Brazil Risk Report
Security travel advice for Brazil
Threat level: Low-Medium
The general travel safety advice for Brazil is to be aware of the current health and safety requirements when visiting, to remain vigilant and report anything of suspicious nature.
2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
Rio de Janeiro was the host city for the XXXI Olympiad. The Olympic Games went without serious security incidents, see: Rio 2016 Olympic Games security advice
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 11th of November 2017, it was reported that members of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team team were robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo where the team is preparing the Brazilian Grand Prix, to be held on the 12th of November. Shots were said to have been fired but noone injured.
Brazil is currently going through a period of political instability; in a time where it has suffered a deep recession it has had recent demonstrations and public upheaval. It is advised to travel to this country with great caution.
Further demonstrations have taken place in the country, particularly amongst public sector workers such as the police, in protest to their late salary payment and lack of basic supplies such as toilet paper and car fuel. It is thought that this is a reflection of the general uneasy political state of the country.
If visiting this country please be aware of the current public health notice, issued by the World Health Organisation of “international concern” regards the Zika Virus outbreak. Brazil is currently the most affected country out of the 50 countries subject to the outbreak, more information can be found in the 'Other Health Risks' section.
The main security problem in Brazil is the high level of violent gun and knife crime across the country. Bag-snatching, car-jacking and kidnappings are quite common place in many areas of the country. Virtual no-go areas exist including the “Favelas”, very poor shanty-towns that exist in all major cities.
Travellers should take great care when drawing cash from ATM machines as credit card fraud is common place. There have been a number of violent robberies targeting people who have just made withdrawals so do not withdraw large amounts of money if at all possible. Furthermore, tourists have been targeted, kidnapped and demanded to withdraw money from a cash point. Most recently, a Kiwi Olympic athlete was kidnapped and forced to withdraw over £500 from two separate cashpoints before being released. Extra caution is advised.
The Brazilian government and Intelligence Services work very closely with their international counter-parts in combatting organised crime and terror in the region. Its law enforcement and intelligence capability is very good and has benefitted from much investment in the run up to the 2016 Olympics and its on-going “war on drugs” within the tri-Border area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Travellers should take care and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Brazil has one of the highest road mortalities in the world and is thought to be a combination of poor road conditions and erratic driving. It is paramount that you drive carefully and do not expect other road users to follow regulations.
Industrial disputes and strikes may affect public transport and this can take place at short notice causing disruption. Bear this in mind when travelling, particularly through the cities. Care should be taken during busy periods as public transport is often targeted by petty thieves and pick-pockets.
The number of incidents of deaths on the roads in Brazil is quite high, up to 40,000 deaths per year (compared to around 2000 in the UK). The road infrastructure and standard of driving is very poor throughout the country and worse in rural areas. If you are planning on driving in the country, you should take extreme care behind the wheel.
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic Church)
Time now in BrasÍlia:
Visa requirements for Brazil vary depending on your nationality. Canadian and American citizens tend to require a visa before entering the country whereas most European citizens can enter visa free. More information regarding visa requirements can be found here: Visa advice Brazil
Please note: during the run up to and the duration of the Olympic Games, Brazilian authorities have temporarily waivered visa requirements for many citizens normally requiring one. This is to reduce work load and encourage tourism to the country. Between June 1 and September 18, 2016, tourists will be able to enter the country for up to 90 days visa free.
It is advised that visitors to Brazil are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider getting vaccination against Yellow Fever.
Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travellers older than 9 months who are likely to visit the following areas in Brazil: the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goias, Maranhaõ, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins, and designated areas in the states Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Iguaçu Falls.
Areas where there is a low risk include: Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sǎo Paulo. You will not need vaccinating if you will be staying predominantly in these areas. You should check with your local health professional prior to your departure as the yellow fever vaccine is not suitable for all travellers.
Other health risks
The Zika virus is currently of the most concern when visiting Brazil. There is no vaccine or medicine to cure the virus so great care and caution must be taken including measures such as using a mosquito net at night time and frequently applying insect repellent. You can find more information on the Zika virus and how to prevent mosquito bites here: Zika virus facts
It is advised that all visitors to Brazil take precautions against Malaria such as the use of Malaria mosquito nets and anti-Malaria medications. The viral illness Dengue Fever is an issue in Brazil. Similar to the Zika virus, the disease is transmitted through mosquito bites and at present there is no vaccine. More information on Dengue fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
Schistosomiasis (parasitic infection also known as bilharzia) is also an issue, so contact with fresh water including activities such as swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams is advised against.
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.
U.S. Embassy BrasÍlia
Quadra 801 - Conjunto K - Lote 03,
Av. das Nações - Asa Sul,
CEP 70403-900 BrasÍlia,
Telephone: +55 61 3312-7000
Emergency Telephone out of hours: +55 61 3312-7400
Telephone: +55 21 3823 2000 (Rio de Janeiro)
Telephone: +55 11 3250 5000 (São Paulo)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rio de Janeiro)
Email: SaoPauloACS@state.gov (São Paulo)
British Embassy BrasÍlia
Quadra 801 - Conjunto K - Lote 08,
Av. das Nações - Asa Sul,
CEP 70408-900 BrasÍlia,
Telephone: +55 61 3329 2300
Telephone: +55 21 2555 9600 (Rio de Janeiro)
Telephone: +55 11 3094 2700 (São Paulo)
Telephone: +55 81 2127 02000 (Recife)
Email: email@example.com (Rio de Janeiro)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Consular enquiries)
Email: email@example.com (São Paulo)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Recife)
Other useful info
Police emergency: 190
Tourist Police: (Rio de Janeiro) 021 3399 7170
Tourist Police: (Sao Paulo) 011 3214 0209 or 011 3107 5642
Federal Highway Police: 191
State Highway Police: 198
Fire emergency: 193
Medical emergency: 193
Healthcare in Brazil can be very much hit and miss if you are in a rural area and in cities hospitals can run short of supplies and be overcrowded.
Drug taking, production and trafficking is widespread in Brazil. Travellers should take care not to get involved in drugs. In Brazil possession and trafficking can lead to long prison sentences.