Rio De Janeiro Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Rio De Janeiro
How safe is Rio De Janeiro?
Threat level: Medium
COVID-19 Situation in Brazil
Amid the new strain of COVID-19 in the UK, entry to Brazil is banned to UK travellers and those who have been in the UK in the previous 14 days must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
There is an outbreak of coronavirus in Brazil and it is the third most affected country by the virus in the world. Note that a variant of the virus has been detected in Brazil and that this may affect your travel to Brazil. To curb the spread of the virus, Brazil has closed some of its land borders and the use of face masks is mandatory in public nationwide. Further to this, there are localised lockdowns in place where the infection rate is high and so measures may vary from one area to another and it is therefore recommended to monitor local guidance from local officials. When travelling to Brazil, international travellers must present a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to travelling and a Travellers Health Declaration must be completed within 72 hours of boarding. To avoid contracting the disease, apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing, avoid unnecessary public gatherings and unnecessary travel.
Security in Rio de Janeiro
The general travel advice for Rio de Janeiro is to exercise increased caution due to high crime levels especially at night time, and report anything of suspicious nature. Yet, the risk of terrorism is low in Rio de Janeiro. Health wise there are some ongoing concerns with Brazil suffering a major Yellow Fever outbreak, see our Immunisations section for further details.
Mugging and kidnappings are quite common place in Rio de Janeiro. The risk of pickpocketing and bag snatching is high in tourist locations and crowed places. It is advised carrying only a small amount of cash on you and leave valuables in the safe of your hotel room. You should be particularly cautious during the Carnival period, as crime tend to be on the rise at this period.
The most touristic part of Rio de Janeiro, Zona Sul, with points of interest such as the Sugar Loaf Mountain, the iconic beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, is relatively safe. However, don’t leave your belongings unattended at the beach and leave personal items of value at your hotel as pickpockets tend to strike there.
Other districts such as the Centro, Lapa and Santa Teresa are safe locations for tourists during the day, but it is best to not venture in these places at night, particularly Santa Teresa that is surrounded by three favelas.
The Zona Norte, home to the Maracana stadium, is a no-go area and is extremely dangerous being the most-concentrated favelas area of Rio de Janeiro. Favelas that are very poor shanty-towns with high level of violent gun and knife crime in Rio de Janeiro.
On the 16th of February 2018, President Temer (now former President) signed an emergency decree to order the army to take over policing duties in Rio de Janeiro to fight and defeat organised crime and gangs. The military intervention ended on the 31st of December 2018.
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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.
Demonstrations regularly take place in Rio de Janeiro and can turn violent between the police and protesters, so avoid crowded areas where people gather together to protest.
Brazil's International Relations
The Brazilian government and Intelligence services work very closely with their international counterparts in combatting organised crime and terror in the region. Its law enforcement and intelligence capability are very good and have benefitted from much investment in the run up to the 2016 Olympics and its ongoing “war on drugs” within the tri-Border area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Travelling around Rio de Janeiro
Road conditions are poor and erratic driving is a real concern in Rio de Janeiro, it is therefore paramount that you drive carefully and do not expect other road users to follow regulations.
Care should be taken during busy periods as public transport is often targeted by petty thieves and pick-pockets. 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.
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.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency services in Rio de Janeiro
Police emergency: 190
Tourist Police: (Rio de Janeiro) 021 3399 7170
Federal Highway Police: 191
State Highway Police: 198
Fire emergency: 193
Medical emergency: 193
Rio de Janeiro Overview
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic Church)
Time now in BrasÍlia:
Consular information for Rio de Janeiro
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: email@example.com (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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rio de Janeiro)
Email: email@example.com (Consular enquiries)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (São Paulo)
Email: email@example.com (Recife)
Visa requirements for Brazil
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
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Rio de Janeiro are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR (measles-mumps-rubella). It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Since December 2017, there has been a resurgence of the spread of the Yellow Fever virus in unvaccinated travellers who visited risk areas in Brazil. So, although it is not mandatory, you should consider getting vaccination against Yellow Fever. Yellow fever vaccination is particularly 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.
There is currently a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission when visiting Brazil. However, pregnant women should postpone non-essential travels until they’ve given birth. 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
Healthcare in Brazil can be very much hit and miss if you are in a rural area, and cities hospitals can run short of supplies and be overcrowded.
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 also 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.