As if you needed another reason to go.
The Brazilian government has recently said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Hey, remember how our visa used to be super annoying (you had to get it before leaving the country) and also super expensive? Well, we decided that was lame, so now instead of charging $200 we’re only gonna charge $40. Oh, and also: You can get it online. What do you guys think?”
To which any of us in our right minds responded: Shit yes, how many sick days can I take this year?
Having to get the visa beforehand and also the price are the two things that’ve prevented me from going to Brazil all these years. I did go for one night during the 2016 Olympics, when the visa requirement was briefly waived. I crossed the border from Uruguay to a place called Jaguarao, where I stayed a few nights illegally, waiting for the veritable free-for-all the would be the lifting of the visa requirement. Actually, this didn’t happen (the free-for-all). In fact, the border control guys looked confused at first, but then the guy in charge reminded them that it was open season for foot-loose and fancy free Americans, and they stamped my passport and let me through.
(The best part of my time in Brazil was by far the bus ride to a city called Pelotas where I met two Mormon missionaries who sort of tried to convert me, to which I said, “Let the conversion begin.” But then, if I remember correctly, we couldn’t go into the center where they lived/worked because there had to be a man present and there was no one around. So I ended up getting the next bus out of there.
The second best part of the trip was seeing massive capybara alongside the road on the bus back to Uruguay the very next day).
Why would you want to go to Brazil? Sorry to answer a question with a question, but: Have you tried feijoada? Have you listened to spoken Brazilian Portuguese? Have you seen the white-sand beaches with warm and only in some places (massively) polluted water? Have you seen pictures of Fernando de Noronha, the island paradise I, with the statue of Christ the Redeemer as my witness, will one day visit?
If you’re ready to take advantage of this thrice in a lifetime opportunity, the first step is to visit this website from Brazil Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You DO NOT need to go through an agency to get the visa. You DO NOT need help getting it. You can do it all through this website via the online form. The visa fee is $40, plus $4.24 in processing fees, for a total of $44.24. It’s good for 90 days.
The newfound ease in getting the Brazil visa might represent a general trend in ease of travel for US passport holders in South America. Argentina lifted their (once $160) reciprocity fee in March of 2016, as has Chile, though it still exists for Bolivia ($160), and Paraguay ($160).
The change from $200 to $44 is not insignificant, but the ease is even more attractive. Now, there’s no reason for anyone of us not to have a brief but terrifying encounter with a pitviper in the next few months. Or at the very least stroll the beaches of Copacabana and consume a heaping plate of feijoada.
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