Brazil Register Travel insurance Destinations
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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
Crime is a serious problem throughout Brazil. Crime rates are highest in urban centres, particularly in areas adjacent to impoverished neighbourhoods of:
- Rio de Janeiro
- São Paulo
Foreign tourists are most commonly affected by theft but incidents of violent crime have also occurred, due to the high prevalence of guns coupled with the willingness of criminals and police to resort to violence. To avoid becoming a victim of crime, be aware of your surroundings at all times and follow the security directives of local authorities.
Street crime, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft from cars, is common in Brazil’s large cities. Tourists are a favourite target.
Petty theft on buses and the metro is common. It is a significant concern in Recife.
Incidents of opportunistic crime increase significantly at large-scale sporting events, international conferences and during holidays such as the Carnival and New Year’s celebrations.
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.
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.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Remain vigilant when visiting tourist destinations such as:
- outdoor markets
- hotel grounds
- bars and nightclubs
- airports and bus stations
- Avoid showing signs of affluence such as expensive jewelry, watches, clothing and bags
- Carry only small amounts of cash
- Keep cameras and portable electronic devices concealed
- Be aware of ploys to distract your attention
- Remain cautious with new acquaintances who ask for information or offer hospitality or assistance
- Book tours with reliable agencies
Armed robberies occur regularly, even during the day. They are a growing concern at restaurants, particularly in larger cities. Hold-ups can occur on Brazil’s trains. Assaults are frequently perpetrated in unofficial taxis.
Incidents of sexual assault against male and female foreigners have been reported, sometimes involving the use of sedatives.
Victims have been seriously injured or killed when resisting perpetrators, who may be armed or under the influence of drugs.
- Exercise a high degree of caution at all times
- Avoid travelling alone, especially at night
- Avoid parks or central (downtown) areas of major cities
- Avoid poorly lit and isolated streets
- Avoid walking on isolated and unsupervised beaches with poor visibility from the sidewalk
- If you are threatened by robbers, don’t resist.
Express kidnappings, although rare, occur throughout the country, particularly in larger cities. Victims are picked up from the street, usually at night, and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs.
- Use only ATMs in well-lit public areas
- Restrict withdrawals during day hours
- Be discrete when putting your money in your wallet
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.
Favelas are impoverished, urban neighbourhoods where crime levels are high. Gang-related violence is prevalent due to the presence of organized crime and drugs.
Police operations in favelas have led to retaliation by criminal gangs. Armed clashes and shootouts between police forces and alleged criminals regularly occur. As a result, there is an increased rate 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.
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 assistance in these areas is very limited.
- Don’t visit favelas
- Don’t rent accomodation located in a favela
Credit card and ATM fraud is a major problem. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Cybercrime is also a growing problem. Perpetrators monitor social media sites and eavesdrop on your conversations when you are in the country.
- Do not discuss travel plans or any other personal information within earshot of strangers
- Be cautious when posting information on social media
- Be particularly vigilant in internet cafes
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Demonstrations and civil unrest
Demonstrations take place regularly. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
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 areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
- Avoid travelling alone at night
- Avoid carrying purses
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
The use of sedatives to facilitate robberies of personal belongings has been reported on beaches in Rio and in crowded restaurants in São Paulo.
- Never leave your belongings unattended on city beaches
- Ask for drinks coming from sealed bottles or cans instead of in plastics glasses
- In restaurants, avoid sitting close to the entrance
Coastal waters can be dangerous.
- Swim or surf in areas where lifeguards are located
- Avoid swimming where there are strong currents
- Be wary of sharks, especially in Brazil’s north east near Recife
- Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities.
Robberies are frequent and occur in tourist destinations, including on hiking trails. Be especially cautious on the Corcovado trail in Rio, where several robberies have happened.
If you intend on trekking:
- never do so alone
- always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out
- ensure the trail doesn’t pass through a favela
- do not venture off marked trail
Amazon border regions and the Pantanal wetlands are largely uninhabited and dangerous areas.
Travel in these regions only with trained guides.
The subway systems in Rio and in São Paulo are generally safe during the day. Be extremely cautious using public transportation at night
Bus accidents occur regularly.
Major bus stations charge fixed, pre-paid rates.
Do not use public vans.
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.
- Only use official taxis
- Upon arrival to Brazil, purchase your fare from licensed taxi offices in the airport arrival hall or near the taxi queues
- During your stay, use licensed taxis from taxi stands
Brazil has one of the highest road accident rates in the world.
Road conditions are generally acceptable in large cities but badly maintained in the rest of the country. Poor signage and construction also pose a hazard.
Drivers do not respect traffic laws. Drivers are extremely aggressive and reckless and often drive at excessive speeds.
At night, it is common for drivers to treat red lights as stop signs to protect against hold-ups at intersections. Pedestrians and motorists proceeding through green lights during these hours should be particularly cautious.
- Be careful when stopping on the side of any highway because of traffic
- Be careful of motorbikes when changing lanes
- When driving in the city, pay particular attention to your surroundings while waiting at traffic lights
- 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 another vehicle
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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 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.
Since June 17, 2019, Canadian passport holders entering Brazil for tourism, transit or business no longer need a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Tourist visa: not required for stays of up to 90 days
Business visa: not required for stays of up to 90 days without remuneration
Student visa: not required for stays of up to 90 days
Length of stay
Stays are for a maximum of 90 days per visit.
If you intent to stay more than 90 days, you must obtain an extension from the Federal Police for a maximum stay of 180 days per period of 12 months.
To request a visa extension, you will have to:
- request such an extension prior to the expiration of the authorized stay
- provide your detailed (long-form) birth certificate
In order for your Canadian long form birth certificate to be accepted in Brazil, it must be presented to the Brazilian Embassy or one of its consulates prior to departure from Canada. Neither the Embassy of Canada nor its consulates in Brazil can authenticate a Canadian birth certificate outside of Canada.
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.
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 professional 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
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 not required to enter this country.
- 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.
- The World Health Organization has updated the yellow fever vaccine recommendations for international travellers to Brazil which are reflected in the Public Health Agency of Canada's travel health notice: Yellow fever in Brazil. Talk to your health care professional about risks of yellow fever in Brazil.
Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- 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.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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 a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. 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.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around 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 correctly 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 or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 3 months after returning from this country or after onset of illness due to Zika (whichever is longer) 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
Good health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Private hospitals and clinics located in cities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural facilities.
Some medical facilities in the state of Rio de Janeiro have closed or are providing limited services, due to lack of funding for their operations. Private hospitals remain operational.
Certain medications may not be available.
Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment.
Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Unfiltered water and ice throughout the country are not safe to consume.
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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
Avoid areas of known drug trafficking. Travellers should not, under any circumstances, carry any items for strangers, especially baggage and parcels.
Brazil is actively seeking to prevent child sex tourism. 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.
You must carry photo identification, such as a passport or driver’s license. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.
Not carrying identification can lead to problems and delays if stopped by police or in case of a medical emergency.
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 legal blood alcohol limit is 0.00% in Brazil. If the police suspect you of drinking and driving, they could confiscate your driver’s licence on the spot. If convicted, you can expect heavy fines and possible jail sentences.
You can drive in Brazil for up to 180 days with a valid Canadian driver’s licence. Obtain an official Portuguese translation of your Canadian driver’s licence to help when dealing with local authorities.
You should carry an international driving permit
The currency is the real (BRL).
Canadian bank cards may not work in ATMs. They should have a pin with a maximum of 4 digits to work in Brazil.
Canadian dollars are not generally accepted, except by some exchange bureaus, most likely at airports. Do not exchange money on the street.
Carry small bills, as change is often unavailable for small transactions.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy seasons extend from:
- January to July in the north
- November to March in the south and south east
- April to July in the north east
Flash floods and landslides can occur and hamper overland travel. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. Travel conditions on mountain roads and on highways leading to beaches can be dangerous.
Seasonal flooding can also reduce the provision of essential services.
Brasilia and the interior of the country experiences extreme dry periods between June and September. Humidity levels can drop below 10% and heat levels rise significantly.
Stay informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
A severe drought is affecting the south east of Brazil.
The water supply in São Paulo, including to the city of São Paulo, has been significantly affected. Some areas of São Paulo are experiencing water shortages, and the water quality has diminished.
Use only bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Bush and forest fires are common between May to September, particularly in Brasilia.
The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke. In case of a major fire:
- stay away from the affected area, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments
- follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel
- monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation
In case of emergency, dial:
- police (military): 190
- medical assistance: 192
- firefighters: 193
- Rio de Janeiro: (21) 2332 2924 or 2334 6802
- São Paulo: (11) 3120 4447 or 3151 4167
- Salvador: (71) 3116-6817
- Recife: (81) 3322-4867
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 Brazil, 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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