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The return of the tourist visa requirement for United States citizens

In the legal field, legislative alterations happen all the time with the creation of new laws, decrees, and diplomatic agreements signed by certain countries, for instance.

That is why it’s important to always be wary of such changes in order to be correctly informed and to keep updated about the news of this area.

In March 2023, the government of the current President Lula has revoked Decree n. 9.731, of 2019. This decree exempted the citizens of the United States and other nationalities from the need to request a visit visa (tourist visa) to enter Brazil, in a unilateral manner.

But what does it change for American citizens who wish to visit Brazil and how does it impact their trip? This is what we are going to explain in this article. See more below!

If you wish to be assisted by a specialist lawyer to obtain your Brazilian visa, click here.

Author: Lucas Gomes Furtado

What are the consequences for Americans about this decree being revoked?

With this decree being revoked, citizens of the United States who want to enter Brazil as tourists will first have to obtain a Visit Visa before they leave their country.

This rule will come into effect for Americans, Canadians, and Australians who have tourism trips scheduled to Brazil from January 10, 2024, onwards.  

It is important to highlight that any entries in Brazil previous to this date will not require a visa from tourists, irrespective of the estimated date of return.

This change occurred after more than 4 years since the requirement of visa for these nationalities was eliminated, unilaterally, by the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro, in 2019.

We must state that nothing will be altered in regard to Brazilian travelers who wish to visit the United States as tourists, as they must continue to request a tourist visa before leaving Brazil.

What are the reasons for the return of this requirement?

The main reason mentioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that Brazil “will no longer admit unilateral exemption of tourist visas.”

In simpler terms, this means that, in order for Brazil to eliminate the visa requirement in regard to citizens from another country, this other country must do the same when it comes to Brazilian travelers.

In this situation, the revoked Decree allowed Americans to travel to Brazil without the need of a tourist visa, but Brazilian people still needed a tourist visa to travel to the United States.

This issue mainly relates to the Principle of Reciprocity, which is quite common in the International Law field with respect to diplomatic questions, and that involve agreements and treaties signed between countries.

Also, this principle also serves to establish special benefits and rules to the countries that participate in a diplomatic agreement, preventing any of them from being negatively affected or harmed in any way.

This is the case with Japan, for instance, which signed a bilateral agreement with Brazil to exempt Brazilians and Japanese people from the need of a tourism visa there and here, beginning on September 30, 2023.

Besides that, another possible motive is that this ‘free exemption’ could put Brazil in a more vulnerable situation in negotiations abroad, as the country would be relinquishing its power without receiving anything in exchange.

Which countries need a tourism visa to enter Brazil?

The lists of countries which require a tourist visa to enter Brazil or not are constantly changing, and it is vital to take notice of these updates quite often.

Therefore, some examples of countries whose citizens are required a visa at the moment are:

  • United States (from January 10, 2024);
  • Australia (from January 10, 2024);
  • Canada (from January 10, 2024);
  • Afghanistan;
  • Angola;
  • Cape Verde;
  • China;
  • North Korea;
  • Egypt;
  • Haiti;
  • India;
  • Lebanon;
  • Mozambique;
  • Senegal;
  • Syria;
  • Among others.

How does the tourist visa work in Brazil?

In Brazil, the Visit Visa (tourist visa) may be granted to the foreigner who has the intention of staying in Brazil for up to 90 days without the intention of immigrating or engaging in paid work.

In some situations, this period may be extended for another 90 days, depending on the nationality and the reasons alleged by the foreigner, as long as this request is made in advance. 

Besides tourism, this type of temporary visa is also intended for business, transit, the performance of artistic or sport activities, study, voluntary work, and participation in conferences, among other activities.

Thus, foreign citizens who need to request a Brazilian Visit Visa must do so while they are still in their country of residence, before boarding, and they must present them upon their arrival in Brazil.

I am American and I intend to visit Brazil. What do I need to do to obtain the visa?

As it was said before, the visa request must be done in the United States, well in advance in relation to the date of the trip. It is a proceeding that usually involves certain bureaucracy and may take a while.

Likewise, more than before, it is important for the American tourists to do some planning and organize themselves, for them to have a more pleasant and uneventful arrival in Brazil.

Firstly, it’s possible to request the visa online through the e-consular system, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by correctly filling out the information and taking notice of every step of the proceeding.

If the Brazilian Consulate or Embassy from your region does not have access to this system, it may be necessary to contact them via telephone, e-mail, mail or in person.

Both the e-consular system and the Brazilian Consulate will inform you about the next steps, the required documentation, which may vary according to the situation, and scheduling the interview.

In general, the necessary documentation for the visa includes:

  • a valid passport, ideally for at least 6 months after the planned date to leave Brazil;
  • a photography;
  • proof of address;
  • proof of income or financial sources to secure your stay in Brazil;
  • proof of payment of the Consulate fees.

Also, it’s essential that the payment of the Consulate fees be made for the proceeding to start, which usually cost approximately $160 dollars for American citizens.

This number may suffer alterations depending on the Embassy or Consulate that is going to process your visa request. It could be interesting, therefore, to get informed locally about the costs.

Finally, upon their arrival in Brazil as a tourist, the foreigner must present:

  • a valid and original passport;
  • a valid Visit Visa inside the passport;
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence in the country for the period of the visa and/or a return flight ticket.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for the Brazilian tourist visa?

No. The request for a Visit Visa can be made independently, both through e-consular and the Embassy or Consulate responsible for the region of your residence.

However, it’s highly recommended that the foreigner seeks the legal assistance of a specialized lawyer in regard to this issue.

That is because filling out forms incorrectly, as well as the lack of necessary documents and the disregard for deadlines and time may result in visa denial by the Brazilian authorities.

Also, a lawyer is the most equipped professional to correctly help you with each step of the way, making this bureaucratic proceeding of requiring a visa more simplified and less tiring overall.

Autor Convidado

A Koetz Advocacia convida advogados autores para colaborar em nosso site, para discutir assuntos internacionais e migratórios.

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