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BRAZIL - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Brazil. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to high crime rates and regular incidents of gang-related and other violence.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Police efforts to crack down on crime in favelas (shanty towns) have led to retaliation by criminal gangs. As a result, there is an increased chance of violence everywhere, including major thoroughfares. Remain vigilant at all times and comply with security directives imposed by local authorities.
Incidents of gang-related violence continue to pose a threat in large urban centres, where there is often a visible disparity in the levels of wealth. In the past, targets have included police stations, buses, official buildings and businesses. Most tourist hubs and destinations have also been targeted. In urban centres, particularly in or near favelas, violent incidents and armed clashes between police forces and alleged criminals are a regular occurrence. Although additional security forces have been deployed throughout the country, future incidents are likely and could involve the use of firearms, as these are increasingly easy to obtain.
Exercise a high degree of caution at all times and avoid travelling alone, especially at night.
Serious crime, which can involve significant violence, is high in most urban centres, including, but not limited to, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Recife and Salvador. The use of firearms is common. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators.
Robberies involving tourists occur regularly, even during the day, and are sometimes violent. Avoid isolated areas and unsupervised beaches with poor visibility from the sidewalk, and ensure that your hotel or living accommodation is totally secure. Mass mob or flash mob robberies (arrastões) have occurred on city beaches and other crowded areas. This crime involves a large group of thieves that swarm an area and snatch valuable items such as cash, jewellery and cell phones. You should be extremely vigilant. Incidents of sexual assault against foreigners have been reported, sometimes involving the use of sedatives. Unaccompanied female travellers should exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, and be extremely cautious about accepting invitations.
Visits to favelas (shantytowns) are not recommended; however, those who choose to visit should only go in the company of a reputable tour guide and must exercise extreme caution. Crime levels in favelas are extremely high and police assistance in these areas is very limited. There have been incidents of injuries and deaths as a result of stray bullets near and in favelas.
Street crime, including pickpocketing, mugging and purse snatching, is common, especially during public festivities such as the annual Carnival. Tourists are a favourite target. Be vigilant when visiting outdoor markets and be cautious of strategies to distract your attention. Avoid walking alone on beaches or in central areas of major cities after dark, and use well-lit and well-frequented streets. Carry only small amounts of money and avoid showing signs of affluence, including jewelry, watches and portable electronic devices (laptops, ipads etc.) Store your valuables and important documents in a hotel safe. As Brazilian authorities require all individuals to carry some form of identification, carry a photocopy of the identification page of your passport and visa documentation.
Express kidnappings and carjackings occur throughout the country, particularly in larger cities. Victims are usually picked up from the street and forced to withdraw funds from automated banking machines (ABMs). Remain cautious with new acquaintances who offer friendship, hospitality or assistance. Use only ABMs in well-lit public areas or inside banks and avoid using them during the evening and at night. Credit card fraud is also common, and travellers are advised to keep their cards in sight when executing a transaction.
Armed robberies at restaurants is a growing issue. Patrons should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings. In all cases, comply with the attackers orders to mitigate the chances of violence.
Criminal activity may occur in Brazilian coastal waters. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautions and ensure that they can communicate with authorities easily in case of emergency.
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations and political and labour strikes are common and could lead to violent incidents. Roadblocks are sometimes used during protests.
Since June 10, 2013, demonstrations have been taking place throughout Brazil to protest against corruption and an increase in costs to basic services. Monitor local media and developments, follow the advice of local authorities and avoid all large crowds, as even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent suddenly.
In São Paulo, protests can cause delays along the main road to Guarulhos International Airport. Expect traffic and public transportation disruptions.
Brazil has one of the highest road accident rates in the world. Driving is hazardous due to aggressive driving habits, a significant number of trucks, reckless passing, excessive speeds, poorly marked lanes, construction, vehicles moving in the wrong direction on one-way streets, and poorly maintained roads. Avoid driving after dark, and keep car doors locked and windows closed at all times. Be careful when stopping on the side of any highway, both for traffic and for the potential of being a victim of crime.
When driving in the city, pay particular attention to your surroundings while waiting at traffic lights. It is common for motorists to treat red lights as stop signs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to protect against hold-ups at intersections. Most cities will have a flashing yellow light to indicate that drivers only need to yield. Pedestrians and motorists proceeding through green lights during these hours should be particularly cautious. If you feel threatened at any time, do not stop.
Reconfirm flight details with your airline and arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure for international flights and one hour prior to departure for domestic flights. Failure to do so could result in the loss of your seat, as airlines attempt to accommodate passengers on waiting lists. Boarding gates frequently change before the final boarding announcement. Boarding announcements are often given in Portuguese only. Verify with airport personnel and listen carefully to all announcements, to ensure that you are at the proper boarding gate.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Theft on buses and trams is common, especially at night. Violent incidents are frequently perpetrated in unofficial taxis, which are often present at airports. Registered taxis are clearly identified but may look different in each city. To be safe, purchase tickets from taxi offices in the airport arrival hall. In town, use taxis from taxi stands. Only use official taxis to travel to and from airports. Few taxi drivers speak English or French. Local law requires the use of the taxi meter to determine the legal fare; adding surcharges to a fare is illegal. Should taxi rates change, drivers may indicate these changes by showing an authorised paper with the new fares if their meters have not been adjusted. At night, it is safer to order a taxi by telephone.
Report all criminal incidents to the nearest police station.
Dial 193 for the fire department, 190 for the police and 192 for ambulance services.
In São Paulo, dial (11) 3120-4447 or 3151-4167 to reach the tourist police (Delegacia de Proteção ao Turista). In Rio de Janeiro, dial (21) 2332-2924, 2332-2511 or 2332-5112 to reach the tourist police.
In case of emergency or an accident with injuries, dial 193 throughout the country. In the event of an accident without injuries, contact the military police at 190. Never confront the driver of the other vehicle in an accident, as this should be handled by the police. Roadside assistance is generally offered by local garage owners.
General safety information
Undertake travel in the Amazon border regions and the Pantanal wetlands only with trained guides. These areas are largely uninhabited and dangerous.
Exercise caution when swimming offshore. Strong currents and sharks are present, especially in Recife. Follow the advice of local authorities before swimming.
Large scale events such as Carnival celebrations, sporting events and international conferences are a common occurrence in larger cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Remain vigilant during such events as fraud and theft become more frequent. Banks and businesses are commonly closed during these occasions.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Brazilian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Brazil, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Tourist visas issued to Canadian passport holders are valid for multiple entries and usually five years from the date of issue. To stay in excess of 30 days, visas must be validated at a local police station. Although authorized stays are for a maximum of 90 days per visit, if necessary, an extension may be obtained with the Federal Police in Brazil for a maximum stay of 180 days per year. Such an extension must be requested prior to the expiration of the authorized stay. Canadians applying for a Brazilian entry visa should note that the names on the Canadian passport and visa application must be identical. No initials (this also applies to the names of the parents) or missing names will be accepted by the Brazilian Federal Police.
Travellers are provided with an entry/exit card by immigration officials upon entry into Brazil. This card must be presented to officials upon departure from the country. Failure to produce this document upon departure may result in a fine.
All Brazilian citizens must enter and leave Brazil with their Brazilian passport. Airlines may also require a valid Canadian passport for check-in and boarding procedures. You may face delays or be denied boarding by your airline if you attempt to return to Canada without a Canadian passport. See Laws and culture for additional information.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies in quality elsewhere. Certain medications may not be available. Private hospitals and clinics located in cities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical care.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs is severely punished. Avoid areas of known drug trafficking. Travellers should not, under any circumstances, carry any items for strangers, especially baggage and parcels.
It is recommended that you carry an original piece of identification (such as a driver’s licence) as well as a copy of your passport and visa at all times. Not carrying identification can lead to problems and delays if stopped by police or in case of a medical emergency.
Brazil is actively seeking to prevent child sex tourism, and a number of tourists have been convicted of offences relating to the corruption of minors. The legal age of consent in Brazil is 18. Prison sentences are severe.
Consumption of any alcoholic beverages prior to driving is illegal in Brazil.
Canadians can drive in Brazil for up to 180 days with a valid Canadian driver’s licence. Obtaining an official Portuguese translation of your Canadian driver’s licence may help when dealing with local authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Brazil. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Brazilian citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the real (BRL). Canadian dollars are not generally accepted in Brazil, although some exchange bureaus, most likely at airports, will accept them. Finding an exchange bureau elsewhere can be difficult. Carry small bills, as change is often unavailable for small transactions. Canadian bank cards may not work in automated banking machines (ABMs). Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Diners Club) are widely accepted in stores and at ABMs, although many locations will not accept more than one or two of those listed above. Credit card fraud is a major problem. When using credit cards, ensure that your card remains in your sight and retain your transaction receipt along with the carbon paper. Traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted in Brazil.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy seasons extend from January to July in the north, from November until March in the south and south east, and from April until July in the north east of the country. Flash floods and landslides can occur. During the rainy seasons, travel conditions on mountain roads and on highways leading to beaches can be dangerous due to flooding or landslides. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Hot, dry weather conditions during the dry season, which lasts from May to September, may lead to wildfires in the central areas of Brazil, including the capital of Brasilia. Remain alert to local developments through the media and modify your travel arrangements accordingly. In the event of a wildfire, follow the advice of local authorities. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, take into account that the air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.
Canadians travelling to Sao Paulo state, including to the city of Sao Paulo, should note that the water supply in Sao Paulo has been significantly affected by a severe drought impacting the south east of Brazil. Some areas of Sao Paulo are experiencing water shortages, and the water quality has diminished. Use only bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Brasilia - Embassy of Canada
Belo Horizonte - Consulate of Canada
Rio De Janeiro - Consulate General of Canada
São Paulo - Consulate General of Canada
Porto Alegre - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Brasília or the Consulate General of Canada in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 0 800 891-6614.
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