Traveling to Brazil – Things Foreigners Need to Know

Traveling to Brazil - Things Foreigners Need to Know


Traveling to Brazil - Brazil is hailed as one of the most captivating places not only in South America but the whole world as well. Brazil is filled with friendly people, powdery white sand beaches, immaculate rainforests, and inviting, lively metropolises that is inviting to most of travelers around the globe. It offers a sense of adventure to travelers- horseback riding, Amazon exploration, rock- climbing, whale-watching, surfing and snorkeling or simply soaking in the warm sands with cocktails in hand.

Brazil is widely known for its festive Carnaval celebration. It sweeps the country’s cities like storm with hyped-up rhythm of samba and frenvo, dazzling costumes and the Brazilian carefree attitude. However, Brazilians do not limit their passion for a good time during the week-long revelry. As long as there is music, even just a drumbeat, Brazilians are surely geared to have fun.

But before heading to this wonderful destination whether as a tourist or as an expat, every traveler should first immerse himself with information that will be useful during their visit to this Portuguese-speaking South American country. It is essential to know basic information to make one’s travel and stay to this beautiful country a breeze and hassle-free.

Entry and Exit Formalities - Traveling to Brazil

Visa requirement to enter the country depends on what country you came from. Citizens from United States, Australia and Canada need a visa while those from the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Germany do not. Tourist visas are valid upon arrival within 90 days of issuance and then for another 90-day stay.

When Traveling to Brazil for an expat intending to work, there are two types of visas that will enable him to work in the country: short- term visa and long term visa. Short-term visa or the category V visa which is valid for working in a specific position, and in a certain limit of time. A holder of category V visa is not allowed to change jobs throughout his stay in Brazil. In order for a foreigner to have this kind of visa, he must have signed a contract with a Brazilian employer. Long- term visa or permanent visa are usually applied by self-made expats and gives them the advantage of being allowed to stay in Brazil indefinitely and can change jobs without the risk of losing their work permit. However, permanent visa is more difficult to be approved and applicants must convince the Brazilian authorities that they have highly specialized skills that will be beneficial to Brazilian economy.

For tourist entering Brazil, they are required to fill up an entry/exit card; half will be given to the tourists and the other half will be kept by the immigration officials. Passports will be stamped upon arrival and the number of days of allowable length of stay will be written on the passports. When tourists leave Brazil, the other half of the entry/ exit card will be handed over to the immigration officials.

Traveling to Brazil - Money and Cost of Living

Brazil’s currency is called the real (R$) and one real is made up of 100 centavos. One can distinguish banknotes from each other as they come in different colors with different animals featured on them.

Cost of living in the cities of Brazil is relatively high. Most expats living in the country have compared the cost of living in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janiero, two of its most known cities, as comparable to the cities of Europe. The average cost of living for these key cities is R$3000. Albeit, some places have cheaper cost of living compared to these key cities.

For tourist visiting the country, standard daily expenses may range from R$ 200 to R$400. This may include accommodation in dorm rooms to standard hotel rooms, food and some travel transfers via buses. For budget more than R$400, this may include stay at boutique hotels or upscale jungle lodges and dinner for two at top restaurants.

Working in Brazil

Working in Brazil becomes an attractive prospect for most expats from all over the globe due to its economic success and relatively steady growth. Those who considered working in Brazil need to have a solid plan before deciding to leave their home countries. Job market in Brazil is highly competitive for self-made expats and one should be aware that working in Brazil is possible only with sufficient knowledge of Portuguese.

Most of the expats in Brazil are transferees from foreign and multinational companies that operate local branches in the country. Popular industries for expats to work with are engineering, high-tech sectors and petrochemical operations.

Health Related Issues

Brazil is one of the few countries which provide free access to health care to those who are living legally in the country. Although most of the cities have sufficient health care facilities, it may be difficult to have in some rural areas. Also, the health care system in Brazil, albeit free, has a reputation of being underfunded. Thus, most of the affluent families in Brazil choose the more expensive private health care system.

If you are traveling to Brazil the common health problems that one may encounter in Brazil are yellow fever, malaria, dengue and typhoid fever. Except for dengue which has no developed vaccine yet, it is best to consider getting vaccines for these common health problems first before travelling to Brazil to minimize the risk of being infected.

Getting Around Brazil

Long- distance buses are economical way to travel in Brazil. For longer distances, it is preferred to travel by planes. Although it lacks a comprehensive railway system, Brazil has an excellent coach network in the region.

An expat living in Brazil may opt to travel by car instead of public transport system despite bad traffic conditions. Brazil has the largest road network in the region and cars are the most popular and convenient way to travel around.

Traveling to Brazil  - Driving and Driving Permits

Driving in Brazil proved to be a challenge for most expats living in the country. This is because Brazilian driving habits are largely different from those of American or European expats might be familiar with. Other conditions that may prove to be challenging to most expats are the traffic conditions in the most of its cities. In fact, Sao Paolo, one of Brazil’s key cities has the most notorious traffic jam in the country.

For expats who wished to secure a driver’s license in Brazil, the minimum age of driving in the country is 18 years old. Expats are allowed to drive in Brazil with a full license issued abroad in the span of six months. After six months, it is mandatory to secure for a local license. Generally, one needs to complete the test which comprises of four parts: medical examination, psychological examination, road theory and traffic laws, and practical driving test. However, residents with foreign license from United States, the European Union, South Africa and Australia do not need to take the complete test. Bear in mind also that only legal residents are allowed to apply for Brazilian driver’s license. Upon approval of the application, foreigners are first given a trial license valid for one year. One can exchange it into a Brazilian license after a year provided that the holder of the trial license did not commit any traffic violation.

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