Hallelujah! Brazil's arms are finally opening wide to tourists.
For years, if you wanted to visit the riches of this South American country, you soon found out how difficult it was. You'd have to make an appointment with the nearest Brazilian embassy or consulate, and that could take more than a month. On the big day, you'd travel there and proffer your passport along with photo, an application, and proof of your ticket, and then wait. Or you'd pay exorbitant fees to have a visa processing company do it all for you.
The procedure was so old-fashioned and onerous that many tourists decided to vacation somewhere else. Brazil has been sabotaging itself for years in an ongoing fumble of colossal, foolish tourism mismanagement. Even many third-party visa services stopped working with the country altogether, as documented by the Los Angeles Times in 2015.
But now Brazil is wising up and is easing its self-imposed rules. Starting in January, tourists from the U.S., Canada, and Japan can simply apply for a visa online. No more schlepping, waiting in line, or mailing packages. (Australians were the first to use the system, starting last week.)
The cost of a visa hasn't changed. Americans still have to pay $160, a steep charge that stems from a longstanding diplomatic hissy fit that seems to have started when the U.S. began charging Brazilians the same amount in order to deter illegal immigration.
So the price won't go down, and you will still have to wait about 72 hours to get your answer. But once you have it, it'll be automatically associated with your flight ticket and you simply show a printed or scanned copy of your approval at the airport.
That will makes things so much easier, and you won't have to part with your passport.
Three cheers to Brazil for moving the goalposts closer. The country is going to be stunned at the change. In fact, Brazil's tourism ministry predicts that the elimination of bureaucracy will boost tourism to the country by as much as 25%.
The links for the e-visa application service will be posted later on the web page of each consulate.
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