Traveling to Brazil: Health, Safety, and Insurance Advice
White, sandy beaches, tropical rainforests, bustling metropolises, and diverse ecosystems filled with the most magnificent collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth all reside in the beautiful country of Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro is the top city to visit in Brazil because of its gorgeous views and adventurous experiences. Travelers can hike through Parque Nacional da Tijuca, which is covered with exuberant greens, running creeks and waterfalls, and mountainous terrain on the outskirts of Rio. A cable car ride will bring you 396 km above Rio de Janeiro where you will be able to see Corcovado Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, and Copacabana Beach.
While in Brazil, travel to Salvador and immerse yourself in the Afro-Brazilian culture. The brilliantly hued center of the city is a living museum of the 17th and 18th-century architecture and gold-laden churches. Descents of African slaves have preserved their heritage and continue celebrating their culture with beautiful music and dance, delicious foods, including acarajé, which is bean and shrimp fritters, martial-arts traditions and of course, religion. The neighborhood, Barra, has pedestrian only promenades, where locals have set up market stands, along with the gorgeous coastlines of the Bay of All Saints on one side and the Atlantic on the other.
Music is the lifeblood of Brazil. Many styles can be heard throughout the country, such as rock, old-school bossa nova, hip-hop, and funk. But the rapid-fire African style of music and dance called the Samba is the most popular style of music heard in Brazil. Lapa, in Rio de Janeiro, is famous for its nightlife with open-air Samba jams and is home to dozens of live music and dance halls. Rio is also home to the renowned street festival, Carnaval. Colorful parade floats, live music and dance performances, and more than 2 million people line the streets each day to celebrate the largest carnival in the world.
General Safety Tips
A travel advisory has been placed by the U.S. Department of State-Bureau of Consular Affairs in January of 2018. They have advised travelers to not travel to any areas within 150 km of Brazil’s land borders with Venezuela, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Paraguay due to violence and crime.
It is also with an extreme advisory to avoid specific areas within the cities of Brazil, especially at night. If you must travel to these areas, be sure to practice extreme caution. In particular, do not go to Brazil’s Central Bus Station because of large crowds, Sao Paulo’s “red light districts,” located on Rua Augusta north of Avenida Paulista and the Estação da Luz Metro Area, and Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park. Also, do not travel to Favelas, the neighborhood slums of Brazil. Violent crimes such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, gang activity, organized crime, and express kidnappings have all occurred in these parts of Brazil.
Brazil Travel Advisory – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
Exercise increased caution in Brazil due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Travel and Transportation
Traffic safety and road conditions in Brazil are poor. Therefore you should be wary of significant risks. The people of Brazil have poor driving skills, the roads are bad, and high-density traffic makes road travel more hazardous than in the United States. Brazil offers public buses and taxis to bring locals and tourists around. Some buses are nicer than others, but bus hijacking can occur at random. Registered taxis in Brazil have red license plates and openly display company information and phone numbers. Travelers should feel safe in registered taxis, but renting private cars would be the safest option.
Brazilian Emergency Health and Safety Numbers
To report a crime, call one of the following numbers:
- Fire Department—193
For emergency services, passport help, and federal benefits available to U.S. citizens:
- US Embassy—011-55-61-3312-7000
- Emergency After-Hours—011-55-61-3312-7400
- US Consulate in Porto Alegre—011-55-51-3345-6000
- Emergency After-Hours—55-51-98293-0446
- US Consulate General in Recife—011-55-81-3416-3050
- Emergency After-Hours—011-55-81-3416-3060
- US Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro—011-55-21-3823-2000
- Emergency After-Hours—011-55-21-3823-2029
- US Consulate General in Sao Paulo—011-55-11-3250-5000
- Emergency After-Hours—011-55-11-3250-5373
Quality of Healthcare In Brazil and Types of Insurance
Brazil has a government-funded health care system, in which the Ministry of Health is in charge of public health, government hospitals, and medical services. Any legal citizens residing in the country are entitled to free healthcare at any public clinic and hospital. Although, foreign residents are also allowed to receive free, public healthcare. Citizens must show a form of id and a SUS card to receive treatment. A SUS card is the Unified Health System card that allows healthcare facilities to access medical records from public, private, and supplemental healthcare systems.
The government-funded hospitals and clinics have good medical service, but they are usually crowded and have long waiting times. About 70% of the population uses the public healthcare system. Meanwhile, the rest opt to pay for private medical insurance. Foreigners may also use private hospitals to receive medical treatment, but payment is required. Therefore, travelers should purchase medical insurance to help pay for any medical treatment necessary while abroad before their date of travel.
Brazil is one of the leading medical tourism destinations in South America because of their top-notch cosmetic surgery procedures. The procedures are much cheaper than those in the US, UK, and other European countries. So, people seeking cosmetic and reconstructive surgery prefer to receive treatment in one of the country’s many accredited hospitals. American plastic surgeons have been trained in cosmetic surgery by local doctors, who have been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and are apart of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.
Health Insurance for Expats in Brazil
Expats living in Brazil who are accustomed to a higher quality of service and care should consider purchasing individual private medical insurance. Private Expat Health Insurance allows you to seek treatment from Brazil’s best private hospitals and doctors. Our recommended plans for Expats in Brazil are:
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
- Five plan options and additional optional coverages.
- Choice of the coverage area to reflect your geographical area of need.
- Freedom to choose your health care provider wherever you are in the world.
Travel Health Insurance For Visitors to Brazil
A good travel medical plan is highly recommended for all travelers visiting Brazil. You’ll have access to private hospitals and the cost for your care will be covered by your insurer. We recommend the following travel plans for trips to Brazil:
- You choose between the basic essentials and more extensive coverage.
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements.
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance.
- Comprehensive medical coverage from 5 days to 3 years
- Your choice of medical maximum and deductible options
- An extensive worldwide network of providers
Top Hospitals in Brazil
- Brazil Hospital Sirio E. Libanes
Rua Dona Adma Jafet, 91 Bela Vista, São Paulo, 01308-050
+1212 434 2000
- Hospital Sao Jose
Rua Maestro Cardim, 769 – Bela Vista, São Paulo, 01323-900
+66 053 999 758
- Hospital Samaritano
Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
+44 (0) 20 7486 4411
- Hospital Copa d’Or
Magalhães de Figueiredo Street, 875 Copacabana, RJ
+55 11 3505 1000
- Hospital Albert Einstein
Avenida Albert Einstein, 627/701, Morumbi, SP 05651-901
+55 21 2537 9722
Vaccines and Staying Healthy
Currently, Brazil does not have any vaccines necessary to obtain before travel. Although, you should stay up to date with routine vaccines such as the Hepatitis A and B vaccines and the Rabies shot. However, Brazil has reported cases of mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria, Zika, and Yellow Fever. Travelers should prepare themselves for travel by receiving vaccines to help prevent these diseases. The Yellow Fever vaccine is limited to visitors from the United States. Therefore you should schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine far in advance before your travel date.
Passport and Visa Requirements
Brazil requires US citizens to carry a valid US passport and to obtain a Brazilian visa before entering the country for any purpose. You must obtain your Brazilian visa in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate nearest to your place of residence in the United States.
Final Word on Traveling to Brazil
Brazil is a beautiful destination to travel because of its extraordinary views and exhilarating experiences but is also dangerous. Purchasing international health insurance will help to put your worries to rest because in the event of an accident occurring, you know that you are covered. Travel to Brazil worry free and enjoy the adventures that are waiting to happen.
- Safety Advice for International Trips
- Health Coverage for American Expats Abroad
- Short Term Insurance for Travel Abroad
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