By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The minister of tourism for Brazil, Marx Beltrão, said yesterday (March 9th) that they are continuing to work to obtain the release of the entry visas in Brazil to countries like the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.

Minister of Tourism, Marx Beltrão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Minister of Tourism, Marx Beltrão, has been vocal about importance of the visa waiver for expanding tourism industry in Brazil, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.

The ministry has been pushing for this move in face of resistance from the Foreign Ministry, who remain resolved that the visas should be granted in reciprocity to the respective countries.

The Ministry of Tourism, however, continues to make the case for a repeat of the measure that was in place during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year, which opened visas for tourists from these four countries.

The idea is to grant the exemption for tourists from these nations for two years, informed Beltrão, who visited the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.

The ministry is also working to implement the electronic visa in other countries, such as China, which today is one of the largest exporters of tourists in the world. They are countries, according to the minister, that offer no type of immigration risk and have per capita spending (per individual) higher than the international average.

A study by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows that there is an increase of 25 percent per year of tourists when there is a visa-free policy. “So if we make this policy, we will have in our country about 200,000 to 250,000 more tourists a year coming from these nations, spending a lot of money here,” he said.

Rodrigo Braz Vieira, director from travel and tour operator in Rio, Bravietour, agrees that this visa waiver would boost the industry. “Tourism destinations in developing countries compete a lot everyday for visitors of wealthier countries.”

Adding, “The modern traveler will always choose the easier way when traveling, and for sure a visa makes Brazil loose in competitiveness in relation to other countries that offers similar attractions as Brazil. I’m favor of making the process easier by allowing the visitors to come and charge and grant them for the visa at the airport.”

Brazil, Brazil news, Tourists, Tourism, Rio de Janeiro
The visa waiver program during the Olympics ended on September 18th for U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia, photo by Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil.

Sam Flowers, an American expatriate in Rio and owner of the Gringo Cafe in Ipanema also agrees “I think that lifting the visa requirement for the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia would dramatically increase foreign tourism in Rio. In 3 to 5 years it could easily double today’s typical level of visitation.”

Explaining, “The hassle factor, delay and uncertainty involved in getting a visa prior to visiting Brazil definitely limits the number of business and leisure tourists, especially when you consider that Rio is in competition for these visitors with destinations in Europe, Mexico and Asia that are much more convenient and often offer a better value in terms of price and quality.”

Rio native Márcia Håberg, owner of the Português Carioca language school in Leblon, shared “Most of foreigners who look for Student Visa in my school come from USA, Germany, Syria, India… It’s likely that the removal of those requirements would increase the number of tourists in Brazil.”

The tourism minister also stressed that Brazil is going through a recession and attracting more tourists can generate jobs. Minister Beltrão estimated that if the visa-free policy is approved in the first half of the year, Brazil will surpass the seven million tourists by the end of this year.

National tourism grew two percent this summer, moving R$100 billion, according to the minister. The number of foreign tourists grew by eleven percent. Beltrão said, “We have everything to reach twelve million tourists in the next four years, if all we are trying to do is approved by the National Congress.”

The Foreign Affairs Ministry however has the position that any agreement should be have reciprocity, with Brazilians being able to travel to those countries also without the need for visas. That is, visa exemption can only be granted if Brazilians are also entitled to the same benefit. Currently, Brazilians need prior visas before traveling to the four countries.


  1. The Tourism Minister is correct – a visa waiver program with those countries only means good things for Brazil and will definately lead to more high spending visitors. Regarding Australian tourists, Brazil entirely misses out on the travellers who plan their holidays late or travel on short notice. Unlike virtually every other country that requires Australians to apply for visas, Brazil does not offer an expedited application service for short lead time travel and even though they usually process applications much faster, they only guarantee a visa in 3 weeks. By contrast for a small extra fee, the Chinese consulate will do a visa in 24 hours. Australians can travel to Europe, USA, Canada, UK, most of Asia without any visa at all, yet to go to Brazil one effectively has to plan more than a month in advance. Tourists from these countries represent virtually no risk at all to Brazil, their passport systems are exceptionally secure and the tourists are high spenders. Insisting on reciprocity is absurd in the face of all the advantages to Brazil.

  2. A Visa Waiver from the United States can only mean good things for Brazil.There is a lot of interest in Brazil but the hassle and time involved in getting the visa makes other destinations more attractive.With the flow of tourism slowing because of more tightning in the U.S.,Brazil can benefit from tourists that can not quickly and easily get to the U.S. also.

  3. The opinion of the Foreign Affairs Ministry is the correct way to go. While waving visa requirements would make it easier for foreigners to travel to Brazil, why should Brazilian’s not be afforded the same opportunity and freedom? This benefits the tourist not the people of Brazil.

    Mr Beltrão’s view of the targeted countries not offering any type of immigration risk, is erroneous. There are always risks. Due diligence is needed to minimize the risk while protecting the interests of all parties, domestic and foreign.

    Currently, Brazilians need visas to travel to the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. These rules are in place to identify, regulate and protect the domestic interest of those countries. That is not equity as far as Brazil is concerned. The best way to resolve the issue is to work with other countries to gain reciprocal treaty accords. This approach is much more intensive in time and effort but the result would be more comprehensive and effective. A two year ‘quick fix’ window is far more dangerous.

  4. As i said before an E visa system like what India has is a good system then you get the visa on arrival at the airport

  5. Argentina eliminated the $180 entry fee requirement for Americans and their tourism saw a major jump in tourists. Lets get real as someone who has lived in the US and Canada, the chances of a Brazilian citizen overstaying in either country if a visa wasn’t required are greater than an American or Canadian citizen overstaying in Brazil. The US, Canada, Japan, and Australia are only taking measures to protect their labor markets, prevent illegal immigration, and assure their sovereignty. Once Brazil’s economy is on par with these four countries and Brazilian citizens are likely to return home to their homes/jobs, than we can talk about a visa waiver for Brazilians.

    In the meantime, Brazil and Venezuela are the only two countries that require visas for US citizens. With food shortages, uber high inflation, one of the highest emigration rates in the world and the near total collapse of the Venezuelan economy, Maduro has made his bed. Dont expect him to lay on it for longer.

  6. Personally cancelled two opportunities to visit RIO due to the VISA requirements and unpredictable lead time.
    Basically forbids an opportunity to jump on a short term airfare or opportunity to visit Brazil and seriously makes Chile, BA and Lima more attractive options.


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