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The US passport is one of the most powerful in the world, granting its bearer access to more than 180 countries without a visa, but there are some infamous exceptions.
From Cuba to Turkey, a select number of destinations require Americans to present a pre-issued tourist visa or travel authorization in order to travel.
To the dismay of some, this infamous will continue to grow this year, with the addition of one of the best sunny destinations in the world starting in October.
As early as October 1, Brazil will suspend visa-free access to US citizens, reversing a decision made in 2019 to exempt them from red tape. This means that if you are an American, your days to enjoy unrestricted access to Brazil are numbered.
In this article, we’ll give you a quick rundown of why a visa is being implemented, how difficult it will be to apply, and why you should book your flights to Brazil before the new rule goes into effect:
Why is the rule changing?
Since Brazil’s newly elected government took office, the country has moved away from its open-door policy and started enacting tougher restrictions.
One of those changes has in fact been a reversal of a previous visa regime.
In 2019, Brazil’s approach to tourism was based on reciprocity. Unlike the European Union, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and much of the international community, Washington does not grant visa-free access to Brazilians to the United States.
As a result of the lack of a bilateral visa waiver agreement, Americans flying to Brazil were required to obtain a visa prior to boarding, which could be applied for at the Brazilian Consulate or mission closest to them.
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The South American giant temporarily abandoned the reciprocity measure in an attempt to boost tourism, but due to a political decision, resets once again from October 1st.
How difficult will it be to apply?
Starting in October, if you are a US citizen, you will only be allowed to board a flight to Brazil, or any connecting flight in Brazil for that matter, have a valid tourist visa.
Unlike what was previously reported when the news broke, the visa application could move online.
While there is a lot of speculation at the moment, the local government is expected to launch a new easy-to-apply eVisa, which will allow US applicants to continue traveling to Brazil with minimal hassle, as well as Canadians, Australians and Japanese* , who will also automatically lose their visa-free privilege due to their respective country’s visa restrictions imposed on Brazilians.
No further details have been released so far, but the fact that an e-Visa, as opposed to a traditional Consulate-issued visa, is being discussed is surely encouraging news for tourists wary of red tape, as this means it will be much easier to apply.
*Japanese may be exempt from any visa requirements that may come into effect as Tokyo is currently working with Brasilia on a visa waiver agreement between both countries.
Why should I visit Brazil before visa implementation?
To visit Brazil before October 1, Americans will only need to present a valid biometric passport.
They are not expected to complete visa forms, pay a fee, or submit their travel information before they fly, as the visa waiver remains valid until that date.
In other words, visit Brazil now is less complicated than it will be in four months.
Although an eVisa is not an impediment, as countries like Turkey and Vietnam have similar procedures, visa applications, no matter how simple, are always an anxiety-inducing processespecially when there is a backlog of applications or the official website of the application has problems.
It is best to cross Brazil off the list while there are fewer obstacles in your way.
3 of the most beautiful off-road places to explore in Brazil
Brazil is an incredibly diverse destination, home to a multi-ethnic population whose nation is made up of Southern European, African and indigenous Brazilian influences. Rio is just the tip of a colossal iceberg.
If you need some inspiration, some of our favorite off-road destinations in Brazil include:
Nicknamed the ‘Brazilian Dubai’ by some, it is a fast-developing coastal city in southern Brazil known for its skyscraper-dotted skyline, sandy crescents and pristine nature.
Walking along the modern boulevard of the ocean Atlantic Avenue, you will find first class restaurants facing the sea, international brands and luxurious shopping centers. The main attraction of Balneario, however, is the Unipraias cable car, which links the busy port with a preserved enclave of the Atlantic Forest.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Americas, Ouro Preto is famous for its cobbled streetscenturies-old churches adorned with ornate goldwork and colorful frescoes that still look fresh and distinctive miner kitchen.
Located in the hills of Minas Gerais, one of the most traditional states of Brazil, this picturesque settlement will make you feel like you are in the interior of Portugal; not surprising, judging by the family ties of both countries.
Belém do Para
One of the oldest cities in Brazil, Belem do Para was colonized by the Portuguese already in 1616and serves as one of the main gateways to the emblematic Amazon River.
A largely overlooked gem of northern Brazil, it was the first European colony established in the Amazon and, because of its historical importance, has retained much of that colonial-era charm, an attribute lost in sprawling urban centers like Rio or Sao Paulo.
You’ll still find streets covered in canopies, European plazas surrounded by trees, churches with traditional Portuguese-style blue tiles, among other architectural treasures, as well as development zones and lush green parks. This is the Amazon region after all.
No COVID related requirements
Brazil may impose visa requirements on US citizens soon, but on the plus side, has recently lifted all mandates related to COVID.
Flying to Brazil, you are no longer required to present a vaccination certificate or a negative test: entry is again as simple as before 2020.
Read more about Brazil here.
traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com