The U.S. passport is one of the most powerful globally, granting its bearer access to over 180 countries visa-free, but there are some infamous exceptions.
From Cuba to Turkey, a select number of destinations requires Americans to present either a pre-issued tourist visa, or a travel authorization in order to travel.
To the dismay of some, this infamous will keep growing this year, with the addition of one of the world’s top sunny destinations from October.
As soon as October 1, Brazil will suspend visa-free access to U.S. citizens, reversing a decision taken in 2019 to exempt them from the bureaucratic hurdle. This means that, if you’re an American, your days of enjoying unrestricted access to Brazil are numbered.
On this article, we will give you a quick rundown of why a visa is being implemented, how difficult it will be to apply, and why you should book your flights to Brazil before the new rule comes into force:
Why Is The Rule Changing?
Since Brazil’s newly-elected Government came into power, the country has shifted from its open-door policy and began enacting stricter curbs.
One of those changes has been, in fact, a reversal to a previous visa regime.
Back in 2019, Brazil’s approach to tourism was based on reciprocity. Unlike the European Union, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and much of the international community, Washington does not grant Brazilians visa-free access to the United States.
As a result of the lack of a bilateral visa suppression agreement, Americans flying to Brazil were required to obtain a visa prior to boarding, which could be applied for at the Brazilian Consulate or mission closest to them.
The South American giant abandoned the reciprocity measure temporarily in a bid to boost tourism, but due to a political decision, it is once again being reinstated from October 1.
How Hard Will It Be To Apply?
Beginning October, if you’re an American national, you will only be allowed to board a Brazil-bound flight, or any flights connecting in Brazil for that matter, holding a valid tourist visa.
Unlike what was previously reported when the news came out, the visa application could move online.
While there is a lot of speculation at the moment, the local Government is expected to launch a new easy-to-apply eVisa, enabling American applicants to continue traveling to Brazil with minimal hassle – as well as Canadians, Australians, and the Japanese*, who will also automatically lose their privilege of visa-free travel due to their respective country’s visa restrictions imposed on Brazilians.
So far, no further details have been divulged, but the fact that an electronic visa is being discussed, as opposed to a traditional Consulate-issued visa, is surely encouraging news for bureaucracy-wary tourists, as this means it will be a lot easier to apply.
*The Japanese may be exempt from any visa requirements that may come into force as Tokyo is currently working with Brasilia on a visa-waiver agreement between both countries.
Why Should You Visit Brazil Ahead Of The Visa Implementation?
Visiting Brazil before October 1, Americans will only be required to present a valid biometric passport.
They will not be expected to fill out visa forms, pay a fee, nor submit their travel information ahead of flying, as the visa suppression continues valid up until that date.
In other words, visiting Brazil now is less complicated than it will be in four months.
Although an eVisa is hardly an impediment, with countries like Turkey and Vietnam all having similar procedures in place, visa applications, no matter how simple, are always an anxiety-inducing process, especially when there is a backlog of requests, or the official application website presents problems.
Best to tick Brazil off the list while there are less hurdles standing in your way.
3 Of The Most Beautiful Off Path Locations To Explore In Brazil
Brazil is an incredibly diverse destination, home to a multi-ethnic populace whose nationhood is shaped by Southern European, African, and indigenous-Brazilian influences. Rio is merely the tip of a colossal iceberg.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, some of our favorite off-path destinations in Brazil include:
Dubbed by some the ‘Brazilian Dubai’, it is a rapidly-developing coastal city in Southern Brazil, known for its skyscraper-dotted skyline, sandy crescents, and pristine nature.
Walking the modern ocean boulevard Avenida Atlantica, you will find upscale beachfront restaurants, international brands, and luxurious shopping centers. Balneario’s top attraction, however, is the Unipraias cable car, linking the busy port to a preserved enclave of the Atlantic forest.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the Americas, Ouro Preto is famous for its cobbled streets, centuries-old churches embellished by ornate goldwork and colorful frescoes still looking fresh, and distinct mineiro cuisine.
Nestled in the hills of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s most traditional states, this picturesque settlement will make you feel as if you’re in the Portuguese hinterland – no surprise, judging by both countries’ familial links.
Belem do Para
One of Brazil’s oldest cities, Belem do Para was settled by the Portuguese as early as 1616, and serves as one of the main gateways to the landmark Amazon River.
A hugely overlooked gem of the Brazilian North, it was the first European colony established in the Amazon, and due to its historical importance, it’s retained much of that colonial-era charm, an attribute lost in sprawling urban centers like Rio or Sao Paulo.
You will still find canopied streets, European piazzas surrounded by trees, churches with traditional Portuguese-style blue tiles, among other architectural treasures, as well as development zones, and lush green parks. This is the Amazon region after all.
No COVID-Related Requirements
Brazil may be imposing visa requirements on US citizens soon, but on the brightside, it has recently lifted all COVID-related mandates.
Flying to Brazil, you are no longer expected to present either a vaccination certificate or a negative test: entry is once again as simple as it was prior to 2020.
Read more about Brazil here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com