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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brazilian Tourist Visas

We have been compiling a list of places to visit while living in Buenos Aires, and the destination that tops that this list is Iguazu Falls. Iguazu Falls are comprised of a strip of 250 falls over a 2 mile strip nestled between the northeastern tip of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. With Jon's parents visiting in April, after the major mosquito season is over, we planned a trip to Iguazu while they are in town. Through recommendations from our friends, we were told that the trip could be maximized by spending time on the Brazilian side of the Falls. As we soon learned, as Americans, we need to obtain a tourist visa to step foot in Brazil, even if it's only for a few hours. This is a direct result of America requiring Brazilians to obtain a visa before coming into the USA, including a fee that matches what the US charges - referred to as a "reciprocity fee". As of today, this fee is listed as $130 for a 90-day visa, yikes! We have been assured that this fee is worth it, I'll update you on whether we feel the same way after we return.

The interesting part of this process was the difference between the steps listed on the Brazil Embassy website versus the actual steps that we were required to take, so if you are in the market for a Brazilian visa - Beware! I read a number of blogs on the subject before we started the process, so we were ready to be surprised, but each person has a slightly different version of the process (us included). We spoke to a Canadian couple standing behind us in line for their visas and they had changed all of their reservations based on what they heard from friends, and in the end, this was an unnecessary inconvenience. So, here is how the process for an American obtaining a Brazilian tourist visa in Argentina panned out for us:
  • Fill out the online visa application form. Jon's parents were prepared enough to do this ahead of time, I filled out some other form that was expired so I filled the forms out when we got to the Brazilian Consulate. The goal is to have an application number, which is part of your form submission confirmation.
  • Go to the Brazilian Consulate building at - Carlos Pellegrini 1363 - Piso 5 from 9:00am to 1:00pm Monday - Friday. We went right at 9:00am and had approximately 6 people ahead of us. Bring with you:
  1. Your US passport that has at least 6 months left before it expires. You also need to have at least 2 empty pages in the back "visa" section.
  2. A 2x2 passport photo on white background. Neutral facial expression is best.
  3. Round trip travel information, they want to make sure that you're not going to stay in Brazil. We are not actually flying into Brazil, but our Iguazu, Argentina flight confirmation did the trick.
  4. Address and phone number of your hotel or overnight accommodations. Again, we are not staying in Brazil, but this was of no issue.
  5. A bank statement with the name of the account holder that proves you have at least US$1,000 in the bank.  The statement must be from the last 90 days, preferably printed that morning.  
  6. Tourist visa application number, if you were smart enough to get this in advance. If not (like me) you are able to get a number on the computers at the consulate, but they are s.l.o.w.
**Note: Some information we read stated that you need proof of a recent yellow fever vaccination,  proof of work in Argentina and various other documents. We did not need any of these items.
  • Bring this information up to the teller window. The teller fills out a paper, asks you a few questions, and has you sign your name on the paper (so each person requesting a visa must be present). This is the part where she takes your passport and photo (and I have a mild heart attack thinking that something will happen and she won't return them).
  • You will get a deposit slip with the address of a bank that you need to pay your reciprocity fee to. The teller told us to pay the fee and come back after 12:00pm the following day to receive our completed visas.
  • We went straight to the bank (approx 4 blocks away) and paid our fee. So far as I can tell, the bank will only accept Argentine pesos. The bank gives you a confirmation of payment slip - guard this with your life.
We returned to the Consulate the following day at noon to turn in our confirmation of payment and collect our passports with shiny new Brazilian visas inside, just like the teller said. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that the visas are good for 5 years, not the 90-days we were expecting. All in all, the process was not nearly as painful as I had expected, save a few extra errands. It was funny to see the same people in line at the Consulate, then the bank, then the Consulate again the following day. We head out to the Falls on Thursday, armed with our entry passes to Brazil!

UPDATE: The Brazilian Consulate has begun requiring appointments for all visa requests. This was only a mild issue for us, who did not have an appointment. The teller gave us a frustrated look and a sign when we told her that we did not have an appointment but she let us process our request that day regardless. I would recommend making an appointment, the next teller may not be so nice: Brazilian Tourist Visa appointment directions.

1 comment:

  1. Stank and BlakelyApril 14, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    It sounds like a bit of a process, but I guess if we make them do it to come to America we should only expect to have to do it to go to their country.

    Hope you had a great time at the Falls!