I decided that like a lot of porteños, I would try and escape the heat of Buenos Aires in the summer, so next week, I’m off to explore Florianópolis, Brazil. Floripa has been rated as “best place to live in Brazil” and is also known for its beaches, surfing, and nightlife. It’s also supposedly full of Argentine tourists over the summer – in fact, I only found out about the island from my Argentine friends. I’ll be sure to report on my experiences there.
US citizens need a tourist visa in order to enter Brazil. This requirement is in direct reciprocity for the US requiring a visa for Brazilian citizens – even the prices are fixed identically. Luckily, I have a 5-year visa from a previous trip to Rio that is still valid, but we had to get a visa for Mersal as well as get all the paperwork together to bring Delilah (another post will be coming about this bureaucratic process).
Obtaining a tourist visa is not that complicated. We found a good blog post from either/or on the process of applying for a Brazilian visa in Buenos Aires, as well as looked over the instructions at the Brazilian Consulate of Buenos Aires. You will need to go to the consulate to apply and it takes 2 business days to process the application (they do speak English). Here is what you will need to bring:
- Your passport. It must be valid for at least another 6 months and have enough pages left for the visa stamp, which takes at least 2 pages.
- (1) passport size photo.
- A round trip ticket to Brazil. We simply brought a print-out of our e-ticket confirmation. You may also need a confirmation of your accommodations in Brazil. Since we did all of ours through email, I just typed something up that looked like a valid reservation confirmation and included the address, phone, check-in and check-out dates, etc. They did not look closely at these documents.
- A bank statement identifying the account holder with current and previous months, as well as a valid credit card. They say you may also have to present proof of work from your employer and a pay check. We brought a copy of our bank statement, but they did not ask for it. They also asked what credit card we had, but did not ask to see it. They did not ask for any proof of work.
- A visa application form, which you can fill out on the computers at the consulate, but you’ll save some time if you download and print it at home. This form requires you to list your address in Argentina as well as your accommodations in Brazil. We did not have the phone number filled in as we did not have it, but when she asked us for it, we simply gave her the mobile number of the agent who booked it for us.
With all this in hand, we arrived at the consulate at about 8:50am (their hours for foreigners are 9am – 1pm). There was already a line of about 15 people in front of us. At 9am, they let us all in and we went up to the 5th floor. Those people who didn’t have the visa form queued up at the 4 or 5 computers to fill it out, while we walked up to window #5. The woman looked over the paperwork and flight confirmation, took Mersal’s passport, photo and visa form, and then gave us a payment slip. They told us to come back in 2 days from 12pm to 1pm to pick up the passport and bring confirmation of payment.
To pay the fee, there were two banks in Buenos Aires that accepted the payments. We walked over to one, Banco Itau (Santa Fe and Esmeralda), which was a short walk from the consulate. The bank didn’t open until 10am, so we had to wait for a bit, but when they opened, we went up to a teller, paid the fee and were given a receipt of payment.
We returned to the consulate two days later, gave them the payment receipt and picked up the passport with the completed visa. Unfortunately, the Brazilian consulates in Argentina will only give US citizens a 30 day visa (the US embassy in New York gave me a 5 year visa). You must enter Brazil withing 90 days of receiving the visa and you can only stay a maximum of 180 days at a time. The consulate told us that to extend the visa, we would need to go to the local police station in Brazil and ask for a 30 day extension. It is up to their discretion as to whether they grant it or not. The penalty for overstaying your visa is $8 reais per day (about U$S 3.50). We will just opt for that approach if the police station does not extend the visa.
As I said, the process was pretty easy and we’re now ready to head out! Look for more updates soon.
Consulado-Geral do Brasil em Buenos Aires
Carlos Pellegrini 1363, Piso 5