Brazil travel guide
From the jungle calls of the Amazon to the thong-clad crowds of Copacabana beach, Brazil is an intoxicating mix of the big, the bold and the beautiful, perennially one of the world’s favourite destinations.
It’s also one of the largest countries on the planet, with an awesome array of treasures to match. Its vast coastline is fringed with soft sands and island getaways; the Amazon Basin teems with an unrivalled mass of flora and fauna; and the wetlands of the Pantanal, the largest on Earth, support a staggering diversity of wildlife.
And then there’s the Iguaçu Falls, an unforgettable natural spectacle featuring hundreds of waterfalls, which cascade from the tropical rainforest as blue morpho butterflies flit through the spray.
Undoubtedly the greatest draw, however, are the Brazilians themselves; probably the most hedonistic people on earth. Whether it’s Rio’s effervescent Cariocas going overboard at Carnival, or São Paulo’s sultry citizens gyrating in chic nightclubs, Brazilians love having fun.
Their irrepressible joie de vivre finds its best outlet through music and dance. Samba, lambada and bossa nova are Brazil’s best-known musical exports, but visitors can also discover a plethora of other genres, from the Northeast’s forró to the punchy bass of baile funk coming out of Rio’s favelas.
Adrenaline junkies can go wild in Brazil; shooting the big surf of Santa Catarina; bouncing in beach buggies over the sand dunes of northern Natal; snorkeling in Fernando de Noronha National Park; or abseiling in the Chapada Diamantina National Park.
Or you can take life easy and let Brazil come to you by lolling in a hammock on an Amazonian ferry, looking out for the occasional macaw, or browsing the backstreets of colonial towns such as Ouro Preto and Paraty, which are lined with architectural monuments and chic boutique hotels.
Whatever you’re looking for, rest assured, Brazil has it in spades.
8,515,770 sq km (3,287,957 sq miles).
210,274,356 (UN estimate 2016).
24 per sq km.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva since 2023.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva since 2023.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Brazil set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Brazilian Embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Brazil.
Passport validity requirements
To enter Brazil, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You can visit Brazil without a visa for up to 90 days for tourism.
If you want to extend your tourist visa, contact the Federal Police (in Portuguese) before your visa expires.
For more information about visas, contact the Brazilian Consulate in London.
If you overstay your visa, you’ll face a daily fine. You have the option to pay this fine either when you leave Brazil or during your next visit. You will not be allowed to re-enter Brazil if you do not pay the fine. Overstaying your visa will result in a 6-month ban from re-entering the country.
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
Make sure the border control officer puts a stamp in your passport. If it is not stamped, you may be fined when you leave.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Brazil (in Portuguese).
At Brazil border control, you must be able to show:
- information about the purpose of your visit
- evidence you have enough money for your whole stay
- details of your accommodation
- evidence of return or onward travel
British-Brazilian dual nationals
Brazilian immigration authorities often require dual British-Brazilian nationals visiting Brazil to travel on Brazilian (rather than British) passports.
Travelling with children
Children with dual British-Brazilian citizenship
British-Brazilian dual nationals under the age of 18 who are travelling without all parents or legal guardians need authorisation from all parents or legal guardians to travel in Brazil or leave the country.
If they travel with only one parent (or guardian) or without any parent, they must have 2 original written authorisations from all parents or guardians. Read more about the formal travel authorisation process for Brazilian minors and the frequently asked questions.
You must show this permission when the under-18 leaves Brazil. One copy will be kept by the Federal Police inspection agent, together with a copy of the under-18’s identification document, and the other must stay with the under-18 or the adult accompanying them on the trip.
Children who are not dual British-Brazilian nationals
The Federal Police have sometimes delayed the travel of non-Brazilian under-18s who travel without authorisation from both parents. Families of non-Brazilian under-18s travelling through Brazil without one or both parents should follow the instructions for dual British-Brazilian under-18s. Make sure the under-18 or their travelling companion also carries the original or notarised copy of the under-18’s birth certificate. Contact the Brazilian Consulate in London for more information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Brazil guide. Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever vaccine.
This guide also has safety advice for regions of Brazil.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Brazil
Terrorist attacks in Brazil cannot be ruled out.
Protests and civil unrest
Protests, demonstrations and strikes take place regularly in cities across Brazil, with reports of arrests and clashes between police and protesters. They can disrupt transport. Even peaceful events can sometimes turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Police have used rubber bullets and tear gas extensively to disperse protesters. The effects of tear gas can be felt several hundred metres beyond the immediate site of demonstrations.
- avoid political rallies or other events where crowds have congregated to protest
- follow local news reports
- comply with the instructions of local authorities
If you encounter a political protest or feel uncomfortable in a large gathering, leave the area immediately.
Favelas (‘slum’ or ‘shanty town’) are urban neighbourhoods of high-density informal housing. They exist in all major Brazilian cities and can border areas used by tourists and visitors.
The security situation in many favelas is unpredictable. Visiting a favela can be dangerous. Avoid all favelas, including favela tours marketed to tourists and any accommodation, restaurants or bars advertised as being within a favela.
- make sure the suggested route does not take you into a favela if you’re using GPS navigation
- avoid entering unpaved, cobbled or narrow streets which may lead into a favela - tourists have been shot after accidentally entering favelas
If you’re unsure about a location, check with your hotel or the local authorities.
Carnival and other large-scale celebrations
If you are attending a large-scale celebration in Brazil, such as the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or other major cities, be aware that criminals target people who appear to be wealthy or easy targets, for example, those who have drunk a lot of alcohol.
Be aware of your personal security and surroundings, and be cautious about proposals from strangers that take you away from public areas.
If you’re the victim of crime, contact the local police number 190 or the nearest British embassy or consulate.
Read our guidance if you’re the victim of a crime abroad.
Pickpocketing is common. Do not go on to city beaches after dark.
If threatened, hand over your valuables without resistance. Attackers may be armed and under the influence of drugs. Do not resist attackers – this increases the risk of harm to you.
You can take steps to reduce the risk to yourself and your belongings, including:
- avoiding wearing expensive jewellery and watches
- avoiding carrying large sums of money – consider wearing a money belt
- avoiding using a mobile phone in the street
- keeping cameras out of sight when not in use
- leaving your passport and valuables in a safe place, but carry a copy of your passport and another form of photo ID, if you have one, at all times
Thefts are particularly common on public beaches and include ‘arrastões’ where large groups of thieves sometimes run through an area of the beach grabbing possessions. Keep your belongings close and avoid taking valuables to the beach.
Robberies on buses are common in many cities. Thieves target mobile phones, particularly between 4pm and 9pm.
Bank and credit card scams are common, including card cloning from ATMs and in shops. Keep sight of your card and do not use an ATM if you notice anything suspicious.
If you withdraw cash at an ATM and the cash has pink marks on it, speak to the bank (or police) straight away to get it changed. It may have been marked as damaged or counterfeit.
Sexual assault and drink spiking
Rape and other sexual offences against tourists are not common, but there have been attacks against both women and men. Some have involved date rape drugs. Buy your own drinks and keep them in sight.
If you begin to feel strange, sick or drunk after only a couple of drinks, tell a trusted friend or security staff. They should take you to a safe place, such as your hotel room or a hospital. You can phone the local police, a hospital or the nearest British embassy or consulate for advice.
Read our advice on what to do if you have been raped, sexually assaulted or drugged abroad.
Child sexual abuse
There are widespread cases of sexual abuse of children in Brazil. All sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is illegal, regardless of the age of consent locally. If you commit sex offences against children abroad, you can be prosecuted in the UK.
Parental child abduction
Parental child abduction is not common but can happen in Brazil. Dial 190 to report a missing child or go to the nearest police station. Read the guidance on international parental child abduction if your child may be at risk of this.
Theft from cars is common. Keep valuables out of sight.
Carjacking can happen, particularly on major roads and in tunnels. To reduce your risk you should:
- approach your car with your keys in your hand so you can get into your car quickly
- keep doors locked and windows closed
- take particular care at traffic lights
- drive in the middle lane if possible
- avoid deserted or poorly lit areas, unless you have reliable local advice
- be cautious of people approaching to ask for information, especially at night
- If driving at night outside the city, avoid stopping at the roadside – if you must stop, try to stop in a petrol station or well-lit area
Laws and cultural differences
Illegal drugs and trafficking scams
Drug trafficking is widespread in Brazil and the penalties are severe. The penalties for possessing drugs for personal use range from educational classes to community service.
British nationals have been targeted through email scams where fraudsters offer a financial reward for travelling to Brazil, where they are then asked to carry items out of Brazil, including to the UK. These items are often illegal drugs. Anyone caught will face detention for drug trafficking, regardless of the circumstances.
There is no legislation against homosexuality in Brazil. Same-sex marriage is legal and LGBT+ couples have equal rights in law.
São Paulo holds the world’s largest Pride celebration, which is usually very peaceful. Violence at the event is rare. Pride in Rio de Janeiro and other cities also attracts large numbers.
Brazil is generally tolerant. However, Brazilian society is quite conservative, particularly outside the larger towns and cities. Violence against LGBT+ people is a concern. Instances of discrimination, violence and harassment against the community have been reported. Factors contributing to these concerns include societal attitudes, cultural influences and the presence of conservative perspectives. Urban areas can be more accepting.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Strong currents can be a danger off some beaches. Get local advice before going in the water. Pay attention to warning flags and the location of lifeguards if present on the beach.
Shark attacks are a danger, particularly on the beaches around Recife in north-east Brazil. Pay attention to warning signs and consult lifeguards if unsure. Do not enter the water if there are warning signs. Sharks have been known to attack in waist-deep water and deaths have occurred.
See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.
You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Brazil. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the 1968 version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well. An IDP is recommended. After 180 days, you need to apply for a Brazilian driving licence.
Brazil has a high road accident rate. Driving standards are poor. Take care on the roads and avoid riding bicycles. In many rural areas, roads are in poor condition away from the main highways. Bus and coach crashes are frequent.
Immediately report all accidents involving personal injury to the police: call 190 or file a report at a police station. Also call the police if the vehicles are obstructing traffic and you need help.
You can report an accident:
- at the nearest police station
- to the tourist police (DEAT)
Drink-driving is a serious offence in Brazil and checkpoints are often set up. If you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be prosecuted. Penalties range from fines and a suspension from driving for 12 months, to up to 3 years in prison.
Allow plenty of time to arrive at the airport for your flight. Traffic in the main cities, especially São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, can be very heavy.
If you have been a victim of a passport theft and you need to fly to Brasilia, São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro for consular services, you can travel on domestic flights with a valid photo ID or a police report.
Check whether your tour operator has concerns about airlines in Brazil.
There have been armed and unarmed attacks on merchant vessels, including British flag vessels off the Brazilian coast and in some Brazilian ports.
There is a limited railway infrastructure in Brazil, and there have been safety incidents on the rail network.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
The rainy season runs from November until March in the south and south-east (including Rio de Janeiro – see Regional risks) and from April until July in the north-east of Brazil.
Heavy rains 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.
Forest fires are common from May to September, especially during July and August due to the arrival of dry season. They are highly dangerous and unpredictable. Check the latest alerts and weather forecast (in Portuguese) and follow advice of local authorities if you’re considering travelling to affected areas.
Rio de Janeiro
Protests in Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana beach is a popular location for demonstrations.
Organised crime and militias
Organised crime groups and militias operate in Rio de Janeiro.
Avoid all favelas – see Safety and security. There are favelas located around the city, including close to the tourist area of Zona Sul and Maré.
There have been armed clashes on major roads, including the main highway to the international airport, which runs alongside a large favela. Tourists participating in favela tours have accidentally been shot dead during police operations.
There is a risk of violence spilling over into nearby areas, including popular tourist areas. There have been injuries and deaths from stray bullets in and near favelas.
Theft in Rio de Janeiro
The most common incidents affecting British nationals are thefts and pickpocketing around:
- Copacabana beach
- Ipanema beach
- Santa Teresa
Tourists have reported armed robberies on the Corcovado walking trail to the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Heavy rainfall (particularly in the summer months of January to March) can lead to landslides and localised flash floods because the mountains are close to the coast. This includes in tourist areas. Follow local authority warnings which are displayed on digital street signs and sent to hotels and hostels.
Avoid travelling on the road during heavy rain. Cars and buses have been caught in landslides, resulting in deaths. If you are outside when the rain starts, avoid walking in flooded areas, and do not cross fast flowing water, however shallow you think it is. People have drowned when swept away.
Problems have been reported with tap water. Only use bottled water.
Protests in São Paulo
Protests take place regularly and often without warning. Roads and public transport are frequently disrupted and there can be delays along the main road to Guarulhos International Airport.
Popular locations for demonstrations include the Avenida Paulista and the historic downtown area.
Theft in São Paulo
The most common incidents affecting British nationals in São Paulo are thefts or pickpocketing around:
- Avenida Paulista
- the historical downtown area
- the red light districts located on Rua Augusta (north of Avenida Paulista)
- Catedral da Sé
- Praça da República
- the Estacao de Luz metro area (where Cracolandia is located)
Protests in Brasilia
The Esplanada dos Ministerios is a popular location for demonstrations. See our advice on protests and civil unrest.
Theft in Brasilia
In Brasilia, the central bus station area has a lot of incidents of theft. Theft from pedestrians also happens across the city, especially in the central and southern commercial centres. Take particular care at these locations.
Be aware of safety procedures on board vessels and check the location of life jackets, including for children if travelling with them. Boat accidents on the Amazon River are not uncommon.
The Amazonas River region, where Brazil shares borders with Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, poses certain risks associated criminal activity. The south-west river routes in the Amazon and Solimões river basin are commonly used for drug trafficking and by pirates. Both drug traffickers and pirates are likely to be armed and you should avoid travelling by river in this area. If travel is necessary get advice from local authorities to register your travel route and take a guide.
Theft in north-east Brazil
The most common incidents affecting British nationals in north-east Brazil are theft from hotel and motel rooms and muggings. Reduce the risk of being mugged by avoiding quiet or deserted areas and by using taxis after sunset instead of walking.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 192 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip:
- check the latest vaccination recommendations for Brazil
- see where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
See what health risks you’ll face in Brazil, including:
- yellow fever
- high UV levels
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Brazil. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.
There is an increase of Dengue in Brazil. Local authorities have declared states of emergency have been introduced in multiple regions of the country, including in Rio de Janeiro State. Dengue is spread by mosquitos, take extra steps to avoid being bitten. Read TravelHealthPro’s Brazil page and information on avoiding insect and tick bites.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
If you’re taking medication, bring a prescription or letter from your doctor confirming your need to carry the medication. Bring enough to last your whole trip, as some medicines may not be available locally. Counterfeit drugs can be an issue, so it’s better to travel with your own supplies.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Brazil
Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be overcrowded and there’s often a long wait for a bed and a lack of medication. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can show evidence of enough money or insurance to cover your treatment.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Brazil.
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Brazil.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Brazil
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers and funeral directors in Brazil
- dealing with a death in Brazil
- being arrested or imprisoned in Brazil
- getting help if you’re a victim of rape or sexual assault in Brazil
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
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.