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Brazil - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Brazil due to high crime rates and regular incidents of gang-related and other violence in urban areas.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Brazil. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Increased security presence
Since July 2017, the army has been deployed to Rio de Janeiro to respond to an increasing number of shootouts between drug traffickers and police, assaults and the deaths of bystanders by stray bullets. Operations are underway in neighbourhoods and main roads throughout the city. Be particularly vigilant as the situation remains fluid.
Crime is a serious problem throughout Brazil. Rates of both petty crime and violent crime, including homicide, are highest in urban centres, including Rio de Janeiro (or Rio), São Paulo, Brasilia, Recife and Salvador, and particularly in areas adjacent to impoverished neighbourhoods (see Favelas, below). Foreign tourists are most commonly affected by theft but incidents of violent crime against tourists have occurred, due to the high prevalence of guns coupled with the willingness of criminals to resort to violence. To lessen your risk of becoming a victim of crime, you should remain aware of your surroundings at all times and comply with security directives imposed by local authorities.
Street crime, including pickpocketing, purse or bag snatching, theft from cars and mugging, is common in Brazil’s large cities. Tourists are a favourite target, mainly because they are perceived as being wealthy, easy targets. Remain vigilant when visiting tourist destinations such as public beaches, outdoor markets, hotel grounds, bars and nightclubs, as well as at airports and bus stations. Petty theft on buses and the metro is common and has increased significantly in Recife since 2015. Incidents of opportunistic crime increase significantly at large-scale, high-profile sporting events, international conferences and in the period leading up to and during public festivities where tourists gather, such as the annual Carnival and New Year’s (Reveillon) celebrations.
Tourists are more vulnerable to crime when they look and act like tourists, so try to blend in. Avoid showing signs of affluence such as expensive jewelry, watches, clothing and bags, and carry only small amounts of cash. Keep cameras and portable electronic devices, including cellphones, laptops and tablets, concealed as much as possible. Store your valuables and important travel documents in a hotel safe.
Be aware of ploys to distract your attention and remain cautious with new acquaintances who ask for information or offer friendship, hospitality or assistance. A common ruse used by criminals is the Good Samaritan scam, where a criminal offers to help a tourist who looks lost. If you are lost, go into a nearby business or hotel to ask for help. If someone spills something on you, do not let them clean it, as they are likely out to steal your wallet.
Mass mob or flash mob robberies (arrastões) have occurred sporadically on Rio’s city beaches and in other crowded tourist areas. This type of crime involves a group of thieves (often young children and youth originating from nearby favelas) that swarm an area and snatch valuable items such as cash, jewellery and cell phones. Never leave your belongings unattended on city beaches. Flash mob robberies have also been known to occur in crowded restaurants in São Paulo. Avoid sitting close to the entrance when possible.
Robberies occur regularly, even during the day, and are sometimes violent and at gun- or knifepoint. Armed robberies at restaurants are a growing concern, particularly in larger cities. Assaults are frequently perpetrated in unofficial taxis, which should be avoided. Hold-ups and robberies can occur on Brazil’s trains. If you are threatened by robbers, comply with their demands. Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators, who may be armed and/or under the influence of drugs.
Exercise a high degree of caution at all times and avoid travelling alone, especially at night and in parks or central (downtown) areas of major cities. Be sure to use well-lit and well-frequented streets. Avoid walking on isolated and unsupervised beaches with poor visibility from the sidewalk. Use caution when travelling by car or by bus at night in the outskirts of major cities, where there is a risk of roadside robberies.
Express kidnappings, although rare, occur throughout the country, particularly in larger cities. Victims are picked up from the street, usually in the evening and at night, and forced to withdraw funds from automated banking machines (ABMs). Use only ABMs in well-lit public areas or inside banks and restrict withdrawals in between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Be discrete when counting or putting your money in your wallet.
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. Debit cards are also cloned, so check your bank account regularly to ensure that no unauthorized withdrawals have taken place.
Cybercrime, particularly banking scams and phishing, is a growing problem. Perpetrators use various means of gathering information about potential victims, including monitoring social media sites and eavesdropping on your conversations when you are in the country. Do not discuss travel plans or any other personal information within earshot of strangers, and be cautious when posting information on social media. Be particularly vigilant in internet cafes.
Do not exchange money on the street. Use exchange centres at banks or kiosks, instead.
Incidents of sexual assault against male and female foreigners have been reported, sometimes involving the use of sedatives.
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.
If you do become a victim of a crime, report it to the tourist police (Delegacia de Atendimento Ao Turista, or DEAT) to ensure that local authorities can conduct an investigation. In Rio de Janeiro, the tourist police station is located in the Leblon neighbourhood at 159 Afranio de Melo Franco Avenue and can be reached by telephone at (21) 2332 2924 or 2334 3802. To reach the tourist police in São Paulo, dial (11) 3120 4447 or 3151 4167. It is especially important to report the loss or theft of your identification documents, both to Brazilian authorities and to the Canadian embassy or one of its consulates (see Assistance).
Favelas and gang-related violence
Favelas (shanty towns) are impoverished, urban neighbourhoods where crime levels are high and gang-related violence is prevalent due to the presence of organized crime and drugs. There is a risk of violence spilling over into nearby, affluent neighbourhoods and tourist destinations. There have been incidents of injuries and deaths as a result of stray bullets near, and in, favelas.
Police efforts to pacify favelas have led to retaliation by criminal gangs. As a result, there is an increased risk of violence everywhere. Targets have included police stations, buses, official buildings and businesses. Incidents have occurred on major thoroughfares, including the highway to and from the Galeão Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio. Armed clashes and shootouts between police forces and alleged criminals are a regular occurrence.
Visits to favelas, including favela tours, are not recommended, as violent incidents could occur with little or no notice. Police assistance in these areas is very limited. Do not rent rooms or apartments or stay in hostels located in a favela. Remain vigilant at all times and comply with security directives imposed by local authorities.
Unaccompanied female travellers should exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, and be extremely cautious about accepting invitations. Avoid travelling alone at night and avoid carrying purses, when possible. Never leave your drinks unattended and never accept drinks from strangers. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Nationwide demonstrations and labour strikes occur regularly to protest against government corruption. Expect significant disruptions to public transportation and road travel due to roadblocks erected during protests.
In São Paulo, protests can cause delays along the main road to Guarulhos International Airport. Demonstrations tend to increase in numbers and intensity during major events that attract foreign visitors.
- avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as they can turn violent without warning
- monitor the local media for updates
- follow the instructions of local authorities
The subway systems in Rio and in São Paulo are generally safe during the day. Be extremely cautious using public transportation at night; take a licensed taxi instead. Do not use public vans. Bus accidents occur regularly.
Use licensed taxis from taxi stands. At night, it is safer to order a taxi by telephone or by using the taxi app (99 Taxi or EasyTaxi). Upon arrival to Brazil, purchase your fare from licensed taxi offices in the airport arrival hall or near the taxi queues. Only use official taxis to travel to and from airports. Taxis departing from airports or major bus stations charge fixed, pre-paid rates. Very 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 and their taxi meters have not been adjusted, drivers may indicate these changes by showing an authorized paper with the new fares.
Many tourists hire “radio taxis”, also known as “commun taxis.” These taxis operate at a fixed price irrespective of the time of the day and the time it takes to arrive at your destination.
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 and motorbikes, reckless passing, excessive speeds, poorly marked lanes, poor signage, construction and vehicles moving in the wrong direction on one-way streets. Traffic laws are not rigorously enforced. Be careful of motorbikes when changing lanes. Road conditions are generally acceptable in large cities but badly maintained in the rest of the country. Be careful when stopping on the side of any highway, because of both traffic and the potential of becoming a victim of crime (such as carjacking).
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.
If you are in a traffic accident, call the police immediately. Never confront the driver of the other vehicle. Roadside assistance is generally offered by local garage owners.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Reconfirm flight details with your airline and arrive at the airport three hours prior to departure for international flights and two hours prior to departure for domestic flights from the national airports; three hours if your domestic flight departs from the international airports in Rio (GIG) or São Paulo (GRU). Failure to do so could result in the loss of your seat, as airlines attempt to accommodate passengers on waiting lists. Driving to the international airports in Rio and in São Paulo can take up to 2.5 hours during rush hour or if an accident occurs on the highway, therefore sufficient time should be allocated for transportation. 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.
Borders with Colombia and Venezuela
There is a concerning level of serious criminal activity by organized criminal groups along the border areas with countries bordering Brazil, particularly Colombia and Venezuela. Incidents of attacks on tourists and kidnapping have occurred. Be extremely cautious when crossing into bordering countries.
General safety information
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. Avoid swimming where there are strong currents. Sharks are present, especially in Brazil’s north east near Recife. Follow the advice of local authorities before swimming. The waters along the shores of many beaches are dangerous at times, so swim or surf in areas where lifeguards are located.
Unfiltered water and ice throughout the country are not safe to consume.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Brazilian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave from Brazil.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Canadians applying for a Brazilian entry visa should note that the names on the Canadian passport and visa application must be identical. Federal police will not accept initials and missing names on the application. This rule also applies to the names of the parents.
Tourist visas issued to Canadian passport holders are valid for multiple entries and usually five years from the date of issue. To stay more than 30 days, you must validate your visa at a local police station.
Stays are for a maximum of 90 days per visit, but if necessary, you may obtain an extension from the Federal Police in Brazil for a maximum stay of 180 days per year. You will need to provide your detailed (long-form) birth certificate in order to request a visa extension. You must request such an extension prior to the expiration of the authorized stay.
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
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
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 - Country Entry Requirements
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.
There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
- Parts of Brazil are currently experiencing an outbreak of yellow fever.
Country Entry Requirements
- Proof of vaccination is required for travellers arriving from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Vaccination is recommended when visiting areas at risk of yellow fever transmission. Additional information on the areas at risk in Brazil is presented in this map.
- January 16, 2018: The World Health Organization updated the yellow fever vaccine recommendations for the state of São Paulo. Vaccination against yellow fever is now recommended for travel to the entire state, including the city of São Paulo. Talk to your health care provider about risks of yellow fever in Brazil.
Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
* 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.
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 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, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus , yellow fever and Zika virus.
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.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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
Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Consult Well on Your Way—A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad for more information. If you have a medical emergency while abroad, officials at the nearest Canadian government office can provide you with a list of licensed health-care providers.
Medical care is adequate in major cities but varies in quality in rural areas. Private hospitals and clinics located in cities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities. Certain medications may not be available.
Some public hospitals, emergency rooms and health clinics in the state of Rio de Janeiro have closed or are providing limited services, due to lack of funding for necessary medical equipment and supplies and for the salaries of health-care staff. Private hospitals remain operational.
Make sure you have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical care, so ensure you have access to sufficient funds. Contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. See Travel Insurance for more information.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
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.
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.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Brazil, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
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) and should have a pin with a maximum of four digits to work in Brazil. 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. Traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted in Brazil.
Natural disasters and 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, Brasilia. Remain alert to local developments through the media and modify your travel arrangements accordingly. In the event of a wildfire, follow the instructions 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 São Paulo state, including to the city of São Paulo, should note that the water supply in São Paulo has been significantly affected by a severe drought affecting the south east of Brazil. Some areas of São Paulo are experiencing water shortages, and the water quality has diminished. Use only bottled water for drinking and cooking.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police (military): 190
- medical assistance: 192
- firefighters: 193
Brasilia - Embassy of Canada
Belo Horizonte - Consulate of Canada
Rio De Janeiro - Consulate General of Canada
São Paulo - Consulate General of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Brasilia or the Consulate General of Canada in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
You may call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 0 800 891-6614.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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