Hmmm: Brazil Once Again Open To International Visitors

Filed Under: Travel

Brazil sure is taking an interesting approach to once again welcoming tourists

Brazil’s borders are once again open

Like so many countries around the world, Brazil largely closed its borders back in March, in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Unfortunately much like in the US, the strategy didn’t work very well.

Brazil has the second most confirmed coronavirus cases (2.6+ million) and also second most confirmed coronavirus deaths (91K+), after the US. The number of new cases in the country keeps increasing, and a couple of days ago (July 29) the country reported over 69K cases, the most it has recorded in one day.

Despite that situation, Brazil has as of this week opened its borders to foreign visitors. The country is welcoming tourists from around the world with no restrictions, other than that health insurance is required for the duration of the trip.

While I absolutely wouldn’t recommend planning a trip to Brazil right now, this does make Brazil one of only a few destinations that Americans can travel to without any restrictions.

The US still has a travel ban against Brazil

Back in May the US introduced a travel ban against Brazil. I’m not sure the US is really in a position to ban visitors from countries where coronavirus hasn’t been handled well, but…

With this travel ban, the United States isn’t allowing non-Americans who have been to Brazil in the past 14 days to enter. There are some exceptions, like family members of Americans, and those with essential reasons for travel.

With Brazil having opened its borders, this means that Americans are now allowed to travel to Brazil and return without any sort of testing or quarantine requirement. Again, I would highly recommend against that, but it is possible.

Bottom line

Brazil has reopened its borders to foreign visitors, after shutting them back in March. I can’t imagine many people will be planning trips to Brazil anytime soon given the extent to which coronavirus isn’t under control there.

In some way I almost can’t blame Brazil for reopening its borders, since it’s not like most people coming from outside the country are more likely to have coronavirus than those within the country. Then again, the much bigger issue is the lack of capacity the country has for people getting hospitalized, which is why borders should probably stay closed.

  1. “I’m not sure the US is really in a position to ban visitors from countries where coronavirus hasn’t been handled well”

    the US absolutely should ban people from high-risk countries, even if the US is itself a high-risk country to reduce the risk of making things even worse in the US.

    The European ban and other bans looks a bit out of date now but the Brazil ban seems sensible.

  2. So when trump changes him mind and allows brazilians to travel to the US then you will think its the wrong idea too right?

  3. @Max – No one knows how long immunity lasts or if there are long term health implications of contracting the virus, so no, this isn’t a smart play. It’s a risky play. He and his people may end up lucky all said and done or they may end up accelerating their deaths whether they be directly or indirectly related to COVID.

  4. I don’t think there is an overwhelming evidence that closed borders have a positive effect. The highest per capita infection rate in Latin America is in Chile, which was one of the first countries to close borders on March 17. On the other hand side, the Netherlands kept their borders open until the EU closed the external Schengen border, but intra-EU they stayed open throughout. Yet the Netherlands was quite successful hand has kept low numbers during the recent increase in other EU countries. So does closing borders really help? Does it help at this stage of the pandemic?

    I don’t think so. Perhaps testing (twice) is now a superior solution.

  5. Putting the health questions aside for a moment: Who has recommendations for places to go in Brazil? Any can’t-miss places? Hard place to travel? Easy? Expensive? Good for families? We’ve traveled widely in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but South America is a mystery. We enjoy hiking, water, and big epic cities like New York, Shanghai, London.

  6. Sorry Kendor but good informative write ups on places to visit in Brazil dont get the clicks or pay the bills like political pieces. We were lucky that it took Lucky many years to realize he makes more money writing political blogs than good travel blogs. I would like to know more on south american travel though.

  7. The same Europeans who brought this virus into their countries, didn’t close their borders for months and made a massive commotion at the US for closing the borders in March now love to talk about keeping Americans & others out yet they’re officially in a new second wave. It’s clear this won’t go away, nor will the numbers die out over time from any sort of immunity.

  8. Brazil is on my to go list. One day hopefully there will be a vaccine against COVID-19 so I can check Brazil off my list. That and Machu Picchu then I’m done with South America! Can’t wait! This COVID-19 thing is really delaying all the countries I want to visit. Sigh.

  9. “the much bigger issue is the lack of capacity the country has for people getting hospitalized”
    Can you share the source for this? While agreeing with you about the rest, I haven’t seen any news about hundreds of overcrowded hospitals nor people dying in the lines without medical support over there…

  10. Brazil is a very beautiful country. Sure, we have our political issues but, aside from that, there are a lot of beautiful places to see down here.
    The northeast region (Natal, Recife, Salvador, etc…) is wonderful! Sand dunes and sea… is the best!
    Also, we have a beautiful wine region down in the south. Specially beautiful to visit in the winter (June/July/August).
    If you are into cruises, there is a great river cruise across Amazon River in Iberostar Grand Amazon.
    For obvious reasons, this is not the best time to travel. But once travel resumes, it is worth a visit!

  11. Makes sense, they’re already doing nothing about it, might as well make some money while they can.

  12. Mayank says:
    July 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    There is no ‘second wave’ of C19 in Europe and there probably never will be. You can only have a second wave when the first wave has been eradicated which so far it has not. There will be peaks and troughs as lockdowns are eased but they are not a second wave.

    Oh, and no where in Europe is experiencing the levels of C19 that you have in the US.

  13. @Phil Duncan

    A second wave does not mean the first wave has been eradicated. It means that there’s a second round of surges in infected people.

  14. Not waxing eloquent, however, Brazil is a large NO for me at the moment.
    Bad joke aside, would still like to visit some day.

  15. Both Brazil and US are big countries with a large number of infected people. For such countries closing the international borders while having largely no restrictions for travel within the countries would have no effect on the pandemic. The only issue is access to the health care when traveling. I have been to Brazil 5+ times and have 10 year visa in the passport. Beautiful country and very friendly people but no rush for me to go back for a visit.

  16. @kendor Rio, Foz do Iguacu, Amazon, Pantanal, Jalapao, Jericoacoara, Canoa Quebrada, Atins, Lencois Maranhenses, Chapada Diamantina and Florianopolis (specially during the summer dez-mar).

  17. Those who want…..Let the Brazilians in USA but keep them in your homes down south. We have more than our share of taking care of patients without PPE in Northeast

  18. I would travel to Brazil right now. The situation there is slowly improving and I believe I already had the disease in January. I do think we should be banning travel from India and Bangladesh while lifting the travel bans on the European Union, China, and Brazil.

  19. @Kendor To answer your Brazil travel related questions:

    1) Cant miss places: depends what your interests are. Your initial gateway into the country will most likely be landing in Sao Paulo (GRU), but you can easily connect to other cities in the country. The general cant miss places are obviously Rio de Janeiro for the beaches/natural beauty, Sao Paulo for the food, shopping, and nightlife, and maybe the Amazon if you’re super interested.

    2) Brazil, generally speaking in terms of flights, is an easy place to travel between main gateway cities. If you’re looking to venture deep into the country for specific sights or whatever, then no, it can be quite difficult due to lack of infrastructure in some places. Just really depends where you’re going. Rio? Easy. Amazon? Might be trickier but doable. Lencois Maranhenses? Hard to get to, long journey, etc.

    3) Expensive? Well, if youre coming from US or Europe then your currency will multiply and you’ll be just fine, it is a cheap destination right now for the dollar/euro crowd. Family Friendly? I mean…yes? I think so! Again, depends what you’re doing.

    4) You mentioned you enjoyed hiking, water, and big epic cities. I would suggest as a first timer in Brazil to checkout Sao Paulo for a few days, as it is comparable to New York and Shanghai as a skyscraper megacity with an incredible food scene, world class shopping, great nightlife, etc. Then head on to Rio for the famous beaches and beautiful sites (Pao de Acucar, Cristo Redentor). If you’re a little bit more adventurous, Fernando de Noronha is like the Hawaii of Brazil. An island off the northeast coast, it’s beautiful, popular with wealthy brazilian & international tourists, and plenty of hikes and deserted beaches.

    Hope that helps! 🙂

  20. Not surprising that Brazil opens its borders to foreign visitors. Chances are they are coming from countries less infected and will support the local tourism economy. Americans, of course, pose a higher risk but President Bolsonaro like his buddy Trump loves people who consider infecting others as a demonstration of their personal right and liberty.

  21. @Bob says: Question remains – will India follow?

    Ask Dr. Lucky. He says don’t go to Brazil, yet heads to Turkey.

  22. People in their right mind will not visit Brazil and the U.S. – at least not for the rest of the year.

  23. How is Brazil these days? Are things open? How’s night life?

    It could be a nice place to go for the winter, but it would be unfortunate to find everything closed.

  24. I have just booked an award trip to Sao Paulo and Rio with LH from ARN. As there is no quarantine requirement on the way back to SE via DE, we are more than glad to go there. I will let you know how was it – flying in two weeks time :))

  25. Zensur ist der Tod der freien Welt! Ironisch, dass ausgerechnet die selbsternannten “Liberalen” besonders gerne zensieren.

  26. Lucky,
    According to your ” rationale” no one from any country should then visit the U.S. right now, cause after all, the country has more known infected and deaths from covid-19? The hospitalization of tourist with traveller’s insurance would not be a deterrent as they would be admitted to the private sector , where I gather there is plenty of availability. Your piece is more attuned to the terrorism and in line with a fear that subconsciously forgeiners have of ” third world countries” and their lack of basic infrastructure. Congratulations on your Wes Craven piece!

  27. Just curious why you so strongly recommend against it. Once you get past all the media hype have you guys done a careful look at the actual risk of contracting the virus? And even so the risk it would pose to you should you catch it?

    There are all sorts of things you have to look out for in Brazil and even in normal times you could catch dengue, malaria, yellowfever, or be the unfortunate victim of a robbery etc.

    Really covid is not that big a deal IMO if you are under 50, don’t have preexisting condtiions and don’t live with someone in that group. Don’t give into all the hysterical mediahype.

  28. For those asking how Brazil is doing right now, it highly depends on the region…
    São Paulo is coming back to normal.
    Most of the special hospitals created for COVID pacients have been deactivated already… number of cases and deaths decreasing everyday
    Everything is open (malls, restaurant, parks, gym, etc…) except for movie theaters and some other “group”activities.
    You must wear a mask pretty much everywhere you go.

  29. Bags are packed and ready to fly in one week. Health insurance is much easier than the test plus doctor note. Only extra precaution I am taking is renting a car to get from GRU to CWB versus a BUS.

  30. No reason to nitpick the USA….many countries similar or higher rates than USA when looking at their recent case levels – past few weeks (No Worldometers won’t give you this up to date answer)

    Countries where lock downs and/or masks have failed: (Read – they don’t work)




    Israel – Former success story (equivalent rate of 70,000/day when adjusting to population of USA – many countries similar)






    Colombia – Former success story




    Costa Rica – former success story


    El Salvador – Former success story

    Argentina – Former success story



    Poland – Never flattened curve

    Paraguay – Former success story


    South Africa

    Declining now…but it’s been ongoing for a long time now..well beyond masks/lockdown mandatory dates….decline is for other reasons..but levels are still relatively high

    Saudi Arabia




    In Process of failing


    Hong Kong

    Australia – thought they had it beat

    Czechia – former success story

    Spain – thought they had it beat

    Uruguay – former success story, very early stage of failure?

  31. Worth repeating: Just because Brazil has re-opened to tourists doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to actually go.

  32. @Kendor I have been traveling to South America and Central America for 15 years. Brazil is wonderful place to visit, Manaus you travel the amazon, Rio has the beaches and the new wonder of the World Cristo, and Sao Paulo is the mega city with 25 million plus people the largest in South America. If you want to find a hidden gem in South America is Colombia, Cartagena is an old Spanish city on the Caribbean Sea, Cali is where the salsa dance was invented, Medellin el poblado district is the night life with many casinos and Bogota is the mega city and capital the start of Andes mountains.

  33. @Kin Silva very good comment. The reality is we can’t stop spreading worldwide and that is not a problem because it is not a deadly virus. over 70% are over 80 years old and over 90% had pre existing illness. the virus itself doesn’t kill anyone… its the pre existing illnesses. So if its not covid they die it its perhaps the next flu. The collateral damage in most countries is much worse than the virus. Brazil did right in reopening borders and all other countries should follow. Closing borders doesn’t help at all. People worldwide are crazy… they behave like it would be ebola.

  34. There was a widely read book published in 1958 titled The Ugly American, to do with the ugly things the US government of the day was up to. A film with Marlon Brando followed in 1963.
    I can’t wait for the 2021 sequel, The Stupid American, which will have a hefty chapter on the US Covid-19 response, with examples of ignorant commentary from super-stupid Americans lifted verbatim from this very blog! Of course with a probable 700 pages, practically no-one here will read it, preferring to wait for the 100 minute movie.

  35. What tosh, Andy.

    NZ borders closed, and there has been no issue.

    OTOH, look where things have reopened after being clear, such as on the Hurtigruen cruise ship, or Tahiti, and infections have started again after there being none.

    In fact, in most places where the virus has started up again, it’s due to travellers coming in due to not managing the quarantine effectively.

  36. I’m brazilian. I live in the south of Brazil (São Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, on the border with Argentina). We live in times where the press, mostly composed of people with ideological tendencies on the left (socialists), are against the federal government. Several public health workers, including the National Health Agency (ANVISA), are also true leftist militants. Furthermore, we are in times of municipal elections, where corrupt politicians look for any opportunity to embezzle public money. Covid-19 data in Brazil, in this context, regarding lethality, have been systematically distorted. The federation states have imposed an obligation to report even minimally suspected deaths as Covid-19 deaths. Thus, for example, a victim of blood cancer (leukemia), who can usually die with high fever and pneumonia, must be treated as having died by Covid-19 and is thus counted in the statistics. There are several cases reported in our city and which we are aware of throughout Brazil. The artificial increase in the number of deaths by Covid-19 serves the interests of unethical people, leftist opponents of the Federal government, by damaging the image in Brazil and in the World, and of politicians who divert the enormous amount of money destined to fight the pandemic , without the control usually applicable to public spending (part of that money will end up in this year’s campaigns).

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