Travelling through South America on an American passport has caused me endless annoyance, mostly because my travel partner is using a combination of his Australian and Finnish passports to either avoid getting any visas or to pay significantly less money for them than I am. The largest frustration, though, is surrounding the Brazilian visa that I need to get before we cross the border for Carnaval, and I thought I might just briefly write about my own experience to help anyone in the same boat, which will be Americans, Australians, Canadians, and citizens from a number of other countries, but excluding most of Europe.

Let me just preface this post by saying that it is possible to get a Brazilian visa in your home country, as well as in many South American cities, including Buenos Aires, so it is mostly due to my own lack of planning that I am frantically trying to get a visa 48 hours before our flight to Rio. I made the decision not to apply for the visa before I left on my trip, as the wait time in Australia was ridiculous, but it could have been quite simple to get one in BA― in fact, it was my plan to sort out my Brazilian visa during the week+ that I spent there, but all of their appointment times were fully booked and I was left with no choice but to carry on to Puerto Iquazu and hope for the best. In the end, it was incredibly simple to get a visa at Iguazú Falls in Argentina, despite the lack of concrete information online. Perhaps this post will alleviate some panic for others!

Complete the application online

The first thing you’ll need to have ready is your application for a Brazilian visa, which you can complete here. It just asks for basic information and an upload of your passport photo, and you can find specifications for that photo at the same website. I had my photos taken for about $1 in Peru at the start of my travels in anticipation for this visa application, so I’m not sure if there are places around Puerto Iguazú that print passport photos― probably just best to come prepared! Once you finish the application, you’ll need to print the receipt, sign it, and affix another passport photo in the designated space (the man at the consulate glued it on for me, because what traveller carries glue with them?!).

Prepare your documents

When you go to submit your visa application at the consulate, you’ll need to have with you:

  1. Your signed application receipt, printed off from the computer.
  2. A recent passport photo, which you can either affix yourself to the application receipt, or they will do it for you.
  3. A copy of your flight or bus out of Brazil, so they know you aren’t trying to sneak in and never leave, I guess.
  4. A copy of your bank statement, which seems to be a common visa requirement these days, apparently to prove that you have enough money to support yourself whilst you are in Brazil.
  5. Your passport, obviously! Most countries these days require you to have a couple blank pages to enter, and the Brazilian visa takes up a full page, so just make sure you have the space for it. I’m actually 95% sure that they put the visa sticker over existing stamps in my passport, though, so maybe it’s not such a big deal. More importantly, your passport just needs to be valid for at least 6 months from your intended travel date.
  6. The visa cost, in Argentinian Pesos. They will only accept cash payments and, at the time of writing this post, it was over AR2000 for US citizens. All other countries pay less, but just make sure you have enough cash when visiting the consulate to avoid running out to an ATM mid-application.

Visit the consulate to lodge your application

The consulate is located at Av. Córdoba 264, which is just a couple minutes away from the bus station in Puerto Iguazú. I printed out a map from Google showing the exact route just so I didn’t get lost, but it wasn’t challenging. The consulate is open on weekdays from 8am-2pm, but only accepted visa applications before midday. You can find information on the consulate at this website, but I am not sure if it is kept up-to-date.

My best advice is to be there as early as possible in case you have any delays. It’s an incredibly small office and there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of traffic through there (the waits were modest when i lodged my application, but always best to be safe). There was only one person working when I handed my application in, so I waited in a small queue of about 8 people, but it was quite quick.

A number of people in front of me were actually turned away for not having all the necessary documents or not having the correct change for payment, so make sure you’re prepared with extra cash. I struggled to find the current fees posted online, so I just came with more than I thought I’d need to be safe (as mentioned above, I paid a bit over AR2000 in early 2015). Once inside, the process was quite quick; the man briefly looked over my application receipt, trimmed down my passport photo slightly so that it would fit before gluing it to the application, and then accepted my payment.

Pick up your passport

Most applications turn around in 24 hours, so you will be able to collect them the next day. I have heard of people lodging applications early on a Friday and getting them back that afternoon, since the consulate is closed over the weekend, but I most certainly would not count on this! I dropped my application off around mid-morning and picked it up at a similar time the following day. The experience was entirely painless, except for the weeks spent fretting over it beforehand!

If anyone has visited the consulate and lodged an application more recently, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!