WASHINGTON — If watching a game at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium has been on your bucket list since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, you can now do so without adding a trip to the consulate as part of your itinerary.
Effective June 17, tourists from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia will no longer need a visa to visit Brazil. Travelers with a valid passport will be able to explore Brazil for up to 90 days, with the possibility of extending their stay to up to 180 days (though expect a visit to the Federal Police to get the extension approved).
The move was announced in March ahead of an official visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House.
In a joint news statement released on March 19 by President Donald Trump and President Bolsonaro, the duo announced that along with lifting the requirement, “the Presidents agreed to take the steps necessary to enable Brazil to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Global Entry Program.”
Since the announcement, Brazil has already seen increased travel interest from tourists in those four countries. In March, searches for flights from Australia to Brazil were up by 36% from the previous year. Americans experienced a similar search boom, with a 31% increase in search for flights following the news.
In the past year, airlines around the world have launched additional routes to various cities in Brazil. In November 2018, Brazil’s largest airline, GOL, launched new direct routes from Brazil to Miami and Orlando. Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian Air also announced new direct flights from London to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively.
American Airlines is the leading carrier with routes from the United States to Brazil, with direct flights to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Manaus.
“American Airlines applauds the Brazilian government for instituting a no-visa requirement that will allow for US, Canadian, Japanese and Australian visitors to travel to Brazil without a visa,” Martha Pantin, director of corporate communications at American Airlines, told CNN in an email.
Brazil has implemented a series of changes over the past few years aimed at increasing the number of tourists visiting the country. European visitors have long enjoyed visa-free travel to Brazil, and those from neighboring Latin American countries are able to move freely in and out of Brazil so long as they can produce an identity card — no passport necessary.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil temporarily scrapped its requirement for travelers from the four countries now exempt from the requirement altogether to bolster tourism around the event. In 2017, the country announced that visitors from the same countries would no longer be required to visit a consulate or embassy to get their visas and could instead apply for the document online for a $40 fee as opposed to the $160 previously mandated.
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, the change to an e-visa resulted in a 35% increase in the number of applications received by the department in 2018. Additionally, a survey conducted by the ministry revealed that 88% of visitors to the 2016 Olympics indicated a desire to return to the country, especially if it continued the visa-free policy.