What happens if you are arrive in Brazil from the US without a visa?
September 2, 2012 10:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a ticket to travel from SFO to São Paulo tomorrow. Sadly, I just discovered I need a visa. There is no time to apply and the consulate is closed tomorrow so I wonder if I should just get on the plane and see what happens. If they turn me away in São Paulo what will they do? Put me on the next plane? Or will the airline not even board me without the visa? (I have a connecting flight in O'Hare.)
posted by Typographica to Travel & Transportation around Sao Paulo, Brazil (12 answers total)
Best answer: It's really not 'if' they turn you away, but 'when'. They'll detain you until they can get you on a flight and then you'll be liable for the costs. Bit of an expensive experiment really. That's if they even let you on the plane. They aren't going to take pity on you and let you in just because you didn't realize.

Can you change your flight to later in the week and see if you can get your visa in time to make your trip worth it?

If not, I'd just cancel it and chalk it up to a learning experience.
posted by scrute at 10:18 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As a rule, the airline will deny you boarding if you don't have a visa required at your destination. The airline has a strong incentive to check carefully, because airlines are fined if they transport passengers whose papers aren't in order.

Also, Brazil makes a point of treating US visitors exactly like Brazilian visitors to the US are treated: the Brazilian government fingerprints Americans upon arrival, and demands that Americans obtain a visa in advance.
posted by Dimpy at 10:27 PM on September 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Sounds very risky to go, but certainly the airline should have some good input for you about the matter.
posted by Dansaman at 10:34 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: United confirmed that I won't be allowed on the plane without a visa.
posted by Typographica at 11:09 PM on September 2, 2012

For future reference, it is almost never a good idea to do something that is likely to result in being denied entry to a country, because IME visa applications always ask 'have you ever been denied entry/a visa to this country' and as I understand it, saying yes gets your current application red flagged.
posted by jacalata at 12:16 AM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Delta, at least, checks visas at the gate and marks it on your boarding passto indicate everything is in order. It'd probably be a non-starter; you might get through security, but no further.
posted by peacrow at 5:44 AM on September 3, 2012

Just had a Brazil Consulate experience this pastweek in Washington DC.

Informed on Wednesday that I have to be there in a week and a few days, I get to the consulate with only 7 business days to get the visa.

Having been told "no" a few months ago under identical time restraints, I hold off on ordering a plane ticket, and explain my situation. Was referred to a senior person, who asked a lot of questions and reluctantly said "yes", if I did several things.

An 8-page printout of the conference program that I was scheduled to speak on, the hotel reservation, the plane ticket confirmation, a letter of invitation (that had to be changed in its wording to reflect the exact event, signed by HR at company HQ three time zones away), a USPS money order (no other method of payment allowed), a reprinted online application (some 5 pages to type in, no way to look up and modify a prior version), two trips to Kinko's/FedEx, problems receiving a fax, and three visits back to the consulate's office later, the last visit was at closing time (1pm).

Upon which the officer asked for me to hand-write an affidavit, about some concern over a request in the letter for two additional visits in the coming year, that I would be compensated for training.

At that point I kept up a humble posture, understanding that writing up a statement is easy after all the other things were handled. I pick up the visa this Friday, three business days before their official timeframe, and the lesson learned: 10 business days before you leave, if going in person, and asking for an exception can be done if there's a strong enough reason, and a sympathetic ear.
posted by scooterdog at 6:17 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Frequent traveler here. The other option you can avail yourself of:

Prior to departure, book another flight from Sao Paulo to say Buenos Aires/Santiago/Montevideo etc. And this may help show you as a transit passenger through Brazil, which you most certainly don't need a visa for.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Prior to departure, book another flight from Sao Paulo to say Buenos Aires/Santiago/Montevideo etc. And this may help show you as a transit passenger through Brazil, which you most certainly don't need a visa for.

But, wouldn't authorities be alerted as soon as Typographica was a no-show for the connecting flights? Seems like they could end up being in an even bigger mess then.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

The suggestion to pretend you are transiting is terrible, useless and wrong.

He does not need a visa to transit, where the definition of 'transit' is (quoting the Brazilian consulate) 'if you do not plan to leave the transit area of the airport, you won’t need a visa'

If he intends to leave the secure area of the airport, then, again quoting the Brazilian embassy, 'In order to enter Brazil legally, even if only for a few hours, you will need a visa.'

So your suggestion would end up with the OP arriving in Brazil with no visa, and (depending on his ability to lie quickly and believably under pressure) possibly being ejected at immigration, likely complicating any future attempts to visit, and either taking his prebooked flight to a random city in South America that he didn't want to go to and buying a new return flight from there, or perhaps being forced to pay for an instant return flight not at his own convenience.
posted by jacalata at 7:56 AM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Given the accusation some have implied due to my response, let me be clear:

My suggestion was not to deceive Brazilian authorities, but to book and take a legitimate flight from Sao Paulo to an alternate city, so that the OP can use and enjoy the ticket to South America, not lose major $, and not have to worry about visas.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

sorry for misinterpreting you, I like your idea
posted by jacalata at 5:45 PM on September 3, 2012

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