This is an especially boring advice post, even by my standards, but I’m putting it up in the hope it saves someone some trouble figuring out what they need to do in order to travel to Brazil – or, better yet, that it convinces someone that actually it’s not so hard to get the visa which would allow them to include Brazil on their South American tour after all. Unfortunately, that means it’ll be largely useless and uninteresting to most people. C’est la vie.
Brazil is one of only two countries on this entire round-the-world trip for which my passport has needed a visa stuck in it before I turned up to immigration. Brazil doesn’t work that way for many passports – for example if I’d managed to get around to realising that I’m theoretically entitled to a New Zealand one many years ago, instead of, say, in the middle of last December, then I would never have needed to discover the information below, since I would have been waltzing across the border visa- (and fee-) free.
But for us Aussies, as for the Canadians and Yanks out there (and obviously some other countries as well), a pre-arranged visa is required. This is slightly annoying, as a quick bout of Googling will reveal that Brazilian embassies around the world (much like their population in general) do not have a fantastic reputation for getting the necessaries done quick-smart.
My initial expectation was that I should try to organise the visa while back in Australia last December – but the timeframes didn’t really seem likely to work out given that I was already replacing my passport at the time, and given that Christmas holidays were involved. I don’t know whether Brazilians are big on Christmas or not, but I kind of assume that the existence of any sort of holiday period is unlikely to encourage speed and diligence.
So instead I got my Brazilian visa in Argentina. I expected that this would be easiest to do in Buenos Aires – the point of my bothering with this post, though, is that that expectation turned out to be wrong. Much easier – at least in my case – to sort it out in Puerto Iguazú.
Apparently the Consulate-General in Buenos Aires is actually not bad for visa turnarounds: two to four days, instead of the multiple weeks typical of embassies elsewhere in the world. But as it happened, there was a public holiday in the way when we would be in Argentina’s capital, so I looked for other options. Thus to the rescue the embassy in Puerto Iguazú, which turned out to be faster in any case, and also happens to have a reputation for involving a bit less hassle.
(If nothing else, getting a visa from Buenos Aires is more hassle because you have to have an appointment to go submit your documents. There’s a nice handy online appointment tool to schedule this for you, thankfully, but it has a minor drawback: it flat-out doesn’t work. To get yourself an appointment, phone or email the Consulate-General.)
Obviously I’m not the authoritative source for what’s required when you apply for your visa – you can find what the Brazilian government says about the matter here. But in addition to the filled-out and signed form, the 2”x2” passport photo, the proof of travel to/from Brazil (telling them I planned take a taxi or bus from Puerto Iguazú seemed sufficient for “proof of travel to” in my case), proof of a hotel/hostel reservation, bank statement from the last ninety days, photocopy of a credit card and fee in exact change, be aware that you will be required to provide a phone number at which you can theoretically be contacted while your visa is processed, or they will turn you away. So I suggest you bring the phone number of your hotel or hostel’s front desk.
The Puerto Iguazú embassy is at Avenida Córdoba #264, and it opens at 8am in the morning each weekday. Get in early – right when it opens, if not before, to get in line. They only accept applications in the morning, apparently; you can’t turn up even at 1pm to try to get yourself sorted out. Once you drop off your application and passport, you’ll still have plenty of time to visit the Argentine side of the Falls for the day, before you enjoy a relaxed final evening in Argentina and then return to pick up your visa whenever you’re told to return (sometime the next morning). Then cross the border, visit the Falls from the other side, and head on into Brazil.