Don’t hate. I’m traveling to Rio de Janerio, Brazil, later this fall for business. It’s pretty exciting because I’ve never been to South America and Rio is hosting the 2016 Olympic Games so hopefully I’ll get a sneak peak of what the city has in store for the international games.
Once my trip was booked through Brazil Vacation Club (I’m super excited about the itinerary!) I needed to figure out the best way to obtain my visa into Brazil, which is required before traveling. I”ll be attending a trade show and need a Business Visa – VITEM II from the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami.
As I discovered, each Consulate General of Brazil in the U.S. operates a little differently and where you live determines which consulate you need to contact in order to obtain a visa. (Check this page to determine which jurisdiction your consulate is in.) Although I could have used U.S. Postal Service Express Mail to send my application and passport, I didn’t because according to the Consulate’s website, it can take up to 15 days for processing plus mailing time for mailing. Sure, there’s plenty of time before the trip but I’m heading to Canada later this month and need my passport!
After researching what’s needed for the application, I was overwhelmed and a little stressed with the process so here’s my advice for you:
It was really quite simple and being one for details, obtaining my business travel visa was a breeze and here’s why: I followed the directions.
Yes, a novel idea, but while waiting to submit my visa, every other person did not follow the directions and their visa was probably delayed.
How Not to Get a Business Travel Visa for Brazil
So what didn’t these travelers do? Obviously, they didn’t read the thorough list of items needed, as posted on the Consulate General of Brazil’s website.
- Someone didn’t bring their passport photo.
- Another business traveler didn’t bring a notarized letter from their boss (Note: an email from your boss does NOT count.)
- Travel visas into Brazil take five business days and I was in the office on a Tuesday. Friday was a holiday. There were several travelers with airfare booked for THAT Saturday. Um, yeah, they were told they could try to submit their applications but they were not guaranteed the visa would be processed. There was a sign posted asking travelers not to ask for a rush on their visa.
- Several didn’t have the required fee for processing (currently $160). This really isn’t a big deal because the consulate is located in a bank building and they accept cash. They also accept money orders but ONLY money orders from the United States Post Office and someone had brought another kind of money order.
- Something that wasn’t on the list and I recommend business travelers bring is your business card.
Listen to Your GPS – For Most of the Way
Finding the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami was a little tricky. My Garmin Nuvi led me to 80 SW 8th Street in Miami but I couldn’t find the building. I drove around the block twice and eventually just parked at a nearby shopping center with hopes Google Maps on my iPhone would lead the way.
Walking down 8th Street, a friendly young man asked if I was looking for the Brazil Embassy (my folder gave it away) and he walked with me and explained it’s actually located on 9th Street.
“Take the elevator to the 26th Floor,” he said we neared the building’s entrance.
He then told me he was homeless and asked if I could give him some money for breakfast at the nearby Burger King. He said everyone usually says they’ll give him a few bucks after they come out and usually don’t. Skeptical as to how the $5 would be used, I thought it was best to give him the money and duck into the building as fast as possible. After all, he did help me find the building.
The Waiting Game, Wasn’t So Bad
Once inside the consulate, a guard reviewed my paperwork to ensure I had everything. I did but he gave instructions to those who didn’t. He gave me a number and instructed me to sit and wait until my number was called. Again, a stickler for details, I followed instructions and turned my mobile phones to silent (I carry one for personal and another for my day job) but someone didn’t pay attention. They sure did get a scolding at the first ring. (I actually think it was a little disco tune.)
Staff is extremely kind and friendly, especially when I picked up the passport. Making it easier, I had my receipt given to me when I dropped off my application.
Sure, the process takes a little planning but in the end, it’s easy, peasy!
Now I’m working on my Portuguese…
Disclaimer: This post is intended to use as a guideline. Please consult the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami’s website for specific details, such as required paperwork and hours of operation.