passport stamps
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Brazil Eases Visa Requirements and Reduces Reciprocity Fee for United States Citizens

Effective as of Thursday, January 25, 2018, the fee which citizens of the United States have been required to pay in order to visit Brazil had been significantly reduced to $44.24; and the service fee of $4.24 — which is included in the reduced visa fee — is for the convenience of processing the visa application electronically in three simple steps, which will substantially reduce the amount of time needed to apply and receive the visa.

Brazil Eases Visa Requirements and Reduces Reciprocity Fee for United States Citizens

Prior to Thursday, January 25, 2018, citizens of the United States who wanted to apply for a visa to visit Brazil not only had to pay a reciprocity fee of $160.00; but they also were required to visit one of the ten offices of the Consulate General of Brazil in the United States with a passport and necessary paperwork in order to obtain the visa — or they could pay service fees for an agency to act on their behalf. As I first reported in this article on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, the process was usually time-consuming and rather inconvenient, as visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan would no longer need to travel to the Brazilian consulate nearest to them and wait in long lines, as they can apply for electronic visas using computers or portable electronic devices from the comfort of their own homes — or from virtually anywhere else where a Wi-Fi connection is available.

The minimum processing time of the electronic visa is five business days.

One negative aspect of the new visa process is that an electronic visa is now valid for a maximum of two years and up to 90 days per visit, as opposed to a maximum of ten years and up to 180 days per visit — meaning that visitors to Brazil who visit regularly over a period of ten years will be required to pay up to $221.20 in visa fees and service fees instead of $160.00 — but the vast majority of the applicants for a Brazilian visa will benefit from this process by saving money.

“The beneficiary must submit to the airline, in a first phase of the project, a hard copy or digital image of the electronic visa in order to be allowed to embark to Brazil”, according to this official announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. “The Brazilian Federal Police is fully integrated to the E-visa system and there is a prospect, in the near future, of integration to the system of e-Gates at Brazilian airports, currently only available to Brazilian citizens.”


Brazil has taken a step in the right direction, in my opinion, as I have long asserted that if a country wants to increase tourism, it needs to relax its reciprocity fees or visa requirements. Two examples of countries which did just that are Chile and Argentina.

Palace of the Argentine National Congress Argentina
The Palace of the Argentine National Congress looks similar to the Capitol building in the District of Columbia in the United States. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Effective as of Sunday, February 12, 2017, Belarus relaxed both visa fees and requirements in what seems to be an effort to increase tourism. As a result, I visited Belarus shortly afterwards. I still have articles which I need to write pertaining to my experiences in Belarus.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia is expected to issue tourist visas later this year.

Let visitors and tourists spend that money on local businesses within a country instead. After all, the government will still collect taxes through the businesses.

Although I can understand why a country would want to impose restrictive visas on visitors for various reasons — keeping track of them while they are in that country; as well as to have a revenue stream — they do stand the chance of losing out on the economic benefits of the dollars of tourists and business people when the process of securing that visa is unnecessarily complicated and prohibitively expensive. Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Russia are three countries which immediately come to my mind when it comes to the hassle of getting a visa; but Brazil has been known to not exactly have the easiest or least-expensive process either, as evidenced by this discussion expressly posted on FlyerTalk for answering questions pertaining to tourist visas for traveling to and from Brazil.

For me, countries which have such restrictive visa policies indicate to me that they are not friendly countries; or perhaps they just do not want for you or me to visit for whatever reasons — and yes, I do understand that there are people who view the United States in that manner as well. In today’s “shrinking” world primarily due to technology, that is a potentially costly mistake, in my opinion. Restrictive visa policies may scratch the “tip of the iceberg” pertaining to greater issues within certain countries; but they do not help in promoting being part of what should be a peaceful global community.

By reducing — or, better yet, eliminating — the fees to secure a visa for a visitor, I believe that the economic benefits would more than make up for it. That former reciprocity fee of $160.00 per person for a visa to visit Brazil can now instead go towards patronizing businesses and other areas of the general economy, which in turn should increase tax revenues for the government as one of many benefits. I am by no means an expert on economic policies in global economies; but I believe that charging exorbitant visa fees actually does more harm to countries economically in the long term than helps them.

At the very least, countries should do whatever is possible to strike a realistic balance in ensuring their security and charging fees to visitors: attempt to have the visa process as easy as possible for visitors to enter countries without compromising on smart security; and lower the visa fees as much as possible — or even consider eliminating them.

Click on the image for a trip report of Bahrain. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Entering Bahrain and Mozambique are two examples of costly visas and unnecessary harassment which soured my experiences in those two countries enough to the point of where I would be just fine if I never visited them again.

Idealistically, I would really like to see the day where you and I can travel anywhere in the world with few to no impediments; but with human nature being the way it is, I know that will not happen anytime soon — if at all…

…but at least the world is getting closer towards that goal — even if it is only at a glacial pace…

All photographs ©2005, ©2015 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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