attacks against both men and women. Some have involved ‘date rape’ drugs. Buy your own drinks and keep them within sight at all times.

There has been an increase in robberies at ATMs. Some ATMs have been fitted with an anti theft device that applies pink coloured ink to the notes of an ATM that has been damaged or tampered with. Any pink coloured note will not be accepted and automatically loses its value. If you withdraw cash at an ATM and it has any sort of pink marks, speak to the bank straight away to get it changed. If outside bank hours or not in a bank branch you should get a bank statement from the ATM showing the withdrawal and take it with the marked note to a police station to get a police report.

Bank and credit card fraud is common, including card cloning from ATMs. Keep sight of your card at all times and do not use an ATM if you notice anything suspicious. Notify your bank in advance of your trip to avoid your card being blocked.

Mobile phone cloning occurs. Take care of your handset at all times. 

Favelas

There are high levels of poverty and very high levels of violent crime in shanty-towns (favelas), which exist in all major Brazilian cities. The state government has implemented a Pacifying Police Force (Unidade de Policia Pacificadora - UPP) in several favelas in Rio de Janeiro. While this has improved security in some favelas, all favelas are unpredictably dangerous areas, and remain high risk given the level of violence within them and the severe strain on police resources. You’re still at risk even if you visit favelas with organised tours. Violence, particularly aimed at police and officials, can occur at anytime and overspill to areas close to the favelas. You should take extra care and be aware of local conditions at all times.

Take extra care when using GPS navigation in Brazilian cities, particularly Rio de Janeiro, that the suggested route doesn’t take you into a favela. Check with your hotel or the local authorities if unsure.

Local travel

The following websites are maintained by the Brazilian authorities and contain useful information about travelling to Brazil:

Rio de Janeiro

São Paulo

Brazil

Check the integrity and safety standards of any adventure travel companies before you use them.

Public transport

Public transport is likely to be disrupted during periods of unrest. Be vigilant when using public transport, especially during rush-hour as petty crime is common. Generally, the metro systems in Rio and São Paulo are safer than buses. There have been incidents of hijacking and robbery of tour buses in recent years. There are frequent bus crashes.

Only use licensed taxis. You can pick up a licensed taxi from the many recognised taxi ranks around Brazilian cities. Always check your taxi has the company details on the outside. Taxi apps are also a useful way to call a licensed taxi; request your taxi inside if possible to avoid displaying your smartphone on the street.

Most airports have licensed taxi desks inside the baggage reclaim areas. You can pay for your taxi in advance using a credit card or cash inside the airport rather than in the street.

Most major cities in Brazil have facilities adapted for disabled travellers, including easy-access public buses and lifts to tube stations and platforms.

Road travel

Brazil has a high road accident rate. In many rural areas the quality of roads away from the main highways is poor, and standards of driving, especially trucks and buses, is low.

Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you’ll probably be prosecuted. Penalties range from fines and a suspension from driving for 12 months, to imprisonment for up to 3 years.

In the event of an accident, remove your car from the scene immediately if it’s obstructing traffic. Failure to do this may subject you to a fine or liability if another accident occurs as a result of the obstruction of the road.

Call the police on 190 if the vehicles involved are obstructing traffic and you need help. Otherwise, go directly to the nearest police station (DEAT – Tourist Police station call 2332-2924 or 3399-7170 or 2334-6804) to register the accident.

All accidents involving personal injury should be reported immediately to the police by calling 190.

Air travel

Always use recognised national air carriers. There have been accidents involving light aircraft, which sometimes have poor maintenance standards. A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

We can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Allow plenty of time to arrive at the airport for your flight. Traffic in the main cities, especially São Paulo and Rio, can be very heavy, particularly during rush hour.

Foreign nationals can travel on domestic flights with a valid photo ID or a police report in case of a lost or stolen passport.

Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air. The US and Netherlands authorities have prohibited their staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out. UK government officials have been told to do the same as a precaution.

Rail travel

The rail and metro infrastructure is limited. In the past there have been some safety and security incidents on these systems.

Sea travel

Be wary of safety procedures on board vessels. Boat accidents on the Amazon River are not uncommon.

There have been armed and unarmed attacks on merchant vessels, including British flag vessels off the Brazilian coast and in some Brazilian ports.

Swimming

Strong currents and sharks can be a danger off some beaches. Take local advice before swimming.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in Brazil can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil. If you are caught trafficking the penalties are severe, often involving long prison sentences in a Brazilian prison. The penalties for possession of drugs for personal use range from educational classes to community service. 

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. If you commit sex offences against children abroad you can be prosecuted in the UK.

You should carry some form of photo ID with you at all times.

There is no legislation against homosexuality in Brazil. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, and LGBT couples have equal rights in law. Human rights are protected by the Brazilian Constitution, and Brazil is a signatory to international and regional agreements protecting LGBT rights. Name changes on official documents for transgender people are also provided for by law, although this right is not always applied consistently across the country.

Sao Paulo holds the world’s largest Pride celebration, which typically passes off very peacefully – incidents of violence at the event are rare. Rio’s Pride and those of other cities also attract large numbers. Brazil generally has had a tradition of tolerance. However, Brazilian society is quite conservative, particularly outside the larger towns and cities, and LGBT-phobic violence is a concern - you should exercise discretion. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals can normally enter Brazil without a visa as a tourist. For further information about visas see the website of the Brazilian Consulate in London.

Make sure you comply with Brazilian immigration laws on arrival in the country. You must satisfy the Federal Police (the Brazilian immigration authority) of your intended purpose of visit. You will need to be able to demonstrate that you have enough money for the duration of your stay, and provide details of your accommodation and evidence of return or onward travel. Make sure your passport is stamped. If it is not, you may be fined on departure. Keep your immigration landing card. You’ll need it when you leave. If you lose it you may be fined.

If you wish to extend your stay while you are in Brazil you should apply to the Federal Police for an extension. If you overstay your visa, you are likely to be given notice to leave the country at your own expense and you may be fined or deported.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil.

Dual nationality

The Brazilian immigration authorities often require dual British/Brazilian nationals visiting Brazil to travel on Brazilian (rather than British) passports.  

Travelling with children

There are additional requirements for British-Brazilian dual nationals under 18 entering or transiting through Brazil without their parents or legal guardian, or travelling with one parent only. These requirements don’t apply to foreign nationals, but as a precaution and to avoid any possible delays, British nationals under 18 entering or transiting through Brazil without their parents or legal guardian, or travelling with one parent only, are advised to bring a letter of authorisation to travel from any parent(s) not travelling. Contact the Brazilian Consulate in London for more information and advice.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency travel documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Brazil. Your ETD must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. 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. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

UK health authorities have classified Brazil as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Malaria is present in parts of the country.

Dengue fever is particularly common during the rainy season (from November to March).

There has been an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

The sun can be extremely strong and UV levels are higher than in the UK.

If you’re taking medication, take a good supply with you, as they may not be available locally. Bring a prescription or letter from your doctor confirming your requirement to carry the medication. Counterfeit drugs can also be an issue, so it’s always better to travel with your own supplies. Rules for carrying personal medication vary and can change, so check with the Brazilian Consulate before you travel.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 192 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

The rainy season runs from November until March in the south and south east and from April until July in the north east of the country. Heavy rains can often disrupt infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Flash floods and landslides, especially in poorer urban areas, are common during heavy rains. Monitor local media and follow any instructions given by the local authorities.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.