Brazil Announces New E-Visas for US Tourists as of 2018

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As of January 2018, United States citizens will be able to acquire a Brazilian tourist visa online. The cost looks like it will remain the same: $160 USD for a tourist visa that lasts 10 years. Australian’s can start processing their Brazilian tourist visas online as of the end of November, while US, Canadian, and Japanese tourists will have to wait until January.

Sarah Page Maxwell
Boipeba

What the Process Looks Like Now

In the past, applying for a Brazilian tourist visa has been a serious pain. Doing so from within the United States required you to either visit a consulate in person or pay to have it done for you by a courier–which involved acquiring various hard documents showing proof of identity, income, etc., and snail mailing them, along with your actual passport. Then you’d have to wait for your passport to come back with the tourist visa inside. My parents went through the process earlier this year and had to pay even more for expedition as the process was notoriously slow and their flight to Rio de Janeiro was impending. They probably didn’t need to have it expedited in the end, but having an impending flight without the proper documentation to enter your destination is stressful.

Resende Beach
Resende Beach

I applied for a Brazilian tourist visa within Argentina about five years ago, and went so far as to add an extra stop in my travel itinerary along the Brazil / Argentina border (Iguazu Falls) primarily for the purpose of acquiring the visa more efficiently. The immigrations office on the border was known for (as long as you showed up during the narrow two hour time window during the day when they’re open, with all the correct paper work) processing tourist visas much faster than the Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires. I did end up getting mine 24 hours after I applied for it, but have a distinct memory of a series of very stressful phone calls to my bank back in the United States from a janky toll both in the jungle to make it happen.

Sarah Page Maxwell
Boipeba

Long story short–it’s going to be a lot easier in the future for Americans to acquire a tourist visa to visit Brazil as you’ll be able to do it all online. I’m sure in return Brazil will see a big boost in tourism.

Miles to Use to Get to Brazil & How to Earn Them

In light of this great news (fingers crossed–let’s hope this policy is actually seen through!) I thought it would be appopriate to highlight award chart sweet spots flying between the United States and Brazil. I’ve traveled Brazil possibly more than any other country. Living alongside it (in Argentina) for five years, I’ve developed a serious affection for the stunning and culturally fascinating destination. All of the many pictures in this post are mine, from my own travels within Brazil. I hope you guys take advantage of the easing of the visa process and consider a trip in the near future!

Sarah Page Maxwell
The hike to Lagoinha del Este, Florianopolis

Below are various sweet spots between the United States and Brazil, taken from the post How to Book a RTW Trip in 2017. Use These Underpriced Awards Around the World.

20,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30 & Business Class for 50,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights

By traveling in American Airlines economy during the low season, you can bring the mileage price down to just 20,000 Etihad miles. All year round you can book American Airlines Business Class for 50,000 Etihad miles. Etihad Guest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and SPG Points. The SPG Business Amex’s 35k bonus ends tomorrow, FYI. 

For top Membership Reward, ThankYou Point, and SPG Point earning cards, check out our Top 10 Travel Credit Card List.

Panorama of Taipú do Fora
Panorama of Taipú do Fora

20,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30 & Business Class for 50,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights

By traveling in American Airlines economy during the low season, you can also bring the Alaska mileage price down to 20,000. All year round you can book American Airlines Business Class for 50,000 Alaska miles. Alaska is a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Points, but you can also earn them via Alaska’s co-branded Bank of America credit cards. Read Are the Alaska Cards Still Churnable? and New Rule When Applying for Bank of America Credit Cards before applying for Alaska Airlines credit cards.

45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip on Delta flights

If you have at least 45k Virgin Atlantic miles (or 45k of any the four major transferrable point types, as they all transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic) then you can book a roundtrip in Delta economy. It must be roundtrip for that price, however.

Sarah Page Maxwell
Chapada Diamantina

Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles on United flights (Scott’s experiences booking this award, and my experience booking this award) & First Class for 45,000 Asiana miles on United flights 

I make the journey between the United States and Southern South America multiple times per year, and consistently see the most Saver Level Business Class award space (therefore bookable with partner miles) with United. Granted, I’m usually checking to Buenos Aires and not to Rio de Janeiro or another big Brazilian city, but I’d wager United has typically got the most Business Class award space to Brazil as well.

That means my #1 recommendation for getting to Brazil in Business Class is the Asiana Visa Signature credit card.

Bank of America issues the Asiana Visa Signature Card that comes with 30,000 Asiana miles after spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. Read the full breakdown of the Asiana Visa Signature here.

Sarah Page Maxwell
On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro

By meeting the minimum spending requirement you’ll earn at least 33,000 Asiana miles total (30k for the bonus, 3k for 1x spend) or possibly more if you spend within the categories that earn bonuses (3x on Asiana purchases, 2x on gas station and grocery store purchases). You’ll then need to spend a maximum of $2,000 more on the card to reach a balance of 35k. Alternatively, if you’re eligible for a business card, you could open an Asiana Visa Business card and pay one $80 annual fee for 10,000 bonus points (no minimum spending requirement). Or if you have SPG Starpoints, you could transfer 2k of them to Asiana.

Sarah Page Maxwell
Rio de Janeiro

Regarding the 45k price for United First Class–this is bookable only for travel through April of 2018. As of May 2018, United is cutting international First Class and replacing it with Polaris Business Class.

Sarah Page Maxwell
Chapada Diamantina

Bottom Line

I am happy to learn that it should become easier, as of January of 2018, for Americans to get a Brazilian tourist visa as they will be able to process it online as opposed to having pay a courier large fees or traveling themselves to the nearest consulate. Those kind of bureaucratic barriers often frustrate people enough to keep them from even beginning the process.

I love Brazil and think everyone should visit, so I consider this excellent news.

Hat tip One Mile at a Time

Sarah Page Maxwell
Praia Tartaruga, Buzios
Sarah Page Maxwell
Sand boarding in Florianpolis

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Great post. I went during the Olympics when it was visa free and loved Brazil. Would like to go back and see more of the country than I had time for (Iguassu, Ouro Preto, Rio and Paraty) due to my work schedule. I think there are some who are turned off by all the hassle of the current visa process but willing to pay the fee, and those will be the market for the new program. I’m probably in that category.

    Others don’t want to pay the fee itself, and will still resist. I know there’s national pride in the “reciprocity” policy, but I think the Brazilian economy would benefit more from sustainable tourism growth than a tit for tit fee. Even the government itself would benefit, replacing the income from the fee with revenue from taxes, not to mention the general value of job creation. This isn’t a country oversaturated with tourists that needs to defend itself from an unmanageable onslaught. It’s a vast place with stunning travel destinations, but relatively meager numbers of incoming tourists in proportion to what it has to offer.

  2. Any thoughts on getting one of these if we already have a visa in our US passport? I just had to renew my passport (with a whole new book), but my Brazilian visa in the old book is good for another 4 years.

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