Iguazu/ brazil visa issues


Feb 4, 2009
Hey Everyone-

My brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit me in a few weeks and we're going to make the trip up to the falls for a few days. I know that Americans need visas to enter Brazil in general but was interested in personal experience in the falls area. I know plenty of non-Americans who have seen the falls from both sides but the only Americans I know who have done the Brazil side were in a group setting where the border issues were "taken care of."

Just wondering what the control is actually like there, etc. By the way the sister-in-law is English so if he and I can't do she better not ditch us! Haha thanks for any info!

Getting a Brazilian visa here in BA can be a hassle. If you go to the Brazilian consulate in BA, be sure to have everything they ask for;
  • Passport
  • 1 Passport size photo
  • Round-trip ticket to Brazil (or Puerto Iguazu)
  • A printout of your hotel reservation (whether you are staying on the Argentina or Brazil side you'll need the hotel address and phone).
  • Last two bank statements of your checking or savings account showing a balance (online printouts should be ok)
  • A credit/debit card to show them (as proof you have means to pay with plastic during your trip)
When you get there (go in the morning), you will have to fill out the application on the computer terminals they have. Be sure to fill out everything. You will need the place you will stay in Brazil (or the hotel in Puerto Iguazu), their street address, and their phone number. Any blanks in the application might give them reason to send you back to get the missing information.

At their discretion (ie., if that lady at the window is having a bad day) they may ask you to present a proof of employment in the form of a letter from your employer, and perhaps even a paystub. If you have this for your first visit bring it, if not, don't worry. They may not ask for it at all.

Once they accept your application, they will give you a payment stub which you have to go pay at Itau bank a few blocks away on Santa Fe. It's about USD $150 per visa). Then you will have to go back, in say 2 days, to pick up your visa and passport.

If you are lucky; they will simply look at your documentation and take in your application without issue. They may not take the paperwork at all, although in the past they used to. Be sure your paperwork is all photocopies in case they take it as you will likely not get it back.

If you're not lucky (ie, the lady at the window is having a bad day), they may give you a hard time about absolutely anything they feel like. For example; missing info in your application, or they want to see employment proof, or whatever. They will not take your app and send you out to get whatever it is will please them. This is common, so it is essential you have all the paperwork ready to avoid this. I've met people there in the line who had to go back multiple times before they accepted their application.

A couple of weeks ago we went and got our visas here in BA. We did fine and she took our application and didn't even bother looking at our docs. We had our visas issued two days later. In a previous occasion they gave us a hard time and we had to go back 3 times.

Again, getting the visa here in BA can be problematic. BUT.... Here's a tip; There is also a Brazilian consulate at Puerto Iguazu (Argentine side of the falls). They have same-day visa service for those visiting the falls. Back in December 2007 I went there with my parents for three days. The first day we dropped off our application at the consulate and then spent the day at the Argentine side of the falls. That afternoon, we went back and picked up our visas. The next day we went to the Brazilian side. Their visa service was prompt and without hassle. They did not require any docs, although that may have changed now.

We are now going to Iguazu in 2 days, with a brother and sister in law as well who don't have visas. We are going to try this same-day service again at Puerto Iguazu. If anything has changed, I will report back here.

If you have time, I would recommend you try getting the visas here in BA. You might get the visas in 2 days without any problems. But if they give you a hard time, know that you have an alternative by going to Iguazu and trying the consulate there which should be easier.

On the issue of crossing the Brazilian border without a visa; I would not recommend this. We were told (and I've seen this the times I've been there) that 99% of the time there are no agents at the border crossing on the way in or the way out. So basically you are spending US$ 150 for each visa, and it's likely no one will ever check it. BUT, that 1% the agents are there checking for visas can bring you a lot of trouble. In 2007, our driver told us they were fining US$ 1000 to any tourists caught crossing without a visa. I haven't been back since then so I don't know if they are still operating the same way. I will have a better idea before the end of this week.

Whatever you do; Good luck! ;) The view of the falls from the Brazilian side is spectacular and I wouldn't miss it.
I've heard that if you take an organized tour that crosses over to Brazil that no visa is necessary. I don't know if that's true or how you can even verify it.
We traveled to Iguazu, stayed on Brazilian side for 5 days , no visa needed. The tour operator (Bus tour from Montevideo) kept our passports for us.(including everyone elses documents too...DNI, UY cedulas etc..). If we need passport for anything ie. cambio etc just asked and they provided it.

cujodu said:
I've heard that if you take an organized tour that crosses over to Brazil that no visa is necessary. I don't know if that's true or how you can even verify it.
In 2005, my wife and I got a Brasilian visa here in Bs.As. with the intent of visiting Iguazu Falls. The day we visited the Brasilian side of the falls, we took the municipal bus from Puerto Iguazu to Foz do Iguazu. The bus did not stop at the border and we never got exit/entry stamps.

The same day, we returned to Puerto Iguazu and walked back across the border (long story). At immigration, the Brasilian official asked us about our missing entry stamp and we explained what had happened. After a few minutes of grumbling, he waved us through.

Fast forward to 2006, when we landed in Rio and were denied entry into Brasil because our visa had not been validated (no entry stamp).

If you get a Brasilian visa, make sure it is validated (stamped) within 90 days of issuance or it will be invalid.

We just got back from Iguazu this month. Depends on tour company, Montevideo does keep your passports and if you are on a tour you can get to that side. Or you can play it safe and get the required documents, or stay on Argentina side and just fly over $100US for the helicopter ride. I would suggest you take the boat ride underneath the Falls best time of our lives :)
Hmmm... That's interesting. I've never heard that tour operators could bypass visa requirements in Brazil, but it seems some are doing this. Even when we went on a cruise to Rio last year, we were required to have a brazilian visa to before we even boarded the cruise here in Buenos Aires. I wonder what the brazilian consulate's official word on this subject is. :rolleyes: I find those tour operations a bit suspect. ;)
This was a bus tour, I gather that Brazil immigration is ok if the on-board tour people hold the foreign passports/identity documents during the stay in Brazil.

It seems this is common at least for tour's originating from Uruguay.
Just got back from Iguazu yesterday and wanted to follow up on my previous post with some notes...
  • Yes, the Brazilian consulate at Puerto Iguazu is still offering same-day service for Brazilian visas. Their address is:

    Av. Cordoba 264
    Puerto Iguazu
    Tel: (03757) 421 348

    They accept visa applications between 8 AM and 10 AM (no exceptions!). Your visa will be ready between 12:30 PM and 1 PM. Their office closes at 1:30 PM, so be sure to pick it up on time. The visa is active for 90 days, and valid for 30 days once you enter. The only requirements are; your Passport, 1 Passport-type photo, fill out the application (the one they provide there), and the fee (~ $546 pesos for US citizens). No bank statements, tickets, credit cards, etc. required.
  • They are tightening control over the Brazil border. While cars are still allowed to drive through the crossing without stopping; they now have staff there with computers to process and stamp visas. I've never seen these many people working at the Brazilian crossing before. If you got your visa, MAKE SURE your driver stops and you get it processed and stamped. You will have to fill out a small form, that you have to keep and show on your exit as well. They were building new processing booths at the crossing. Our driver told us that when these are finished (soon) they will start processing every single entry and exit through that border. This is going to be a big change from the many years where this border crossing was often unmanned.
  • I had a long talk with our driver (a Puerto Iguazu local) about the visa requirements. He stated that for many years, drivers and tour companies falsely told many tourists that visas were not required if you visited for "one day". They did this in order to get the business and charge a significant fee to cross people in and out. He said this was always illegal and when caught, the fines were high and often those involved (including tourists) faced jail time. He believes this is one of the reasons why they are tightening the security at the border crossing now (after many years of lax security).
We had a great time at Iguazu, and this month is a perfect time to visit (excellent weather, low number of tourists). ;)
a person can be very satisfied with seeing the falls from the argentine side too. especially if time is short seeing it in the morning, again in the late afternoon, its all good.