I’ve gotten so many questions from people who have overstayed their Tourist Visa in Brazil or who are contemplating doing so and want to know what the potential consequences are that I’ve lost count. So here goes with a description and hopefully it will give everybody a bit of food for thought.
First of all let’s be clear about exactly how long you can stay in Brazil as a tourist:
Citizens of countries that must apply to the Consulado-Geral do Brasil for a visa: Generally speaking a VITUR (Multiple Entry) visa permits a maximum initial stay of 90 days, with possible extension for a further 90 days for a total of 180 days in any “rolling” one year time block. I say generally speaking since I have recently found out that the stay duration is not universal, but rather determined by the Visa Issue Officer at any given Consulate, so you might be granted a visa valid for a one week stay, 30 or 60 day. Whatever the initial stay, the 180 day limit does not change.
Citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or Schengen Area Countries: These are people who are allowed to enter Brasil without a VITUR, using a valid passport. The stay for these individuals is restricted to three (3) months in any six (6) month period, which is counted from the date of your first entry into Brazil. This three month stay CANNOT be extended as can a VITUR visa.
There are many reasons that one might end up in a situation where they think their only option is simply to overstay and I’m not going to try to judge their motives. Many others (especially young people) have contacted me, contemplating in advance simply overstaying their visa. These people I’m really not so objective about. I think they are not only running unnecessary risks, not thinking about eventual consequences; but they are in a sense also making it more difficult for those who enter the country legally and observe the stay limitations. In the end they could end up causing the Brazilian government to toughen up immigration regulations for all of us. That’s really not the point however.
So, before you overstay your visa – or plan to come here with the intention of doing so there are a number of factors that you should take into careful consideration:
1. At the present moment overstaying one’s visa in Brazil is neither a crime nor a deportable offense, but rather an “administrative infraction” which is punishable by a fine. It will also result in being instructed that you have a specified period of time (usually 8 – 10 days) to leave Brazil voluntarily. Failing to do so will result in expulsion proceedings being initiated. Now it gets a bit more serious.
2. The fine (multa) for overstaying one’s visa is presently oito reais e vinte e oito centavos (R$8,28) per day, to a maximum of one hundred (100) days; with a maximum fine (regardless of the actual number of days in excess of 100) being oitocentos e vinte e oito reais (R$828,00). This fine must be paid either upon departure from Brazil or on re-entry. Failure to pay the fine upon trying to re-enter Brazil will result in being denied entry and it must be paid in cash (reais only). It will also be recorded in the individual’s passport with a “great big ugly stamp” as one of our members described it. This fine can be changed at any time should the Brazilian government choose to do so, but it’s what is in effect at the moment of writing.
3. You must understand that Brazilian law requires everyone, Brazilian and foreigner alike, to carry identification on their person at all times and to produce it upon request of any law enforcement officer. Failure to do so is a serious offense, so don’t refuse. For foreigners this identification requirement means simply that you must carry your travel documents (passport / entry card / etc.) with you at all times. For the simple purpose of identification certified copies (cópia autenticada) of these documents made at a Cartório in Brazil should keep you from running afoul of the law. So if you’ve been asked to produce ID, the very first thing that local police will do is contact the Federal Police to determine your migratory status in the country. If your visa is expired then you can count on an immediate trip to the Federal Police headquarters. You will be given the deadline for voluntary departure and the clock starts running. Likely you will either need to bear the cost of changing your existing return flight home or if you haven’t got one then the much higher cost of a one-way ticket.
4. For any kind of travel within Brazil or internationally, you will be required to produce indentification (i.e. your passport), while in most cases for national travel the person inspecting your passport will probably be more interested in the identification pages of the passport. However, should you run into somebody who thumbs back through the passport to your visa page and finds that it’s expired they are obligated to notify the Federal Police. Almost all Brazilian airports have a Federal Police Delegacy on-site.
5. If your visa is expired, you’re going to be very secretive about your situation; otherwise you will make yourself a defenseless target for anyone who wants to extort whatever they want out of you with threats of turning you over to the Federal Police or worse. There are also some who have the misguided notion that they might receive some kind of reward from the Federal Police for doing so (obviously they do not). Regardless of this you will also need to spend all your time looking over your shoulder, hoping you won’t see one of the Feds or that you won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time, something happens and the police show up and demand everybody produce ID.
6. Now we start talking about much more serious consequences, since it’s not much of a big deal in Brazil. Do you plan on not travelling anywhere else for the remainder of the validity of your passport? Who knows, right? Well, remember that “great big ugly stamp” that you get in your passport? If you need to apply to any other country for a visa, guess what – you have to send them your passport! Oops! Unlike Brazil, in many countries overstaying one’s visa really is a big deal. It can be just the thing that a visa issuing officer will look for in order to justify denying a visa. So, what happens if you get offered a great job in Dubai, with a nice juicy salary? Wouldn’t you really get ticked off if you couldn’t get the job because you couldn’t get a visa? I bet you would.
7. While I’ve heard that even for individuals who’ve overstayed their visa here in Brazil more than once they don’t seem to have much difficulty in paying the fine and getting allowed back in, but there’s absolutely no guarantee of this. Just think of all the money that airline ticket to come see Carnaval cost you and being put back on the same plane heading back home because the Federal Police Agent of the day simply decides to say “Tchau amigo, volta pra casa!”
So, before you let yourself get into an overstay situation due to carelessness or inaccurate counting; before you decide that immigrations regulations are for other people and don’t apply to you; play fast and loose with the rules – think long and hard about the foregoing information and ask yourself the question “IS IT REALLY WORTH THE RISK?”
William James Woodward - Brazil Animator, Expat-blog Team